Tuesday, August 05, 2008


The wedding went off without a hitch. The best day ever, hands down. And now...

We're off to the south of France next week! We can't wait. Cream, butter, and more cream and butter. Wine. Lavender fields. French bathtubs. Bicycles. Pastries. Lazy days. 

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Meeting with the bride

I know I know, I have not been posting for a long time. Actually, this is still not my post but I need to post it for my mom. I tried my best not to lose its meaning while translating.

When I first saw her lovely smile, I felt warmness in my heart. I remember telling Celal she was very sweet, as if she is one of our family members. Their meeting in Spain and then her arrival to Istanbul made me so excited. I am too happy that my son believed the truthfulness of his love and decided to live his life with her. After meeting her mom, Mary, I was even happier to know she is the daughter of a mom like her.

(aka Celal's mom)

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Down on the corner

The outdoor garden where we will host our rehearsal dinner

We just made a reservation for our wedding rehearsal dinner, so we wanted to share the details with everyone. It will be on the Monday prior to the wedding at Kosebasi restaurant around the corner from our house (Kosebasi actually means "corner"). This is one of our favorite kebap restaurants in Istanbul! They have delicious mezeler (appetizers), lahmacun (mini Turkish lamb pizzas) and grilled kebaps. The branch by our house (Fenerbahce) is in an old restored mansion, and it is best in summertime when you can sit outside in the garden area under the trees. We think it will be a great representation of Turkish cuisine for our guests arriving that day! For all of those who want a taste of Turkey, they have a (very pricey!) sister location on Madison Avenue in New York City called Pera Mediterranean Brasserie. The Roasted Whipped Eggplant, Warm Hummus, and Adana Kebap are especially delicious!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Provence region, France

Just two weeks to go until the first guests arrive! We are trying to finish up the planning for the big day. I won't even get into my napkin holder meltdown here, but basically I've just been holding it together. I'm so anxious for the big day. Luckily, on the walk home from the gym last week, there was a cocktail party at one of the retail businesses across the street where a lovely cocktail trio was playing. (We have been looking for a decent trio for a few weeks now.) We sat on the curb a little bit away from the party as to not scare away all of the guests, and listened. They are great! We hope the guests enjoy them as much as we did that day.

Ladera Resort, St. Lucia

We have been asked by so many people where we are going on our honeymoon, and we are stumped. At first, it was Thailand. Massaman curry is the best, and the beaches, I have been told, are heavenly. That idea molded into something a little closer to home - a nice, cozy, relaxing trip to the south of France, where we could leisurely bicycle through the lavender fields and vineyards, sip on some wine, and replace our blood with butter and cream. Now, we are leaning towards something Caribbean... maybe Puerto Rico, Antigua, or St. Lucia. It will be very convenient as we are planning to visit the States after the wedding. I think we are looking for something relaxing, romantic, a bit of nightlife, and good food.  But, essentially, we are very confused!

That's my bicycle, Jumby Bay Resort, Antigua

Jumby Bay Resort, Antigua

Monday, June 16, 2008

Red and white

No, those aren't the new wedding colors. Those are the colors of Turkey's flag. It's European Championship time, and Turkey just won its second game and qualified for the quarterfinals... mayhem ensued on the streets of Istanbul. Enjoy our little video above, and please excuse our late-night hideousness :).

Jen & Celal

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

a few things

Someone else's photo of the show Troya

We're back home again after a long day out in the jungle that is Istanbul. Celal is sitting happily on the couch watching Turkey v. Switzerland (European Cup) futbol game and eating fruit as usual. I figured I'd hammer out an update before heading off for a good night's sleep.

Last night, we went to see a show called Troya, a faux-Broadway production. The costumes, dancing, and (real) sword fights were quite a thrill, but the story and characters were a yawn. I should really catch up on my history (meaning, I need to rent Troy with Brad Pitt) since Troy is only a few hours away from here. Anyway, our friend works in the film industry so on some special occasions she is nice enough to line up tickets for us to events, and we had four excellent seats. We went with Celal's uncle and his adorable eight-year-old daughter (I'm sure she was happy when we headed home).

Celal's mom took us home and stayed the night with us so we could go around today and run errands in the city today. We woke up pretty early for how late we went to sleep (which was my excuse today for not going to the gym, as well as the fact that we got home around 9:15). First on the agenda today was wedding bands. We already had a jeweler in mind, Burtacin, that we met with a few months ago, and we went back today to drive him crazy :). His shop is in the crazy circus that is the covered bazaar (he also has a location in New York City on Mott Street). I decided on a set of tri-color rings that I scouted out online. I can wear all three together or separately (I am not having them connected). Celal picked a simple raw rose gold band for himself. I also ended up ordering a pair of champagne topaz earrings that I will wear on the big day. 
My wedding bands will be like this

After finding our way to daylight through the pushy vendors, we ate a quick bite and headed off to our next destination - our new wedding organization that we are using. (The previous one that we thought was "the one" was a mere hoax. She put together a sample for us, and apparently the words we told her at the meeting went in one ear and out the other.) In any case, the new lady is a doll, and her assistant speaks English, which is a big plus for me. (It is quite a headache of translating for both Celal and me when the meetings are in Turkish, though my Turkish has improved significantly over the past few weeks!). So, our new organization will be putting together a sample for us sometime soon... Romantic Ottoman garden will be the theme. At least that's what it is at this point :).

After our meeting there, we sat in more traffic (did I mention that half of these days out is spent in city traffic? This city is huge.) We headed to Istinye Park, the best new mall in Istanbul. They have stores from the Gap and Zara to Gucci and Louis Vuitton, a huge cinema (where we just saw Sex & the City... we loved it! Next on the agenda is 21), great Chinese restaurant (among many other restaurants we haven't tried, including Mongolian barbecue), and even a small bazaar with fresh fish, meats, and fruits. So, we got lost in the mall for a few hours where I tried on a dress I will be wearing for the henna night. I am actually ordering the same dress online, since it is half the price :). 

So, that's about it for now. More updates to come soon!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

"The Dress, the Beads, the Baskets," Oh My!

Take one excited bride-to-be, add one proud mama, combined with two weeks of intensive shopping to create the experience of a lifetime. I was so surprised when Jen called to say she would be coming home to look for a wedding dress. I loved that she wanted me to be the first person to see her in the gown. Even though her own special dress was not the first she tried on, I will always remember the waves of joy and pride I felt to see her prepare for one of the most important days of her life. It truly brought tears to my eyes. Of course after an extensive search, my tears of joy turned to tears of, “Are we there yet?” Honestly, it was like looking for a “Needle in a Haystack.” It didn’t help matters that we both suffer from a severe case of indecisiveness. Finally, we found the “One!” or so we thought. We weren’t absolutely sure, so we kept on searching only to find ourselves back where we started. It probably sounds biased, but she is going to be the most beautiful bride Istanbul has ever seen.
Beads, beads, beads consumed a good portion of our time. We put our creative minds together to fabricate wine charms for the wedding tables. We searched every craft and bead store within a 10 mile radius to find just the right sizes, shapes, and colors. Once again, it took longer than expected due to the many aisles filled with everything pretty. The “To Do” list didn’t seem to be getting any shorter. In fact, every time we checked off an item, one of us seemed to add on another. Flower girl baskets were especially a challenge. They needed to be rustic but romantic; a difficult combination. After canvassing the typical stores in which one might find such a commodity, Jen spied exactly what she was looking for, in of all places, the grocery store!
The hustle and bustle of those two weeks in May left me weary, worn, drained, and downright “pooped.” However, I wouldn’t change a thing; I savored every minute of the journey! Thank you Jen and Celal for the gift of a lifetime.
I couldn’t be happier for my daughter Jennifer and her future husband Celal. They have found true love with each other, and are the “cutest” couple I’ve ever seen. As an added bonus, Celal is part of a warm and loving family. I felt so incredibly welcomed during my Christmas visit. I’m looking forward to joining together as one big happy family

Thursday, May 29, 2008



I inherited a whole set of sweet teeth from my mom. I turn into a five-year-old when it comes to a piece of food that contains sugar. Living in a city with a bakery on every corner, you would think that I would be in wedding cake heaven. Well, Turkish cakes tend to be a little different than their American, French, or Italian counterparts. The cake is not sweet enough to me. The frosting is usually fondant (I am a buttercream fan), and many cakes have nuts and fruits and sugar glazes. While these cakes are delicious in their own right, they are not wedding cake material. I mean, I am even happy with a simple cake from Publix. But, alas, there is no Publix here. Not to mention, Celal doesn't even like wedding cake!

We attended our friend's sister's wedding last summer and they had this gorgeous mountain of cream puffs covered with an oozing layer of the chocolate sauce (called profiteroles) instead of a traditional wedding cake. While a majority of the bakeries here serve profiteroles and you will see it on many restaurant menus, we called her up to ask where they ordered theirs, as it was especially delicious. Well, it was done by the place where they had their wedding, but she suggested that another bakery, Manolya Pastanesi, is even better, and many have called it the best place in Istanbul. Since Manolya means magnolia in Turkish, and my cousin and I have had a longstanding obsession with the Magnolia Bakery cupcakes in Manhattan, it just seems right. We have also spoken with our wedding coordinator at the location and she will ask their chef if he will do the mountain for us. Fifty pounds of cream puffs sounds like a good idea to me!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Wedding, wedding, everywhere

We are here! Just a little busy. I made it back safely to Istanbul after my two-week visit to Florida, along with my wedding dress. I love my dress! It is not your everyday wedding dress and not what I had pictured, but I think it is perfect. I tried on so many dresses and shoes there that I nearly swore off shopping for life. I still have yet to find shoes, among other things...

Just one of the dresses I tried on , and what I had in mind when I started shopping..

We met with another wedding organization company yesterday and we think she's the one! We (well, mainly I) are having a hard time deciding on a wedding theme. I thought we had it figured out until we put it all down. The overall gist of the theme will probably be a "romantic garden" theme, but achieving that is another story (...one that I don't know yet). Hopefully Ebru at the wedding organization will be able to provide some direction for us. It is quite different here with weddings, as most couples pretty much have the same thing - luxurious and over-the-top. They don't seem to focus a lot on the little details, like the types of flowers, or a theme. There are a lot of lilies, white, and organza organza everywhere. Not to mention, the DJ's standard setup includes a projection screen (for the obligatory slideshow) and "volcano" fireworks for the couple's entrance. In our opinion: tacky.

If I had my pick of flowers it would be peonies and roses, but unfortunately peonies only have a short season in late May through early June. The ones that the gypsy sidewalk sellers have are also quite a bit smaller than the peonies I prefer. We are still trying to decide on a color theme, and will probably be including hydrangeas, one of my summer loves, and perhaps some lisianthus. Instead of throwing rice or blowing bubbles at us after the ceremony, we are thinking of having dried lavender, which smells heavenly! I also love the smell of jasmine so maybe we will be including that as well. Every day I have to remind myself to not get too caught up in the details, but I'm sure most brides go through the same stress as I am. I never imagined the stress that wedding planning would bring. Sometimes I just feel like I am going insane. Luckily, Celal is very helpful and supportive of his little bridezilla. We will persevere!

I also just received news that my cousin and her hombre got their tickets to come here! I can't wait to go salsa dancing!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Mr. Celal & Miss Jennifer

My mom's old friend's daughter works for a movie company and knows this guy that works at a gossip magazine (similar to US Weekly). She told my mom she could have this guy come to our wedding to do a little feature on us. I don't know if I like that idea but I will accept the offer if we are on the cover. Otherwise, I need to think about it. What does Paris Hilton have that we don't??? I am sure the lines will be similar to this under our picture while cutting the cake: "The biggest steel trader and fabricator of Turkey, Mr. Celal, married the famous American artist, Miss Jennifer." Jen will only be in the magazine if they say she's a famous artist.

I am going to pick up the rest of the invitations and envelopes this week and we will start giving them once Miss Jennifer comes back.

I may be the biggest steel trader and fabricator of Turkey but I still have time to post here while I am at work. Now, that's something! I need to work...