If you have not yet attended a village wedding here, don’t worry, you are certain to be invited to one in due course. We explain the ritual and what you may expect if you are invited to one.

If you have not yet attended a village wedding here, don’t worry, you are certain to be invited to one in due course.  If you have been to one, or more, and are still wondering whatever happened to food and drink at these events – read on.

When the village wing of Fethiye Times first attended a village wedding, about 37 years ago, they went on for days.  There were separate ‘parties’ on different nights at the bride and groom’s family homes, a henna night for women only, then a wild celebration with musicians giving it their all on the actual wedding night.  At the end of the latter the bride and groom would be escorted, usually on foot, to their new home and die-hard family members would stand outside shouting encouragement until well into the night.  And much as I hate to disappoint readers, I never did witness the display of bloodied sheets.

Nowadays it’s quite different but village weddings do follow a set pattern which we shall now reveal.

They are in two parts held on consecutive evenings.  First the ‘kına’ or henna night which almost always takes place at the home of the bride.  Vast numbers of white plastic chairs will be crammed into the garden, or spread out in an adjacent field; there will be a keyboard player performing traditional and pop Turkish music to a backing track; the bride and groom will be wearing their wedding clothes; and all and sundry will dance for hours. 

There is special music for the henna which will appear in an aluminium tray, already mixed and heated with lighted candles set in the green, sticky mess.  The tray is danced around the gathering and then the bride and groom each have the palms of their hands coated in henna.  The hands are then bound up so they will sleep with the henna on and have bright orange palms by the next morning.  Sometimes they do both hands, sometimes it is just one.  We do not know why there can be this distinction.

All guests wishing to be ‘hennaed’ can also have the paste daubed on.  If you wish to take away some henna as a souvenir there is also a decorated basket of tiny henna parcels – the henna still in powder form – from which you should take one.

There will also be food at this event.  Usually a group of women will be cooking over open fires in a corner of the garden.  You need to go to one of the tables set near the fires, sit down and you will be fed.  In fact feeding will have been on-going throughout the day of the henna night, and will continue throughout the next day until the ‘balo’ or wedding reception about which we’ll write in Part 2.  Food will also be available at the groom’s house.  If he or his family are your friend(s) you should go there to eat.  And it is polite to turn up and eat even if you don’t attend either of the evenings.  You could take a wedding gift if you go to eat during the day.  House plants are popular or any glass ware.  For the rituals of the balo – and the answer to ‘how much money should we pin?’ log on for Part 2 – coming soon.