Marriage certificate - Danish

Brief Overview

Marriage certificate for Carl Iversen and Oda Petersen, 1920

2008-117-Gift of Grace Johnson.

Share this Resource

Resource Categories

Primary Sources

A vielsesattest or marriage certificate is the piece of paper that a couple receive after their wedding is completed. The certificate is the same whether or not the couple is wed in a church or by another civil authority.

Before a vielsesattest is given out the couple must hand in a birth certificate in their home city. Here it is investigated whether or not there is any obstacle to the marriage. The couple fill out a declaration of marriage, which is used in the investigation.

In the case of Carl Iversen and Oda Petersen their marriage had to be performed without the usual publication of banns as he was about to leave for America. After they received the letter of dispensation the marriage took place in Roskilde Cathedral on October 23rd, 1920. Immediately following the wedding Carl Iversen went to America, arriving in New York on November 9th, 1920.

For each marriage performed there is usually a corresponding entry in a Danish church book. Here is the entry from the Roskilde church book showing the marriage of carpenter Carl Iversen, and Oda Petersen from Roskilde. Such entries are valuable sources of information as they also often give place and date of birth and names of parents, the name and age of the bride and groom, their residences and prior marital status. Furthermore, the names of the bondsmen or witnesses are given and these are often members of the couple's immediate family. The name and residence of the bondsmen may give valuable clues to the birthplace of the couple in question. If the bondsman is an older brother he is probably still living on the family farm or if it is a younger sibling they might still be living close to their parents. This can lead to the parties' parishes of origin when births did not occur in the same parish where an event took place.

The top picture is of the page of the church book with the entry for the marriage of Carl Iversen at number 53. Many church books are available online at