More years ago than I care to remember, I was a bridesmaid in my good friend and college roommate’s wedding in Ponca City Oklahoma. One of the many sweet memories in Carole and Kyle Keffer’s wedding was the performance of the Sandi Patti song, “Love in any Language,” by the talented Valerie Rockhold Ericson. The soaring melody contained lovely sentiments that while we are separated by unique cultures and language, underneath it all, our hearts are all the same. I thought about this melody as I performed the wedding ceremony of the quintessential New York couple, Kelly and Oytun.
The bride was raised in Mid-America (Illinois) and the groom came from Istanbul, Turkey. The bride and groom met while studying for MBAs at Baruch College, CUNY. Many of the grooms relatives were in New York from Turkey to celebrate the union—the extent to which these guests understood English, varied considerably. But Kelly and Oytun wanted to make sure that everyone felt part of the celebration, which took place at the beautiful Manhattan Penthouse.
To express Oytun’s Turkish heritage, we decided on several simple, but meaningful, additions to the ceremony. First, the entire wedding program was bi-lingual, setting the stage for an inter-cultural union. Second, I had a “co-officiant,” one of the groom’s cousins who provided ceremony summary remarks, in Turkish, at key points during the ceremony. Another cousin of the groom read the final blessing of marriage in both languages. And yours truly provided a final declaration in Turkish: Sizi karı koca ilan ediyorum (I now pronounce you husband and wife). While my pronunciation left something to be desired, I do believe that the guests from Turkey felt warmly included in the ceremony.
If you want to have your heart uplifted, listen to the inspiring melody of Sandi Patty: