Wedding season in Romania combines tradition, modernity

In the quiet hills of the Oaş region of northern Romania, where many locals in Western Europe have gone to work, “you don’t even have anyone to talk to for most of the year,” says photographer Remus Tiplea.

But every summer, that changes like clockwork, and Mr. Tiplea picks up his camera to work as a wedding photographer during the rush of August. For these villages on Ukraine’s border, neither the war next door nor COVID-19 has disrupted the festivities planned years ahead.

Why we wrote this

Maintaining strong ties with family and friends back home provides community and continuity. Gathering for celebrations such as weddings reinforces a shared sense of identity.

Weddings in Oaş are attended by hundreds, sometimes even a thousand people. There is a remarkable mix of tradition and wealth. Guests dress in Romanian folk costumes and the latest fashions from Paris. Limousines commute between villages, flower shops make endless bouquets and musicians play until dawn.

“I learned how to prepare brides from my mother and grandmother, and no one else knows how to do it,” says Maria Cont, as she braids the strands of a bride’s hair into something that resembles elephant ears. Later, Mrs. Cont will sew decorated ribbons into the updo.

Soon the buzz will subside, and when the fall chill sets in, residents here will once again be left with fewer people to talk to – but lots of warm memories.

Negreşti-Oaş, Romania

In a remote region of northern Romania, the summer heat heralds the warmth of homecoming. Eleven months a year, the residents of the Oaş region of Western Europe work, but in mid-August they return to their native village, on the border with Ukraine and about an hour’s drive from Hungary, to celebrate the wedding season.

Neither COVID-19 nor the Russian invasion of Ukraine has disrupted the festivities planned years ahead.

Weddings in Oaş are attended by hundreds, sometimes even a thousand people. There is a remarkable mix of tradition and wealth. Guests dress in Romanian folk costumes or the latest Parisian fashion, eat delicacies and dance in dry ice mist.

Why we wrote this

Maintaining strong ties with family and friends back home provides community and continuity. Gathering for celebrations such as weddings reinforces a shared sense of identity.

Every detail is meticulously captured by photographers. “Otherwise in Romania people are happy to have the wedding turned into a short film, but in Oaş we make films of about five hours,” said Claudia Simon, a videographer.

A bride and groom, followed by guests and musicians, leave a church after the ceremony. More than 80% of Romanians belong to the Orthodox Church.

No expense or effort is spared. Limousines commute between villages, beauticians and hairdressers work to their limits, flower shops make endless bouquets and musicians play until dawn.

In some cases, marriage customs are passed down from generation to generation.