Our Turkish wedding Part 3.

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Our wedding was always going to be a little ‘different’ as we tried to incorporate both cultures. The theme for the whole day was red and white, to signify both the English flag and the Turkish flag. We were conscious that for the Turkish guests this was going to be a slightly more boring wedding than they were used to as traditional village weddings are massive with hundreds, or thousands, of guests and have things such as loud drummers, gun shots and loud Turkish music all night long. One of the most traditional things we done was the pinning on of the money. We didn’t actually plan to do this until a couple of days before the wedding, after we went to collect my flowers and they asked if we needed ribbon for the money to be pinned to, only then I realised I actually really wanted to do it and have photos of something more traditional for our photo album.

So, after we had group photos taken on the beach we asked people to gather around and make a line to pin the money on us. I always thought this was a bit cheeky, but I guess it’s really no different to having guests bring wedding presents, and since we currently live in separate countries, the typical ‘British’ wedding presents like toasters, kettles etc would be pretty pointless. Its tradition that the guests line up in front of the bride and groom, collect a pin and one by one pin lira notes or gold coins onto a sash that is tied around the bride and grooms necks. It’s also usual for the bride to receive gold bracelets or coins from the groom’s family, but I didn’t receive any. With a bit of help from Berkay’s uncle and cousin, our guests greeted us one by one and pinned the money on us, it was really windy at this point and the money was close to blowing away, but it was really fun and I’m so glad we decided to include this part in our day as Berkay’s family loved it. His uncle was posting photos on Facebook all day and when it came to this part he proudly shared photos under the heading ‘Now time for the Turkish part’ which made me smile.
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As part of the table favours, I had ordered personalised cards with our photos on with the words ‘let love sparkle’ and a little sparkler for each guest to light. Obviously I couldn’t travel with the sparklers as fireworks aren’t allowed in the suitcase, so I had to hunt around to find some suitable in Fethiye – we eventually found them in Oludeniz Azda and bought 100 of them! I’d seen lots of photos of other weddings using sparklers as the ‘send off’ idea for the end of the night when the bride and groom leave the venue, but we decided just to use them right in the middle of the evening, just after sunset. 3 men from my family (Dad, brother and step-dad) and 3 from Berkay’s family (his 2 brothers and uncle) lit the sparklers and held them up either side of us and it proved to be a lot more easier said than done as they had trouble lighting all 6 sparklers at the same time in the wind! Along with the sparklers I also made other table favours – a little box filled with Turkish delight and a heart shaped Cadbury chocolate which I’d spent the previous day melting, making and filling, and a small bag containing a pebble which we had picked off Calis beach, written our names and date on, and a small Turkish eye pin. I loved the pebble idea the most and I have my own one sat at home in my bedroom, a little piece of Calis Beach in my house to remind me of that day.
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After the sparklers, I was reluctantly pulled to the dancefloor and persuaded to have a first dance. I’ve never danced before and can’t dance at all, we really should have practiced first! I do love these photos though.
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By this point we were really hungry, and so were the guests, so when the restaurant declared the buffet open we were very excited! Here another part of Turkish tradition popped up, a part I’d never heard of before. Apparently it’s normal that the staff serving the food won’t do so unless the groom tips them. The chef who was responsible for opening the buffet counter refused to lift the food covers until Berkay had tipped him, after the first 50tl note he opened the lid a tiny bit then closed it again, and after a further 10tl he opened it fully – much to the amusement of Berkay and my dad! The food was all made by Guven’s restaurant and it was delicious, an open buffet of chicken and meatballs, rice, salad, mushrooms, potatoes, yogurt, bread and a few other Turkish meze dishes. We also had free sprite, cola and fanta on the tables and it all just cost roughly 40tl per person, which is amazing. They done such a good job.
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After our belly’s and glasses were full my dad made a speech, followed by Berkay. My dad also read out a poem one of my friends had written and given to him which was really sweet:
For Danni and Berkay on this special day,
I wrote this poem, just to say,
We wish you both the very best,

In love and trust and happiness.
You’re meant to be, it’s fair to say,
You suit one another in every way.
You’re married now, man and wife,
and so begins your married life.
Be kind, be patient, honest too,
We really hope the best for you.
The time has come, so it would seem,
To start living your Turkish dream.
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One of the cutest moments of the whole evening was my little sister and Berkay’s little cousin dancing. They’re both 5 years old, although Berkay’s cousin is 7 months older than Abbie. I told Abbie to go and dance with her and the two held hands and danced around, despite not being able to communicate a single word with each other. Abbie also made friends with Berkay’s family and friends, many of them picked her up for a cuddle and a dance which was so cute, Abbie was loving all the attention. It just shows that the language barrier and culture difference means nothing to children, so lovely to see. Abbie still talks about Berkay’s little cousin now.

Later in the evening, after complaining that it was far too quiet for his liking, one of Berkay’s friends took control of the music and started blasting out Turkish songs. All the Turkish people suddenly got up on the dance floor, and were giving my family members some Turkish dancing lessons. I refused to take part until very late in the night, where I was persuaded by Berkay, I’d never even done Turkish dancing before. I think my nan and grandad win the award for best effort in the Turkish dancing, their shoulders were rocking and their fingers clicking all over the place!
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By 12.30am we were all danced out and everyone was heading ‘home’. By this point I could not wait to get my wedding dress off as I’d had it on since 11am that morning with only one ‘pee-break’. The corset was done so tight I had blisters from the bones of the dress and I was definitely ready to take it off and breathe out!
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I have to say a huge thanks to Carole and Guven of Guven’s restaurant, it was the first wedding they’d ever held but they made it so special. I know they went to a lot of effort in the days leading up to it, especially Carole and her helpers making all the decorations and designing the drapes, chairs, tables etc. They put it so much effort to make it such a lovely day and I totally recommend them to anyone, it looked beautiful, the food was lovely and they are just such a lovely couple in general. Also very thankful to all of my family and friends for coming and making the day so perfect.

The only sad part was knowing we only had 3 more days of married life together before I headed back to the UK, but we definitely made the most of every moment and have lots of lovely memories and photos to treasure.
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Click here to read part 1 of our wedding, and click here for part 2.

Our Turkish wedding Part 2.

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After an afternoon of driving around Fethiye for our wedding photoshoot, at 5.30pm we arrived back in Calis and back to our apartment. Berkay left and went to the wedding venue while I met my nan, Mum, step-mum and sister in our apartment for a quick re-tighten of my dress and a toilet break, which was hilariously awkward and dignity depriving!

After some final tweaks and best wishes, they left me and my sister/bridesmaid, Abbie, alone in the apartment and headed to the venue themselves, while we waited for my dad to knock on the door and collect us. Dad hadn’t seen my wedding dress at all before the moment he walked into the apartment, so it was an emotional moment for him when he did knock on the door and see me I think, he definitely had a few tears in his eyes! At this point it was around 6.15, and we were expecting to be at the venue by 6.30, however the registrar lady had rang Berkay and hold him she’d be late as she was lost… I have many friends who have also been married by this lady and being late seems to be her trademark!

As it got closer to 6.30 we decided to start walking towards the venue – Guven’s restaurant, which was less than a 10 minute walk from where we were staying. On the way two very lovely Welsh ladies who read my blog, and happened to be staying in the same apartments as us, stopped me to say how lovely me and my sister both looked and snapped the below photo, which I love. I hate being the centre of attention so walking down a fairly busy road on the way to the restaurant was quite embarrassing, Turkish and English people sat in the bars and walking past us were all saying ‘awww look’, and shouting that we looked lovely, one person even said ‘aww are you getting married today?’ erm, no, this is just my usual evening wear! D’oh.
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When we arrived at Guven’s the registrar still hadn’t arrived but shortly after we saw Berkay running down to meet her from the bus. Once they had gotten into position, Carole (owner of Guven’s) started playing the traditional ‘here comes the bride’ music over the speakers, Dad took my arm, I took my little sister’s hand and along we walked, down the long makeshift aisle of Turkish rugs. At this point, my poor mum was crying hysterically much to the bemusement of our Turkish guests. It wasn’t a little sob, or a silent tear in her eye, it was a loud, wailing cry, which really made me laugh, a welcome distraction from the realisation that everyone had their eyes on me! I love the photo of Mum crying and the smiley faces of Berkay’s family in the background as they saw me walking towards them.
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After dad handed me over to Berkay, we took our seats in the beautifully decorated area just meters from the beach. The ceremony was very quick, and with the help of my lovely bilingual friend, we had a translation of the service read out in English too.
“You have declared your wish to marry. According to the documents you have submitted, there is no objection to your declaration. Now, in the presence of the witnesses and in our presence, will you please tell us once more:
Dear Danni, under no obligation and with your own will do you wish to marry Berkay? – Yes.
Dear Berkay, under to obligation and with your own will do you wish to marry Danni? – Yes.”
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“You have heard Miss Danni Smith & Mr Berkay Degirmenci wish to marry. Do you bear witness to the marriage? – Yes.
In the presence of myself and the witnesses, you have declared your wish to marry. As there is no objection, your marriage agreement is now made. With the authority vested in me by the Turkish Civil Law, I now pronounce you husband and wife, congratulations and best wishes.
The main aspect of a marriage is that the family union is protected with an eternal peace and happiness. A long lasting marriage is bound together by mutual love and understanding. You must support and help one another on your bad days and difficult times with as much love and understanding as on your good days. Your support for each other will also form the foundations of the happiness of your children. I wish you both health and happiness, you can now kiss your wife!
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Our two witnesses were Berkay’s brother and my step-dad. After the registrar had completed the paperwork and we had signed all the right places, she handed us our official red marriage book, the Turkish alternative to a marriage certificate. My brother gave us our wedding rings which were tied together with red ribbon to signify us being bound together, he then cut the ribbon straight through the middle once the rings were on our fingers. This is traditionally done in Turkey at engagement ceremonies rather than weddings, but we really wanted to incorporate that into our day and I think my brother really enjoyed being a part of the ceremony and having that role.

It’s also tradition in Turkey that whoever stamps on the other persons foot first after reading the vows and being confirmed as husband and wife, is the boss of the marriage. Berkay will tell you I’m always in charge anyway, in fact he sometimes lovingly refers to me as ‘boss’, but it was nice to be able to make a statement to confirm that. I’m glad the photographer captured the moment, perhaps we should get this framed and put in every room as a small reminder…
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After a round of applause by our guests, it was time to greet everyone, starting with our families. My mum was crying again at this point but I love the photo of us hugging, and of Berkay and my dad too. Slightly more traditional was the way I greeted Berkay’s parents, with his stepmum and dad putting their hands out for me to take, kiss and raise to my forehead as a sign of respect. I really dislike doing this, but it’s a cultural thing that I know is important to them, so I have to embrace it.
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My family had never met Berkay’s family until this day, so I was nervous about what their opinions of each other would be, the two backgrounds are very different and neither side really knew what to expect. Berkay introduced everyone to each other and although they were unable to communicate with each other, both families joined in the hugs and handshakes and were united in their happiness for us both which is all that really matters.

After the greetings, it was time to step down onto the beach for photographs, much to the annoyance of my poor little sister who cried her eyes out when she felt the stones and sand in her shoes, so we didn’t manage to get any good group photos with her as our bridesmaid.
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Me and Dad, and us with my mum and dad.
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Us with my brother, and my grandparents.
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Us with Berkay’s dad, step-mum and brothers.
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Us with Berkay’s aunt’s and cousin, and with his uncle, aunt and younger cousin.
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Back on dry, flat, non-sandy land with my sister, our little princess bridesmaid.

One of the main reasons we wanted this particular venue, and at such a late time of day, was to ensure we got some sunset photos on the beach together. Anyone who has read my blog will know just know much I love sitting in Calis and admiring the sunset, so getting these photos taken was something we both really wanted, and the photographer didn’t disappoint. He had us pulling all sorts of poses and it was rather embarrassing as everyone else was standing and watching, it had also started to get very windy and a bit chilly, my veil was blowing all over the place which actually made some of the photos even better!
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By the time we had finished the sunset photos it was time to cut the cake. A very, very lovely lady made this cake for us and I’m so pleased with how it came out, it was exactly as I’d asked for it. The cake had two layers, one was chocolate sponge with chocolate chip cream filling, the other was lemon sponge with lemon curd filling and it was delicious! I spent days and weeks looking online for ideas and knew I wanted something relatively simple, then settled on this design with red hearts flowing down one side, both the Turkish and England flags at the bottom along with the bride, groom and of course our lovely Boncuk dog! She done such a great job, especially on little Boncuk! Guven’s restaurant had arranged for little fireworks around the cake which looked brilliant at the time, and in the photos, but not so good when I realised one of the sparks from the firework had hit my dress and burnt a small hole. I was trying to figure out what caused it then saw the culprit caught on camera, as you can see below – honestly with the amount of hairspray I had on I’m just glad the spark didn’t touch my hair, it would have gone up in flames!
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In the lead up to the wedding I’d been so worried about being centre of attention and how nervous I’d be but after the initial ‘Oh shit, everyone is looking at me’ thought faded, I really enjoyed it and started to relax. It was so lovely having my close family and Berkay’s family together. I know some family members were annoyed or sad about not being invited or about the fact we had the wedding in Turkey, making it nearly impossible for them to come, but honestly I’m so glad we did it this way.  A wedding in England would have meant none of Berkays family would be able to come, and even Berkay himself would never have got a visit visa at this point in time! Berkay’s family wanted a village wedding with 500+ local people invited but that’s not me either, and having the wedding in Calis, the place that is such a huge part of our lives, was definitely the best choice. 
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Dad, stepmum, Berkay & I, Mum and Stepdad, and Berkay with his immediate family.
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After all the slightly cheesy but very lovely photographs were taken, it was time to sit down, enjoy the buffet, drink and dance, but not before the traditional Turkish practice of ‘pinning the money’ on the bride and groom…

Part 3 coming soon.

Click HERE for part 1.