I was honored to be invited to my first Moldovan wedding. Natalia the daughter of Rodica’s sister Liuba was to marry Andrei Pisica on the 22nd of September and I was told we were to leave at 11:30 am. I expected to celebrate into the wee hours of morning as is the tradition of the Moldovan weddings so I was glad to be somewhat rested. Greeted by Stefan at the bus stop, he grabbed my bag and escorted me home with encouragement to quickly change into the most frumos outfit I could find. I donned my newly purchased shoes which caused a bit of trouble as I navigated the rocky streets of Milestii Mici and rushed off to the home of the bride’s parents to witness the first round of events.
There I found Natalia in her wedding dress posing seductively for the photographer who would follow her every move until 5 am. She twirled about for the photographer as if she was a runway model. Soon the first guests arrived, mostly close family and friends of the bride, bringing small sums of money to drop into a basket which was strategically placed on the table full of flowers, candles, food and drink. Guests who were currently single were given small corsages. Pink for the girls and blue for the boys.
Soon it was time to assemble outside to wait for the family of the groom who just finished having the same reception at their own house. We heard the music from a distance and watched as the grooms family walked together up the narrow street. Pails of water were thrown upon their path to signify richness in their life together.
They stopped at the gate while the mother of the bride served each of them specially prepared jello with a spoon. They were then invited in to the house. At the doorway the groom was met with two brightly decorated rings of bread. They were held up at the doorway nearly covering the bride on the other side of the threshold. Natalia held a bouquet of dried basil which she dipped in holy water, placed her hand through the bread ring and sprinkled the grooms entourage many times with the water. He then placed his hand through the other ring and sent a red cloth sailing towards her. She laughed to find that he’d played a little joke on her. It seems the package is to contain her ring along with some candy to assure a sweet life together… he’d kept the ring and only sent the sweets!!!
At this he was asked inside where the entire group ate, received more guests, drank champagne and began to dance the hora around the table. Rice was thrown over the couple and they began to dance out of the doorway. Suddenly, as they reached the threshold, the brother of the bride stepped in between them, forcing the groom outside and the bride inside. He took a knife – placed its point into the door frame and began to ask the groom for money which he placed under the tip of the knife. They continued to negotiate until the brother was satisfied with the amount of the gift. He then allowed the groom to take his sister.
Outside another table of food had been prepared where everyone ate and drank once again. Another hora this time with the mothers and fathers offering sweets and drinks to the wedding party as they danced in the traditional circle. The bride stood on a chair breaking pieces of bread and throwing them over her shoulder for her guests to catch. The groom helped her down and we were off to a tour of the local wine factory with the wedding party. As we rode out of the village headed for the winery, the villagers stood at their gates many of them with buckets of water to pour on the street in front of the car carrying the bride and groom.
Now this was the most interesting wedding chase I’d ever seen. It was similar to ours in many ways… the bride and groom being chauffered in a jet black SUV, with tin cans strung on the back and streamers across the front. A large gold crown was affixed to the top of the car and several cars followed them honking their horns all the way.. the interesting and frightening part was the drivers were playing “chicken” passing on steep hills and sharp curves to get ahead of the other cars. Made me wonder if anyone has lost their life in the pursuit of this foolish tradition.
We arrived, did a walking and driving tour of the winery and stopped in the reception room for the official ceremony. The couple made it official with their signatures and the first of several uncomfortable kisses and they were off to place the flowers at the foot of a monument in the capital city of
The bride’s family all walked together to the reception waiting at the gate for the bride and groom to come out and receive us along with the family of the groom. Sweets were offered and we were escorted into the hall to wait in a long line while each guest was receieved by the bride and groom dropping more money and flowers on the table. The music began and after a dance or two we assembled in the dining room which held long tables filled will traditional food, champagne, cognac, vodka and water. One table held all of the flowers up in an arch as the groom carried the bride the entire length of the hall to the head table.
We were entertained with vocalists during dinner often standing and dancing at our chairs. Soon we went back into dance at one point being entertained by some scantily clad dancers with glitter and fur dancing to songs such as
At this each guest was given the microphone to offer their wishes to the couple and announce the amount of their cash gift, which was placed in a large basket carried by the wedding party. It continued until everyone announced their gift and the dancing began once again until 5 am! Such are the weddings in