Judit Balatonyi – Hungary: From Public to Private – From “Big Fat” to “Micro”-Weddings: Getting married in the time of COVID-19

Judit Balatonyi
University of Pécs, Department of European Ethnology – Cultural Anthropology; Eötvös Loránd Research Network (Hungary)

Hungary: From Public to Private – From “Big Fat” to “Micro”-Weddings: Getting married in the time of COVID-19


During the COVID-19 pandemic getting married has changed considerably all over the world. In Hungary strict restrictions with intermittent short relaxations of the regulations were applied. Consequently, many weddings were postponed, reorganized, or cancelled. In other cases couples got married at city hall in front of two witnesses or their immediate families, without a wedding reception. The weddings then continued with just the couple or with an intimate circle of family, or friends and/or neighbors. At the same time, the newly married couple also tried to carry out some of the ritual-like elements of ‘traditional’ weddings, for example the first dance as a married couple (even on the balcony of an apartment in a housing estate). Based on my digital anthropological research, starting from the beginning of the pandemic, this paper will examine how Hungarian wedding providers and couples reacted to the changing, uncertain situation brought about by the pandemic. I argue that under these circumstances weddings that were originally public rituals turned into private ones. I examine the arguments, and dilemmas leading to the reorganization of wedding ceremonies; how the events that were originally designed to be public and were to include often lavish wedding feasts became private. I also ask by what means did the interested parties protect and advocate for their interests.

Biography of the author:

Judit Balatonyi received her PhD degree from the Interdisciplinary PhD Doctoral School, Program for European Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology (University of Pécs, Hungary), in 2016. She is a research fellow supported by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences Premium Postdoctoral Research Fellowship. She also has been a lecturer at the Department of Ethnography and Cultural Anthropology and at the Institute of Education Department of Romani Studies. The title of her current research project is Marriage and marriage rituals in Hungary in the 21st century.