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Destination I Do
Friday, January 31, 2020

Real Turkish Destination Wedding

Words by Lauren Ertl
Photos courtesy of Chad Munro

Living in The Cayman Islands, Imogen and Johnny knew they called a popular destination wedding spot home already, but nothing could deter them from saying "I do" in a country near and dear to their hearts. Bodrum, Turkey would be the perfect place to blend all of the cultures of the couple and their guests. Such a unique story we felt  Imogen and Johnny spoke eloquently in their Q&A, so we left it as so:

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1. Why did you choose to do a destination wedding?
We live in the sunshine in Cayman and so couldn’t imagine our big day without perfect weather. I [Imogen] am also half Turkish and we have had many happy holidays there together and so Turkey has always had a special place in both of our hearts - it was important for us to blend all our cultures together - Turkish, English and Chinese (Johnny is half Chinese).

2. How did your family and friends respond to the decision? If any of them had a negative reaction, how did you resolve it?
We couldn’t believe the overwhelming excitement from everyone about our destination wedding. So many more people attended than we expected, some coming from the US, Australia and The Cayman Islands.

3. How/why did you choose the location/destination? Did you run into any issues specific to this destination and how did you resolve them?
My Dad lives in Bodrum so it meant he could help us with lots of jobs. We have spent a lot of time in Bodrum, which was helpful when planning the wedding and surrounding events. Our big issue was getting champagne (our guests ended up having to bring two bottles each from duty-free) and receiving our printed material as it got stuck in Turkish customs.

4. How would you describe your overall experience of planning a destination wedding?
I adored the planning! We did a trip to Bodrum in April where we did cake and food tasting and booked most of the big details. In Turkey, most weddings are planned six weeks before so that was certainly different lots of the small details were done last minute.

5. Did you use any resources when planning your destination wedding that you feel would be helpful to other couples?
In Turkey you really have to be there and speak to the vendors directly otherwise things just don’t get done! We picked locations that don’t often have weddings - big hotels would be easier I am sure.

6. Did you include any do-it-yourself projects in your wedding/reception? 
Eklisia Church Church was a labor of love - the last remaining church in Bodrum. It is falling down and has ivy growing up the walls but that just inspired us to create a magical “friends like” atmosphere. I brought over eight sets of fairy lights, a specially made alter cloth and cross, hard to fill with flowers and lots of candles. I loved the final result, it was worth all the effort. At the reception venue, I had personalized pens and colored cards made for guests to put bucket list suggestions and tie on our wishing tree.

7. What were the travel logistics like for your guests? Did you run into any issues and how did you resolve them?
We organized the accommodations for all our guests so we could be in one huge villa complex. That was so much fun but quite hard logistically. We also organized transfers for all guests.

8. How were you able to coordinate with vendors from afar? Did you run into any issues and how did you resolve them?
We made sure we were in Bodrum a week before the wedding to iron out any issues - without this time I think things would not have gone as planned. 

9. Do you feel you spent more or less money by choosing to do a destination wedding?
Definitely less, especially as the exchange rate worked in our favor. It meant we could have all the extras (belly dancer, Saxophone player, food and alcohol across all three wedding events).

10. How do you think your wedding would have been different had you not held it away from home?
All our guests were in the holiday spirit which created an electric atmosphere. I have never seen a wedding with so many guests dancing!

11. Overall, do you have any special advice you would like to share with our readers to help prepare them for their day?
The devil is in the detail - the special, personalized touches take effort (especially when you get married abroad) but are so worth it! Spreadsheets and lists will be your new friends but try to enjoy the build-up too, it’s over all too quickly!

Vendors: Photographer: Chad Munro; Wedding Planner: Nature Bodrum; Ceremony/Reception Site: Eklisia Church and Limon Gümü┼člük; Florist: Nature Bodrum; Stationery: Zazzle; Cake: Lavanta Cake Shop; Hair & Makeup: Rock Gorgeous, Halo and Bilge Gundag makeup; Gown Designer: Ian Stuart; Groom’s Clothing Designer: Paul Smith; Bridesmaids' Clothing Designer: Jenny Packham

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