Cununia: Religious Marriage
The wedding at the church or religious marriage is very important for the couple. Oftentimes it happens on the same day as the civil registration of the marriage, sometimes earlier and sometimes later. To be married at the church both parties must be baptized and the day must be agreed upon by the parents of the couple and the priest (which can never be during lent). The priest will pray for the couple and their happiness and then they will exchange wedding rings.
There is a small carpet put on the floor in the church with some money underneath it and the young couple will stand on this carpet for the entire service. This gesture symbolizes the fact that this couple cares much more for happiness in their life together and their relationship than for money or other material things.
The bride and groom hold big wedding candles that are tied with a ribbon to show their unity (in the USA this would be referred to as a unity candle).
For the wedding the couple and their parents choose godparents. During the ceremony the godparents stay near the young couple with the nanas (godfather) on the groom’s side and the nanasa (godmother) on the bride’s side. This tradition is much like a best man or a bridesmaid/matron. Their responsibility as godparents is to advise and help the couple throughout their married life and also help financially with the wedding.
The married couple will also choose a saint to protect their home and family and they will continue to celebrate the day of this saint each year. An icon of this saint will be blessed during the ceremony.
They have wedding godparents too. They stand on a carpet with money underneath it symbolizes the fact that they care much more for the happiness of the marriage and relationships than for money or other material things. They use a unity candle.
Casatoria Civila: Civil Marriage
The civil registration of the marriage is done by the officials at a special location in towns or at the mayor’s office in villages. This event may occur before or after the religious marriage. There are certain traditions that are kept during this ceremony as well:
The wedding rings are hidden on a plate with wheat and the bride and groom will have to find them. Whoever finds it first will have a stronger say in the family.
The bride and groom treat each other with a spoon of honey so that their life together is sweet and happy.
The marriage documents are signed and the nanasi (godparents of the wedding) will sign the documents as witnesses.
This ceremony is finished with champagne and chocolates for the guests. They will often drive to the monuments of the town and lay flowers on them (specifically, the Stefan cel Mare monument).
Nunta: Wedding (reception)
The wedding parties in Moldova are an example of the biggest number of customs and traditions that you can ever witness during a small period of time. Usually the preparations start far in advance with the food being cooked and prepared 3 days before. The whole day starts late in the afternoon and the party can rock until 2 or 3 in the morning!
The dressing of the bride and groom is done separately by their close friends and the nanasi (the wedding godparents) and afterwards the bride is taken out of the house into the yard by the younger guests and they dance a hora.
The unmarried guests, relatives and friends, typically arrive earlier and receive flowers or kerchiefs to show that they are not yet married. These are called vornicei (for boys) and druste (for girls). When you receive these tokens it is customary to give a small sum of money, 5 lei or more.
When you arrive at the wedding you approach the young couple and the nanasi with congratulations, shake their hands, and give them a small gift, flowers and a small sum of money. When the majority of the guests have a arrived everyone sits down for a masa, which consists of a cold course, lots of cognac, wine and champagne as well as a course of hot foods and dessert.
Dancing begins and then is interrupted for more traditions.
A pillow is put on a chair and the groom sits on it holding the bride so that their life is as easy and light as the feathers are. The godmother will then remove the veil and put it on the head of a young girl (usually the sister of the bride, close relative or friend). The young lady will have to dance with it later.
The undressing of the bride is accompanied usually by a melody of a song from long ago and the words describe that the bride should say goodbye to her mother and father, sisters and brothers, say goodbye to the family garden, because from now on she will be in a new home. Then the nanasa combs the brides hair, gives the couple perfumes, a kerchief and an apron to the bride to signify that she is now a host. Everyone then presents the couple with small sums of money and put them into the kerchief and is presented with more gifts.
The couple then cuts the wedding cake and serves everyone with cake and wine or champage.
Afterward more dancing occurs!