Georgeta and Mirela are the only two wedding celebrants in Borșa, Romania. They inherited their jobs from their mothers, and as well as continuing their own family tradition they’re also continuing those of dozens and dozens of people who work abroad but return to their land of origin just to get married exactly as their mothers, fathers, grandparents and great-grandparents did before them.
Borșa is a town of 30,000 inhabitants in the remote mountain region of Maramureș on the Ukrainian border. Since the beginning of the 1990s, with reduced work opportunities in the area, the majority of the working population have been moving abroad for work, particularly to Italy.
However, those who’ve emigrated almost always return home to get married and they do so at a very specific time of the year: during the last two weeks of August. Even if most of these people have lived abroad for a significant part of their lives, the desire to return to one’s roots is still very strong. Tying the knot in Borșa, in one’s land of origin and possibly even in one of the traditional wood-built churches, means following local tradition to embark on a new life adventure, and with no expense spared: people save for years to ensure a lavish ceremony, the restaurants and bars are booked years in advance and the organisation of the event creates a strong sense of social engagement.
In 2019, as many as 70 civil ceremonies were celebrated in Borșa during the last two weeks of August: an incredible number when you consider that only 45 ceremonies were held during the rest of the entire year. In Romania, the only legally binding way to get married is with a civil ceremony, and it is required before any religious function takes place.