Wedded Wonderland was invited on a familiarization trip alongside Go Türkiye and Vivaah Weddings last December to experience the best of what Türkiye has to offer nationwide. Hunting for the best locations worldwide, wedding media, planners, photographers and videographers from East to West were called together to learn about the proposal, wedding and honeymoon opportunities for couples. From the magical streets of Istanbul to the natural wonders of Cappadocia, we were taken on an unimaginable journey of exploration.
If you’ve ever dreamed of a proposal in a hot air balloon over Love Valley, a boat wedding on the Bosphorus, or a royal-style wedding at the Iconic Çırağan Palace Kempinski…then join us as we take you on our 5-day adventure exploring Türkiye’s finest venues, tourist sites, cultural experiences and hospitality.
Arriving in Istanbul, Türkiye after 18 hours of travel, we were greeted with a floral bouquet and private transfer with a starlit ceiling (we promise, we’re not fantasizing). On the way to the host hotel, peeking out the windows, we were falling in love with this beautiful city at first glance.
Checking in at the Hilton Istanbul Bosphorus, we were pleasantly surprised when the doors were opened to a suite overlooking the stunning Bosphorus Strait and incredible Old Town. Although the beds looked divine, we couldn’t get too comfy because we had venues to visit. After touring our host hotel, we headed to the Mandarin Oriental Bosphorus for a site inspection and welcome dinner at their resident Italian restaurant Olea. Sitting beside wedding professionals from across the globe felt surreal! Egypt and Lebanon at the far end of the table, Israel seated next to us, the UK across and Dubai in the middle, all 14 representatives were celebrating the power of love.
Amidst the venue tours, we were excited to learn about the major tourist sights and must see locations in this inspiring city. Our day started with a visit to the Grand Bazaar and oh wow is it grand! One of the largest covered markets in the world with over 4,800 stores, dating back to 1455, this magical marketplace attracts over 250,000 visitors daily and offers anything the eye could imagine. From the latest fashion, luxury carpets, finest glassware, secret spices, genuine leathers and endless amounts of golds, there isn’t anything money can’t buy in this old town jewel.
After spending far too much Turkish Lira, we managed to make our way to the Hagia Sophia (Aka The Church of Divine Wisdom). A world-renowned structure with deep-rooted religious significance. Built three times, this landmark transitioned from being a Christian Orthodox Church under the direction of Constantine I, to the Imperial Church of Eastern Rome and once destroyed by the rebellions, wars and natural disasters, was converted into a Mosque after the conquest of Constantinople. In 1934, Turkish President Kemal Atatürk secularized the building, and in 1935 made it into a museum. Soon after in 1985, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage site and is presently a Museum.
Across the boardwalk is The Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia’s “better-looking younger brother” (said the locals). An architectural masterpiece and historical site which represents Ottoman achievement. Although we didn’t enter, we can only imagine the handmade ceramics on the lower level and stained glass windows surrounding the upper levels.
Whilst this amazing city has admirable landmarks above its soils, we traveled under to the city to explore the Basilica Cistern. Constructed for Justinianus I, the Byzantine Emperor (527-565). This mass underground water reservoir is called “Yerebatan Cistern ”,140m long, and 70m wide, the Cistern has an estimated water storage capacity of 100,000 tons, shelters 336 columns, houses ancient structures and art sculpted from various kinds of marbles and has also transitioned into a museum.
We continued into the afternoon and evening exploring the grounds of the Four Seasons Sultanahmet, Conrad Istanbul and Swissotel The Bosphorus. Not to mention, their amazing restaurants which we shared meals for lunch and dinner at.
Another day spent exploring the alluring Istanbul! We started walking the pathways of the iconic Istiklal Street, originally lined with 19th century former palaces, mansions and embassies. Now filled with local business and high street brands, this was an opportunity to experience the unique energy and spirit of Istanbul at its most organic state.
We continued to the Galata Tower, an icon of Istanbul and a famous proposal location in the city. Originally built as a watchtower at the highest point of the Walls of Galata, it is one of the oldest towers in the entire world. Officially recognised at the Galata Kulesi Museum, this monument stands 69m above the streetscape and features 360 degree views of Istanbul. Once at the top, you can feel the cool breeze flowing through your hair and see a field of vision filled with endless charm. We would have loved to see a proposal, but it was time for a Turkish Hammam!
Ever heard of bathing culture? No… we thought so, well we’re here to tell you about the history of bathing culture in Türkiye. Dating back to the Romans, public baths were often carried out in the city of Pompei, the Byzantines then continued this rich heritage and in turn, influenced the Ottomans. At the height of the Ottoman empire, every neighborhood of Istanbul had a hammam with hot and cold baths, fountains and domed marble rooms for religious purposes. Since its inception, the Hamman tradition has been carried on for cleanliness, health and social gatherings. We were lucky enough to have a Turkish bath at the Hürrem Sultan Hamam Turkish Bath and let’s just say, we’ve never been cleaner!
Squeaky clean, we visited some more destination wedding locations and were shown exclusive walk-throughs of the Çırağan Palace Kempinski, Six Senses Kocataş Mansions and CVK Park Bosphorus.
As beautiful as Istanbul was, we had to say goodbye as we we’re traveling to the region known for its caves, rock clusters, hot air balloons and fairy chimneys…you guessed it, Cappadocia! Landing in Kayseri, we took a transfer to our first site visit of the day at Ariana Sustainable Luxury Lodge, followed by the Museum Hotel. We would have loved to tour these awe-inspiring hotels all day, however our tourist adventures awaited.
Türkiye’s history of ceramic production dates back to about 10,000 years and plays a very important role in art-culture, so of course we had to see some original pieces! The Guray Ceramic Museum was built from a restored underground cave and houses world-famous ceramics, pottery and ancient artifacts from centuries before Christ. Whilst touring, we witnessed a traditional Whirling Dervish, a prayer that requires the faithful to spin until reaching a connection with God, wearing long white robes with full skirts, this religious tradition was wonderful to watch. We then visited the pottery workshop, a studio which has been ongoing for 5 generations. Observing pieces being sculpted live and learning about the painting techniques utilized for each piece was truly magical.
Our stomach’s started to grumble a little after all of this adventure, so we stopped by Millocal Restaurant to experience the Cappadocian culinary culture. This restaurant sources regional ingredients from local producers to reveal the best that Kayersi has to offer. Indulging in all of the traditional mezza, meats and stews had us in a food coma, so we sought after a highly anticipated nap in our cave.
You heard that right, a cave! We experienced a stay at the First Boutique Hotel in Cappadocia at Kayakapı Premium Cave Hotel, located in a historical neighborhood supported by UNESCO and World Heritage Center. Once you stay in a cave, you won’t opt for a normal hotel room again, we promise.
Chasing the morning sun, up up up and away, we flew on our Hot Air Balloon ride across the unimaginable Love Valley. Picture this, you’re floating 800m above the ground, overlooking the sweeping sunrise views of Cappadocia flying through unforgettable beauties as if you’re on top of the world. This was a remarkable feeling, we experienced drifting in the air whilst watching the sun ascend above the horizon.
We didn’t want to come down but unfortunately our booking had come to an end nawwwww…well, that calls for more venue inspections! Off to the Saruhan Event Venue, Elika Cave Hotel, Uçhisar Castle and Argos in Cappadocia to see their proposal, weddings and honeymoon locations.
And would you look at that! Time for another Turkish lunch! At Seten Restaurant the rules were, “first come, first serve”, cooking up a mix of culinary treats, visual delights and signature apple tea made this restaurant a wonderful addition to our trip in Cappadocia. From the mouth-watering stuffed grape leaves to the immersive pot-breaking main meal and tahini souffle, we were beyond satisfied.
Ever wanted to go on a magic carpet ride? We watched the entire process of handmade Turkish carpet making at Bazaar 54. Founded in 1987, Bazaar 54 is currently one of the biggest and oldest existing companies producing handmade Anatolian rugs and carpets in Cappadocia, Türkiye. In Turkish culture, the carpet is a gift from their people to the world, therefore throughout history and to the present day the carpets are gifted with value. Unique to the region, these carpets feature motifs, which are arranged in patterns to tell the weavers story. Produced utilizing the hard-wearing double-knotted technique, the carpets are handmade masterpieces which need to be showcased.
To quench our thirst before dinner, we stopped by Gülor Wine Cave House! If you didn’t know, Türkiye is the world’s fourth-leading producer of grapes and since time immemorial, Cappadocia has been one of the first wine-producing regions. We tasted various whites and reds that had solid and well-balanced acidity and great fruity flavour…can we skip dinner? Asked everyone!
Continuing on route, we completed a venue tour of the impressive Sacred House and held our Farewell meal at their restaurant ‘Virtus’. Traveling with 13 wedding professionals from around the globe was absolutely marvelous. We explored, laughed, cried and most importantly connected through our industry. Building lifelong friendship and memories, we left Türkiye and said ‘until next time’, because we know we’ll be back.
For the adventurers and destination brides at heart, if you’re looking to get married in Türkiye your options are limitless. Offering an exotic, vibrant and truly stunning backdrop for unforgettable celebrations abroad, you can get engaged in the Galata Tower, wed in front of the Bosphorus and honeymoon in a hot air balloon all in one visit (or many) hahaha!