A Turkish Wedding

Since moving to Istanbul, I’ve attended two Turkish weddings, both in 2015. Clearly I’ve been meaning to write about this for a long time.

The weddings had some similarities that I found interesting compared to the weddings I’ve attended in the States:

  1. The way guests dressed was very mixed. This is a hot topic amongst foreigners attending Turkish weddings. You’ll see all sorts of attire, so we never know what to where. Some people were in their finest evening attire while others were dressed in jeans. My date told me before the first wedding that only the wedding party dressed to the nines. Since he was in the wedding party, I put on a modest black dress hoping to fall somewhere in the middle.
  2. The bride and groom entered together.
  3. There was no dinner. One wedding had drinks for sale and the other wedding served some appetizers, but neither included a full meal as is standard in the States.  I actually think this is great because weddings in the States are expensive in large part due to feeding all the guests. I feel that the cost of a wedding shouldn’t be a huge financial burden on a young couple and their families.
  4. There are LOTS of guests. I guess if the cost of a plate-per-person is not on the budget you can invite far more people to share in your special day.
  5. This was probably the most surprising thing to me: The ceremony itself was very casual. At both weddings there were not enough chairs for the number of people, so I found that people still roamed about while the “I Do’s” were being said and the papers were signed. There was a lot of conversation happening as well. I thought, “Oh my goodness! Pay attention to the bride and groom!”
  6. Next, the bride and groom greeted every single guest. Everyone lines up and pins cash or gold to the bride and groom, usually on a red sash or in a small, elegant purse. It’s not customary to give a boxed gift like silverware or china in Turkey. They thanked each guest for coming and took a picture together. This takes a long time.
  7. When all that is done, the party commences! Everyone joins in a circle and dances together. It’s great fun to learn the steps. Some dances are simple while others are more complex. Try to keep up! The nice thing is that they are often repetitive and follow a leader, so once you get the idea, the steps repeat and you get plenty of practice.

Now, this is what I wore to the first wedding:


At one point while I was sitting down trying to converse with my date’s family, a woman placed her hand on my v-neck and tugged my dress up as if to tell me my dress was too revealing. I’ll never forget that! I didn’t let it bother me, but I thought that was a fascinating demonstration of boundaries.

Unless they were my closest friend, no one would dare adjust my dress themselves in the States, no matter how revealing my dress may or may not have been.


I think weddings are a great way to see the true culture of a people. One of the best ways to observe traditions and mannerisms. If you have the opportunity to see a wedding in another country, don’t pass it up!

Have you attended a foreign wedding? How was your experience?

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