Wings (A Wedding, Part 2)

With the Islamic Marriage Ceremony and the Henna Party, two important Turkish wedding traditions had been celebrated. The wedding, as planned by The Girl and Metin, was to be a blend of cultures and traditions.

A traditional Turkish wedding can have as many as 1,000 guests – and is often a simple “Cake and Cola” event held in a salon for an afternoon. They wanted a beach wedding – and wanted to be quick with the formalities, and then on with dinner and dancing!

While she was home in July, we went shopping for a wedding dress. She had been absolutely terrified of getting a dress in Turkey, as the more modern Turkish brides are apparently fond of bejeweled bodices, massive piles of lace and tulle, and all manner of extreme glamour*. “I don’t want to look like a fucking cupcake!”

The dress found her. At a discount bridal shop, the third dress pulled from the rack fit nearly perfectly, and was beyond stunning on her. We had invited her father’s wife, Fahima, to join us for the dress shopping day.  Perhaps the main reason my ex and i have been able to connect well enough to strongly support our kid? This woman has a huge heart, and bubbly personality – and both of my kids adore her! Deciding that the term “Step Mother” has too many harsh implications, she’s been christened their “Bonus Mom”… a bit more appropriate in this case!

The minor alterations were completed just under the wire, and The Girl was able to get everything she needed packed up and headed home. Invariably, the luggage was lost for a few days – “If that dress is lost and I have to go out and buy another one here? AAAAAAAAARGH!” – but arrived intact a few days later.

We also learned that “RSVP” is sort of an alien concept regarding Turkish weddings. They had planned for about 150 people, but the final count was closer to 200. Since it is still somewhat unusual to have a formal sit down dinner at a wedding, i guess it doesn’t seem to be a big deal… i’d have been ripping my hair out, but The Girl and Metin seemed to roll with it…

Metin’s family comes from central Turkey, and over two dozen family members made the trek – at least 20 hours by bus – to get to Izmir for the wedding! He arranged for two tour buses to transport his family, and neighbors, from the city to the beach.

During the reception, Mehmet (Metin’s father) went to find a translator. He returned to our table with The Girl’s friend, Beth, and was enthusiastically asking her to translate something to us. Mehmet let us know that it is Turkish tradition for the parents of the bride and the parents of the groom to personally welcome each guest at the wedding – and he was inviting us to join them in this tradition.  With Beth’s help, my ex-husband EJ and i were schooled in the proper pronunciation of “Hoşgeldiniz!”

greeting

We agreed, despite being absolutely terrified of screwing this up! Trying not to look as mortified as we felt, we joined Mehmet and Haava and began greeting guests – and i can personally attest to the fact that there were at least 190 people in attendance! It seemed to take forever, but Studley assures me it only took about 30 minutes for us to make the circuit.

dancing

And then we danced. We danced and laughed and danced some more! The newlyweds had pulled together a playlist of both Turkish and English dance tunes. Balancing cultures, they had arranged for each guest to have two drinks – either beer or wine – during dinner. i wanted to be respectful to his family, so it wasn’t until those two tour buses headed back to the city around midnight that i felt comfortable enough to grab a drink…  and have a proper toast with the newlyweds!somewhat staged

i thought we’d danced ourselves out BEFORE midnight, but i was wrong! The DJ kept going, and so did we! Much relief for all that the formalities were over, and we threw it down hard! Many of their friends had booked rooms at the beach resort, so we didn’t clear that beach until somewhere around 4am. Vague memories of dancing salsa with a pretty Colombian ex-pat, and lying in the grass making friends with a stray dog are also in the mix…

It was a great party… And a beautiful wedding… Celebrating my kid and her husband! Merging two families and two cultures – across the old and new generations – as we cheer them onward! i am delighted that she has put down roots. She has a bigger family! And so do i…

new family

* Some examples can be found here… She made a good call!

Promises were made…

May 19th, 1984. 

i was such a hippie-goob.  Bad perm, owl glasses.  Wearing this dorky long white satin-esque dress that had belonged to my maternal grandmother.  He was wearing his only best suit – the Brooks Brothers rig his parents bought for him when he graduated from college in 1976.   Brown.  Soft plaid.  We weren’t ‘retro’.  Just dorks, and really fucking cheap.

Holy. Shit.

The wedding pictures are just precious*.  i was 22, he was 29.  Nerds?  You bet!  We’d been living together since i was 19, bought our first house a year later in 1983, and fought like animal rights activists in a medical school laboratory to keep the wedding tiny.  Much to the annoyance of my Mom, who wanted a big wedding** for SOMEONE.  i was pretty much her last hope, and she fought to make it bigger… while i fought to simplify.

We refused to send invitations.  Only announcements to most people – after the fact.  We’d purchased a house, and wanted to discourage gifts.  Some of the announcements actually said “daisyfae and EJR announce the change in tax filing status from ‘single’ to ‘joint’, with an estimated annual tax savings of $1,475.”  We were paying for the wedding, which took away much of Mom’s ability to influence.  But she was resourceful and tenacious as a pit bull.

My favorite example of the passive-aggressive battle?  Mom thought it would be nice to have a “Unity Candle” ceremony in the church.  This is where the Mother of the Bride and the Mother of the Groom bring lit candles to the Bride and Groom, who then light their own candles from the symbolic maternal flame.  And together, the sappy couple attempt to avoid holy conflagration and light a single candle together. 

Awwww…. So symbolic.  So fucking stupid.  i drew a line in the worn church carpet and said “NO!”  arguing that we’d be too nervous, and burn down the historic chapel and that would suck loudly.  She sulked.  i won.

Our guest list was drawn up via the following criteria:  “Who will never speak to us again if they aren’t invited?”  Total guest list was about 30 – all family except for three of our friends.  For our reception, we wanted to just go out to eat at a decent restaurant.  Figuring that our families might never get together again unless we dropped dead…. and even then?  Maybe not.

Arriving at the restaurant, i was quite annoyed to find that Mom had brought a plastic-flower encrusted styrofoam block.  She’d spray painted the styrofoam forest green.  Mounted upon it were a bunch of fucking candles.  Yep.  She got me on a technicality – “You said you didn’t want to do it at church…”.  Sneaky, sneaky little snake-mother, wasn’t she?

And so it went…  But it was a good party.  i got really drunk with my new sister-in-law.  DQ, then 12 years old, caught the bouquet.  The marriage was generally ok – he was, and is, a good human.  We eventually sucked as a couple.   Our genetic products are delightful. 

And 25 years ago today?  i really meant it when i promised “til death do us part”.  Maybe what i meant was the figurative death of “us”, rather than the actual heart-stoppage of either body***. 

Taking a page from Mom’s playbook…. a technicality?

 Shit happens.  Or sometimes, it doesn't...

*yes. there are candidate photos for the “awkward family photos” site  – sadly.  no. i won’t scan them in.  i respect him too much…

** Mom eloped the first time.  And the second time.  And it was a little shotgun event with the justice of the peace when she married Dad.  Oldest sister, S?  Ran away at 18.  My brother, T?  Pretty much the same thing.  And my other sister, T?  Lesbitarian.  Although she did manage to marry a Palestinian taxi driver at the height of the Persian Gulf War…. that was later.  A story for another time…

*** Paraphrased from “The Big Chill”:  “Rationalization is more important than sex.  Have you ever gone a week without a rationalization?”