Today I found this old family photograph circa 1900. In it a group of women are wearing elaborate Romanian blouses and lots of jewelry, holding large flower arrangements and small lap dogs while a group of men in suits stand behind them. It didn’t occur to me that this was a wedding picture until my uncle pointed it out via transatlantic text messages. There were a bunch of us trying to figure out who the people in the picture were, fitting fragments of stories we remembered together like puzzle pieces. We asked the old lizard too, for good measure, as she used to love talking about these people back in the day, but today all she said was: “They were far far away.” Which I think means far removed in time, as geographically her grandfather’s estate of Horezu-Poenari is not that far at all.
Without meaningful lizard-input we tried to fit the puzzle pieces together as well as we could. My uncle pointed out that the bride looks like grandma. Though obviously it was before her time, and also we all knew that grandma got married right after the war and didn’t have a proper wedding. But the resemblance helped us some. The man behind the bride looked like the wealthy land owner who featured in several of the old ladies’ stories and who we had another picture of. I think he was their grandfather. I remember my old lizard telling me that he married a much younger woman of modest means and that his sister, whom my grandmother was named after, the original Zorica, disapproved. So I concluded that this was a picture of my grandmother’s grandparents wedding, the young woman was the bride, the disapproving sister in law probably the woman sitting next to her wearing a scowl and holding a dog. The groom, the wealthy owner of the Horezu-Poenari estate, standing behind the bride, would later be killed in the great peasant uprising of 1906. I remember the old ladies talking about this. Family lore also had it that one of the women, not sure if it was the young wife or Zorica, the disapproving sister, braved the uprising to stand by his side and hold a candle for him as he was dying. So, between the extravagant outfits, the lap dogs, and family feuds, these women were probably pretty badass. Also, apparently after the wedding the bride ran a bar for a few years, which further scandalized the disapproving sister in law.