Ultimate Guide to Turkish Weddings – 15+ Essentials You’ll Love

Both stunning architecture and delectable cuisine can be found across Turkey. This location is ideal for its rich history and distinctive culture because it has well-known cities like Istanbul and Cappadocia.

Turkish wedding customs combine modern and age-old customs, like those of many other civilizations. It’s an amazing event to take part in. Continue reading to discover more about Turkish culture and their lovely wedding traditions.

An Overview of Turkish Wedding Customs

Turkish weddings have historically lasted three days and three nights. Small-town couples would incorporate the entire community in their wedding celebrations by playing instruments as everyone danced and enjoyed the festivities.

They might take part in a civil or religious ceremony. Religious marriages in this nation did not call for an oath or legal documentation. An imam and two witnesses were all that were required. However, couples would generally have two kinds of marriages because such rituals were not legally binding.

Turkish Customs Before the Wedding

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Engagement and ceremony for engagement

Engagement is frequently referred to as the relationship status after she says yes in other parts of the world, but in Turkey, there needs to be a formal process before you can claim “we are engaged.”

After requesting the girl’s hand and committing to marry her, an engagement and engagement ceremony occurs. The time between the two may vary depending on the couple’s intentions. Because the steps are similar to those on the wedding day, the engagement ceremony serves as a kind of practice for the wedding.

There are photographs taken, everyone’s family and friends are invited, there is dancing and music, catering and a cake is present. A marriage proposal can take place anywhere, including a home’s garden, a salon or even the street of a tiny community. Today’s people are becoming increasingly inventive; some even hold engagement rituals aboard ships.

Plenty of food and sweets will be prepared for the guests if the engagement ceremony is held at a house. Food is not required for an engagement ceremony held in a salon. However, small catering is typically favored. Regardless, the cake for the wedding ceremony is always present.

Tying a pledge to a marriage custom is somewhat analogous to the engagement ceremony, but it differs in that it is significantly larger and better prepared. The rings are once again placed on the fingers during the engagement ceremony and are attached to a scarlet ribbon that is then cut in the same manner. The sole distinction between the engagement and wedding rings is their placement on the ring finger.

Similar to when a pledge to marry is sealed, the bride-to-be is also given a set of jewelry, normally consisting of a necklace and a pair of earrings. In contrast to the legally binding vow to marry, a gift from the prospective bride’s family may occasionally be handed to the prospective groom at the engagement ceremony. Typically, this present is a watch. The bride’s family covers the cost of the engagement ceremony.

Although you may anticipate the ring exchange to occur during the ceremony, Turkey operates a little differently. They will only exchange rings during the engagement, never on the wedding day. An elderly family member ties two rings on the couple’s fourth finger on their right hand as part of this custom. 

The night before the wedding, the bride-to-be and her loved ones will participate in Henna Night, also known as Kna Gecesi, similar to the bachelor or bachelorette party. This age-old ceremony involves painting the bride’s palm and the groom’s pinky finger with henna as they perform traditional folk music.

One of the family’s elders places a gold coin in the bride’s hand as a sign that she will be shielded from bad luck, believing that this custom will ward off evil. The bride will also be seated during this night while her loved ones attempt to make her weep with ballads to help her move on from her single life. After the tears have been shed, dancing makes the night happier.

Timing is crucial

Summer is considered the best time to conduct a wedding in Turkey, as in many other nations, with August and September being the most popular months. This is especially true if, as it did this year, both of the major national and religious holidays — Ramadan Bayram, also known as Eid al-Fitr, and Qurban Bayram, popularly known as Eid al-Adha — occur during the summer.

There has long been a belief that marriages should not occur during the period known as Shawwal, which is the 10th month of the Islamic calendar and falls between these two feasts. It turns out, though, that this myth has nothing to do with religion and is instead based on a sickness that struck the Middle East during that month in pre-Islamic times. The superstition that is still practiced today is founded on the idea that weddings held during this season will be troublesome and subject to a curse.

In reality, the Prophet Muhammad wed his wife Aisha in Shawwal, and it is said that she advised other ladies in her circles to be married at this time. Although this superstition is still practiced in some areas of Turkey, the Turkish religious authority Diyanet affirms that there is no theological basis for it and that people are free to get married whenever they see it suitable.

But prepare for the wedding season to be in full flow in the coming weeks as we leave the two bayrams behind us and welcome August and September.

The night of henna: The hen night in Turkey

One or two days before the wedding, only women are allowed to attend the “kna gecesi,” or henna night, a significant rite steeped in history and custom.

The bride dons a particularly beautiful crimson garment known as a “bindall” for this occasion, which is typically embellished with gold embroidery. A contentedly married lady is to make the henna, and a coin will be added to the dye mixture.

When the henna is finished, the bride-to-be sits in the middle on a chair and covers her head with a veil that is typically crimson since that color is said to symbolize love and belonging. The female elder leads the younger women present in a ceremony that involves them walking around the bride while singing traditional wedding songs while holding candles in henna-filled copper plates.

The traditional “Yüksek yüksek tepeler,” a song about missing family and hometown, is intended to make the bride-to-be cry and typically succeeds. The bride must be moved to tears before the henna-dying process can start.

The mother-in-law is expected to place a gold coin in her hand, which is said to bring good fortune, before the senior member of the family applies a dab of henna to the bride-to-palm. In reality, the bride must wait until she opens her first before doing so. The bride’s hands are covered in a scarlet cloth after the henna has been applied, and the remaining guests are likewise marked with henna using the copper bowls that had been brought about.

The superstition mentioned above states that the individual who discovers the penny in the bowl of henna will shortly be presented with a marriage proposal. Following the henna ceremony, the celebration continues with food, dancing and female companionship in preparation for the host and bride’s upcoming nuptials, much like a Western “hen night.”

The practice is based on the idea that it will shield the engaged pair from bad luck and ensure that they have lifelong love. According to sources, the tale that inspired the Feast of Sacrifice also ties in with this long-standing custom in certain regions, with henna standing in for a sacrifice.

Attire for a Turkish Wedding

A crimson veil or ribbon placed around the waist of a bride is customary to symbolize purity, good fortune and riches. White wedding gowns have been the standard in recent years, and the wedding gown is crucial since it is sometimes the first trendy attire that young girls are permitted to wear. For occasions related to weddings, grooms frequently don suits or tuxedos.

Guest Dress

You should wear something dazzling, fashionable and formal to the wedding as a guest. This might include floor-length dresses, high heels and jewelry for ladies. There will be a lot of dancing, so bringing a spare pair of comfy shoes would be a good idea. It is essential to dress appropriately for the event, but bear in mind that the ceremony may be cocktail-style, requiring a lot of standing.

Customs and Traditions of the Turkish Wedding Ceremony

The groom will participate in the “flag-planting” ritual at daybreak to officially begin the wedding day. The groomsmen will participate in a morning prayer before raising a flag on the highest point close to the couple’s house.

The bride will gaze in the mirror just before leaving her home to glimpse the long and happy marriage laid out for her. The “bride pickup” ritual then starts. The bride is driven away from her family’s home in a car or on a horse, accompanied by a parade and music played on Davul Zurna or traditional Turkish instruments. She will fly a flag that her husband-to-be gave her.

The bride and groom will walk on each other’s feet after saying “I do” during the brief ceremony, which is witnessed by a local official. According to this superstition, whoever walks on the other person’s shoes first would have the final word in the marriage. The ceremony ends when the nikah memuru declares the couple to be wed and they sign the marriage license.

Shave the mane

The groom’s shaving procedure on the wedding day is called the “groom shave.” Traditionally, it was prepared at the groom’s home, but today most barbers make them. The haircut is done initially during the groom’s shave. With the assistance of a barber, a desired haircut is given and the most practical haircut that suits the face should be selected.

Previously, having a beard was considered extremely bad, and the groom’s face should have been as smooth as a baby’s during the wedding. However, attitudes have changed, and grooms no longer always have a smooth shave. If the groom has a mustache or beard, the barber must trim them, and the groom’s face must appear presentable.

The face must be washed with hot and cold water after shaving. Later, the barber does a skincare routine. The best man for the wedding frequently participates in this procedure.

Turkish Wedding Reception

The couple will perform the first dance at the reception following the ceremony. There is a lavish feast, music and dancing during the reception. Afterward, they would travel around the room to thank their guests and accept gifts. 

When money showers

The gold-adorning ceremony, in which friends and relatives approach the bride and groom and pin gold coins or notes on a sash that the newlyweds wear, is one of the most anticipated rites of a Turkish wedding. Crowds dancing may also toss money into the air on rowdier occasions.

The reason for this ceremony is to help the couple who are just beginning a new life. Weddings are expensive, and it won’t be a bad idea if their close circles try to help the young couple and contribute to their economy. By gifting them gold, the couples can exchange it for money 

Of course, kissing each guest in crowded weddings and doing a gold-adorning ceremony can take a lot of time. It can also be very tiring for the bride and groom. But the reward is worth it.

It’s all about the shoes

A Turkish wedding gives female guests many possibilities to become the next in line to get married, other than throwing a bouquet. One such tradition involves writing all the unmarried women’s names in the wedding party on the bride’s shoe’s bottom. According to superstition, the first name that rubs off will shortly be married.

The radiant bride

Another traditional custom in Turkey is for the bride to wear “gelin teli,” or strings of sparkling tinsel, on her head. The next to get married will be the one who discovers the shortest piece of tinsel, so her pals will sort through it to find it.

The part of the groom

A typical Turkish wedding will also include separate receptions hosted by the bride’s and groom’s families, especially in rural areas. The most common food served at these wedding receptions is “keşkek,” a dish resembling a stew made of wheat barley and chicken offered during special ceremonies in Turkey.

It is so fundamental to Turkish culture that UNESCO put it on its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2011. The groom and his buddies must grind the barley in the days preceding the wedding before patiently preparing the meal.

Putting down the flag

The wedding ritual begins at daybreak with a “flag-planting” ceremony in which the groom participates. The male members of the wedding party traditionally participate in a Morning Prayer service before raising a flag on the highest point close to the newlyweds’ residence. The “davul and zurna,” traditional Turkish instruments, almost always accompany these celebrations. Each event must have a soundtrack, which is the responsibility of the players.

Ascending on horses

The bride is transported on a horse from her family house to her newlywed residence alongside a festive procession and a waving Turkish flag given to the groom at her arrival. This is arguably the most spectacular wedding custom in Turkey. Some couples today even adorn their automobiles.

Traditional Turkish Wedding Food, Drinks and Desserts

Two celebrations, one hosted by the bride’s family and the other by the groom’s, are customary at Turkish weddings. Keşkek, a traditional meal made with wheat barley and chicken, will be offered. The groom and his companions will make this meal in the days preceding the wedding by grinding the barley. A large meal and a multi-story wedding cake that the newlyweds will cut jointly are included in the post-wedding festivities. The couple receives the first slice before the guests may eat their cake.

Turkish Customs After the Wedding

Following the wedding festivities, there is an automobile caravan. The couple’s vehicle will be adorned as it joins the caravan of visitors traveling to the couple’s new home. Once the groom and other automobiles in the convoy have given the kids money, the kids will try to obstruct the cars in order to drive home.

The bride’s family then leads the pair into the Gerdek, the wedding room. One of their close family members will hold the newlyweds’ hands in prayer.

Tips to Survive Traditional Turkish Wedding

Here are some tips to help you enjoy an evening of Turkish traditional wedding.

Prepare to Get Down to Some Turkish Music

When it comes to dancing, no Turkish wedding is complete without a full blast of Turkish music and everyone showing their steps on the dance floor.

You’re probably shy and not much of a dancer, so you decide to be at the corners and watch others. However, with time you’ll notice that no one cares about how good your dancing skills are. On that note, let loose and dance to Turkish songs, which are often mega hits from the 90s that everyone knows by heart. But if you’re lucky, you’ll get to dance to a traditional live band.

Bear in Mind That You Won’t See much of the Couples

If you hope to spend quality time with the couple during their Turkish wedding, you can forget it. This is because you probably won’t see them much. 

The couple is often absent during the pre-cocktail party and only appears during the ceremony. After that, they get busy for a long time walking around every table, meeting and greeting all the guests. This means you’ll be able to congratulate them and talk to them for a few minutes. But if you stay longer, you’ll see them on the dance floor.

Never go to a Turkish Wedding Without a Gold Coin

When the couple walks around each table to meet and greet all their guests and accept their good wishes, the maid of honor will follow them with a small pouch into which people throw gold coins or money. You can get these unique gold coins at jewelry shops all around Turkey. Plus, it’s a pretty traditional gift that you are more than welcome to participate in.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

Here are some commonly asked questions about Turkish Wedding traditions.

What Are Traditional Turkish Wedding Gifts?

Guests can gift the couple unique gold coins with a silky red bow. This act offers good luck and good fortune. They can also give them monetary gifts to begin their new lives together.

What Is the Typical Cost of a Turkish Wedding?

The groom’s family will pay for the wedding, and a civil ceremony might cost at most between 150 to 40,000 Turkish liras, or around $2,100.

What Happens Before a Turkish Wedding?

A day or two before the wedding, friends and families come together for a small celebration. Traditional folk songs are sung, and henna gets applied on the groom’s pinky finger and the bride’s palm.

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