learn the Hora

here are some links to Romanian dances that make a Romanian Wedding:

But first… the professionals: (not to worry, noone expects anyone to be this good):

… this is closer to the normal wedding standard of dancing:

This following link shows you how easy it actually is to learn – 4 steps ahead, 4 steps back (the last of the 4 is actually a tap). Just follow the person at your right and enjoy.


A small secret about traditional Romanian music – that I learned years ago when I hated it – it can be boring to watch and sit at the table, but quite fun when joining the group. 

However… not all wedding dances are in circle or “hora” – some popular dances of the “just for fun” sort would be:

the penguin dance:




and not all wedding dances are traditional… we do like our Salsa and Latin rithms and some cannot miss:

Meneaito: (a dance that brings everybody on the floor, and where there’s always a few who mess it up :))


sometimes even Las ketchup:


Balada Boa – Che Che re re che:

Ai se eu te pego – Michel Telo:

and the dance steps:

I’ll upload more links once I remember of other song.

Now it is your turn to comment and give me links to your typical wedding dances… maybe we can incorporate them. 

A bit about a Romanian wedding…

This post is for the Irish Guests who may find a Romanian wedding quite different than an Irish one.  And funny enough, it is for Alan as well, since he has never been to a Romanian wedding.

So this is a short guide to what happens in a Romanian wedding from my area. I left out some of the surprises… just to keep them surprising.

Apart from the reception and the normal formalities, a Romanian wedding is a mixture of traditions, customs and superstitions, some older than others. From the preparation of the bride and shaving of the groom to the tossing of the bouquet, the traditions succeed each-other for the entire duration of the wedding day, making it even more beautiful and meaningful. Every couple, however, is free to follow the wedding customs that suits them, and we will also pick the customs we think are the most suited to us, combining traditions from our two countries. So here are a few of these traditions and how we plan to do about them.

The proposal: Everything starts with the proposal. Alan proposed to Lavinia on the 30th of August 2013, on a bench in the park, after having had dinner in one of our favorite restaurants in Constanta, Marco Polo.

my engagement ring

my engagement ring

The wedding roles:

Nasii/ maid of honor/ bride’s maids, best man/ socrii mari/socrii mici:

Next is the couple’s time to decide who they’ll pick as “nasi” (pronounced nashi), meaning spiritual parents (Godparents). The role of the Nasi was diminished in time, but according to tradition, Nasul ( the godfather) is a central character in the wedding, being followed in importance by the bride, groom, godmother (Nasa), bridesmaids, best men, parents of the couple and the guests.  Picking the Nasi is very important. According to tradition their most important role would be spiritual and as guides for the new couple into married life. We think that nasii would have the same role as the catholic priest when the couple does the preparation for marriage while at the wedding they act as witnesses. Nasii have to be a couple married in church, having already gone through the event and knowing the customs and their responsibilities. Tradition accepts multiple pairs of Nasi, but generally there is just one couple. As we have decided to have an Orthodox wedding, we will have a pair of Nasi who are married in orthodox rite.

Our Godparents are: Paul Codrin and Camelia-Alina Raita, a very strong couple that we look up to for their communication and the respect they have for each other, for the strong partnership they have and for their very smart and nice boy, Lucas.

As a note for the curious, we would like to let you know that we’ve done our research, talked to priests from both Orthodox and Catholic churches and got confirmation that a Catholic and an Orthodox can marry in any of the two churches without any problem and that a Catholic wedding is recognized as valid by the Orthodox church and vice versa. As we are both Christian sharing the same values, we can choose any of the two. So having the wedding, as is tradition, in the bride’s town, we will follow the local customs and marry in an Orthodox church. We will get a blessing in an Irish Catholic church at a later date.


By Romanian law, we need to first have a civil ceremony before being able to have our church wedding. This ceremony can be held at any moment prior to the religious one and we chose to have it either in the morning of the wedding day (should that be possible since it is a bank holyday weekend), or on Thursday the 14th of August. We will have the date for the civil ceremony a couple of months before it. This ceremony makes the marriage legal, it takes just a few minutes and it is about saying “Yes” in front of the civil officer. It normally takes place at the “marriage house” a municipality building dedicated to it, but there can be exceptions to this.

Like in the Irish weddings, the bride will choose one maid of honor, but she can also have more brides’ maids if she chooses so. The maid of honor is the one carrying the candle in church and, by Romanian tradition; she has to be a single girl, generally younger than the bride. The groom will pick his best man who will carry the other candle in church and he also will have to be single. The groom can pick more grooms’ men if he chooses so. lumanari

lumanari 2

The parents of the bride and groom are called Socri. Socrii marisocrul mare and soacra mare are the parents of the groom. In translation they are the big in-laws.– socrul mare is the fother of the groom, soacra mare is the mother of the groom. Socrii mici (the small in laws) are the parents of the bride. Socrul mic is the fother of the bride and soacra mica the mother of the bride.  You will hear people calling them like this during the wedding, so it is good to know to whom they refer to.

The day of the wedding:

According to Romanian tradition, the day of the wedding party starts from the best man and groom’s men. They go to the groom’s house where they will perform the shaving of the groom, an initiation ritual signifying the transformation of the groom from boy to man. After the shaving ceremony, the groom together with his family and the groom’s men go towards the godparents’ house.

The groom is responsible to buy the wedding bouquets for the godmother and the bride. He will give the bouquet to the godmother and ties the godfather’s tie or bow-tie.  The godfather will offer drinks and food to the guests. Then, together with the godmother, they take the vail, tiara and the two candles and go towards the bride’s house.  

Preparing the bride and putting on the veil: The veil has its origins in the times when marriages were arranged, being meant to cover the face of the future bride until the wedding was finalized, so that the groom could not change his mind. Now this meaning is gone… (Alan had plenty of time to change his mind.) this bride is not me :)

The godmother is the one putting the tiara and the veil on the bride’s head as she is the one accompanying the bride to the altar. In the past, the godmother was also the one preparing the bride for the wedding, combing her hair, putting her make-up on, etc. This is a similarity to the Irish wedding where the bride is not allowed to put on her own veil. When the bride is ready, all dolled up, the groom comes to her with her bouquet and with a gift – generally a piece of jewelry that she will wear during the wedding. In turn, the bride puts the corsages on the godfather, godmother and groom’s and parents chests, exactly in this order. The bridesmaids will continue putting the flowers on the chests of the rest of the wedding party, while everybody dances the Hora Miresei – the circle of the bride.

hora miresei - the bride's dance (not me again)

hora miresei – the bride’s dance (not me again)

Turta miresei – the bride’s sweet bread: After the hora, the godmother breaks the Turta miresei (a sweetbread cake) on top of the bride’s head and shares it with the people present. She splits turta in four pieces and throws it to the four sides- front, back, to the right and to the left, signifying the four seasons of wealth. Tradition says that the people who have a bit of the bride’s turta will be happy and lucky the whole following year. Nowadays, that most brides live in flats, the turta is split in front of the entrance of the block of flat and the hora is danced in the block-s garden. It is normally a simple dance in circle- the most common traditional dance and it is a dance of happiness. the bride's cake

The hora is danced by the entire wedding party, now together – bride, groom, godparents, parents, best men and bride’s maids, but anyone can join.  The music accompanying the whole thing is plaid by Lautari (the traditional music singers) on accordion. Another similarity with the Celtic weddings where the wedding party is accompanies by bagpipes’music.

If you are not accustomed to a Romanian wedding, you may find strange that some people will come to you with a bucket of water. It is said that if you are received with a full bucket you will have good wealth in your life. People throw money for good wealth in the bucket. People who are not in the party or neighbors may try to take advantage of this custom and make some undeserved money. So try to avoid following this tradition.

The road to church.

The whole wedding procession moves towards the church. Generally all cars in the wedding party are decorated by the bride’s maids and groom’s men while the bride is being prepared in the house. Decorations are typical for weddings, with flowers, ribbons, tulle, etc. All the cars will go in line towards the church. (if the church is close by, people simply walk in an arranged manner) the bride goes in the same car with the godfather while the groom goes with the godmother. The candles are not to be carried in the same car. Until after they are wed, the bride stays with the godfather and her candle and the groom stays with the godmother and his candle. After they are wed, the bride and groom stay together and so do their candles. At the entrance of the church there are a few rules to be followed. The first to enter will be the maid of honor and the best man, each carrying one big candle, decorated with flowers. Then enters the godfather with the bride, then the groom and the godmother, then the groom’s parents then the bride’s parents. The bride always stands on the left of the godfather or the groom. images (2) The religious ceremony: The religious ceremony starts with the engagement– the part when the priest puts the wedding rings on the ring fingers of the right hand on both bride and groom. After the engagement the priests perform the wedding. during this part of the ceremony, the priests, the bride and groom the godparents, maid of honor and best man dance around the holy table the Isaia’s dance.

The symbol of this part of the wedding ceremony are the Pirostrii – two crowns that the priest put on the heads of the newlyweds (these have the same meaning like the binding with ribbon, scarf, shawl in other rites- the Celtic-Tying the knot) pirostrii pirostrii 2

After the ceremony, still in church, the guests congratulate the newlyweds. Exiting the church, then guests make a bridge of flowers under which the newlyweds pass and throw wheat and rice as a symbol of good health prosperity and fertility (from the seeds). The same gesture to throw seeds also has the role of scaring away the bad spirits from around the bride and groom. Another interesting superstition is that the bride is not allowed to see another bride until the religious wedding is over. That is why, if more weddings take place in the same church that day, the guests will make all the efforts necessary to cover the view of the bride or even hide her if they spot another bride. Once all this is over, the wedding party goes together towards the wedding venue. A break for official photos can also be taken between the religious wedding and the party.

melody 2

 Entering the venue. Entering the venue is done in the same order as in the church. The bride and groom and the other people with roles welcome the guests with a glass of Champaign and the bride’s maids show the guests to their tables.  

There are customs that happen during the reception as well.

first dance

The first dance: is a new trend that the bride and groom have a special choreography. We like this new tradition and hopefully we will have something special prepared for our guests.

The blessing of the sarmale: the godfather is asked to say the Our Father prayer before anybody starts to eat the sarmale. It is reminiscence from when people used to say grace before every meal. For some men, however, being Godfather becomes an opportunity to learn this prayer.  Sarmale (sower cabbage stuffed with a mixture of meat and rice) is one of the national dishes and it cannot miss from a wedding.


 Speeches: In Irish tradition the speeches are done during the dinner and before the cutting of the cake while the cake is present the whole time in a nice display. After eating the cake the Irish guests generally move away to make place for the dancing part of the party. In Romanian tradition, the eating and the dancing are done in the same time and the dinner ends in the morning. As our wedding is a mixture of Irish and Romanian tradition, we will incorporate the speeches in it, probably before the blessing of the Sarmale.  

Kidnapping the bride: One of the most well-known Romanian wedding tradition happens during the party when the groom and godfather do not pay attention. This is the kidnapping of the bride. The bride is considered to be in the care of the godfather until midnight and in the care of the groom after that. That is why, if the kidnapping happens before midnight the godfather is the one who has to pay the ransom and if this happens after midnight the groom is responsible to pay the ransom. This tradition has its origins in old times when the men from enemy clans used to steal the brides in order to ask for ransom. Nowadays the ransom is paid in booze or penance/challenges.

Who kidnaps the bride? Generally it is the young people at the wedding who go about kidnapping the bride and they involve the bride’s maids too. There is always a group of people as the kidnapping is a very elaborate endeavor. The bride has to be taken out of the venue without the groom or godfather to notice. There has to be an appointed negotiator that will represent the kidnappers and when they settle the deal, he has to let them know that the ransom is paid so that the kidnappers bring the bride back. The proof of kidnapping is the bride’s shoe. When kidnapped, the bride is taken away to have some fun- a club is generally the case, nowadays. However, for the sake of the wedding, the moment of kidnapping has to be very well thought so that the bride does not miss the important moments and so that she does not miss from the wedding for too long. The party tends to calm down if the bride is not there. She should not go away for too long.   For your information, very few brides want to be kidnapped, but very few manage to avoid this.

The wedding cake is the first thing the bride and groom share between themselves and with the rest of the guests. The cutting of the cake is done together. The cake is brought in a lavish ceremony with fireworks, candles and with special music and is presented to the guests who gather in the middle of the stage to see it. Tradition said that the bride and groom has to serve the cake to the tables but nowadays she serves just to the parents and godparents and the rest is done by the waiters. In Irish traditions, the wedding cake is a fruit cake and it stays on display from the beginning of the reception until the moment it is cut. In Romanian tradition, the wedding cake is very juicy and fresh, and it cannot stay out of the fridge for too long in a hot summer day.  It is served close to the end of the reception therefore in the early hours of the morning and it benefits form a majestic presentation.

not me again


Legatoarea: Another custom that is full of significance is Legatoarea (“the binding”). This happens very close to the end of the party and it involves the women. The bride sits on a chair in the middle of the dancing rink and the godmother removes her veil, replacing it with a scarf. This signifies the transformation of the girl into a married woman. The bride refuses the scarf three times before the godmother manages to bind the scarf. According to tradition, the veil will be placed on the head of another unmarried girl. It is said that the girl receiving the veil will be married within a year. All the women, then dance the hora and the bride dances with every woman there, in the middle of the circle. The women put money in her dress as a sign of independence- that will be her own money and not the couples.  

images (4)

The tossing of the bouquet is also performed, as an imported tradition. Again, the girl catching the bouquet will be next to get married. – it is an international tradition that took off in Romania as well.

The removal of the garter is also a new tradition that Romanians seems to like.

Entertainment: Generally a big wedding will have a band that will play all night – international music, traditional Romanian music and some wedding specific music. For a small wedding a DJ is also accepted. Some wedding sprinkle the party with extra entertainment like a dance show, a famous artist, etc.   You may find this strange, but in a Romanian wedding or any big party, people dance a lot on Romanian traditional music. Sometimes, more people dance on traditional music than on modern one, even if they are young people.

hora at Melody hora nunta CB 1  IMG_9991

Hora is the main dance- it is danced in circle, all following the same sequence of steps. Don’t worry, though, the dance steps are extremely simple  and once you learned them, the dances are real fun. So please, join the dances, follow the person on your right hand side and enjoy a different type of dancing.

And for those who can only dance on modern music, our band can and will play a long list of cover songs and we have a back-up DJ as well.  If you know of songs that cannot miss from an Irish wedding, please comment here with the Song name, artist and/or link so that we can be prepared to show you a great time.

We are looking forward to having a great party!

the wedding through pictures

wedding invitation

You are kindly invited to our wedding.  (click on the picture above to enlarge your invitation) Please RSVP.

The wedding will take place in Constanta- Romania- a city located by the Black Sea, having the party in  Mamaia – the strip of land between the sea and the lake that is a 20 km summer resort.

Constanta - Google map

In Romanian law, there ha to be a civil wedding before the religious one, it can be in the same day or any number of days before. We will try to make the arrangements to have it in the same day or as close to the religious wedding as possible. We will let you know of the date and time. It is basically just saying “yes’ in front of a Constanta official and signing the legal documents.

where legal papers are signed

The actual wedding is on the day of the religious ceremony and the party, that is on the 17th of August.

The wedding starts at a groom’s place and follows towards the Bride’s house that is located at Trocadero area – on Lapusneanu Boulevard of Constanta.


The Religious ceremony will take place at the beautiful wooden Church of St. M.M. Mina in Tabacarie Park – Constanta, on Sunday the 17th of August 2014, at 5.00pm.

A photo session will follow in the park.

The reception will take place in Mamaia Resort – (here is a view from the area where Melody Grand Ballroom is situated)

The reception will be held at Melody Grand Ballroom  starting at 8.00 pm

Melody   melody 1   melody 3

and ending in the early hours of the morning,

perhaps after sunrize. ..

Many surprises are to happen on the day, during the night and the next day.

about Constanta and Romania – intro

Some of you may consider our wedding as an opportunity to visit a country that otherwise you would not have picked as a travel destination.  If you are curious about the country and the city of Constanta, you can access the following links:

http://www.romaniatourism.com/ – for general touristic information about this country.

It is a big country that offers everything you may think of  in terms of geography – from the sea-side with large beautiful beaches and the possibility of swimming safely and in a rather warm water, to high mountains where the snow stays even during summer. We have a lot of history and many places to visit.

Romania is a safe country, with hospitable people, good food and loads of possibilities for having fun.

http://constantacity.com/city-guide/ – for a guide to Constanta

Constanta is the most south-eastern city of the country, situated by the Black Sea. It is an ancient city that 2500 years ago was called Tomis – a Greek colony. Being part of Dobrogea region, its history includes many shifts, it was a Greek town, then under the influence of Turks and Tatars, under Slavic influences and of course part of Romania. The poet Ovid had his exile in Tomis and loved the city.

Being located where it is, Constanta is privileged with great weather all throughout the year – the winters are mild and the summers are hot, but cooler than the rest of the country.

Mamaia resort is part of Constanta, and it is the most fashionable and cosmopolitan summer resort in Romania. There are tens of night clubs and hundreds of hotels and restaurants. the beach is long and very wide in places. The sea water is shallow at the shore, making it safe for children and the sea does not have any predators.

In the month of August, Mamaia is during its summer season peak so the whole country comes here to have fun.

So if you come here, be sure to have a swim suit and very light clothes.

As a little piece of practical information – eating out and having fun is considerably cheaper than in Ireland. As Alan said before – good weather and cheap beer are a great combination for it to be a travel destination.


… this was just an introduction, but I will post more information about things that may interest you, as the blog progresses.

I will also make a potential program for you, for the time you may be here and I will give you details on customs, travel, etc.

If you have any questions, please feel free to post them here. I will answer gladly.

welcome to our wedding diary

We are excited to invite you to follow our wedding arrangements and details as they progress in the following year. 

We are writing this blog for all our friends and families who are to be our guests for the most important event of our lives (as Alan qualified it last night after a few pints, and Lavi agrees, without any alcohol on board).

As you know, Alan is Irish and Lavinia is Romanian, Alan is Catholic and Lavinia is Orthodox, Alan’s family is from Ireland and Lavinia’s family from Romania, so the wedding will be a mixture of traditions coming from both sides. As a show of respect for both our roots, we will try to combine as many customs as we can, to create a really special event for our guests, our families and of course, for ourselves.

We are having our wedding ceremony in Constanta, Romania – the city where Lavinia was born and raised. As we both share a love for the sea, we will try to pick a venue that is as close to the sea as possible, Mamaia resort being ideal. 

As the wedding is set in Romania, this blog is mostly dedicated to our international guests who are less familiar with the place, the customs and who may find some of our traditions completely new. Alan will also be interested in some of the information here, as this will be the first Romanian wedding he is attending🙂. Given the above, it is an obvious choice to write this blog in English. 

So feel free to follow the news of our wedding, ask us questions when you have any curiosities and enjoy this beautiful journey with us.