Brides for Sale

Investigating Bulgaria's Roma marriage market

Have you ever heard about a market where beautiful brides are offered up for sale? This one of a kind market exists in Bulgaria, here prices range from $5,000 to $20,000 for a bride of your choice.

To find out more about these Brides for Sale, a DW (Deutsche Welle) documentary crew travels to a Kalaidzhi bride market in the southeast of Bulgaria. Here they’ll experience the bride market at first hand together with teenagers Teni(17) and Maria(19).

To these teenagers it’s all about getting new clothes, meeting new people and getting in contact with the opposite sex. To the parents however, selling their daughters as brides will cement the future of their family – effectively keeping them safe. These, often, poverty-stricken families strive to forge mutually-beneficial unions where dowry is first and love is second.

But is this the way to find love in the 21st century? Are the bride markets relics from a time before the internet and social media?

Some say the culture and nature of these bride markets were supposedly born out of necessity, as Bulgaria’s Christian Orthodox faith could prohibit the younger generations from dating, flirting or having any contact with the opposite sex.

A growing number of young Roma, however, are rebelling against the traditional marriage market. They want to make their own decisions, and to love and marry the person of their choice.

For girls especially – some as young as 15 when they are put up for marriage – the wedding is the end of self-determined life. Most of them know they’ll subsequently become housewives and mothers.

Brides for Sale
  • Info
  • Release date2017
  • Full runtime26 min
  • Directed byVolker Heimann
  • Produced byKobalt, Cattle C. Studios
  • Produced forZDF