Istanbul Engagement Party at Giritli Restaurant

Gülşen and Fergus were living in Australia, but since Gülşen’s extended family were in Turkey. They wanted to involve them in their journey to marriage, so they chose to celebrate their engagement in Turkey. And I was lucky to photograph their engagement party at Giritli restaurant in Istanbul.

Gifts for guests at Giritli wedding

That was the first time that many of the guests were visiting Turkey. So the venue was carefully chosen in the heart of the historic centre of the city. With its location, and itimacy, Giritli is a lovely venue for smaller destination weddings in Istanbul. 

Giritli restaurant engagament couple

In Turkey, engagements are often celebrated just like a wedding. The couples book a venue for the celebration, invite family and friends, and even do a first dance at the party. Almost everything that you would expect to see at a wedding, also happens at a Turkish engagement party. That includes preparing a seating plan.

Groom checking the seating plan at Giritli restaurant wedding Bride-to-be welcoming guests at Giritli engagement party Guests at Giritli restaurant wedding Checking the seating plan at Giritli

Elderly family members are always invited to a Turkish engagament party. In fact, this celebration is especially for them to enjoy. Unlike in Europe or in North America, a Turkish engagement is always a gathering of extended families,  if not more guests.

Bride and grandmother at Giritli restaurant engagement Kids at engagement party at Giritli restaurant

Perhaps the biggest Turkish engagement tradition is the ring ceremony. It is actually just a 5-minute thing, performed by a respected member of the family. This person is usually the uncle of the bride. The rings, tied together by a red ribbon, are brought to the stage on a silver plate. The uncle puts those rings on the couple’s fingers, on their right hands. He then whishes the couple well, cuts the ribbon that connects the rings, and announces that the couple is engaged.

Cutting the ribbon, a Turkish engagement tradition

Just like a wedding reception, engagement parties have lots of music and dancing. For Gülşen and Fergus, being performers themselves, dancing meant planning a little show. 

Bride-to-be dancing at Giritli engagement party Bride-and-groom-to-be dancing at Giritli engagement party Groom dancing with guests Guests at a table at Giritli

At the end of the night, there is cake cutting, again like a wedding.

Bride-and-groom-to-be cutting their engagement cake at Giritli

Gülşen and Fergus, it was a pleasure to meet you guys, and your families. I wish you guys the best.

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