CULTURE: Our first Turkish wedding part 3 ‘Nikah ve Parti’ or wedding ceremony and party
Kina Gecesi and Gelin Alma are unique traditions for Turkish weddings. I not-so secretly wish we had the Gelin Alma ‘Fetching of the Bride’ tradition in the states! But alas, I am married and don’t really want to repeat any of that! Moving on to part 3 of our Turkish wedding series, we finally arrive at the actual marriage signing ceremony, also know as Nikah in Turkish, and the after party!
After the morning dancing and bride pick up, the bride and groom prepare for the wedding near/at the groom’s home, each in their own way as needed (meaning that the bride takes significantly more time to have her makeup and hair done). Then together the couple departs to take wedding pictures.
Since I was asked to be a witness in the wedding, I readied myself as well and was, needless to say, very on time for a not so on time cultural wedding. Turkish time tends to have more fluidity to it. I traveled with the photographer, his wife, and the other witnesses to watch them take pictures before heading to the wedding location.
The Nikah or marriage agreement in Turkish weddings have 2 to 4 witnesses. Our friends had two witnesses each: two for the bride and two for the groom. I had never seen or attended a Turkish wedding before so I was slightly nervous. They told me what to do and even though it sounded easy, I was worried I would miss my part because it was all in Turkish!
In the states, the ceremony can be done in a billion different ways, but in Turkey it’s pretty straightforward and the Nikah takes all of 5 minutes. The bride says ‘Evet (Yes)!’ The groom says ‘Evet (Yes)!’ And then all the witnesses are asked if they agree to the marriage and we say ‘Evet (Yes)!’ Then everyone takes turns to sign their signature in their pre-designated spot in a large government book to record the wedding ceremony. Next, the government official will hand the marriage booklet over to the newly married couple. If you ever see pictures of a Turkish wedding, you will see the couple proudly holding up the red marriage booklet!
So that is exactly what happened! After everyone arrived to the wedding (a good 1.5 hours ‘late’), the bride and groom were presented walking together down a very long red carpet with perfectly timed pyrotechnics. The witnesses were called up to join the ceremony (which I actually understood). Everything went well and everyone did their part by saying ‘Yes!’
The couple celebrated with their first dance together followed by more dancing with friends and family, needless to say, there is a lot of dancing through it all. My favorite dances are the circle dances where everyone joins hands and does a type of line dance! The usual cutting of cake came later and everyone enjoyed a slice of ice cream cake.
While all that seems normal to us, the next and generally last part of the wedding starts. After the cake, everyone lines up to congratulate the couple on their marriage and pin their gift to a ribbon draped around their necks. Instead of gifts from a registry like we have in the states, Turks give money or gold coins (which are worth different amounts). Most guests tend to leave after this but a smaller group of family and friends will stay to dance well into the night.
And don’t forget to check out Part 1 and Part 2 of the Turkish Wedding Series! Read here for more articles about Turkish culture and holidays. Lastly, for an audio version of the wedding, listen in to Episode034: When you dance the night away!
For Turkish readers:
Have you attended this event before?
Did you have a typical Turkish wedding? What was something that was different at your wedding?
What do you think about these traditions?
What traditions have you observed at a wedding of another culture?