FunkTravels Turkish Wedding Nikah

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.

FunkTravels Turkish Wedding Nikah

FunkTravels Turkish Wedding Nikah

FunkTravels Turkish Wedding Nikah

FunkTravels Turkish Wedding Nikah

FunkTravels Turkish Wedding Nikah

FunkTravels Turkish Wedding Nikah

FunkTravels Turkish Wedding Nikah
My handsome groom

FunkTravels Turkish Wedding Nikah

FunkTravels Turkish Wedding Nikah

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!’

FunkTravels Turkish Wedding Nikah

FunkTravels Turkish Wedding Nikah

FunkTravels Turkish Wedding Nikah

FunkTravels Turkish Wedding Nikah

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.

FunkTravels Turkish Wedding Nikah

FunkTravels Turkish Wedding Nikah

FunkTravels Turkish Wedding Nikah

FunkTravels Turkish Wedding Nikah

 

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?

Non-Turkish readers:

What do you think about these traditions?

What traditions have you observed at a wedding of another culture?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FunkTravels Eski Foca

EXPAT: Read our interview with ExpatArrivals

Our 1 year mark is quickly approaching! We are somewhat surprised at how quickly it flew by. While my main goals are connecting with our neighbours and community and language learning, I have loved getting to know other expats as well.  Part of our move over here was researching information about expat life via several expat website, one of them being ExpatArrivals.

Websites like ExpatArrivals help others gain knowledge about the community, cost of living, and even neighbourhoods. Some of the best advice is from first hand experience.

Being an expat in another country means you have a unique perspective. As we have transitioned to Izmir, I have enjoyed hearing other expat stories and how they moved from their native countries. Everyone has a story and no two are the same. You, too, have asked us questions about our expat lives, and in our FunkTravels Podcast Episode032 and Episode033 we answered most of them!

Recently, I shared via an interview at ExpatArrivals website to help others potential expats moving to Turkey in the future. The interview covers questions from hospitals, schooling, trailing spouses, and kids. If you have wondered about anything of these, then continue reading about here…

 

 

expatarrivals Interview FunkTravels

 

What question did you like? Did you learn anything new?

 

CULTURE: Our first Turkish wedding part 2 ‘Gelin Alma’ or Fetching of the Bride

People in America think weddings are a lot of work, and probably that their way is the best way to get married. Yes, yes, I will agree that there is a lot of planning for the American wedding, but it’s only one event!  But here in Turkey the weddings have way more too them.  I mean, I am writing a 3 part series about our first Turkish wedding!

I wrote about how the Turkish wedding starts with the Kına Gecesi or Henna night. But now I will move on the the actual day of the wedding. The morning of the wedding day, we met the groom for a Turkish wedding tradition that I had not heard about before, the Gelin Alma or Fetching of the Bride.

The morning of the wedding the groom goes to receive his bride from her family so that they can start preparing for the wedding. This is mostly for family and close friends. We were honored to be invited. For this particular ‘Gelin Alma,’ the groom’s family hired a drummer and, along with his band, he played music outside the groom’s house. After a while, we all packed up in the car and caravanned over to the bride’s house, honking horns and having our emergency lights on. Upon arriving, the dancing  started up again to let her family know we have arrived (because the car horns didn’t do enough…).

Eventually, the groom and his immediate family (mom, dad, and sister) went to get his bride. It tends to be a very emotional moment for the bride’s family, and it was, of course, true for this bride and her family as well. For many Turkish women, they do not move out of their family home until they are married.  To make the moment lighter, the brother of the bride will joke with the groom about why he is here and pretend to not let him into the house! But eventually the groom gets his bride. The bride’s brother also places a red ribbon around his sister waist as a symbol of the ‘Maidenhood belt’ and bride.

 

Everyone cheered as the groom exited the building with his bride (still crying!) and the dancing started up again (yes, on the street in the middle of a neighborhood). The bride’s tears were ones of sadness but also happiness! It made me tear up as well! I remember how excited I was to marry Jason, but also knowing it could be difficult too!

After sufficient celebration, no more tears are seen and only happiness is left. Everyone is ready for the wedding celebration! The groom gathers his bride’s items for the day and their honeymoon and are now ready to prepare for the wedding.

I LOVED this tradition. It was such a beautiful way to start off the day of celebration! It allows for a time of grieving, of leaving your childhood home and family, and a time to start the celebration and excitement of marrying your groom! In America, there is a tradition (not always followed now) that the bride and groom will not see each other until they are fully ‘wedding’ ready. Everyone thinks that first sight is the most important. But I loved when the groom goes to take his bride to prepare for their wedding together.

Don’t forget to read Part 1 of the wedding series! For a sneak peek into the rest of the wedding, listen to Episode034: When you dance the night away!

For Turkish readers:

Have you attended this event before?

Did you have a ‘Gelin Alma’ at your wedding?

Non-Turkish readers:

What do you think about this tradition?

What traditions have you observed at a wedding of another culture?

 

 

CULTURE: Our first Turkish wedding part 1 ‘Kına Gecesi’ or Henna Night

Have you seen the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding? The family is slightly crazy and everyone has an opinion about how and what should be done for a wedding. Turks and Greeks are very different, I know, but here in Izmir, they share some of the same history. So naturally, I thought there could be some characteristics matching the quirkiness of that movie!

This month we went to our first Turkish wedding.  While the huge family part was there, I didn’t experience any of the craziness I thought our first wedding would entail. All the details were, for the most part, well planned and went off without a hitch (except forgetting the bride’s going away dress I think)….

It was sweet and beautiful, and everyone had a great time!

There are 3 major parts to the Turkish wedding, 5 parts if you want to count the marriage agreement and the engagement ceremony. Our friends were already engaged when we met them. Therefore, we will start our wedding series with the Kına Gecesi or as I say in English, the Henna Night.

Traditionally, this event takes place the night before the wedding and was only for the ladies, a bachelorette party per say… but with your whole family (not American style). This ceremony is a time to celebrate the bride and saying goodbye to her family. During this time she is the center of her family, and she moves on to be the wife of her groom and becomes the center of her groom’s family. The groom attends for a short time in the middle when the henna is placed on her hands (hence the henna night).

However, modern times call for modern changes. Our friends’ Kına Gecesi had a mixed crowd (guys and gals, young and old). I’m sure there are different reasons for each family as to how they perform the ceremony and what everything means.

Shortly after we arrived to the hotel where the party was taking place, the bride and groom were announced together and the dancing started! It was a lively, joyful scene that continued for an hour or so. Guests came and went from the dance floor, and so did we.

About halfway through the evening, the bride changed from her modern red dress into a traditional Ottoman style red dress for the ceremony. The bride and her ladies (all adorned with a scarf or head piece and candles) come out and danced for the groom. The henna is brought by a lady in the groom’s family (one whose parents have not been separated) and presented in a silver dish surrounded by candles. The lady will place the henna on the both the bride’s hand along with a coin, fold her hands closed, and wrap them in red decorative bags. It is known as the blessing of happiness or “basi bütün” (not a literal translation). Are you curious about why henna was used in the ceremony?  Henna’s red color symbolizes sacrifice and a readiness to give your life and blood for God (or one another in this instant).  Other guests can place henna on their hands as well if they want, which I was told is a way for others to remember to pray for the couple’s marriage. The bride will then dance with her groom and others will follow suit.

 

The party went well into the night which is very typical of any Turkish gathering. Dancing, singing, and chatting are 3 great pastimes in Turkey and a part of any good party. It was a great party and a fun way to start off the wedding festivities!

For a sneak peek into the rest 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 ‘Kına Gecesi’ at your wedding?

Non-Turkish readers:

What do you think about this tradition?

What traditions have you observed at a wedding of another culture?

 

WRITING: 5 ways to document your expat adventures

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I LOVE talking about expat living. Not a traveling digital nomad, but a ‘we found a county and stayed put’ type of digital expat. Before I moved, I had this jumble mix of what I loved writing about and I had a hard time narrowing it down to one specific area. But over the last 8 months of living in Turkey, my 2nd time to move abroad, and writing this article about culture shock, I think I have found my niche!

Even more than chatting about expat living, I love sharing the ways I have documented our expat adventures. *Spoiler* The most interesting way is through our FunkTravels Podcast! I recently wrote an article for Expat Magazine at Expat.com titled “5 Ways to Document Your Expat Adventures.” In the midst of moving, traveling, and adjusting to another culture, documenting our memories can be the one thing that is thrown to the way side. It also becomes one of the biggest regrets by those when they journey onward to the next phase of life.

Here is the start of the article:

You know how a deep, sound sleep can disorient you? I woke up one morning and asked myself: Where am I? Something in the room made me think I was living in Turkey on a chilly fall morning — maybe it was the sunlight streaming in through the windows just so, or the smell of the crisp morning air coming in through the open window. Reality quickly set in — I was no longer living in Turkey, but instead I was in my bed in the States. It’s funny to remember that now because my husband and I now live in Turkey once again. The smells and sounds of the neighbourhoods are ingrained into my memory, and I know this is our lovely Turkey.

I’ve spent five of the past ten years as an expat — both single and married — and I love to keep hold of the memories of the journey and adventures that come with every expat experience. I know that when my husband and I are back to the States, I will enjoy retrieving the different ways I used to document our time abroad and reminiscing and sharing the stories.

Continue reading…

 

 

I would love to hear how you document your expat adventures!