German Vital Records
In about 1849, the various German states began officially to record births, marriages, and deaths for all residents, regardless of religion. This came about because previously it was not possible for persons of different religious confessions to marry one another. Neither Protestant or Roman Catholic churches would permit mixed marriages. It was especially difficult for Jews and nonconforming religious groups.
For genealogical purposes, this 1849 date is important. The vital records registration districts (Standesamtbezirke) of Germany were usually comprised of several communities or townships (Gemeinden) without consideration of ancient parish boundaries. Larger areas were now combined into one set of records, and as a result it is easier to locate a post-1894 marriage record.
Today a civil marriage is performed by officials of the office of vital records (Standesamt), and then a second celebration, the church marriage, is permitted. The civil marriage is the only marriage legally recognized. (Smith, Clifford. Encyclopedia of German-American Genealogical Research).