Two “Happily Ever After” out of Thousands

Have you ever woken up during the weekends by the music coming from the closest neighborhood? Have you seen people playing loud music and dancing? If yes, then you have experienced a gypsy wedding. But after all, have you noticed how young the married couple is?

Romani people are the third largest ethnicity in Bulgaria. They are around 4% of the whole population of the country. Most of the times this ethnical group is characterized with its poor education, low hygiene habits, and not enough communication with the others. The causes of those features can be as diverse as the Romani culture is, but the most outstanding of them is that most of the Romani population lives in segregated districts out of the cities.

Images of Romani Weddings, Credits: Atanas Atanasov

The early marriages of the Romani people contribute a lot for the dropouts of the education system and for the systematical unemployment in the country. Also, getting married early leaves the couple with less opportunities to get a well-paid job and be able to sustain an economically stable family.

Yet, this is only the general opinion. There are always exceptions and those two girls are the perfect example how one early decision in life can be the best one so far.

Sevzhan, 19

Sevzhan is a 19 years old Romani woman from Shumen, born in a family of merchants. She did not have any strugles in her life due to her family’s well being. Sevzhan was enrolled in a private school and was always following the latest fashion. Yet even living in such a modern family she decided to do something which is considered archaic. At the age of 14 she got engaged with her boyfriend, Mehmed. Latter before turning 18 she gots married to him. However, this huge step in her life did not change the attitide towards her studies. Sevzhan graduated with honors from Shumen’s High School of Architecture and Building. Now Sevzhan is happily married with her husband and enjoys the time which she spends with her daughter, Deniz.

“Marring Mehmed was the best choice in my life. Now I enjoy being a wife and a mother of a 7 -month- old baby.” — Sevzhan Ismailovea

Sevzhan and her husband are coming from wealthy families and they can afford to have big and splendid wedding. Yet, most of the Romani people cannot spend too much for such occasions.


Mariyana is a 17 year-old girl from Blagoevgrad. Her choice was to stop her education for the purpose of being married.

Mariyana comes from a poor neighbourhood with religious morals. Although, she steeped out those morals, she is joyful about her merriage.

What differs Mariyana from Sevdjan is the financial standing of her familly. Mariyana is coming from a poor neighbourhood with high moral standards. She got married three years ago, when she was 14. Today, she is happily married. What she misses the most is education. She ceased her education at the age of 14 and today, she truly regrets. She did not develop enough neither her writing, nor reading skills. Mariyana shares that there is nothing better than being in school, learning new thing while you are surrounded by your classmates. She misses the feelings of being impatient to see her scores on the exams, to stand when the teacher comes into the classroom, or even to have exams.

“I used to be a good student and I wish i could go back to school”, says Mariyana.

The Romani community is the second largest one, after Bulgarians in the country. Most of the people are poor, uneducated and considered as thieves. Around 56% of the Romani population lives in segregated districts out of the cities where they have established their own facilities and they have a sustainable life.

What is also known about the Romani population is that they get married at the very early age. Girls become wives at the ages of 12 and 13. Cease their education and remain illiterate. Children are looking after children. Kids become parents. Future remains uncertain.

“Тай тховгяс о Дел кхо девликани. зуралипнасте о светило ки пхув.”
“The earliest you married , the strongest family you built” — Romani proverb.

The female part of the Romani population is 49%. One third are married at the age of 14–17. Elderly representatives of the Romani community believe that early marriages are sign of devotion towards your beloved one. That is why many girls drop out of school and becomes housewives. Later on in their life, the young families are facing the problem “children looking after children”.

Romas’ Neighbourhood, Credits: Polina Marinova
One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.