I can hear the bells: Turkish wedding, Part II

Now to continue the story. After the ceremony, we went to lunch and met with friends to carpool to the reception. The reception was at a beautiful venue on the outskirts of Istanbul. If you went outside and upstairs to the top, you could see the bridge between the European and Asian sides. Downstairs, we walked in to where dinner was going to be. (I felt quite special, because they were checking names of guests–not just everyone gets to go to to these things.) We walked into a large, square room lined with decorative mirrors. The tables were set with gold chargers and silverware and white plates and napkins, with pink and white flower centerpieces. Towards the front of the room was a dance floor, which seemed to be set in an intricate, tile pattern. Much to our pleasure, we were placed at the table closest to the dance floor. Everything was beautiful, and so far, not too unlike the Western weddings I’d attended.

But then the food came. We were served a five course meal. The appetizer was a sampler of a sort of bean soup, cheeses, various meat salads, a potato salad I was told is called “American” or “Russian” salad, and bread. We were then given a light greens salad, an entree of lamb and rice, a fruit platter, and then slices from the wedding cake for dessert. Unfortunately, I’m not a huge fan of lamb, but everything else was delicious. It wasn’t until we were served the entree that the bride and groom showed up and immediately went into their first dance together. After they finished dancing, they went around to all the tables to greet their guests. In the meantime, photographers went around each table, taking pictures and later printing and placing them in cardboard foldouts and selling them for about 10 or 20 Liras.

And then there was the dancing. Traditional dancing, modern dancing, group dancing, couple dancing. Lots and lots of dancing. They had a dj most of the night, but for a while, a band came in and joined the fun as well. I danced little while, always making sure to make my way back to my plate when a new course was served. Towards the end of the night, I was beginning to get tired (I had to get up for work at 5:30 the next morning). But this is not exactly the place where people let you rest. The groom dragged me to the floor for the bouquet toss–a tradition I don’t even participate in at Western weddings–and then there was more dancing.

All in all, it was an enriching experience and a great way to spend my first weekend in Istanbul.

I can hear the bells: Turkish wedding, Part I

Wanting to fully and quickly immerse myself in Turkish culture, I attended a Turkish wedding this past weekend. The wedding was for a college friend of my roommate’s and she was nice enough to invit me as well.  I’ve only attended American weddings until this point and was excited to see how things were different.

We went to the henna night on Friday, which my roommate explained is similar to a Bachelorette party, though slightly less risque. It was in an upstairs event room of a swanky hotel about 15 minutes from us. Though I’d never met any of the people before, everyone was incredibly nice and welcoming. I tried my limited Turkish and if I didn’t speak too much, most people assumed I was Turkish. The first, and most major difference, I noticed, was that while there were mostly just women there (friends and family members), the groom and the bride’s father were there as well. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me rewind.

We took the minibus to a nearby neighborhood and were one of the first ones to arrive. After greeting the groom, the bride, and the bride’s sister, we picked a table and sat down while other guests trickled in. And though I shook most people’s hands when first meeting them, I had to get used to kissing them on each cheek. My British grandmother always does this, but it’s not something I’ve grown to expect from strangers.  Kiss, kiss, “Merhaba.” Yes, nice to meet you too. Handshake, kiss, kiss, “Merhaba.”

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