10th August 2013
Our wedding day in Romania, in the heart of Transyvania was filled to the brim with culture, tradition, friends, drinking, dancing and bride hiding and stealing, not to mention the crowing and hopping test we had to pass to be allowed to wed!
Such an incredible day and in a beautiful country!
Romania constantly surprised us during our stay there. Cluj Napoca is such a beautiful and historic town with a young, modern edge. Coffee shops and cool bars with outdoor seating lined the streets and gorgeous boutique stores hid among homes along cobbled streets.
One store in particular was just my cup of tea when Alida took us to visit her friend, Carmen, the owner of the Oranjerie. Carmen makes so many beautiful things and everything that she sells in the shop is gorgeous. Glass, wood, knitting and stitching, paper, wire work and soaps, all wonderfully intricate and every little thing begging for me to take it home!
Carmen loved our story and wanted to meet Peggy with her boyfriend as they too hoped to one day take a roadtrip in a camper. They loved Peggy more, as everyone does and even offered me a gift of a pair of earrings made from recycled paper!
While we were at the store admiring all of Carmens things a beautiful floral crown was delivered by Helga from Fleur Baroque, it was amazing and unlike anything I have ever seen. Made with wheat, basil in flower, grapes and tricolour ribbon representing the Romanian flag. The smell was divine and I couldn’t wait to wear it!
We said our farewells as we left and heeded our instructions from Alida as we went back to camp to wait for the team to come and collect us for the wedding. We were to travel in convoy up to Lapustesti where all of our guests would set up tents for the night, build bonfires and then change for the wedding.
We sat nervously waiting with bated breath until everyone arrived. We drove to the meeting point and soon our original 4 cars and Peggy turned into 10 cars and Peggy all with coloured streamers attached to bumpers, windows, handles and aerials and all tooting horns and toting beer and Tuica!
We wound our way to the village causing a riot with our horns and stereos and then with the thunder! The heavens opened and as the coloured streamers got wet they painted rainbows down the sides of the cars and across wet windshields.
The rain had thankfully died down to a drizzle as we arrived in Lapustesti and were greeted by Vasile and Silvia, the lovely old couple we had met the previous day. The whole village became a hive of activity, the men gathering wood for bonfires and putting up tents, the women collecting wild flowers from the nearby fields to make me a bouquet and Alex and I stood in the middle of it all completely bewildered but with a plastic beaker of wine in hand!
It seemed like only moments had passed when Alex was led in one direction and I in the other.
The video created for us by Cosmo (yes, the coolest name ever) explains more of the story than I can in words so watch this first before I go on to explain!
The girls dressed me in my 100 year old costume, sang to me and fed me cakes while I was being prepared for the wedding. Their songs were sang in Romanian and the lyrics are so old that there isn’t really an easy direct translation, but roughly –
“Rosemary from corner table, beautiful bride has crying eyes
she is crying from happiness, cry with tears of love!”
Once I was ready, the flower crown on my head, make up applied and cake eaten I was led to a back room where Alida explained to me the ritual of hiding the bride.
I was to remain hidden until Alex had been offered two fake brides. One an old lady and one a young lady, the intention of this ritual is to remove any concealed magic or evil spirits which would threaten the new family.
Obviously Alex just thought he would take his chances and as he was offered Mariuca as his bride, he accepted, linked arms with her and said lets go, as you can see in the video! This had never happened before but everyone took it in their stride and laughed (eventually) and I was brought out from hiding and he dropped down on one knee to offer me my bouquet.
Of course it is all funny with hindsight but neither of us knew what was really happening until it happened so the adrenalin was pumping and we went with the flow. Alex had been dressed in his 50 year old outfit and prepared by all of the men in a separate house and by the time we were at each others sides he had drank 12 shots of Tuica which is a strong homemade plum brandy!
He was wobbly on his feet and was at the stage in-between being giggly drunk and falling over drunk. The drinks master was good at his job and made sure we were all equally lubricated by the time we made it to the hill where we would exchange our vows.
As we left the house there was more singing and dancing, more Tuica to be drunk and Alex and I had to pin small bunches of flowers to everyones chests.
Similar to a western Boutonniere, the COCARDE are worn to distinguish the guests relationship with the Bride and Groom, the parents, siblings and best men. In Romania all of the guests wear them and keep them as a memento from the wedding and wear them to represent their well wishes for the couple.
Once everyone had their flowers attached we walked all together in a big group singing, drinking and dancing to the wedding hill. The cheeky women looking all innocent in their head scarves and wellingtons sang funny songs, again with no direct translations to the lyrics, but it is explained that the words sometimes have sexual connotations or proverbs and old sayings:
Proud bride with flowers
Take your mind off others (from any other boys)
Keep your mind to your husband
With him you are married now!
They also sang;
Jasmine green leaf
We go to the wedding
The stone ceremony
The wedding flowers
Do not forget till you die.
Angry is the groom now
he has closed paths (no more chasing women)
to the beautiful girls
Mr. Groom, Mr. Groom
keep the bride well!
Give her milk with coffee
And many kisses as she wants
give her milk with corn seeds
to grant you a boy (like this she will give birth to a boy!)
As we neared the wedding hill and the procession grew and grew we were met by a barrier blocking our way.
A local farmer had a chain crossing our path and demanded payment from Alex to allow him to take me as his bride.
The ritual is that they demand payment of some kind and to make the couple complete a forfeit to prove their willingness to be married.
So without further ado, Alex’s godfather for the day, Sorin, paid the farmer with Tuica and we were instructed that to pass, Alex had to crow like a cockerel while I hopped on one leg. (you can see this in the video too!).
Luckily he was satisfied and after all of these rituals we were finally allowed into the field over looking a beautiful valley to exchange our vows.
Camelia held us a small ceremony as our guests watched on, played guitar and sang quietly and before you we knew it we were wed for the 55th time! I threw the bouquet for all of the single ladies, it was a very strict tradition that no women with a partner or spouse could try to catch it and that was it! Time to party!
Such an incredible day steeped in culture, tradition and all incredible fun, and this was all before the wedding party began.
Yet to come was bonfires, melting Salo (explained here) on sticks until it dripped onto fresh bread, drinking more Tuica and wine, singing and dancing and being stolen…another ritual where I was physically picked up and stolen from the dance floor at the party (it just looks like I am drunk in the picture but I am being kidnapped), Alex of course won me back by offering the thieves more Tuica…as you can imagine it was rather a messy night.
We had great fun and danced until the wee hours of the morning. Everyone stayed the night in the field in their tents regardless of the freezing drizzling weather and with our heads in our hands and feeling tired and rough we all went together for soup at the Matis Pension the next day.
The wedding was definitely made by the people that gathered to help us celebrate. Every one of them started as a stranger that very same day but as we left the next afternoon we had made so many new friends. Even with language barriers, different histories and different futures, we all had the best fun together.
We all let down our hair and partied like we had been friends for life, and I hope that now, that will be the case.
Photography and planning – Alida Boari | Second shooter – Levente Kapolnai | Video – Cosmin Osorhean | Earrings – Oranjerie | Flower crown – Fleur Baroque and accessories | Alex’s outfit – Adrian Buza | Lisa’s outfit – Felicia Gal |
Special Thanks also to-
Our hosts – Vasile and Silvia Vadan who let me come and take over their home and who completely took over my heart!
Alex’s hosts – Ioan & Saveta Lapuște who let Alex to the mercy of the Drinks master (wink wink)
Our adopted Godparents for the day – Sorin & Corina Vancea, Bogdan & Castilia Caranas
The Drinks master – Ovidiu Topan, the best party starter EVER!
Mariuca – The fake bride who almost got more than she bargained for!
Everyone who came to help us celebrate – Ileana, Delia & Gabriel, Ana, Maria & Adi, Andreea, Claudia & Dan, Cristian & Melinda, Ioana- Mihaela, Kinga & Levi, Lucian & Clara, Alex & Andreea, Camelia & Tudor, Erszebet & Sandor, Mariana & Liliana.
And also thanks to Miheala’s mother who gave me the most beautiful hand embroidered traditional shirt!