One of the reasons Cat and I chose these dates to come to Romania was that Ana, Catalina's best friend, was getting married on July 4th. While our country was celebrating its independence, Alin (Ana's fiance) was losing his. (kidding)
To me, a wedding is a wedding is a wedding, and I've been to several. Had several actually, so I should be somewhat of an authority, but I've learned that I should not take anything for granted.
The first thing I learned before the wedding was that, in order to get married, you actually had to be married. What? Well...you have to get married twice. The first time is a civil ceremony at the court house (or something similar here in Romania). This is the legally binding stuff, the contract, that officially says "You're Married!". You have to have this done before you can get "married" again in the Church.
So I had to ask, "If they're already married, why bother with the Church service?" The answer came back as something like "being married in the eyes of God" and stuff like that. I would've asked "So how did people get married before churches?" but didn't want to start that conversation. Plus there are other considerations.....
I asked why the two steps, why not combine them like we do in the States, you get your license from the court house, but the priest or minister or rabbi or whatever can officially and religiously sign off on the deed. "Bureaucracy" was the answer, but I find that a bit strange. Perhaps it has something to do with the Communist days in Romania. Communism and the Church didn't mix well, as the State wanted to be all for the citizens, and replace faith in God with faith in the State. Maybe...but I don't know for sure.
Next is the gift. It's easy to know what to give the newlyweds at their wedding. Cash. Available at all local ATM machines. The only question would be "How much?". Cash is not only expected, but I think if you tried to give something else they would look at you as if you're crazy. But the reasoning seems to make sense to me. The bride and groom pay for their own wedding. The attending guests are supposed to give enough so that they cover their share of the cost of the wedding, plus give some extra to help the new couple in their start together.
As a father of a daughter who just got married, I was a first shocked at this notion. But soon came to think..."Hell yeah!!" as probably all fathers of daughters who have to pay for weddings would if they knew about this.
So for the question of "how much" Catalina and I agreed that we would give 1000 Romanian Lei, with the exchange rate of 3.4 per $1, I'll let you do the math. I didn't want to give too much (the plane tickets here alone were a LOT of money), but I didn't want to seem stingy either. After all, I was the only American at the wedding, and could not let everyone there think American's were cheap. The pride of America was on my shoulders, at least concerning the people at the wedding.
I brought a suit to wear to the wedding (Cat made me) and it was hung up almost as soon as we got to Iasi, trying to prevent every wrinkle possible. The same with the shirt too.
It takes a lot for me to wear a suit, especially for something where I have to pack it and take it with me, so they should be honored that I'd go to so much trouble. Of course, no one here actually knows of my disdain for dressing up, so they won't appreciate that sacrifice.
More to come....