As I had shared in a post a few weeks ago, I had just returned to Moldova in August and within 3 days I was attending a friends wedding. The wedding celebrations stretched into two days full of traditions, family and friends.
After the room was setup, guests arrived and the festivities began with a long traditional series of welcomes. People were arranged and grouped by friends and then family of the bride and then family of the groom. Guests formed lines accordingly and each family unit and friends group were announced by the host and then welcomed by the newlyweds. This is when family and friends showered the couple with flowers, well-wishes and hugs and then photos were taken to document the special occasion (and every guest had their photo professionally taken with the bride & groom). It took us awhile to understand what was happening. We waited until all 100 guests went through the line and were welcomed by the couple. Even if guests were late, things were stopped and the guests were announced and welcomed.
There was a lot of dancing, eating, drinking, dancing, eating, drinking, dancing… you get the idea. Festivities went on until the wee hours of the next morning. I think we left around 4:30 AM.
Included below are more photos from the celebratory evening. Captions are included for more details…
There was an amazing electric violin player that played a few songs and danced at the wedding celebration.
The wedding couple danced a special choreographed dance together complete with a smoke machine for special effect.
There were professional dancers that came out at various points throughout the evening and in different costumes. We were highly entertained all evening long.
The bride and groom pull on either side of a circular bread to see who will be the head of the household. Whoever received the most amount of bread in their hand was deemed the “head of household”. The bride won in this instance.
At the end of the evening the nanasi take off parts of the bride and groom and dress them in “normal-life” items like an apron and headscarf.
Then guests come and literally shower the newlyweds with gifts, wrapping them in the blankets and surrounding them with all the gifts. Each person shows the couple the item, places it either on or near them and then sticks some cash into the headscarf of the bride.
After the bride and groom are changed and showered with gifts they cut the cake along with the nanasi. Guests are then served the cake and the evening came to an end.
After we cleaned up the leftover foods and took down the decor, we finally left at the wee morning hours. We collapsed into bed and didn’t wake up until mid-day. However, the festivities continued on! We then went to the bride’s parents’ home for soup and more food.
Friends and family came throughout the day to take part in this Moldovan tradition of having soup and eating some of the leftover food from the wedding celebration the night before. The music and merriment continued well into the evening hours.
More music and singing on the second day of wedding celebrations
So many dishes are needed to be able to serve all the people who come for soup and eating more food.
It took me a few more days to recover from the wedding with the addition of having jet lag and all the changes that were happening at the time. It was a great celebration and I was so grateful to have been able to take part in these special days.
Upon my return to Moldova, within 3 days I was attending a friends wedding. This was the 2nd time I’ve had the chance to attend a wedding during my time as a volunteer in Moldova. I even had the opportunity to take part in the traditional festivities that happen before the big reception later in the day.
Some fun facts about Moldovan weddings:
Sometimes couples will get married either in the church and/or legally at the mayor’s office and then celebrate with the large reception a year or so later (after saving money to host the party);
It is tradition to have nanasi [nan-ash-i], best described as marriage godparents (or spiritual parents) to help the couple when issues arise in their marriage – the nanasi play a big role during the wedding celebration;
There is a wedding “season” in Moldova, typically weddings are not held during post (fasting due to religious holidays) but more so in the fall around wine making season;
When attending a wedding, it is expected to bring flowers (although, a new trend is to bring a book for the couple) along with money and a gift;
Moldovan weddings are full of traditions — from the food, to the music, and dancing and beyond..
On the day of the wedding, about mid-day, I made my way to the brides family home where all the ladies were getting their hair and makeup done.
After a few hours, they were ready to go and were waiting on the groom and his friends to arrive. After some honking of horns and yelling, the men had arrived and they had to go through some traditions before finding the bride.
After the groom and his friends completed all the necessary traditional activities the groom was able to see his bride…and we all toasted to the start of the festivities while they took photos.
Next, all the young people piled into decorated cars to make their way to the nanasi’s home. Once arrived, we made a scene going into their apartment where they hosted us for champagne toasts and treats.
Next we all piled back into the cars and went to the city center to the casa nunta – wedding house where they signed the papers to make it official by the state that they are married.
After that I went with my friend to the wedding hall where the reception was being held so they could prep for the 100+ people who were coming to the big party.
It was impressive with all the decor, abundance of food, and the fancy setup.
There were many traditions that were new for me so I spent a lot of the time confused throughout the wedding. I’ll share more in the next post on these traditions from the wedding – stay tuned!
I recently had the honor to go to my first traditional Moldovan wedding celebration. My friend, and also work partner had married a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) who had served in Moldova before me. They recently just celebrated their marriage in Moldova with a full on traditional Moldovan wedding.