Heidi & Erdem's vintage-inspired Turkish-American wedding (with a belly dancing sword balancer!)

Updated Oct 12 2015
 
Photos by: Olivia Gird Photography
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Photos by Olivia Gird Photography

The Offbeat Bride: Heidi, Artist and Creative Director

Her offbeat partner: Erdem, VP of Sales

Date and location of wedding: Roger Williams Casino, Providence, RI — October 5, 2014

Our offbeat wedding at a glance:

Our wedding was at the Roger Williams Park Casino, the beautiful old Colonial Revival-style building in Roger Williams Park, built in 1896 (the "Gay Nineties").

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This was a Turkish-American wedding with some French influences (my husband, Erdem, is Turkish and I am American. I also have a Masters in French literature and am a bit of a Francophile). We tried to blend elements of these cultures into the wedding: we had a belly dancer perform and balance a sword at our reception, we were married to "La Vie en Rose" by Edith Piaf and our recessional was French band Nouvelle Vague's cover of Depeche Mode's "I Just Can't Get Enough."

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We went for a vintage look and feel. I opted for an old Hollywood glamour Veronica Lake kind of hairstyle with a vintage stole (purchased at Rocket to Mars Vintage in Providence, and the stole itself was actually made in Providence in the 1940s).

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I'm an artist and print maker, and a lot of our details were DIY: I made our invitations, Turkish evil eye wedding favors, guestbook poster, and created/displayed a photorealistic screen printed poster of my grandmother from a photo taken of her in the 1940s. She had just passed away the year before, so it was important to me to be able to pay special tribute to her. We displayed the poster first at the ceremony and then at the reception.

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We were aiming for a fun, relaxed mood and spirit: no traveling between ceremony and reception, no assigned seats, heavy passed hors d'oeuvres and stations instead of a formal, sit-down meal, and one of our very good friends DJed the event, playing all of our rock, punk, new wave, '60s girl groups, psych, and indie favorites throughout the night. He also mixed in some great Turkish music as well.

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Tell us about the ceremony:

The ceremony itself was really meaningful for us. We thought about writing our own vows, but our officiant's script was so sincere and heartfelt that we didn't want to change a word. The reading focused on being each other's best friend, never going to sleep angry at each other, always having each other's backs, and most of all: having respect for one another.

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We typed out the entire speech in Turkish so that our Turkish speakers could follow along. And though there weren't any Turkish details in the ceremony, our reception had plenty of Turkish touches: belly dancer, Turkish "Evil Eye" wedding favors that we made ourselves, we handed out hip scarves to our guests that Erdem's family brought over from Istanbul, and each table had a plate of Turkish delight for guests to share.

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Our biggest challenge:

An hour before we were supposed to walk down the aisle, my three-year-old nephew was rushed to the emergency room because he was wheezing. It was terrifying! But it turned out absolutely fine; he was diagnosed with the croup and the doctor assured my brother and his girlfriend that he would feel much better after taking his prescription. He wasn't able to walk down the aisle, but he DID make it to the reception, and was dancing like a fiend for the rest of the night, feeling so much better. It was a huge relief!

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My favorite moment:

Erdem's family owns two stores in Istanbul, and had very limited days that they could close the store to come to our wedding. Because of this, we deliberately chose our wedding day to fall on the Bayram holiday, a national holiday in Turkey where most businesses close down. Erdem's family flew in the Saturday before our wedding, participated in the wedding on Sunday, and flew back to Turkey on Monday. It was a whirlwind trip for them, but it was so wonderful having them there on such an important day; it just wouldn't have been the same without them.

Erdem's father spoke at our reception, and told a story that his father told when he and Erdem's mom were married. Since he doesn't speak English, Erdem's best man, Oguz, stood on stage with him and translated.

My mom met Erdem's parents and sister for the very first time the night before our wedding (mere minutes after they flew in all the way from Istanbul). They got along beautifully and seemed to have a really strong connection to each other despite of the language barrier.

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My funniest moment:

When it was time for Erdem to say "I do" during the ceremony, he screamed it out with so much enthusiasm that all of our guests started giggling. Then, when I said "I do," he yelled out, "Yes! Score!"

Also, we had more than one bridal party member reenacting the "Girls on Film" video by Duran Duran on the dance floor.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?

Research, research, research and don't let any vendors tell you what you NEED to have in order to have a beautiful wedding and make guests happy. If you really put your heart into it and put thought into all of the details, your guests will be happy, and you will save money by checking out your options. One example: our ceremony and reception were in the same venue, and so we really just needed a limo to pick everyone up, leave, then pick Erdem and me up at the end of the night and bring us to the hotel. Several limo companies insisted on the "bridal package," which would require us to pay for the limo to sit idly outside for the duration of the entire wedding (five hours) until we were ready to be taken home. After a few calls, we finally found a limo that would drop us off, leave, and pick us up at the end of the night, which saved us several hundred dollars.

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Vendors

  1. Helloooo from Providence! Beautiful venue choice! Also, the groom's reaction during vows, WONDERFULLY ADORBSABLE.

    • Thanks Julianne! I love hearing from a fellow Rhode Islander! 😀 And thanks to Offbeat Bride for the feature! You guys are amazing.

  2. Hi! We are getting married in a couple of years, half of my family is Turkish-Cypriot, and the rest of us are English, including all of my fiance's family.
    Your feature has given me some great ideas of how to incorporate my Turkish culture into our wedding!
    Beautiful photos!

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