Everything You Need to Know About Romanian Wedding Traditions

Your official guide to a traditional Romanian wedding.
Lauren Dana Ellman - The Knot Contributor.
by
Lauren Dana Ellman
Lauren Dana Ellman - The Knot Contributor.
Lauren Dana Ellman
The Knot Contributor
  • Lauren is a contributor for The Knot covering topics such as music, cakes, venues and speeches.
  • She has been published in a wide array of lifetsyle-oriented publications including SELF and Allure.
  • Lauren is a proud graduate of Syracuse University's SI Newhouse School of Public Communication.

Looking to pay homage to your Romanian heritage as you plan your wedding? You've come to the right place. While it can be tricky to determine which elements of your (or your soon-to-be spouse's!) Romanian culture to incorporate into your special day, there are lots of customs to consider. Whether you're getting married in the US or in Romania, we've tapped two experts to get the lowdown on the top Romanian wedding traditions, as well as other need-to-know information to help make wedding planning that much more stress-free.

A Brief History of Romanian Wedding Traditions

Romanian wedding traditions have a long, storied history dating back hundreds of years. Nowadays, explains Iulia Dranca of Joy Moments, a wedding planner and designer based in Bucharest, Romania, many Romanian wedding traditions are more symbolic—and some of them are adjusted or even skipped entirely.

Romanian Prewedding Traditions

Here are a few Romanian wedding traditions and important moments you may encounter, as well as everything you need to know about each one.

Choosing the Godparents

According to Karin Badea of Karin Events, who specializes in planning weddings in Romania and London, the most important people in the wedding—after the bride and groom—are the godparents (called nasi in Romanian). After the nuptials, these individuals will become the "spiritual parents of the newlyweds," guiding them through life.

What's more, she says, "Choosing the right godparents is very important for Romanian couples because the couple is expected to respect them their whole lives, as they would their parents. It is also a great honor for the godparents to be chosen for this role."

Shaving of The Groom

According to Dranca, in the past, "the groom was shaved by his best men and went together to the godparents and, afterwards, all of them to the bride's family." Today, the groom's shaving is "only symbolic," representing the transformation from a young man to a man with responsibilities. Similarly, Badea says that sometimes the groomsmen "just pretend to shave the groom using "a sword, an ax, a big knife or something similar."

The Bride's Cake & Dance

Following the first look, the bride and groom, together with all the family members and wedding guests, go down the street for the traditional dance in a line. Per Dranca, this dance is known as the hora miresei.

Following the hora, Dranca says that the godmother takes one dough cake and breaks it over the bride's head and distributes it to the guests. This is said to symbolize good luck, prosperity, love and happiness. From there, everyone makes their way to the church.

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Romanian Wedding Attire

According to Badea, there is no specific traditional Romanian wedding attire—for the most part, at least. "Traditionally," she explains, "everyone dressed up in their best clothes." However, some couples may opt to dress in traditional costumes or Romanian clothes to pay homage to their heritage. Dranca echoes these sentiments, explaining that the bride typically wears a white long wedding dress and a veil, while the groom dons a dark suit or tuxedo.

Romanian Wedding Ceremony

Per Badea, in order to get married in Romania, you will need to have two separate wedding ceremonies, and the civil ceremony must take place before the religious one. This is because "the church asks for your wedding certificate issued by the city hall." Then, it's onto the religious ceremony and all of the other wedding day fun!

The Religious Ceremony Traditions & Breakdown

A vast majority of Romanians identify as Romanian Orthodox Christians, so most Romanian weddings follow the tenets of this faith. In the past, religious ceremonies—which lasted around an hour—almost alway took place in a church in Romania. Now, says Dranca, more modern couples may opt to have a religious ceremony in a different setting, such as their venue's garden, in the woods or near a lake.

Additionally, explains Dranca, the religious ceremony wedding processional "started with the bride entering the church together with the godfather, followed by the groom together with the godmother, to the front table symbolizing the small altar, where all four stay together like a big new family."

After that comes the exchanging of the rings. "The first part of the ceremony is represented by the engagement ceremony when the wedding rings are now positioned on the ring fingers of the right hand," says Dranca. She continues, "Later on, the wedding rings are exchanged between them and end up on the left ring fingers of the bride and groom."

Another traditional moment during the ceremony relates to the wedding crowns. Per Dranca, these crowns—which are placed on the heads of the couple—symbolize the idea that the soon-to-be-married couple "become king and queen on the day of their spiritual union."

Once this ritual is complete, says Dranca, it's onto the Eucharist, in which the couple is instructed to drink from a single glass of red wine and to eat from a single slice of bread, symbolizing a life with love and harmony.

At the end of the ceremony, the priest lights the two candles that are brought to him by the godparents. According to Dranca, the candles are said to symbolize purity. Once the priest lights the candles, they are then handed to the couple, meaning that they are now enlightened by Jesus.

Following the conclusion of the ceremony, the newly married couple exit the church. Wedding guests typically throw rice or wheat over their heads to wish them prosperity and wealth.

Romanian Reception Traditions

Keep reading for a few of the most famous wedding traditions you can expect at a traditional wedding reception in Romania.

The First Dance

After serving the appetizers, Badea notes that "the party begins with the first dance of the newlyweds, followed by the godparents' dance." At this point, the bride and groom's parents are invited to join in on the fun, followed by all of the wedding guests.

Cutting of The Wedding Cake

According to Dranca, when it comes time to cut the wedding cake, both the bride and the groom put their hand on the knife. Per the pro, this tradition symbolizes their "first responsibility" as a married couple.

Bouquet Toss

Badea shares that shortly after cutting the wedding cake, the bride invites all the single women (and bridesmaids!) to the dance floor for a bouquet toss. According to superstition, whoever catches the bouquet is next in line to become a married woman.

Kidnapping of the Bride

"This is a funny tradition when some of the guests steal the bride (with the bride's consent)," says Dranca. She continues that the groom must offer rewards to receive his bride back from the "kidnappers" (a.k.a. groomsmen, bridesmaids and other wedding guests).

Romanian Postwedding Traditions

After the newly married couple takes some time to say goodbye to their wedding guests and arrives home, Badea says that the groom "must take the bride in his arms and walk with her over the threshold of the house." Moreover, she explains that this act "symbolizes the first obstacle that the bride and groom overcome together, supporting each other and united by love."

Also, in Romania, the post-wedding fun continues the next day when the couple's friends and family members gather (either at the couple's home or one of their parents' houses) to reminisce about the special day. Per Badea, the group eats a special sour soup called ciorba de potroace, which "will help them recover after so much drinking and partying."

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