Loud beeping and a lot of cars – that’s basically all we know about turkish weddings, although in Germany we have the biggest turkish population outside of Turkey. We accompanied a young bridal couple at the huge party. For what do you need this green mush at a turkish wedding? Why gets the bride a red ribbon tied around her waist? Why are the guests lining up here? Is the prejudice true, that all turkish marriages are arranged? And does the bride cancel everything in the last minute? “Can you please turn off the camera for a few minutes?” We’re following Mechtap Akün from Dortmund and Zeyzea Sahin from Gelsenkirchen for 6 months- until the most important day of their life. 6 months until the wedding.Zeyzea has a special evening upcoming: He is going to propose to Mechtap in the traditional turkish way. Not with her, but with her family. He asked Mechtap already weeks ago in the Café where they met for the first time, 1.5 years ago . “Did she say yes immediately?” – “No, she has’nt. She kept me waiting a few weeks, until she said yes. I had to fight hard for it.” Zeyzeas family is joning him for the visit at Mechtaps parents. And, how it’s common in Turkey, they bring a silver plate with turkish sweets along. Back in time, that was a sign for wealth. It’s the whole opposite of an arranged marriage- the parents of the 21 year old Mechtaps are even against the 27 year old Zeyzea, because in their oppinion he is too old for her. They’re not going to be there today. The young couple is very unhappy about that. “It’s really annoying, that her parents are not going to be there. It’s really sad. Because of her love to Zeyzea, Mechtap moved out from her parents. Since a few months she is living at her uncle and aunt’s. They will take the role of the parents during the whole wedding. Mechtap and her groom were born in Germany, but turkish traditions like hospitality are still very important to her. For the greeting she distributes rose water for refreshment. Her uncle does’nt let her groom wait for a long time. As he takes the role of her father, he has to agree with the marriage. He says that he agrees with the marriage and is going to support them with all difficulties. But Mechtap wants one more typical turkish proof of love: She is mixing a very disgusting coffee, consisting of chili, pepper and salt. “If he is drinking it up, it is a proof of love.” Luckily Zeyzea is accepting to do that, he anyway fought for Mechtaps “yes”. “Disgusting”- Zeyzeas family brought a Imam with them, a prayer leader and islamic academic. The Imam prays with the families and fullfill the religious wedding. They directly go the whole hog, just after the martial arrangement. From now on and forever we are a family. 72 days left until the big wedding celebration. Together with her mother in law, aunts and sisters, Mechtap is going on the hunt for the wedding dress. Not anywhere but at the turkish wedding dress strip mall in Duisburg Marksloh. In Duisburg lives the second biggest turkish coummunity of Germany, right after Berlin Kreuzberg. Back in time, turkish brides went back to turkey to buy wedding dresses. Today they can find everything in one of the 50 stores of the german-turkish bridal fashion mecca. For men it’s not that exciting. German wedding dresses are way to boring and simple for a lot of turkish brides. They want expensive, Cinderella look-a-like dresses. Turkish wedding supllies are a big business nowadays in Germany. Mechtaps family already loves the first dress. “Wow!” -“You look amazing!” – But Mechtap wants her dress to sparkle a lot more. “I realized, that dresses with a lot of glitter suit me very well, when I wear them, I feel as if I’m shining and like a real bride. The 7th dress is Mechtaps favourite. Since she was a little girl, she is dreaming of the wedding and that dress. Other than the average german, the german-turkish people marry very young, around the age of 20 and 25. Mechtap is so excited about her dress, that she wants to dance, the main activity during turkish weddings. The wedding dress costs 1400€. She needs one more dress, for the proposal and the henna evening, which costs 1000€. Traditionally her in-laws pay for the dresses, just as for the whole wedding. Otherwise, Mechtap and Zeyzea would’nt be able to afford the wedding. 9 days until the wedding: Today is a very important date, the henna evening. The henna evening symbolizes the farewell of the bride from her home and her family. Mechtap needs help to put on her dress. In addition to the henna evening, the bridal couple celebrates their proposal today. Usually the groom is the only male person, that is allowed to attend the henna evening. But Mechtap and Zeyzea think that this is old-fashioned. Luckily Mechtap has no idea that her fiancé only now picks up the rings, which are going to be exchanged today. They picked the rings a while ago. Now they just have to bargain about the price, as usual in a turkish jewellery shop. “What is it in total?” – “630.” – “What can you do about the price?” – “550” – “Very good price, thank you a lot.” Now they can go in a perfect mood to the henna evening. It’s a dress rehearsal for the wedding. At the wedding are gonna be ten times as much guests. The first romantic dance belongs to Mechtap and Zeyzea. They are very nervous. In the back room a few woman prepare the henna ceremony. A happy married woman mixes the henna powder with water. Her happiness shall be transferred to the marriage of Mechtap and Zeyzea. Henna is a herbal coloring for skin and hair. It’s also a lucky charm, because in the legend they say, the henna plant just grows in paradise. Mechtap changes the expensive blue dress to her henna outfit. She borrowed the traditional costume from her married sister. “I hope my marriage is gonna be as great as hers, because I believe that the positive energy is gonna be transferred to me through the dress. Zeyzea gets ready for the ceremony as well. The red veil is supposed to hide the tears from turkish brides. They cry because they are leaving their families. A lot of young woman join the bride during the sad farewell. At least back in time it was a sad goodbye. The young bride used to move to to her husband and was’nt allowed to visit her family for 1 year, so that she can get used to the new family. That’s why there used to be a lot of tears. Today it’s not like that anymore. Mechtaps sisters slew the talismanic henna above the heads of the bridal couple. One of them is wearing a headscarf, the other is’nt. In Mechtaps family this is a very personal and individual decission. Mechtap doesn’t want to wear a headscarf, even after the wedding. Nevertheless she is a believing Muslim. Now the henna has to be put on Mechtaps hands. But she is’nt opening her fists right away. Her mother in-law has to give her a gold coin at first. An old turkish practice. Zeyzea is’nt getting a gold gift by the way. After the ceremony Mechtap is really crying. She misses her parents, they did’nt come today. They probably are not gonna come to the wedding as well. Her uncle is very sad as well. But just a few moments later, all tears are forgotten. The bags on Mechtaps hands guarantee that the henna can develope the lucky charm effect. The guests take a portion of the lucky charm back home. 15th March: Wedding day. For Mechtap and her friend the day starts off at the turkish hairdresser. We followed Mechtap and her groom for 6th months. In spite of all family difficulties, her dream comes true today. “I’ve been here with so many relatives at their weddings, but to sit here as the bride, is such a different feeling.” The most important thing about the hairdo: it has to last, even with extreme stresses and strains. That means: a ton of hairspray, although Zeyzea does’nt like that at all. He is at a hairdresser as well. “I’m very excited!” Mechtap hopes, that he is gonna get rid of the beard, but Zeyzea is not going to do that. But at least some facial hair is gonna go. The flamethrower is used to get rid of the ear hair. Typical turkish and allegedly not painful at all. But not only Zeyzea and Mechtap have to get ready for the wedding. The wedding location is getting prepared as well. Traditionally, turkish weddings are celebrated in special halls, where you can find everything you need for this event. Usual restaurants are not suitable, because the average amount of guests is between 300 and 1000. An average turkish wedding costs between 4.000 and 12.000€. The wedding of Zeyzea and Mechtap costs about 8.000€. The location is called “princess hall”. The wedding planner controlls, that everything is done the correct way. “Everything has to be symmetric!” Meanwhile, Mechtaps hair is done and she is back at home, but she is very nervous. “Does the hairdo still look good?” Zeyzeas dad helps him to put on his suit. Zeyzea is very happy with the way he looks. “She is gonna love the way I look” Mechtap writes the name of some friends on the soles of her wedding shoes. When the writing is gone tomorrow morning, because of all the dancing, that means that these girls are gonna get married soon, too. A lot of friends sent her a WhatsApp this morning, to remind her, not to forget to write their names. Meanwhile in Gelsenkirchen at Zeyzea: The stretch limousine he booked, arrives. More and more of his friends arrive. For Zeyzea, the party is already starting. He is driving to Dortmund, to pick up Mechtap. Meanwhile, she struggles with her feelings. Excitement and stress are rising. “Are you sad because of your parents as well?” But Mechtap braces herself, in the end thats the wedding she dreamed of for such a long time. The very last arrangements. A male relative puts the very important red ribbon around her waist. “My cousin is praying while he puts the ribbon around my waist. It shows that I start this marriage ‘clean’.” That means, that she is a virgin. Virginity until the marriage, that is still very important for a lot of german-turks, although their attitude is basically modern. Zeyzea arrived. Children block the door to Mechtap from the outside. The father in-law has to pay for the entrance. He pays 80 €. The collection of the bride is a very important part of the turkish wedding. A Imam is there as well. They pray and sing. Next step: The bridal couple is driving with the stretch limousine to the wedding hall in Essen. In the car is bad mood. “Can we please turn off the camera for 2 minutes?” Main reason for the bad mood: Mechtap does’nt like her bridal bouquet. She wanted a bouquet consisting of fabric flowers, to store it. Zeyzea bought the wrong one. But at the wedding photographer, everything is fine again. The photograph belongs to the service of the wedding planner. The wedding planner gives last instructions to the staff. “Everything has to be on time and perfect.” Zeyzea gets last insturctions as well, right before the big entrance in the hall. And now: the entrance of the bridal couple, during traditional turkish barrel music is played. More than 500 guests are there. Zeyzea gives Mechtap golden jewelery. As a reward, he is allowed to unveil. Back in time, this was the first time ever, the groom was allowed to see the bride. The kiss at the forehead means that he accepts Mechtap as his wife. Yesterday the married in the register office, but only after the kiss they feel like a married couple. From now on they dance the wohle evening with live music. While the chair dance, it can get quite hot. Mechtap has to persuade Zeyzea with her dance skills. The dancing only stops for the food: doner kebab, the cutting of the wedding cake with a turkish saber and the highlight: the gift giving. At first, close relatives give golden jewelery and gold coins. Thats a old custom, to cover the bride, if something happens to the groom. After that, the other geusts queue up and give money. The name and the amount of money are announced loudly. The usual amount is about 50 € per family. Other presents are not desirable. Money is needed to make sure, the couple has an easy start to the marriage. While the guests are dancing, the couple is exchanging the wedding rings in the back room. Because they were so excited, they totally forget that on the henna evening. “Its a sign of love for eternity.” “Of course I give you the ring as well as sign of eternity.” Endless love- that’s what we wish the couple as well.