Serdar’s Snippets (owner of Digby’s Café) –

Learn about Turkish Culture

We have had a few coffees at Digby’s over the last few weeks, giving ourselves a break at the end of the day – it is very quiet at Spectrum with just the two of us! We went with Serdar and his wife, Mine pronounced Minnie), to Fethiye because they had never been before, so we were their tour guides. When we were in the old part, with Ottoman style windows and the amphitheatre nearby, I pointed to a jewellery shop where we bought my engagement and wedding ring (that’s another story, another time!). Serdar explained that they don’t have engagement rings in Turkey, they simply buy a wedding ring and place it on the ring finger of their right hand, transferring it to the left hand when they get married.  I doubt the idea will catch on in the UK!

Photo of Hanife’s engagement: here she is with Hasan, her huband, his parents and his father’s Mum – some of you have met them on the farm near Spectrum, where our apartment is.

clip_image001We didn’t know that before, nor did we realise that when Turkish people get married, very often they have the registry office/serve part of the wedding but don’t actually live together until after the “reception celebrations” (best way to describe it) which could be 3 months later! The bride doesn’t wear a white wedding dress at this service, like Hanife, she wore a smart suit unless the reception is on the same day.  Hanife wore her white wedding dress with red sash at her “reception” celebrations.

Generally, from our experience, there is no food or drink  provided, so it’s just a night of dancing, dancing, dancing with a break when it’s time to pin money on the bride & groom, or they are given jewellery – that’s why you see lots of gold bangles in jewellery shops in Ortaca and Fethiye, not so much in Dalyan.  It’s also why they can afford to invite hundreds of people because it doesn’t cost them much to have so many guests, well apart from giving pieces of wedding cake!  We’ve had more wedding invitations here in the last 10 years than we’ve had all the years we lived in the UK.

The hen party is nothing like you’d expect either.  The bride to be usually has a lovely new frock – often like a wedding dress, not white of course but similar to what you can see from what Hanife is wearing for her engagement celebrations – and there’s music and lots of dancing of course with the added tradition of a blob of henna on the palm of their hands and finger tips.   At one function I saw what I thought was a cake with candles and was thinking the cake wasn’t big enough for everyone to get a piece, so you can imagine my surprise when a young lady came over to me with a napkin but instead it holding a piece of cake there was a blob of henna!  I think it’s a shame they don’t apply the henna like they would in India, such beautiful patterns.  When you see their hands against the white of their wedding dress it doesn’t look very pretty, in fact they look like incredibly heavy smokers!

However the stag party is very different because there is food and drink!  Let me tell you how we found out the difference:

Many years ago when we first lived here, Tom told me we’d been invited to a wedding which was in the garden – actually more like a field – only metres from our apartment, a relation of our landlord.  I was surprised to see the bride in a peach marble coloured dress; I thought she was very modern not wearing white!   I commented that there weren’t many men at this wedding and then a man we knew came and had a word with Tom and off he went, disappeared for the rest of the night.  I didn’t know where he’d gone, until he returned home quite merry, denying that alcohol had been served!  I felt like a lucky mascot, a yabanci (foreigner) being at the hen party as it turned out to be (I kept waiting thinking the groom was going to turn up sometime!), they kept asking me to join in with the dancing and I’d often end up in the middle with them all dancing around me!  I left eventually because I was hungry – Tom had told me there would be food and drink which I thought was unusual for a wedding (!) but of course he was alright, wherever he went.

I’ve put a clip of Hanife’s wedding on YouTube where you can see the sashes they were wearing pinned with money, see them and many of their guests dancing plus how Turkish people respectfully kiss their elders.  Their wedding was held in Gocek, where Hanife is from and her parents and other family members still live –their homes are on the mountain overlooking the marina where most of you have sailed from when doing the 12 islands boat trip.  There’s no need to hire a hall here when you can simply use an “open space” or the special salons built for wedding celebrations.  Their engagement celebrations were held where the weekly market is situated, not exactly a pretty location but who cares when you are simply dancing all night?   Their wedding was in a more special location, actually in the modern amphitheatre at the far end of the marina, alongside the.  See YouTube:

These are just our experiences of local weddings, hen parties etc.  Many families in Dalyan follow a more traditional Turkish village life style which is probably a very different experience than in Istanbul where some of you live