German Marriage records are arguably the most important vital records to find and utilize. Not only do they link two families and their respective generations, but marriage records make it easier to determine if you've found the correct baptismal records as well since they differentiate themselves with the name of the spouse, place of birth or current residence and almost always at least a father's and possibly both parents' names. This in turn helps determine the correct baptism record for your person of interest, as well as children's records and potentially siblings as well.
Although the information in marriage records can vary from parish to parish and priest to priest, they usually follow the same format and have the same basic information. The information found in a marriage record may include:
*If the groom's fathers name is missing, it could be that he was previously married. Men do not always get a status of widow. Look at the priest's surrounding entries to see how he has addressed this issue before. If he commonly does list men as widowers, then the groom could be illegitimate, although they would usually note this. This same reasoning can be applied to the brides missing father. Another reason could be that the couple were married in another church and this is a duplicate record and was recorded since both or either of the couple was born in the parish of record or they currently live there. In this case it is important to locate the original record. Look at where both parties are from by locating the word "von" or "aus" which both mean "from."
Most church records before the 19th century were written in a paragraph or sentence format. However, it is not unusual to find these records up until the early 1900's. These types of records can have more information, but tend to be harder to read.
**Click on the images for a full page with transcription and translation**
Below is an exceptional example of of both paragraph and tabular form. The information contained in this record is not common as it lists the bride and groom's birthdates in the notes.
(Full image is available by clicking the image, the transcription and translation is linked below)
After the 1800's and the wide spread use of the printing press, most church records were usually kept in a tabular or printed format. It is not uncommon to see parishes using this format much earlier though. Tabular forms are easier to read, but usually have less information.