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!