October 26, 2020

F*ck Social Norms: I Backpacked to my Wedding & Bargained for my Dress.

“Is this color good or you think I should get the white one?” he asked me.

“I think it looks great! You look like Ragnar Lodbrok,” I answered.

We paid 60 Turkish lira (around $7) for his “wedding shirt” and left the Grand Bazaar with a goofy smile on our faces.

It was our third backpacking trip and sixth country together. Nothing special about this one, except that we were making a stop in Marmaris to get married.

We came all the way from Istanbul, made a few stops on the way, and met a couple of friends who helped us with the paperwork. Two of my closest friends and my sister joined us on our wedding day.

I bought my dress from Dalyan, a town across the ancient ruined city of Kaunos. After trying more than 20 dresses, I followed my intuition and bought the one that appealed to me. It was for 350 Turkish lira, but I managed to bargain with the shop owner and bought it for 300 Turkish lira (around $35). Woohoo! $35 is not too much for a wedding dress, is it?

Right on the corner, we visited an old man who’s been making handmade sandals for the past 45 years. Respecting our decision to wear something Viking-ish, getting handmade sandals was perfect! We chatted with the man, I tried my sandals, paid 250 Turkish lira, and thanked him for his absolutely flawless work.

Okay, one day until the wedding! What was missing? We needed a bouquet, a flower crown, I needed to fix my hair, get scissors (I’ve been my husband’s barber for the last two years), and French braid his hair to see how it would look.

We rushed to the market, my friend and I, to find a florist. After walking for nearly one hour and trying to explain to the locals that I needed a flower shop, we found one on Google maps.

We were supposed to look like Vikings, so I had to choose earthy colors. One rose was for 10 Turkish liras. I chose four rose ones and added a bit of green—I chose the same for my crown.

“Can you please have them delivered tomorrow at 12:00 p.m. to my hotel?” That was my question before I rushed to a local market and bought scissors for 7 Turkish liras.

“How do you feel?” my husband asked me on our wedding day when we first woke up.

I looked at him and said, “Dead hungry.”

We feasted with my sister and two friends at the hotel’s buffet. I had everything a bride wasn’t supposed to have on her wedding day. The beans, the bread, and the three types of dessert were enough to make me bloated for the rest of the day.

We divided the work between the four of us. One of my friends took care of the video, the other one took care of the photos, and my sister made sure to open a live WhatsApp call with our families and friends in Lebanon. And I, the bride, was the official director of my own wedding film.

“How about we rent a convertible jeep?” I asked my husband two hours before the wedding.

We went to a car rental shop, got us an unsophisticated Suzuki jeep, and went to the cheapest hairdresser in Marmaris.

Hair was done, flowers arrived, we got dressed, I did my husband’s hair, and trimmed his beard; it was time to go!

The five of us rode in the jeep, met our friend who helped us with the paperwork, and headed to the municipality. We said “Yes,” wore our rings, signed, then headed to the woods, which we visited a month earlier, made a teeny-weeny celebration there, and took some photos.

Et voilà! We packed our backpacks the next day, said goodbye to my sister and friends, and continued our backpacking trip.

Now when we talk about it, my husband and I both agree that on that day, we were both so happy. Of course, part of our happiness was because we were getting married, but the bigger part was that we did it in the way that made us happy.

I’m glad that I married someone who’s on the same page with me. Someone who doesn’t mind getting his clothes from the Grand Bazaar, waiting for me for hours to try on dresses from cheap local markets, scouting on the scooter for a proper location in the woods, celebrating with only four people, and most importantly, letting me be, and loving me anyway.

The opposite is true as well. One hour before our wedding, while I was putting on my eyeliner, he was still in bed, undressed, and playing Call of Duty. I didn’t mind, and I didn’t rush him. When I thought of asking him to get up and get dressed, I paused for a second and let it go. If I asked him, I wouldn’t be true to myself. The beginning of our journey starts where we both let each other be and accept each other in all our moments.

I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way, and if I did, I wouldn’t have been as happy as I was.

We both agreed that our happiness comes first and that we will be the best version of ourselves on that day.

Most of the time, we push our happiness back in order to please others. We put aside our own ideas and beliefs because we’re afraid to not be accepted or to be judged. I’ve always been a rebel since I was a little kid. When I quit my job five years ago to backpack in India, I didn’t wait for anyone to tell me whether it was right or wrong. I did it, anyway.

If there’s anything at all that I’ve learned from constantly doing what makes me happy is that change always begins with a small step and nothing feels as good as remaining true to ourselves.

No matter how weird or new what you’re doing is, do it. Someone might judge you for it, but someone else might be inspired by it.

Whether it’s your wedding, your lifestyle, or your career, don’t be afraid to make your own choices about how you want to live. As the saying goes, “Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

Our values make us who we are. If we sacrifice them, then we’d all be the same and no change would happen in the world. There would be no benefit, no inspiration, no growth, no bravery. Let’s stick to our path—no matter what that looks like—and encourage others to find their own.

I’m not saying in any way that a marriage isn’t nice unless you carry a backpack and celebrate in the woods. You might want to spend thousands of dollars, invite 500 people, and celebrate in a huge wedding venue. That’s not the point. The point is that if that is what makes you happy, then by all means, do it!

It’s not about “how” we do things in the world, it’s about how we feel when we do them. As long as we don’t move away from our truth, we will always be happy.

At the end of the day, happiness is about living authentically. Not by force, not by faking it—just living genuinely.

Bravery is about being ourselves.

Next time you want to make sure you’re not moving away from your core values and truth, ask yourself these questions before you do something:

Is someone pressuring me into doing this?

If no one is pressuring me, would I still do it anyway?

Does this decision make me happy?

Will it make me happy in the long-term when I think about it again?

Do I love myself enough? Blessings, mistakes, choices, and all?

Is what I’m doing enough to me?

Do I feel like I’m doing it to seek approval or attention from others?



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