Bride stealing custom all the rage in Bucharest
BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) - A white limousine screeches to a halt and a bride, resplendent in frothy gown and veil, is hauled outside by her abductors.
It's one of Romania's more colorful customs: bride-napping. And the tradition of snatching the bride from under the nose of groom and guests with the wedding party in full swing is getting bigger, brasher and an increasingly common sight in the Romanian capital, the Balkans' undisputed party town.
Every Saturday night, brides from Bucharest and beyond are dragged away in a mock abduction by friends and driven to a top tourist spot where they are "held hostage" - all the while pouting, dancing and striking provocative poses for the cameras. The ransom: a few bottles of whisky or perhaps something more romantic, like a public declaration of love from the abandoned groom. The kidnappers negotiate by phone, working out the details of the payoff. It's all harmless theatrics meant to add a whiff of risque fun to the nuptials.
The custom took off a few years ago when a top football player rented Bucharest's Arch of Triumph, a major monument modeled after its iconic namesake in Paris, and proposed there to his girlfriend. There was no kidnapping involved but the scene stuck in the popular imagination as a symbol of marriage - and soon the monument became a sort of midnight mecca for bride-napping.