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Happy Friday everyone and how are you all? have you got that Friday feeling? I do hope so. Today we are back with Lisa and Alex from 2 people 1 life. Last time we saw them in Corfu for wedding 62 and it was a fantastic traditional affair with the most amazing dress. Today we are in Turkey for wedding 63 and it seems that in Turkey it is more about the traditions before the ceremony than the ceremony itself.
(In case you have missed the whole story, Lisa and Alex have spent the last two years travelling round the world getting married in every country they visit, you can read more about their adventures HERE.)
The Turkish wedding was all about the build up for the big day, rather than the ceremony itself and as beautiful as it was, it was a great reminder that life, and marriage is about the journey, not just the moment that you say ‘I Do’.
The preparations were such an adventure filled with lessons about the rich culture that Turkey has and Sebnem, our Turkish wedding planner, made our time in Gocek so memorable. She invited us to a special museum so that we could learn more about the culture and traditions of this particular area in Turkey. The museum visit involved a bit of a journey and what could have been a simple outing turned into an epic adventure.
The Nomad museum is a private collection of one lovely man, Mehmet Varol. Over the years he has unearthed pieces from hundreds of years ago, from tapestries to carpets to kitchenware to wedding clothing, all in the name of preserving his history and educating others. He was kind enough to show us around and even said we could try on the original traditional wedding clothing he had.
Mehmet helped us into the clothes and he was so touched by our story and the fact that we would visit his museum that he had a tear or two of pride as he clutched my arm and walked me over to Alex in the fashion of giving me away.
By the time we had changed again and it was time to leave, the rain had really started to come down. The dirt tracks turned into rivers and the temperature dropped alarmingly. Lightning struck and thunder crashed and our tractor was no-where to be seen. We decided to sit it out with Mehmet and he made us tea to keep us warm
The rain was so heavy we were getting wet from the ground up. The rain bounced on the dirt and splashed back up our legs. After waiting an hour we decided it wasn’t stopping and we needed to bite the bullet. We called the taxi and said sad goodbyes to Mehmet. The rain showed no sign of slowing and by the time we got back to Peggy we were soaked to the bone and looked forward to our next stop which was a visit to the Hamam.
Traditionally, the night before the wedding the bride and groom (separately) visit the hamam. The beautiful old bath houses have domed ceilings which drip with liquefied steam continuously. There are taps placed all around the walls which forever gush with water and the echoes make the sounds almost musical. Most domes have small pieces of coloured glass in them which let in shafts of pretty light in the daytime and twinkle like stars in the night.
They are trained in the art of getting you cleaner than you have ever been in your life. First, as you lay on the tiled surface in the bath house, they scrub you from head to toe with a rough mitten leaving you feeling a little raw but definitely invigorated. Once you have been lathered into a frenzy and are as slippery as the slipperiest soap in the world, you then have to move to the taps. Here you sit while your personal washer quite literally throws buckets of water over your head to rinse you. Timing your breathing is imperative at this stage as there is only a small window of opportunity to suck in some precious air in-between buckets. Just when you think you might drown they finish you off with a token bucket of icy water which reminds you, after the initial shock, to breathe again. THEN, they made us look like we were auditioning for Scrubs to dry off!
The henna night, or” Kina Gecesi” (kuh-NAH GE-je-see) takes place the night before the wedding. Normally the bride’s closest friends and female family members gather to eat, dance, and sing. They put henna on their hands and the stains it leaves on their hands for weeks afterwards tell everyone that they are a new bride, or have been to a close friend or family-member’s wedding. Traditionally, and still for many brides, it is a melancholic evening. The following day, the bride will leave her father’s house, where she has lived all her life, to live in her new husband’s house.
As our situation is a little different we were to celebrate the henna ritual together. I got to wear an amazing red outfit and a beautiful tiara for the party! The celebration was lively and great fun, we went to a traditional restaurant. Everyone danced around us with the henna leading the parade and then one of the ladies placed a lump of the henna into our palms and placed fabric roses over it. Everyone around us cheered and danced and clapped and pinned money to me and wished us well as we just stood there with face splitting smiles enjoying the laughter and the dancing.
The food was fantastic and we drank lots and lots of Efes beer. We danced and ate and danced and drank, it was such a lovely night and I was sad that it had to come to an end BUT we had a wedding to get to the next day and needed our beauty sleep after a busy few days.
The day of the wedding was upon us and the rain still lingered. Poor Michael and Amandine had come all the way from France and had not yet seen the sun shine in Turkey.
We stopped for hair and make-up at Kuafor Sultan Musa and changed into my Charlotte Balbier gown and then went to the local park. Sebnem had arranged for us to plant a tree there on the day of our wedding. Such a beautiful, thoughtful gesture and a place that we can one day return to and remember our special day. We were so touched by the thought that Sebnem had put into everything, but the tree was really, really special.
We arrived at the water’s edge beneath the tombs and were welcomed aboard a fantastic little boat by the Lemon Lounge and sailed right up to the tombs. We climbed up onto the roof of the boat where Sebnem held a small ceremony for us, the rain held off just long enough and as we said “I do” for the 63rd time we felt the first huge drops as we kissed.
We went back below and watched the heavens open. The rain danced on the glossy water beneath us as we sailed along the banks. We had planned to go out for the afternoon on the boat but the rain was just too heavy. We sat happily watching the weather snuggled up to each other for warmth. We finished the afternoon and evening lazily watching the storm continue to brew over our beautiful apartment. We are often asked about the romance of our wedding nights and how we celebrate each ceremony, that evening is one we often talk about.
We believe that your wedding night is yours to celebrate exactly the way you wish, as is your wedding day…but just to be close together, snuggled under a blanket keeping warm and watching the weather by candle light is so romantic and the perfect way to end a wonderful wedding week!
As always, our wedding in Turkey would have not been possible without the help and support of many local and international vendors. All of the images are by Rico and the incredible video below by Michael, I’m sure you will agree we had a very talented bunch on board for this wedding!
If you have missed any of the previous weddings you can catch up HERE