Getting the papers I needed for the civil wedding was the first taste I had of the Romanian bureaucracy and the difference in work ethic between Romanians and Americans. I needed my birth certificate and other identification information to be translated into Romanian and submitted with Ema?s information to the primărie(mayor?s office) in her home town, Făurei, where we were to get married. We had to travel about an hour to Brăila, the capitol of the county, or judeţ, to find a notary that could translate and notarize the documents. But, when we got there, the notary said that she couldn?t make the papers. The big problem was that my American passport didn?t list a permanent address or the name of my parents. The Romanian marriage certificate also has to list the names of the parents (all legal documents list the name of your parents in Romania).
A cousin of Ema?s mother spoke to the notary in Făureiand he agreed to accept the documents that I had as the proper evidence that I needed. I had the name of my parents on my birth certificate and I had their address for my permanent address on the envelope from the courthouse in my parent?s county that sent them the copy of my birth certificate. First we went to his office during his posted business hours, but that day he had decided that he wanted to go home early, which is he probably does often, because there isn?t too much business to do in such a small town. I was upset by both of these incidents because I was used to people trying hard to resolve problems for you as a matter of pride in doing their job and for people working extra hours, not going home early. But, we were able to go to the notary at the first hour the next morning and he amicably resolved our problem.
After that we had to schedule our civil wedding with the magistrate, but the civil servant at the office wasn?t very civil and wasn?t very serving. She kept delaying when we could go with all the papers to sign the book and schedule the ceremony. We ended up having to stay in town a few extra days to resolve the problem and only after we bought her some good coffee and cigarettes and Ema?s mother took them to her house for a visit, did she set up a time for us to come and schedule the civil wedding.
Usually, you have the civil wedding the morning of the religious wedding at the church, or the day before. We had ours two week?s before the religious wedding, because we were to travel from Bucharest and we needed to meet my parents and take them by car with us to the wedding. In the U.S., the religious wedding is legal for the state, as long as you have a marriage license from the courthouse, so you don?t have to go through two ceremonies. If you?re not religious, then you can choose to be married by the magistrate and skip any religious ceremony.
In Romania, as in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and other Eastern European countries, the wedding is traditionally a three day affair. My parents knew that it took three days, but weren?t really prepared for an all night party. An American wedding is usually in the afternoon or early evening, then there is a reception party just until eleven in the night or around midnight (dinner, some drinks and dancing, a few traditions - taking off the brides garter, throwing the bride?s flower bouquet to the single girls - then the bride and groom depart to a secret place to consummate the marriage and leave for their honeymoon.