I will soon celebrate my 19th wedding anniversary, which is very hard to believe. I've been reliving memories of our special day. In fact, I was lucky enough to have two wedding days (to the same man). The reason being, that we had our first wedding in Scotland where we live, and the second in Romania where my husband is from. I am so glad that we decided to have the two events. We both shared traditions from each other's cultures, and thoroughly enjoyed doing so. The Scottish wedding involved kilts, a ceilidh, speeches, a wonderful day, but nothing you would find out of the ordinary.
The Romanian blessing, and wedding traditions, however, seemed very unusual to a Scottish girl and her family....
Firstly, I was amazed at the size of the elaborate candles that had to be carried by the Godparents (equivalent of best man and bridesmaid). The wedding party made their way to the church in a chain of taxis, all with their alarms going off, and aforementioned giant candles sticking out the windows as they were too big to fit in the cars. You can probably tell, it is impossible not to notice a wedding party en-route in Romania.
I was understandably nervous about what exactly would happen at the church. My husband had given nothing away, so I had no idea what to expect. The Orthodox priest seemed to speak for hours (I was later informed that it did not only seem like hours, it actually was hours). The priest conducted a lot of the service in song, with an excellent singing voice. I wonder if that's a requirement to join the priesthood in Romania? We had to wear silver crowns while the priest swung around incense. I did not convert to Orthodox, but I found it an interesting experience.
Following on from the church, we made our way by foot to the reception restaurant. Florin did not wear a kilt this time around (understandably), but my dad and some of his friends had. I will never forget the looks on people's faces as they saw men in kilts in Iasi, Romania. You would think they had just visited from Mars, rather than Scotland. I was told a local news reporter even made an appearance at the reception, but have no confirmation of that.
The reception lasted until 6 in the morning, we were kept going by industrial strength coffee. The meal was spread out over the entire night, around 7 courses, including...the memorable dancing chickens! This consisted of roast chickens being set alight with flames, and the waiters bringing them out to music. Like I said, strange, but very entertaining. The food was excellent.
Around midnight came the biggest surprise...I was kidnapped! Some of our friends stole me from the wedding, and took me to a popular terrace bar. Florin had to negotiate for my release. By strange coincidence, there was another kidnapped bride in the same terrace. It was decided we would make this tradition unique, by switching places. I didn't think I would be getting in to wife swapping so soon into my marriage! I was escorted to the other wedding, where my new "groom" was highly surprised to find he had a Scottish wife. I danced with my temporary husband before saying goodbye and returning to Florin. The ransom? Drink champagne from my shoe...mmmmm, tasty.
The guests danced traditional Romanian dances, and taught the Scottish guests who all enjoyed joining in. I liked the Romanian traditions, although at times the frantic music sounded like it was stuck on fast forward. The Scottish guests returned the favour by playing some Scottish music and teaching our dances. It was really enjoyable to watch people share cultures like that.
The wedding came to an end, with everyone exhausted, but having had a good time. There was one last surprise for me. I was called to sit on a chair in the middle of the room. My veil was removed, and replaced by a red headscarf. The symbolism was not lost on me...I was now a wife, someone to look after her man. I admit I was not very happy about that tradition, but tried not to take it too seriously. My sister was chosen as the next prospective bride, and the veil put on her. I suppose that's the Romanian version of throwing the bouquet.
So that's a summary of my somewhat unusual wedding day. Would love to hear stories from any other multi-cultural weddings from around the world, so please share. I'll look out some photos of our Romanian wedding to share in my next blog.
Romania is understandably a special place for me, and I've enjoyed learning about the culture and traditions, as well as partaking in them. Through writing about Romania, I hope people can understand more about the Eastern European country, which has often been given an unfair portrayal in the media.