Romanian wedding traditions

In Romania, most of the couples get married on Saturdays or Sundays. They usually sign the legal papers at the city hall the Thursday or Friday before the wedding, but the religious ceremony (followed by a big party) is considered as the real wedding.

Besides the bridesmaids and the best man, which must be unmarried, the bride and the groom must choose also godparents (naşi) – a married couple (friends, cousins or other relatives) who will have the role of advisers of the newly married couple. Next to the bride and groom, they play the most important role in a Romanian wedding: they participate in the religious ceremony and, at the party, they sit with the bride and groom at a separate table.

The godparents must have been married in the church in order to be accepted as such. In small communities, they used to be the son or daughter of the godparents who had christened either the bride or the groom, but now there are already married friends of the couple, or cousins.

The godparents have several traditional roles during the engagement and wedding ceremony, before and afterwards: the godparents first arrive at the bride’s house, the godmother helps her to get dressed (together with the bridesmaids) and she puts the veil on the bride’s head.
Brides cakeAfterwards, right before leaving her for the church, the godmother and the bride’s mother must break together a traditional bridal cake over the bride’s head, and all the pieces are given to the unmarried guests to eat, to marry happily.

It is forbidden for two brides to see each other in their wedding days because it means bad luck and divorce. That’s why someone will always be ahead the suite and make sure they don’t encounter another wedding.

When the wedding party gets to the church, a bucket full of water is placed near the entrance, where all the guests have to put money (coins and small plastic notes), after which they all walk into the church.

In the church the priest will perform the wedding ceremony (usually one hour): he will sing prayers and read from the Bible. During the religious ceremony, the godmother stands by the bride’s side, holding a tall candle (70-130 cm high and decorated with flowers) with the help of the bridesmaid, and the godfather stands by the groom’s side, helped by the best man with another identical candle. When the priest puts the rings on the couple’s fingers, he is helped also by the godfather, respectively godmother.

Orthodox wedding crowns

Orthodox wedding crowns

It is also traditional for the bride and groom to be presented with ceremonial crowns during the wedding ceremony, which are associated with particular blessings made upon the couple and sets them up as the ‘king and queen’ of their newly created family. And in the final part of the wedding, the priest takes the godfather by hand (with the candle), followed by the groom, the bride, the godmother with the other candle for the traditional wedding dance around the Holy Table.

When the ceremony is over, the bride and the groom will be the first to get out of the church. Do you remember the bucket full of water and money? Well, now, when the spouses are leaving the church they will push together the bucket with their feet in order to spill the water. The water in the bucket is supposed to wash away all the future problems. There is an old Romanian saying: “All the bad things may be washed away and all the good things may come together”! The coins are collected by the young children present at the ceremony.

After the wedding ceremony, the young couple and their guests go to a restaurant to have a party which usually lasts until dawn.

During the party there are also certain traditions to be kept: the first dance of the newly weds, bride throwing the bouquet… But probably the most well-known known tradition for the wedding party is the kidnapping of the bride: sometime during the party the bride gets “stolen” by some friends (usually the bridesmaids or cousins) and taken to an important landmark (the city hall, the local pub for some shots, a strip club).

'Kindnapped' brides taken to the Arch of Triumph in Bucharest on a typical Saturday night.

‘Kidnapped’ brides taken to the Arch of Triumph in Bucharest on a typical Saturday night.

Then the groom together with the godfather must pay a ransom – whatever the ‘kidnappers’ will ask for: a few bottles of alcohol, sing a love song for the bride, dance together with the godfather, promise that he will do the dishes for a month after the wedding etc.. They say that if the bride is kidnapped before midnight, the groom pays, if afterwards, the godfather.

However, as this tradition results in the bride being away from her own wedding for about an hour, we will do everything we can to avoid it… including that Ioana will have a pepper spray on her 😉

A variation of this tradition is that one of the bride’s shoes get stolen by a mischievous child guest.

After the wedding cake is served and the party is almost finished, there is another beautiful tradition: the bride’s hoe-down. The bride, the Godmother and all the ladies that are at the party get together in a traditional dance (hora). They dance together and if a man wants to dance with the bride he has to pay money. These are the bride’s money, to do as she wishes. She can choose if she accepts the invitations or not.

After the special song for this occasion is finished the bride will be set in the middle of the hoe-down on a chair and the Godmother will take her veil of and will replace it with a scarf or a wimple. From that moment she is no longer a bride and she becomes a wife.

While the Godmother is trying to put the scarf on the head of the bride she is supposed to refuse and ‘fight’ against it, by pulling it down three times. (Most of the brides forget about having to ‘refuse’ the head scarf and the godmother or her mother have to whisper to the bride: ‘Now you have to pretend you don’t want the scarf’ 😀 )

After this moment, the young woman who caught the bride’s bouquet or another unmarried friend will take the bride’s place on the chair and the new wife will put her former veil on the head of the young lady. The dance begins again, but this time around the future bride to be. This is the last important moment of the wedding reception.

The morning after the party, there are another two parties: one at the groom’s house and one at the bride’s house. These parties are called “Ciorba de potroace” meaning Giblets borsch. After partying all night, all the wedding guests need a sour borsch to fight the hangover and party again until dawn. The newly-weds have to attend the both parties in order to make everyone happy. So the honeymoon has to wait for another day or two.