‘Till death do us part, but first
Getting married in Turkey is relatively simple. Any Turkish national and any foreigner, as well as two foreigners of different nationalities, can get married in Turkey before the competent authorities. Two foreigners of the same nationality can marry either in the offices of their home country's embassy or consulate or before Turkish authorities.
Marriages to be conducted by Turkish authorities are regulated by the Turkish Civil Code. It may be possible to find the legal regulations in simplified form and in your own language on the Turkish Embassy's Web site in your country. However, here is a short summary:
The basic laws related to marrying in Turkey are more or less the same as stipulated in most countries: The minimum age for marriage is 18 years, polygamy and marriage between close relatives is forbidden and only those persons who have sufficient mental capacity to make fair judgments are allowed to wed. Married women whose marriage has been dissolved cannot marry before the expiration of 300 days from the date of dissolution. The divorce decree may also issue a waiting period for the man.
Apart from these basics there is some paperwork that must be taken care of. Most of the necessary documents should be available in your home country's registry office, but contact your embassy to see if they can help.
To start marriage paperwork in Turkey, the bride and groom must, first of all, file a petition to marry (Evlenme Beyannamesi) at the municipal registrar's office (Evlendirme Birimi). This petition specifies the date and place of the marriage.
Next, the couple's valid passports and four passport photos each are required. On top of this, the couple will need international certificates of birth and "certificates of capacity to marry," both translated and notarized. Don't get irritated about the strange name of the latter one. This paper only stipulates that you are not already married to someone else. In case you are widowed or divorced, you will need to bring an additional legally binding certificate for that as well. Last but not least, both partners need a health certificate.
How does one go about getting a health certificate? Martin, an American who went to a "sağlık ocağı" (health clinic) in İstanbul's Moda district, spoke about his experiences on the online expatriate forum, My Merhaba. "They told us that they no longer required but simply recommended it. The doctor just asked us a few questions, filled out the necessary form and handed it to us. After that, we did need to go and get a tuberculosis test. They should give you the results the same day if you go before 9 a.m. or 10 a.m.," he reports.
So, after all these papers are collected, there is no longer anything (at least nothing bureaucratic) that can get in the way of you saying "I do!" The only thing left is to arrange two witnesses and -- if necessary -- to hire a translator.
However, don't be surprised if the officials at the registry office want to also fix another date with you. It is often the case in Turkey that the registrar welcomes the couple a few weeks or days ahead of the marriage ceremony for a small "preparation talk" to advise the couple a bit about married life. However, many users of the online forum report that registrars have begun to drop this talk.
To sum everything up, marriage in Turkey is comparatively easy, but you should not organize everything at the last minute. This is a recommendation from American User Sjbrun on an online forum for expatriates who are planning to get married. "My experience is that you will need at least five working days if not longer to get all the paperwork done, and then I think there is a delay of a couple of days between when the paperwork is finished and when the ceremony can take place," he says.
How can you get the ceremony you've always dreamt about?
Let's leave these formalities now and come to the more joyful part of the marriage: the celebration. When planning your celebrations, keep in mind that marriage ceremonies can also be officiated outside the municipality's registry offices. Indeed, with a terrific landscape and plenty of romantic places across the country, Turkey is naturally an ideal country to get marry outdoors. Popular locations include beaches and ships.
Arranging exactly the kind of marriage ceremony you've dreamed of can be done by enlisting the help of agencies that offer services specializing in needs of foreigners. These agencies can arrange everything from a "Traditional Turkish" to an "American Style" marriage ceremony. To see some possibilities, take a look at www.goreme.org, an agency that organizes marriage ceremonies in a restored lovely old cave house in a picturesque old part of Göreme, a small untouched town in Cappadocia. "While the women dance at the henna night, we take the groom and his friends to a local barber for a truly memorable shave. Then we take them to a local hamam, where they are thoroughly scrubbed and massaged and gotten ready for their wedding. We even arrange traditional Ottoman-style wedding clothes for you," the agency's Web site states.
Please note that you should look into these plans before filing the petition at the municipality. Requesting a registrar for a location outside of the registry office must be booked in advance. Also note that the civil code only allows "civil marriages performed by authorized marriage officers." Ceremonies officiated by religious authorities or others have no legal effect, though they may be held for any reason.
Those with a modest budget can hold their celebration in one of the numerous marriage houses (nikah evi) offered by the municipalities or they may choose one of the numerous wedding salons (düğün salonu). These are less expensive options but can be organized freely according to the groom and the bride's desires as well.
To inspire you to get informed about the range of Turkish marriage traditions, let me leave you with this: Did you know that the partners step on one another's feet right after the wedding vow? It is said that whoever succeeds to do this first will wear the pants throughout the marriage.
Taken from today's edition of Zaman http://www.todayszaman.com/tz-web/detaylar.do?load=detay&link=132754
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