Saturday, June 19, 2010

Turkey: The Wedding

June 9-12, 2010

The Bride and Groom, Gulden and Ozman

About the Bride and Groom:
The bride, Gulden Alp (29), was an AFS exchange student and good friend at the same time as our 1999-2000 Venezuelan student, Adriana Hernandez-Moron. After graduating from college, she went to work in the family business as a Pirelli Tire dealer, service station, and servers of large tour buses. The groom, Ozman (29), is also from Antalya and works for his parents Pirelli wire and cable distributorship. They have known each other for about 8 years. However, it was a surprise the suddenness of their marriage after announcing their engagement. The families, although they were familiar with each other, met for the first time at the engagement. The groom's family is a more traditional Muslim family than the brides.

About the Preliminaries:
The following is my understanding of a traditional Turkish/Muslim wedding.
The engagement occurs at a meeting of both families when the prospective groom asks the prospective bride's father for permission to marry. The acceptance by the bride's father in essence seals the marriage. In Turkey, there is a civil marriage that legally binds the couple to a marriage contract. Muslim's do not get married in a mosque. A cleric is invited for prayers or to speak to the couple about their religious obligations.

Henna Night:
Two nights before the wedding the bride's female friends get together for a party/ceremony to apply the dye, henna, to the bride's hands. This is to signify good luck. In the case of Gulden, she was originally brought into the room by the groom who then left. A band played, the women danced. About two-thirds through the evening, the bride leaves and this time returns preceded by a procession of women carrying candles accompanied with the groom. They bought sit in satin covered chairs and a hood is placed over the bride's head. The processional encloses the couple. Henna is then placed into the palms of both bride and groom who grip it tightly as women ceremoniously try to pry it from her hand. Gloves are placed over the hands with henna of both bride and groom. The groom then leaves and the party resumes. The women live it up. Turkish henna is leaves a rust colored stain, while Indian is black and used to paint designs on the skin.

Meanwhile the men, me included, await the finish of the women's revelry at a nearby restaurant.

Gulden and Adriana returning from henna night.
The Alp family: Onur (24), Neli, Gulden (29), Memet, and Guldeen (17)
Some of the girls at Gulden's parents apartment
Men awaiting their ladies and the end of henna night.

The Hamam (Turkish Bath)
The day before the wedding is for the bride and her close friends to have a Turkish Bath. Since Mary declined the invitation, modesty I suppose, I can only relay what Adriana said. I guess the girls with to a Five Star Spa for not only a Turkish Bath, but many other beauty treatment

The Wedding Day (Part 1)
In the morning the wedding party headed of to the bride's parents ancestral home town and the father's parliamentary district of Bucak about an hour north of Antalya. I was not feeling well and missed the event. I don't know how many guest were there, but Gulden's brother said he shook hands for about four hours.

The Wedding Day (Part 2)

Mary, Adriana, and I waiting in the Sera Hotel lobby, Antalya, for the wedding to begin
Gulden (bride), Ozman (groom), Mary, and I
Adriana, ready to go
Reception tables for 1,300 guests.

Chairs are covered in white satin with gold bows. Floral arrangements ring the area

with names of donors inscribed on ribbons.

A sit down dinner.

Bride and groom's entry, complete with orchestral fanfare and fireworks.

A large screen TV made it easier for all to see.

Bride and groom sit on a raised platform for the official civil ceremony conducted by Antalya's mayor. This was followed by congratulatory speeches from various Turkish governmental ministers and officials. Upon signing of the marriage contract, more fireworks.

Then the couple dance, to even more fireworks.

The wedding cake then arrived (didn't get a good picture of the fireworks)

Gift Giving

We wanted to give a gift, but were unsure what gift the couple wanted or what would be appropriate. So from departure on Turkish Airlines in Chicago to the day before the wedding, we asked anyone who would talk to us about what to do. Everyone said GOLD. Indeed gold is the appropriate gift and stores have it in many coinages and jewerly. Credit cards not accepted, since many brides quickly sell the gold back for cash.

We wondered how to actually give the gift and found out that if you gave a gold braclet, you put it on the bride's arm. If coins, you drop it into a bag held by an attendant. In this case, the groom's sister. But how does the bride know what you have given in this annymous manner. Not to worry we were later told, the couple's mother remember who gave what. (In this case, there was a photographer).

Later we were told that the bigger the wedding the better. More guests, more gold. Just what is fancy and what is truth is hard to decipher. Mary and I thought there was a lot of merit to gift giving in Turkey.

Mary congratulaing the bride.

Dropping our gift into the bag held by the groom's sisters.
Reception area as guests begin to leave after gift giving.
The party is almost over
The get-a-way car, almost.

Final Ceremony

At the end of evening, when most guests had departed, the bride's father tied a ribbon around her waist to signify her virginity. The couple then went to the house of the groom's parents for tea before ending the evening at their hotel.

Apres Wedding

However, their wedding obligations continue for the next several weeks as they are expected to visit their relatives, after which hey go on their honeymoon to New York and the wedding of Gulden's host sister.


jane said...

How interesting Nick. I really enjoyed your explanation & photos of the wedding rituals. What a major bash it was. Is that a typical wedding in Turkey?

Karen's Planet said...

Great post! It's so much fun to learn about different cultures. Sounds like you are having a great time.