A while back, I was witness to an incredibly horrifying clash at what should have been an otherwise beautiful event – a wedding in Ankara.
I have been to many weddings in Turkey. Sometimes, I have only attended the wedding receptions. The actual marriage is often done privately at a local office. Additionally, there is a even more private Muslim ceremony (although I don’t believe legally binding) performed by an Imam. At other times, the legal signing of the marriage documents takes place at the beginning of the wedding reception.
This particular ceremony was different for me. In Ankara, there is a building called the Nazar Salon. It is a lovely building, more like an auditorium, set in the middle of a park. Legal wedding ceremonies are held there, allowing hundreds of people to watch the event. A reception then follows at another locale, or may even be held on another day – which works out well for those couples who have families in other cities.
When I arrived, there were hundreds and hundreds of folks crowding the park, the stairs to the building and the well-sized entrance. The doors to the auditorium were controlled by a security guard who let people in and out, but always made sure the doors were closed during the ceremonies.
But there seemed to be no method to this madness! Many couples had arrived for their special day, but their well-wishers could not find any schedule so they did not know when to enter the auditorium. People pushed in and abruptly forced their way into the front rows only to find that they were sitting there for someone else’s wedding. I sat through one other myself. Really chaotic!
The music was mostly god awful! As I watched a bride and groom whom I didn’t know descend down a runway, there was electro/pop/disco mix blasting. Ugh.
As I waited in anticipation of the right ceremony, a new tune trumpeted over the audience. I saw the bride’s dress peak out at the top of the runway. A moment later, a big fight had broken out at the foot of the stage! I was not sure what was going on. My theory was that the official photographers were angered by the folks that were snapping photos. There was a sign at the entrance to the Hall that forbade photography. The professionals often like to corner the photography market – selling their photos at high prices at events.
The truly terrible thing to me was that it went on for at least 15 minutes. The security guards were unable to break it up. Other guests jumped in to separate the mad men. Several minutes into it, the bride came running down onto the stage and went out a back door. Her beau followed behind to caringly tend to his bride.
Even that did not stop these folks from their argument. I soooo wanted to play the role of the Big Bad Philly girl. I was going to go down front and start taking numbers. Nothing stops a man in his tracks like a good ass-whooping from a girl. An ass-whooping by a foreigner would have been icing on the cake for me. Clad in a blue velvet dress, I had actually considered taking off one of my patent leather heels to use as a head-knocking tool. I can get ugly. Sad, but true. Not wanting to make matters worse, I suppressed these feelings and stayed in my seat.
Finally, the clash settled and the official took his place on the stage in the middle of the table. The bride and groom, impressively recomposed, were welcomed with a loud applause as they descended and took their place to the left of the official. A call was made for the witnesses and they took their seats to his right.
It was as if nothing had ever happened and I was glad about that. After the witnesses signed the marriage certificate, the official asked the couple something in Turkish – I assume, “Do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded bride,” and so on and so forth. Both the groom and the bride replied “Evet” – “Yes” in thundering happy voices. They then signed the document and the ceremony was over.
Unfortunately, the fighting was not.
We filed into a long line to congratulate the couple. The party then moved outside where everyone lined up again to have their photos taken with the bride and groom.
Suddenly, one of the burly older men who had been involved in the earlier brawl appeared. He was yelling and screaming right next to the couple. Tears rolled down the cheeks of the bride. Still, I did not understand what was going on, but I did catch the name of Allah (Peace be upon Him). I heard someone speculate that this man may have been an extended family member who was not happy that this lovely Turkish bride chose a foreign non-Muslim mate. (In fact, I have no knowledge of grooms’s religious affiliations. He may have converted to Islam for all I know.) The man was exclaiming that Allah (Peace be upon Him) was on his side! Ugh!
No, this was not an eternal feud between the houses of Montague and Capulet. Sometimes there are just one or two bad apples in every crowd.
Thankfully, the man was pushed off of the premises. The photos continued with the bride and groom valiantly gathering huge smiles for each one.
I don’t know – and I don’t want to know – whether these were arguments about photographers’ rights or the difference in faiths. Frankly my dear, I just don’t give a damn. This was not the time or the place for such nonsense! It is a subject that has divided nations and it is just plain stupid.
I was and still am so very proud of this couple. They did not let unbearable ignorance stop them. They displayed such grace, style and dignity. Love transcends all.
There are but three things that last: Faith, Hope, and Love.
And the Greatest of These is LOVE!