Ceylin, from Turkey, and Robert, from Ireland, met at a friend’s wedding five years ago and knew they were destined for one another. Though starting out their search for a wedding destination in Italy and Greece, they eventually chose Mljet, an island off the south east coast of Croatia. They loved the island-within-an-island idea, not to mention the beautiful scenery. The talented Shane O’Neill of Aspect Photography flew over to capture their day, and don’t miss Robert’s engagement story below, it’s a very entertaining read! 
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HOW THEY MET 

“In all the cities in the whole world, we met in a little corner of Istanbul, both there to celebrate their friends’ wedding, neither expecting what was about to take place. We danced, sang and drank together, afterwards texting for almost a week before one night I asked Ceylin out. After all the dates we could fit in over the course of a week, I had to go back home. Seven days later it was Ceylin’s birthday. I had found out that she loved birthdays, and decide to fly back for her birthday. We visited each other for six months after that, taking turns travelling between the two countries. At the end of the year, for better or worse I took an enormous step and decided to move to Turkey. It worked out for the better, and we started our new adventure together. 

THE ENGAGEMENT

I knew when the time was right between Ceylin and I to get engaged; all I needed was a plan. Luckily Ceylin had made ring suggestions from time to time over the last five years, if I was ever thinking about buying an engagement ring – because that’s what men do: We set time aside each and every week to ponder deeply about rings, HA! I picked the design I truly thought she would love.
 
Once I had the ring, I also had a plan and it went something like this: First I needed the approval of Ceylin’s family. They lived in another city, Izmir, so I planned a secret trip the day before we flew to Ireland to ask her parents for her hand. All in the same day, in the space of eight hours, I collected the ring, flew to Izmir, got the train, had a quick talk with her parents, hopped back on the train with their blessing and caught the plane back to Istanbul. She had no clue; I said I had work and training and was back just when she started wondering.
 
Ceylin loves Ireland and five and a half years ago when she first visited me on my island, we went sight-seeing and did the scenic drive to Hook head. On the way home, we stopped in Duncannon Co. Wexford and there, we saw an old church with an amazing view: “The Star of the Sea”. She loved its name, and also its old architecture. While visiting the empty church, we stood at the altar, exchanged rings and vows to one another, so in a sense, we were married in our eyes – actually only in my eyes, as I foolishly thought that would be enough. On the way home we stopped in Jack Meade’s for food and a Guinness – the perfect day. Every year when we return to Ireland together we make it our business to go back to Jack Meade’s and that day always sprung to mind. Whenever Ceylin would bring up the subject of marriage I would tease her jokingly and say “Sur’ we’re married for the last five years woman what more do you want”. 
 
We arrived in Ireland, in May 2013 for my sister’s wedding so I saw it as a perfect place to hold a double celebration – of course after my sister’s wedding, otherwise she would have strung me up. I had to hide the ring from Ceylin for another week – not easy. Our families knew what was going to happen but nobody knew when or where or for that matter what the outcome would be, including me. Packing the ring in the luggage was funny; carrying it on the plane, stressful. What if she went looking for head phones or was searching for a tissue and pulled out the ring – disaster! Going through customs, she wanted to take my bag as it was the lighter of the two but I quickly thought “What if they stop her and search the bag?!” All this was buzzing around in my head, she must have thought I was acting strange. But we made it through customs and home where I hid the ring in my brother’s house. His wife said she had the perfect spot, even my brother wouldn’t find it, in the babies changing bag, brilliant!
 
My sister’s wedding arrived and everyone started congratulating us, saying they were so happy for us both. I was giving the eyes and abort mission signals behind Ceylin’s back and luckily people understood and walked away. Ceylin would ask, “Why are all these people congratulating us?” I said, “It’s customary in Ireland. My sister just got married and you are my partner, and also they all know you published your book” to which Ceylin replied: “I did that; you had very little if nothing to do with it…” Again I responded, “It’s just a nice Irish custom. They rightly would think I supported you through the completion of the book, so I’m just as important, which I did from a distance “You’re doing great I don’t know what you are writing, but I would say it is great – keep it up”.
 
The weather was dreadful all week; Ireland was having four seasons in a day routine. But on the day I was planning to propose, nothing but blue skies and sunshine. We took a drive through Passage across on the ferry and over to Duncannon. We then drove towards the village where we spotted the old church and it all came back, the trip, five years ago, the Star of the Sea, so I suggested “Let’s stop and have a look around again.” We went inside where I was planning on recreating the scene again, but this time for real. I was nervous, I think Ceylin picked up on that, I was carrying a backpack where I had the ring hidden, I guess it seemed weird and I wasn’t entirely myself. But this time the church wasn’t empty, fortunately so, as it was like an ice box in there. So we quickly went back into the warmth and the amazing view. The moment had arrived; I needed a drink. Ceylin was about to jump back into the car after looking out over the bay and I asked her to come over to help me as I was having trouble juggling the bag, door and keys. I asked her to hold the bag for me then I took out the box. I immediately looked into her eyes and face to see the reaction – confusion is what I saw. As I opened the box, I said “Five years ago, we exchanged vows and rings right here, today I want it to be for real. Will you do me the great honor of becoming my wife and spending the rest of your life with me?”
 
It felt like five minutes passed and then her response came loud and clear… She laughed in my face and walked away, came back, blurted “Are you serious?” and laughed again hysterically in my face. I was so nervous I had forgotten to get down on bended knee, Ceylin pointed that out, so I did, ring still in hand all that could be heard was uncontrollable laughter. This, I can tell you all, wasn’t what I had expected but it was funny, and eventually when after looking at the ring over and over again she said “YES”.
 

We called our families, went back to Jack Meade’s, of course, for food and a pint of the black stuff. We then went horse riding – something Ceylin had always wanted to do. We called out to friends, celebrated out there in Dunmore, and then went home to another celebration with family, champagne and food. It was a fitting end to a fantastic holiday in Ireland, full of celebrations with family and friends. 

DECIDING ON THE DESTINATION

From the beginning we dreamt of a rustic venue in touch with nature where we could have our small and intimate wedding. An island wedding seemed to be the best option for us. As we started searching for venues in Italy and Greece, we came across a blog of a wedding organiser situated in Croatia and got in touch with several organizers there. Although there are magnificent venues in and around Dubrovnik, we particularly fell in love with the island of Mljet. Once we chose the perfect wedding organiser for us, we travelled to Croatia a year before our wedding to see the place and make our final decision. The island was even more breathtaking in person. We never saw an island before, on which there is a smaller island, around a lake. So we decided to have our civil ceremony on the island of Mljet and our reception on the islet of St. Mary, in Melita Restaurant. Our wedding was definitely out of ordinary, and this was exactly what we were looking for! It was the best 28th of all time!”
 

Photography: Aspect Photography | Wedding Organiser: Dubrovnik Event | Groom’s Suit: Marcel Boutique by Marcel Merovah | Wedding guest book: TotallySalinda on Etsy | Wedding Ring Pillow: AlisaMayde on Etsy | Decor (signs, table and place cards, cupcake sticks and props): The Favour Shop 

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