Getting married in Istanbul is trendy
Marta Ottaviani - 05/10/2009
After having symbolized the meeting point between East and West for centuries, the Old Constantinople seems to now be destined to become also a point of reference for those who want to get married. Istanbul, city of the two continents, has become one of the places in the world where more weddings are celebrated. This growing phenomenon is a record to which not only the Turks, who find in their wedding celebrations, one of the most important moments of their traditions, contribute. Thousands of foreign couples frequently chose the megalopolis on the Bosporus to celebrate their most beautiful day. The numbers speak clearly. The estimations of the municipality of Istanbul and those of wedding planners spread all over the world, state that in 2008 only, approximately 166 thousand unions have been celebrated in Istanbul, that is 450 daily.
It is important to note that the Turkish wedding is only a civil wedding. The Islamic wedding has been abolished in the 1930’s by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the great statesman who revolutionized the Country after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, secularising it, thus making it more westernised and closer to Europe. Today, the Turks that want to get married at the mosque can do it as a symbolic act as it has no legal value whatsoever. The weddings usually take place in the Nikah Dairesi, that is, in the premises that the municipality makes available in various areas in the city in order to get married in bliss. A local councillor reads some civil code articles, the spouses say yes, the register is signed and that’s it. The ceremony does not last more than ten minutes and this is the reason why when passing by a Nikah Dairesi during the beautiful season, one can perceive a queue of spouses and bridesmaids adjusting their hair and make-up while waiting for their turn.
This is the basic wedding. Even those who can afford to invest a bit more and who do not want that the most beautiful day becomes a part of an editing chain, find themselves in extravagant ceremonies like those of the one thousand and one nights which in the end have attracted thousand of foreign spouses to the Bosporus. On top of the list among those who choose Istanbul, one finds Arabs, Jordanians and Lebanese but also a large number of Europeans. The English, the Dutch and the German lead the way.
The Turks are very good at scenting new businesses and they did not let this newborn trend slip out of their hands. This is why the country is now full of wedding organising agencies that cater for foreigners with different budgets, where every detail is thought of, from the choice of the venue to the reception, from the wedding gown to the wedding rings. All you have to do is give a budget to be respected. The average costs of a reception vary from 50 to 200 dollars per person. Then there are the sultan style solutions. The dream of nearly every Turkish young lady lies at the Çırağan or at the Dolmabahçe, the two splendid dwellings on the Bosporus, which were the residencies of the last sultans of the Ottoman Empire and of other court dignitaries. In 2008, only 100 couples managed to realise this dream, not only due to a question of costs, but also because the management of the mansions are highly selective with regards to their clients.
Nevertheless, those who don’t manage to get married in a sultan’s palace can count on other alternatives. If the Greeks choose all the areas close to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople for reasons related to their traditions, the others head directly to the sea and this is how very often weddings turn into splendid cruises on the Bosporus or into sumptuous receptions in extra luxury hotels like “The Ottomans”. There are also those who go for more sought-after solutions, like a wedding beneath the Leandro Tower, sitting on an islet in the middle of the sea between Europe and Asia, or at the Princes’ Islands, an idyllic spot, far away from the traffic of the megalopolis on the Bosporus.
This new business brings in over 300 million Euros every year. This explains the reasons why in order to protect this business from the crisis, some taxes on sectors related to the « wedding » capital have been cut. Thus, the prices remain competitive even during such a difficult year for the global economy. This has been carried out especially for the Turks who invest incredible figures. However, the others who have chosen the Country of the Crescent Moon to get married have also benefited from this policy. In fact, if Istanbul remains the absolute capital of weddings, wedding planners receive more and more requests for the Cappadocia and exotic beaches in the South of Turkey such as Patara and Oludeniz.
Moreover, Turkey offers supplementary services for a perfect wedding like honeymoon holidays in dream localities as well as evening gowns with highly competitive prices. In the Bosporus city one can indeed acquire the dream gown for an average of 600-800 Euros but there are other less costly solutions. Same thing goes for make-up and hair. The brides of the Crescent Moon are renowned for their beauty and the sophistication of their hair often represented by triumphs of curls and flowers. The only thing that seems to be definitely identical to the other places is the engagement ring’s cost. The numerous jewellery shops of the Crescent Moon, famous for their glistening windows overflowing with of every God’s asset, offer creations worthy of a princess. Yet the prices are not always affordable. However, since one can save up on other things, why not concede to act of folly? After all, diamonds are forever. Even if it is sumptuous and exotic, one cannot be that sure when it comes to weddings!
Translated by Elizabeth Grech