Bosphorus bliss

When the time came to cut the wedding cake, all eyes were drawn to the ceiling of the ballroom as the tiered white pastry descended from its hiding place. A dancer followed, dangling upside down to pour drinks into the guests’ outstretched flutes.

Brides and grooms marrying at one of the magnificent 18th- and 19th-century palaces and mansions lining Istanbul’s Bosphorus Strait can choose to celebrate in ballrooms where Ottoman royalty once got married. But the modern festivities can even outdo those of the sultans, who dispatched turtles with candles on their backs to light outdoor parties, paraded giraffes down the street, and set off fireworks for days on end to herald a palace member’s wedded bliss...

As a journalist, I've had the opportunity to be exposed to many different worlds, those of homesteaders in Alaska, miners' families in West Virginia, and conservation biologists in eastern Turkey among them. But perhaps the most foreign experience to date was having Istanbul hoteliers regale me with stories of the lavish waterfront weddings they had hosted – champagne-serving acrobats and all.

Writing a story for J Magazine, the inflight magazine of Jazeera Airways, about Bosphorus weddings in Istanbul gave me a peek into the exotic world of helipads and honeymoon suites bigger than my apartment -- and the creativity and effortless hospitality required for the staff at the city's top luxury hotels to make the wildest matrimonial dreams come true.

Read the rest of "Bosphorus Bliss" in the August 2011 issue of J Magazine: pdf