Turkish weddings arouse a lot of interest all over the world because of the different traditions and dances performed at the weddings. Wedding traditions in Turkey are very diverse and differ from region to region. However, if we evaluate Turkish weddings in general, traditional songs and folk songs are danced at the weddings, the cake is cut after the signatures are signed, the jewelry ceremony is performed, and then the wedding is concluded with various entertainments. While Turkish weddings in cities are usually held in wedding halls, in villages they are usually held in open spaces. Citizens who are Muslims also perform a religious marriage after the official marriage.
The Place of Marriage in Turkish Culture
For the people of Anatolia, wedding is a ceremony whose rules are determined by the society and are considered sacred. Sacred marriage customs are ceremonies seen in ancient civilizations that lived the agricultural culture of Anatolia and its surroundings, as in all civilizations. Although wedding customs have changed significantly over time, they have been passed on to the next generations and survived until today.
Turkish culture is one of the cultures in the world where there are rich customs, ceremonies and beliefs about marriage. Turkish society sees the existence and future of the nation as the family that raises children. Since the early ages, Turks saw the family as a sacred institution and thought that the stronger the families, the stronger the society. With this in mind, every ceremony, from the selection of a spouse to the end of the wedding, has been carefully implemented. Although the wedding ceremonies, which are the official announcement of the establishment of the family in Turks, and the customs applied from these ceremonies have undergone changes over time with socio-economic and geographical differences, wedding customs are the customs that the society attaches great importance to and continues to perform meticulously.
Turkish wedding traditions differ in the Aegean, Mediterranean, Black Sea, Central Anatolia, Marmara and Eastern Anatolia regions. In this article, we concentrate on the traditions that are generally common.
Turkish Wedding Traditions
Before the marriage, the groom’s side and the bride’s side provide some help for the couple to marry.
Before the Wedding:
- For the house where the couple will live, the man’s family buys the living room set, living room set, carpets, curtains and white goods. The girl’s family, on the other hand, buys the bedroom set, kitchen appliances, bathroom utensils.
At the Wedding:
- The men’s side arranges and covers the wedding rings, wedding venue, wedding dinner, wedding invitations, wedding car and photographer. While the bride’s wedding dress, accessories and shoes are taken by the groom, the groom’s suit is taken by the girl’s family. In addition, the hairdresser’s expenses of the bride and groom and even their close relatives who come to the hairdresser next to the bride are covered by the groom’s side. At the wedding, the groom’s family can present a gold jewelry set to the bride. The bride’s family can present a gold chain, gold watch, half or full gold to the groom.
There are some preparations and stages in order to get married all over Anatolia. For this reason, the people (whether people who lead a village-traditional life or people in city life) perform these stages and perform the ceremonies. The aforementioned rules and ceremonies are applied from the first to the last at the following stages:
- Expressing the desire to marry, marriage age, seeing an audience (meeting families), speaking engagement (agree to give in marriage), bride wealth (an old tradition that is no longer favored. Payment to the girl’s family), engagement, marriage and wedding.
- The wedding ceremony, on the other hand, consists of the stages of wedding preparation, dowry making, bridal bath, henna night, veiling, bridal reception, religious and official marriage, nuptials, and post-nuptials.
I. Consent of Families & Engagement:
- Before marriage, the boy’s side goes to the girl’s house with gifts (usually chocolates and flowers)
- The bride-to-be offers Turkish coffee to the guests. The bride adds salt to the coffee the groom will drink. And the groom is expected to drink this salty coffee. This is considered as a sign that the groom loves the bride very much.
- The boy’s side asks to the elder of the girl side’s family for permission to marry their son.
- Promise rings are worn among the family. Thus, the boy and girl are engaged.
II. Henna Night
Henna night is a ceremony held in the bride’s family home the day before the wedding. In fact, there are only women in the house that night. It starts with the groom’s sending henna and treats to the bride’s house before the henna night. On the morning of the henna, the fabric is hung on the door of the house. Afterwards, cookies, food, in short, treats are distributed. The bride wears a local dress or elegant dress and comes and sits on the sidelines in the company of single girls. The bride watches silently as the guests sing and play.
After a short ceremony of music and playing, the henna ritual begins. The henna ceremony is the most important moment of the henna night. The bride wears an outfit called bindallı, which has embossed branches and leaves embroidered on velvet. Of course, let’s not forget the henna cover! Usually, a red tulle, embroidered according to the region, is draped over the bride’s head. The task of preparing and burning the henna is given to a happily married woman. Henna is usually prepared in a copper bowl and then placed on a tray decorated with candles. A family elder carries a tray of henna while single girls sing folk songs around the bride with candles in their hands. The bride cries because she will leave the family home and with the sadness of the folk songs. This is traditional.
After the custom of making the bride cry at the henna night, henna is applied to the right hand and wrapped with a handkerchief or cheesecloth and gloves are worn. In the henna night, after the henna is burned, foods are served with sherbet, and then the bride starts to have fun with the guests.
Modern Henna Nights
It was the traditional henna night described above. However, nowadays, these customs have changed, especially in big cities. The henna night, which was previously held at the bride’s house, is now held in places such as the henna salon, hotels, restaurants or country gardens. In the past, only henna nuts, food and sherbet were distributed to the guests at henna nights, but now wedding candies and gifts have started to be distributed just like in weddings.
One of the biggest changing customs is that the bride-to-be sits quietly and waits until the henna is applied. Now, after the bride-to-be guests arrive, they go out with colorful shows and shows and play with the guests. Especially in recent years, organizations where Indian-themed, Indian-specific dances are held are very popular.
Groom Picking up Bride from Home on Wedding Day
The groom wears an elegant suit and goes to the barber to shave with a technique called the groom’s shave. On the wedding day, the groom comes to the bride’s house with his friends. Here, music is played accompanied by drums and zurnas and the bride is expected to come out. In ancient times, the bride was taken by horse. Traditionally, this custom still continues in some places. However, it is now preferred to decorate more cars. The groom’s friends together decorate the car that will take the bride to the wedding. The bride leaves the family home with prayers and gets in the groom’s car and sets off together towards the wedding venue. There is a convoy behind the car called the bridal car and this convoy moves together until the wedding area.
And The Turkish Wedding Begins
Weddings usually start around 20:00 in the evening. Bride and groom go to the wedding venue 4-5 hours before. Wedding photos are taken with close friends at the wedding venue or any other place desired by the couple.
The wedding begins with the bride and groom entering the wedding area accompanied by music and applause. And right after that, only the bride and groom perform their first dance with a special song for them.
After the first dance, the bride and groom sit at the decorated wedding table. In the presence of the witnesses chosen by the bride and groom themselves, the wedding officer is asked whether they want to get married without any pressure. After both declare that they want to get married, they are signed and they are officially married.
Afterwards, Bride and groom cut the cake. The food and cake service to the guests begins. At the same time, the bride and groom wear a red sash, and the guests take turns putting gold on the sash of the bride and groom. For those who want to gift money instead of gold, there is a money box on a table. Those who want to put money in an envelope and throw it into the box. However, close relatives are definitely expected to present gold gifts.
After the jewelry ceremony is over, the music and entertainment begins. It plays cultural music that is different in each region. For example, in the Aegean and Mediterranean regions, fun music plays and women dance in the dance floor. In the eastern region, a dance called “halay” is performed, mostly played by men with traditional musical instruments. While alcohol is consumed too much at weddings in the Western regions, it is not used in the Eastern region.
In the following hours, the bride’s single friends gather and the bride turns her back on them and throws her flower. There is a belief that the single girl who catches the flower will get married soon. Then gradually the guests leave the wedding, and only close relatives remain. The fun continues a little longer and the wedding ends with a family photo taken.
Some Outdoor Turkish Wedding Venues
Examples of Some Dances in Turkish Weddings:
Couple’s first dance;
Groom and his friends (Football player Hakan Calhanoglu);
Crazy Ankara Dance 🙂
There are dances from various cultures in Turkish weddings. Thrace, Aegean, Mediterranean, Black Sea and the eastern region… We wanted to share just a few of them with you. We have prepared a detailed article about Turkish weddings. I hope you like. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask. Goodbye.