Ask Mehmet: Wedding Dollars
By Mehmet Birbiri, 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
/ Published September 12, 2014
INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- Editor's Note: Ask Mehmet is a forum for people to ask questions of the local area, as well as the outer confines of the region and the country as a whole. To submit a question, send an e-mail with the subject "Ask Mehmet" to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mehmet, I have been to several Turkish weddings and noticed that money such as banknotes in TL and U.S. dollars, were thrown onto the dancing couples. But during the last Turkish wedding I attended, I recognized that only $1 bills were thrown into the crowd. A friend of mine gave me a bunch of those bills and asked me if I wanted to throw them onto the dancing couple. I immediately noticed that the currency was fake. I told my friend that the dollars were fraudulent and he told me not to worry and added that they are called "wedding dollars".
Why are the fake dollar bills flicked at couples during their wedding dances? I understand why they would not want to throw Turkish Lira coins at the happy couple but why the fake dollar bills?
It might look odd to you, but if you go to a Turkish wedding party, you will see the guests throwing paper money onto the heads of people dancing. This is an old tradition whose real purpose has been lost. Many years ago, musicians used to play in wedding ceremonies free of charge.
The only income they had were the tips given by the guests. Tipping the musicians was done not by giving money directly to the musicians, but by throwing money onto the heads of the dancing guests.
A child tasked by the musicians would collect the money from the dance floor. Now, although wedding musicians are paid well enough for their service, the old tradition still continues.
Many times the musicians collect more money than their actual fee. Banknotes are thrown onto the heads of the dancing guests. The smallest Turkish banknote is five Turkish Lira, but a U.S. dollar bill is about two Turkish Lira. Thus, throwing a dollar bill costs less and for that reason the U.S. bill is popular for wedding ceremonies. As always, some bad guys try to get an advantage of that tradition and print fake bills and sell them for a lot cheaper price.
If you had a closer look at those 'wedding dollars,' you will notice that the word "INVALID" printed on both sides of the bill and "GECERSIZDIR" (means invalid in Turkish) on one side of the bill.
On the other hand, if guests want to give money to the newly-weds as a gift, that money is pinned on the dress of the bride or groom by the guests. That is generally done towards the end of the party. The guests go to the newly married couple, congratulate them, pin the money or gold pieces and leave. The tradition was started decades ago and still is going strong.
Sometimes, people receive fake "wedding dollars" as change in various places both on and off base. You should always check your money to ensure you receive real dollar bills.