Istanbul’s historic walls against the bride’s veil

Istanbul’s historic walls against the bride’s veil

Wedding parties can be held in most venues built by district municipalities across Turkey. 

There are many options available to the public. Menus are reasonably priced, ranging from 46 Turkish Liras per person to 58 liras per person for a “white meat wedding” at municipality venues. The price of the posher “red meat wedding” is 58 liras to 68 liras per person. 

Prices are the same if it is not a wedding but rather a circumcision feast, engagement party, or other meeting. 

In terms of organizational support, the municipality venues offer endless logistical options. 

If you want the chairs to be decorated, you can pay an extra 5 liras for every person invited. 

Decorating the bride’s table costs around 350 liras, but this rises to around 800 liras if you want to make it a really luxury decoration. What does this 450 lira difference buy you? I really don’t know. Live birds? 

If you want a clown to perform, it costs an extra 250 liras. If you want a folk orchestra it costs an extra 500 liras. There is also a “volcano” option that includes shows with sparklers or small fireworks and costs an extra 350 liras. 

If you want a janissary band, it is 1,750 liras. 

If you want a gypsy band, it is 2,000 liras. 

If you want the bride to be carried into the hall by the janissaries on a sedan chair, it is 900 liras. As far as I know, historical janissaries never performed the function of carrying brides into the wedding hall, but the list for Fatih Municipality’s Topkapı Social Facility includes such a service. 

A simple girandole is 35 liras, but if you opt for a bigger one then you need to pay 65 liras. 

Confetti costs 250 liras, which is strange as I remember the confetti used at the covered stands of Galatasaray’s now demolished Ali Sami Yen Stadium in Istanbul, which cost us students around 100 liras in today’s money. 

According to the Fatih Municipality website, the Topkapı Social Facility offers services for events hosting between 50 and 1,100 people. 

The website also says the facility has the important quality of allowing its patrons to “witness history.”

The phrase is important because it is referring to Istanbul’s historic city walls, next to which the venue is located. 

Those walls, which extend for about 20 kilometers, have somehow survived from the Ancient Roman era. They have witnessed the Huns, the Latins, the Goths… They have been repaired numerous times… They were protected and reinforced for centuries after the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul in 1453. 

Somehow, it never crossed the minds of either Byzantine Emperor Theodosius II or Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II to create a venue next to the walls where weddings could be held with fireworks. 

What can I say? I wish they had this kind of vision.  

What’s more, in this venue a “portable roof system” was recently installed. This addition caused some controversy, with critics saying the roof caused aesthetic damage to the historic city walls. 

I was actually saddened to see this criticism. How could you wish to see my janissary costumes, my decorated chairs, and my layers of cake get wet? How could a bride or a circumcised boy be considered less important than old stone walls?