Roma or Gypsy wedding traditions are a lot different than the modern weddings that we are accustomed to. It all starts with the choosing of the bride. The parents of the boy are the ones who select the girl. According to Roma laws, it is the responsibility of the parents to find their son an appropriate girl. The potential bride will be judged if she is valuable for them based on strength, stamina, health, disposition, manners and domestic skills. They would also look at the girl’s family if they have a good reputation in the community. If a girl rejects a formal proposal, it is considered a disgrace.
The Gypsy wedding traditions are generally meticulous and some marriage formalities are lengthy. There are long discussions between the two parties, predominantly over the amount of “darro” or dowry. This money is to recompense the father for the loss of his daughter, and it is not for the purchase of the bride. After reaching an agreement, the father of the chosen bride drinks a symbolic glass of wine. This means that the boy has been formally accepted as a husband under the agreed conditions.
One of the Gypsy wedding traditions done prior to the wedding ceremony is the “pliashka,” which is a joyous celebration where the father of the groom-to-be puts a necklace of coins on the future bride’s neck as a sign of acceptance. Depending on the tribes, wedding ceremonies vary. There are those who don’t have a formal ceremony because for them the commitment to share their lives together is enough.
Usual Gypsy ceremonies comprise of the bride and groom joining hands in front of their family and friends, where they promise to be loyal to each other. Bread is part of other Gypsy wedding traditions, where the couple exchange breads with either their own blood or salt and eat them.
The informal joyous celebrations to honor the marriage can go on for a number of days. An enormous feast is served on these occasions. Typically, there is an open fire to roast whole pigs, sides of beef, chicken, or goose. There are gigantic platters of fried potatoes and boiled cabbage stuffed with rice and sliced meat with garlic and other herbs. Drinks are served generously too. The common wedding gifts consist of money. These money gifts will aid the new couple as they start their new lives together.
When the celebration ends, the groom takes his bride home. The girl’s family kisses her and they weep as they unbraid her hair a sign for her new marital status. Her new mother-in-law helps in knotting her “diklo” or headscarf, which is also a symbol that she is already a married woman. She is never seen in public again without this headscarf. The mother-in-law will also be her guide in her active role in the household.