Experiencing a ceremony of city wedding in Turkey
Wilco van Herpen
Photos by Wilco van Herpen.
I am in İzmir today for the wedding of one of my wife’s nieces. While waiting for a traffic light I look around and suddenly notice the dark clouds gathering. I am worried. Would it rain? I arrive at the wedding salon and park the
car in the underground parking garage. When we walk up the stairs I hear an overwhelming sound.
People gathered at the exit of the parking garage. Yes, it is raining and not just a bit of rain, it pours down in sheets.
A guy wearing nothing more than his shirt is running towards the entrance. He is a perfect candidate for a wet t-shirt contest. He is soaking wet, I think even his underwear must have been wet. Finally the rain stops and we quickly walk towards the wedding salon, but the weather gods are not really satisfied with what they already gave us. As we walk to the wedding salon it slowly starts raining again and we hardly make it without getting soaked as well. In one hand I hold my daughter Şira, in the other hand my umbrella. It felt like my arm was being torn from my body. Şira is not the little baby she used to be.
At the entrance of the wedding salon people gathered and waited for the moment to be called inside.
Two kinds of weddings
I do not know if you have ever been to a wedding in Turkey but it can be an interesting experience. To generalize I can say there are two different kinds of wedding traditions in Turkey — village weddings and city weddings. Today I want to write about the ceremony of the city wedding.
It is extremely warm and humid inside the building, which is not strange because everybody got a treat from the weather gods. Outside under a small roof people gather, smoke their cigarettes and welcome the new arrivals. It is like a reunion, a lot of people haven’t seen each for many years. Suddenly the crowd starts moving, the doors of the wedding salon are open and everyone tries to find a place in the big hall. In spite of the weather it is busy, very busy. Finally, everybody is sitting and waiting for things to happen. Suddenly the music starts and for a while I am scared the speakers will explode. The louder the better they must have thought and so the music here was very good.
Then the bride and groom enter the salon with the civil servant who is going to marry them and the two witnesses right behind them. The bride and groom take their place behind the table, the clerk stands at the left side of the table (blocking mine and my daughters view) and the two witnesses sit at the right site. The clerk starts talking and I am in shock.
My Turkish is not bad, but I am not able to understand one single word of what she said. It is as if she is speaking in fast forward. No time to lose. (It seems that every 15 minutes a newly married couple is leaving the marriage factory.) Suddenly I see Sibel (the bride) trying to step on Selçuk’s toes. It is a tradition in Turkey and Gonca, my wife, managed to step on my toe when were married. Whoever manages to step on the other one’s toe will be the ruler of the house. Selçuk was well prepared though.
Before Sibel managed to crush his toe Selçuk moved his foot to a safer place. It was as if they were foot wrestling and the result was that in their house there is not going to be one ruler. The clerk uttered some words that might have been something like: Hope you have a wonderful marriage together and left the couple. All of this took place within a 5 minute period of time. I was in shock. This is a real marriage factory; I cannot find another word for it.
Time to give gold
The newlyweds moved to a corner in the hall with a beautiful young woman who had a little bag in her hand next to them. At the other side the parents were placed and now it was time for us to give gold. All the people who get married in Turkey receive gold as a present. For centuries people in Turkey gave gold to the newly married couple and the tradition continues today. You can give anything that is made of gold but most people give one fourth, one half or a whole Cumhuriyet Altını. (Republican’s Gold).
The line of people grew and grew, it looked as if would
never end. Everybody put the gold in the little basket the young woman was holding, kissed the bride and groom, congratulated both sets of parents and left. We also gave our gold, had a very short chat and left. Outside the weather had changed again, the sky was blue and it was warm. We went with our whole family back home. There was still some time to change our clothes for the dinner party that evening.