The Difference Between a Romanian & US wedding

August 3, 2006

I can’t really generalize on the difference between Romanian and US weddings because I’m basically basing my observations on my weddings. In addition, I did not actually have a weddng in the States, but just a reception so it’s kinda like comparing oranges and tangerines. And yet I feel very safe saying there are huge differences between a Romanian wedding and a US wedding.

I think the first difference any American would notice is the length. A typical US wedding is probably about eight hours including the ceremony, cocktail hour and reception. Since my US “wedding” was just a reception it was about four hours long. And having had my Romanian wedding only a few weeks earlier, four hours seemed like the blink of an eye. It had barely gotten started when people began saying good bye!

A Romanian wedding on the other hand is long. Very long. I’d guestimate that on average a Romanian wedding is about 14-15 hours long, and that’s not including the day after the wedding when people gather to continue eating, drinking, dancing and celebrating.

My wedding officially began, for me, about 11am when people began arriving at the apartment my parents had rented. For Marius the wedding began about 10am when people began arriving at his parent’s apartment. The wedding ended about 2am. To say it was long seems to me to be an extreme understatement.

The next day we only spent two hours at his parents apartment but we later found out that people were celebrating ’til about midnight!

I don’t know how the Romanians do it. Not only was I exhausted by 2am but I had blisters the size of small hills on my feet and could barely stand!

Speaking of feet, a second difference is dancing! I know that every wedding has dancing, but Americans don’t know what dancing is until they attend a Romanian wedding. Americans dance, but they do so between meals and alternate between faster and slower music. And again, if the reception is only four to five hours long, they’re probably only dancing for a maximum of three or three and a half hours.

At a Romanian wedding, the dancing begins when people start to gather at someone’s house and doesn’t stop until the wedding is over. Doesn’t matter if food is being served. And mostly the music remains at the same speed – fast! All the non-Romanian guests at my wedding commented that they’d never seen dancing as fast as the Romanian “popular” dancing. “Popular” is the standard “folk” dancing that Romanians do, and it can get VERY fast, with women being flung from arm to arm and yelling and whistling. Fun to watch, crazy to try if you don’t know how to do it, and exhausting either way!

At my reception, hardly anyone danced. It was an afternoon reception and I guess people were feeling subdued but coming off the Romanian wedding it seemed so strange to have an empty dance floor.

The final difference I’m going to mention is food. At a typical US wedding there are three courses. Salad, main meal and desert. If you include the cocktail hour with its appetizers, than that’s four courses, three of which are small. At a Romanian wedding there are five courses. First there is the cold meats plate that is already waiting for you when you arrive at the restaurant. After that comes three full meals, usually a variety of fish, grilled pork or chicken, barbequed meats, etc. And then there’s sarmale, which is a Romanian specialty made of cabbage leaves stuffed with rice and meats. Of course there is a cake at the end, and throughout the party there are fruits and nuts to nibble on.

So when all is said and done, what is the difference between a Romanian wedding and a US wedding? A Romanian wedding is much, much longer, with lots more dancing and eating!

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9 Responses to “The Difference Between a Romanian & US wedding”

  1. todd Says:

    I tell my Romanian friends, “Americans would never have a wedding as long as here, because we are too impatient and would never devote that much time to one thing!”

  2. Jody Says:

    Too bad you can’t post some video of your Romanian reception. I would do it all over again and this time I’d learn how to do a few more of the dances… I mean I only danced for 1o hours…. there were around 4 hours where I just rested my feet.

    Anyhow, you can’t compare NJ b/c it wasn’t a wedding. It was more of a luncheon and you know that!

  3. Mary Says:

    Hey there, I am getting married to a Romanian guy next year and I was in the process of looking for a venue when I came across your website! It’s great to get an individuals opinion. And you sound like a really nice person…actually I think we sound quite alike! Anywho, back to the wedding. We are getting married in Cluj-Napoca. Have you been there? I haven’t been yet, but plan to go early next year, then get married in Sept 2007. I am Irish and we are living in Dublin. But
    we are very lucky because his brother and sister-in-law are helping us organise everything! I think I just have to worry about getting my family over and my dress! Would you recommend getting a dress over there?
    Cheers,
    M

  4. Maximus Says:

    I would like to see a continuation of the topic

  5. Roxana Says:

    Mary, How did you wedding go in Cluj?

    Yes – Romanians really know how to party; especially at weddings.

    It’s the same in Australia…. Australians don’t know how to do it like the Romanians do. On top of that a Romanian wedding has over 200-400 people (depending on the family). Really big. But its a good thing the tradition is to give money as a gift. (over $100 per head) depending on how close you are with the bride and groom.

  6. Gráinne Healy Says:

    Mary, are you ever logging into this. I’m also getting married in Cluj but next year, July 2009. At the moment we are looking at http://www.chios.ro Like yourself we will have people travelling from Dublin to Cluj. I’m dying to hear how you got on with travel arrangements. I have done Budapest and 7 hour bus journey on many ocassions but there’s no way to suggest that for wedding. At moment Malev is doing option in conjunction with Tarom which is about €450 return from Dublin but also v expensive for guests. Let me know how you got on!! And there was me thinking we would be first Romanian/Irish wedding in Cluj!!! Thanks


  7. I’m getting married in Targu Jiu (Gorj) in July. We’ve put up a website for our non-romanian guests with various tidbits about the Romanian wedding traditions, you can find it at http://www.romania2008.info .
    Good luck in Cluj, Healy!


  8. […] and celebration of the past and we focus more on the food (indeed excellent). The same goes for weddings. Also the biggest social cohesion I usually experience in Bucharest is during the night of the […]

  9. aldenbecky Says:

    I do not know much difference between Romanian and American wedding. However, have an experience to share. Last year, I attended my friend’s wedding in New York. The wedding venues was decked off in breath taking manner. I just loved that.

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