On Saturday, some of the family gathered to celebrate our exciting news. It was a simple dinner that required restraint on behalf of the Turkish side of the family. Like so many cultures and traditions, engagements and weddings in Turkey are dictated by tradition.
I have learned about many of these traditions over the last few weeks….(mainly highlighting our strong diversion from tradition). Here are some of the basics:
In Turkey, the proposal occurs first, but the engagement is not official until the families come together to celebrate and acknowledge the engagement.
The engagement ceremony is traditionally held in the bride’s home. During the engagement ceremony, rings are exchanged in a short ceremony.
It is traditional for the bride to receive jewelry and gold coins from the grooms family.
Both the bride and groom traditionally wear engagement rings.
Our family celebration was held at C’s grandmother’s house on the asian side of Istanbul. She lives in the same neighborhood where C grew up, and in so many ways is like a second mother to him. It was an informal, but joyous affair. We feasted, we drank wine, we posed for pictures and I was warmly welcomed into the family by his father in a lovely toast. While we were posing to cut the cake together, I decided to introduce some American flair and tradition, and with limited explanation, I covered my groom’s face with cake. You can imagine his surprise, and the absolute delight of his family. The entire room erupted in laughter. Afterwards, the wonderful women in his life (who I adore): his grandmother, his aunt and his mother, as well as his uncle, spoiled me with beautiful gold coins and jewelry. I was overwhelmed by the attention and generosity. Overall, it was a very lovely and joyous night.
Yes, the rumors are true. The facebook frenzy is difficult to avoid, and my excitement is impossible to describe. Every time I look at my finger I am shocked by the sparkling reminder of the extraordinary circumstances that cement our bond and enhance each and every step we take as we build our life together. I have shared the story with a few friends, but wanted to meet the curiosity in a public space with a limited audience. To my loyal followers, here are the details of the proposal (if you have not heard the story already;)
It was a perfect surprise, and perfectly fitting for the two of us. It was a normal Monday night, and you-know-who told me that he wanted to take me out to dinner because he anticipated a busy week at work and wanted to ensure that we spent time together (neither of these two events were out of the ordinary). However, by the time my day was finished, I was exhausted and craved some time at home. I attempted to cancel the plans, but he was determined. He came home and told me he wanted to spoil me. Everything he said and did seemed too good to be true (I even started to joke that tonight must be the night, without truly believing it. I even gave him a pat down looking for a box!). We headed to Taksim and to our favorite Italian restaurant, where we celebrate Valentine’s day and our anniversaries. The owner knows us, and always goes out of his way to ensure the night is perfect in every way. There are no more than 15 tables in the small, dimly lit room. It is warm and cozy. There are checkered tablecloths and candles on every table. Frank Sinatra was playing in the background. We ordered a bottle of Italian wine, and all of our favorite dishes to share. We talked about the day, and started to reminisce about our time together in New York and DC, our travels in Rome and Cappadocia. The next thing I knew he was asking questions about my favorite days we’ve spent together, and still without any awareness on my part, we discussed all of our favorite memories and each of the special experiences we have shared. He asked me to identify my favorite evening that we have shared together, and I walked right into it…I said that while the night we were currently sharing was not out of the ordinary, I found it perfect in every way;) After some subtle build-up, he eventually said to me something like, “I feel so lucky to have you in my life. You have made me so happy. there is nothing that would make me happier, or feel luckier than if you said yes to my next question….will you marry me?” He slid the ring box across the table, I shouted ‘of course’ with delight and then burst into tears of joys. Shock and joy consumed me, and my eyes went back and forth between him and the ring in front of me. It felt like time stopped and we were the only two people in the room. Eventually, the owner sent over a free dessert and came over to congratulate us. We demonstrated an excessive (by Turkish standards) amounts of public affection as we slowly wandered home. We laughed a lot. It was another special and joyous day in our life together. I really could not be happier.