Customarily, the wedding union between a man and his bride in Albania is set by parents, a liaison or matchmaker. The celebrations will often start seven days before the actual ceremony marking a week long event known as jav’ e nuses. Often a rite marking the couple’s engagement is observered among the members of the bride and groom’s families.
At the engagement the bride is handed a gold coin as a sign of the agreement. A party is held at the bride’s home and she, that is the bride, is showered with presents and sugar covered almonds known as ‘kufeta’, which are also eaten and presented to the bride. Drinks are almost always present. Then a second festivity is held by the groom’s relatives. True traditionalists will require the groom’s family pay a dowry as homage to the bride’s parents.
As stated, the wedding arrangements come into full swing a week before the nuptials themselves. Throughout this period, food is prepared – chiefly chickpea bread (buke me qiqra), as relatives, friends and well wishers visit both the groom’s and bride’s respective homes to congratulate them. The presents that are handed to the groom and the bride’s trousseau are exposed in display at their respective homes together with their wedding gear. Relatives from the man’s family will then proceed to the home of the bride’s parents to request for her presence at the celebrations, carrying along with them wine, blossoms and a platter of ice, sweets, money all topped up with a cake.
The Albanian bride-groom will proceed to request for the presence of the godfather known as ‘kumbare’ and his best man or ‘vellam’. This period of merriment is filled with great feasting and entertainment. Late into the night, at just about midnight, the couple getting married, together with their relatives and comrades, walks off in reverse bearings to three different water sources to fill two urns. Money in form of coins is tossed into the air at every juncture during the procession.
On the day of the wedding, the bride is fully clad, given a mouthful of wine by her parents with their blessings. The rest of her relatives present her with cash. The best man comes with the bride’s shoes, crammed with rice and candied almonds, all enfolded in a silk bandanna in the escort of rejoicing and jubilating women folk. He then slips the shoes onto the bride’s feet and gives a token of cash to the person that dressed her. After which he tosses more coins and the people scramble for the money. The family of the groom will then escort the bride to the observance. After the formal procedures a reception is prepared with lots of food and drink.
The next day, the bride is paid a visit by her relatives that come with sweets, this is followed by a visit from friends seven days later known as ‘te pare’. After several weeks have elapsed the bride’s dowry is put on exhibition and the bride hands over gifts to her relatives on her husband’s side. This will mark the end of the formalities once the couple is sent off with blessings to begin their new life together.