Copenhagen: Marriage Records

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Denmark Gotoarrow.png Copenhagen Gotoarrow.png Civil Registration Gotoarrow.png Marriage Records

Civil marriage records are a useful compliment to church records. Civil marriage records can help with locating the correct parish the couple were married in, replace church records that may be missing, or provide information the church records may not provide.

The Records

In Copenhagen, three different records were created concerning civil marriages.

The records are Marriage Records (Kopulationsprotokoller), Civil Weddings (Borgerlige Vielser), and Banns Records (Lysningsprotokoller). Each register recorded different information concerning the couple.

The Civil Weddings (Borgerlige Vielser) and Banns Records (Lysningsprotokoller) are online, see below. If you aren't familiar with Danish, it's possible to use GoogleTranslate.

Kopulationsprotokoller 1720-1868
Since 1661, a couple who wished to get married had to pay a marriage tax (kopulationsafgift). The tax was usually collected on a state wide basis, but starting in 1735, the Copenhagen city treasurer took over this responsibility for the city. The resulting record was the Marriage Record (Kopulationsprotokoller). In these records, it is mainly the groom recorded. Information on the records include:
-Groom's name
-The parish the wedding would be held in
-How much the fee was
-Payment due date
The information will vary within the records. There is an index to these records. The Index and the records are available at the Copenhagen State archive and on microfilm at the Family History Library (film numbers 48119-48124, for the years 1720-1724 and 1735-1863).
Not everyone is recorded in the marriage records. Some people were exempt from the tax such as soldiers, clerks, students, and craftsmen of journeyman status or lower (though any of these men may still be recorded in the records). Another reason that a groom may not be recorded is because the marriage tax was repealed in the late 1700s, except for in Copenhagen (the tax did not end until 1868). So as to avoid paying the marriage tax, many people would marry in one of the many cities just outside of Copenhagen, such as Frederiksberg and Hvidovre.

Borgerlige Vielser 1851-1997
Starting in 1851, Copenhagen began recording Civil Weddings (Borgerlige Vielser). The civil marriages were set up for situations such as the bride and groom being of different faiths, or neither a member of the Danish Lutheran Church (Folkekirke). Civil marriage was not an option if both the bride and groom belonged to the Folkekirke. Information recorded on the records includes:
-Birth place and date
-Marital occupation (from Nov. 1881)
-Address (from 1887)
-Engagement names and occupations (1851-1887 and Nov. 1896-1923)
-Engagement address
-Parents' names, occupations and address (1896-1923)
The number of people being civilly married increased during the 1880s, and in 1922 the law restricting who could be civilly married was repealed. More recent marriage records are available after 50 years from the marriage date.

The Borgerlige vielser 1851-1961 are online:

Borgerlige vielser 1851-1922, Copenhagen City Archives
Borgerlige vielser 1923-1961, The Danish National Archives
Borgerlige vielser 1962-1968, Reading Room, Copenhagen City Archives (not digitized)

The records are available after 50 years from the date.

Lysningsprotokoller 1923-1966
The third of the records, Banns Records (Lysningsprotokoller), were usually kept by the church, but in 1923, the responsibility for these records was handed over to the civil authorities when the new marriage laws were put into effect. By 1970, the law requiring banns before marriage was abolished, and the records stopped.

The banns include information for al couples, no matter whether they were married in church or the marriage was a civil marriage (borgerlig vielse).

For Banns records in Copenhagen, usually it is the bride who is resident in the city. There is an index to the records. The banns include information such as:
-Name of bride and groom
-Birth place and date
-Wedding parish or, if the marriage was a civil marriage, place of the wedding (that is the municipality of Copenhagen)

-Ocupation at the time of marriage

More recent banns records, that is 1967, 1968 and 1969, are available after 50 years from the date.

The Lysningsprotokoller 1923-1966 are online:

Lysninger 1923-1966, Copenhagen City Archives


Borgerlige Vielser, 1851-1896. København: microfilmed manuscripts at the Family History Library.

Københavns Stadsarkiv, Vielser fra 1735 (København: Københavns Stadsarkiv, 2008), research pamphlet.

Københavns Stadsarkiv, Slægtsforskning (København: Københavns Stadsarkiv, 2008), research pamphlet.