Evoking mixed reactions for the older generation, but a giving completely different vibe for those under 30, Berlin is a fabulous mixture of old and new, with a buzz in the air which makes it a really unique city wedding destination.
This formerly troubled city has shrugged off its years of isolation and emerged into the 21st century embracing art, culture and a lively way of life. For a relatively small city of 3 million inhabitants, it has plenty of parks and leafy green streets, and certain areas are similar to Paris with their wide streets and relaxed street cafes.
East and West merge well together now, but some differences do remain. West Berlin has the wide streets, parks and posh shopping, while the East is more boho, cool and “underground”. So if you are considering marrying here just decide what sort of ceremony you'd like before you start looking for a venue.
The eastern side of the city has really come into its own since the wall came down, with trendy bars and restaurants popping up all over the place. Traditional German beer gardens nestle side-by-side with Asian restaurants and South American bars, giving the city a real cosmopolitan feel. This is now the trendy part of Berlin with sky high rents and late night bars – quite different to when it was next to the infamous wall, in East Germany, and the flats were all owned by the state!
These days the only thing splitting the city is the river Spree, with river boats plying the water as they take tourists on a short tour of the city. Certain boats do allow weddings, and this option is good if you'd like to exchange vows in the centre of the city but ensure some degree of privacy. Just imagine - sailing down the river past historical sights as you become Mr and Mrs and then having the reception either on the boat or at a venue elsewhere in Berlin.
One popular marriage location is the large Zoologischer Garten - a park and zoo in west Berlin which ends by the Bundestag or German Parliament. Popular on the weekend with locals, you can get married in the park, or even in the zoo itself surrounded by the animals. This area is also close to the Brandenburg Gate – famous as the symbol of Berlin, and these days quite touristy, but it might be worth a quick wedding photo if you can sneak one in without too many tourists getting in the way!
On a more serious note, Berlin's history means there are plenty of ornate, imposing buildings dotted around, and at many of them you can also get married, which is perfect if you'd like some formality on your wedding day, but don't necessarily want to marry in a church. The 18th century Ephraim Palais can hold small weddings and is also a museum; the City Hall is another striking building which has several different halls in which you can get married, depending on the size of wedding; or, if you'd like an actual palace in which to plight your troth, try the 18th century Charlottenburg Palace, to the west of the city and a former royal residence.
Alternatively a church wedding is possible in the oldest church in Berlin, Nikolaikirche (St Nicholas's church) in the historic centre of the city, although there are many others to choose from too. Please note: only a civil ceremony is legal in Germany, so any religious ceremony would be a blessing and not legally binding.
Other options are to marry in one of the city's boutique hotels, or perhaps look slightly further afield and marry at a lakeside location - as Berlin is surrounded by pine forests and lakes, which make a great destination choice in the spring and summer.
For Europeans a weekend wedding is becoming more and more popular – fly out on Friday, marry on Saturday, and continue to celebrate with your friends on Sunday. Berlin is ideal for this, with low cost flights from all over the UK and other European countries – it also makes it easy to pop out and visit in the run up to your ceremony, as it's always a good idea to visit once or twice before if you can.
Berlin, like London, Paris or New York, has a reputation which precedes it – why not see for yourself and choose this fabulous city for your wedding abroad? (there's even a part of the city called Wedding!)
Germany Marriage Laws here