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Wedding Crashing + Bucket Lists

This happens in the movies but do people actually do this in real life?

Loni James
Loni James
8 min read
Wedding Crashing + Bucket Lists
The bustling city of Istanbul

A Date in Every Country: A Series
Date #9
Location: Istanbul, Turkey
Nationality: Sri Lankan
Activity: drinks, snacks, exploring the area
Time: 5 hours
Will see again? Yes
Connected via: Tinder

The city of Istanbul has 20 million people. It’s loud and beautiful, a chaotic mix of old and new. Spires of the mosques and bridges pepper the skyline and I don’t think I could ever tire watching the countless boats and ferries. I spent my first few days exploring the city with my friend from the US who came to visit. She and I wandered the famed Grand Bazaar where she purchased a beautiful carpet to take home. We visited palaces and mosques, tiny shops and new neighbors, only stopping for necessary snack breaks including delicious stuffed muscles and Turkish coffee.

With that many people came almost as many matches LOL. I reactivated my Bumble and Hinge to do some cross comparison and found that Bumble had quite a few users here. It’s been 9 days and I have 2700 likes on Bumble. Being blonde and foreign seems to have its perks here. This was highlighted by the man who sold me Turkish delight yesterday and offered marriage in the form of a business arrangement so he could get a US passport. He was surprisingly direct. I politely declined but definitely took the free samples. The almond one was my favorite lol.

That being said, too many apps and so many men is kinda overwhelming and I absolutely did not have the energy to have a million conversations. I took the bull by the horns and asked this guy out. He was on Tinder and as I’ve said before, sometimes the vibe is just right. His profile showed a mix of business professional balanced with his triathlon photos and trips to Paris. A seemingly well-rounded individual who piqued my interest. An observation I had recently - I’m actively trying to swipe on different types of people. I think back home I would consistently match with what some would describe as a “type” or a certain look. I’m not sure I believe in types and often find that some of my friends married the one person who was far removed from the people they had previously dated. Then again one of my best friends dated people who looked so similarly that when she started dating her now husband I exclaimed that he along with her exes could be in a police line up and be convicted of the same crime based on how alike they looked. She found this highly amusing.

When chatting via the app he was immediately well spoken and asking good questions. I like to ask questions about the area, get their recommendation for a neighborhood to explore, a restaurant they like etc. This is a good metric for me because you know that on the date I’m going to ask a million questions so I’m looking for someone who engages and gives more than one word answers. My friend had just left and I decided to change locations so I could explore another part of the city. He came to my new neighborhood and we met for drinks at an Irish pub. He made sure I ate carbs then proceeded to order a bucket of fried food. No problem with that! Conversation came easily and we were quickly laughing. Jokes can often be lost in translation between languages so this was a fun exchange. I have a deep appreciation for dad jokes and puns and didn’t realize how much I missed being around someone who got them. Our banter was on point. We came to realize that we are both headed to the Alps in a few weeks and he suggests we meet up there as well. I appreciate a man that knows what he wants.

He travels often for work and I’ve learned that if I ever run into passport issues while traveling he will be my first call. Not a bad person to know. He commented on my tattoos and in sharing the meaning of them (I have one for my mom) I learned that his father had the same disease that my mother just passed from. Cue an immediate and deep empathy for the pain we both had experienced in losing a parent this way. Im getting better about speaking about her more openly but boy does it still suck. Hugs to all who are grieving.

He confessed to almost getting an ex’s name tattooed on his side. Lucky for him he didn’t go through with it. When sharing this story he mentions that she was American and I take this opportunity to tease him asking if he only dates American women and who he swipes on. During this exchange, he casually mentioned where his ex was from. IT IS LITERALLY 20 MIN FROM MY HOMETOWN. Lord knows I don’t come from a big city so I burst out laughing knowing there’s a very high likelihood I know her. If I don’t, I’m sure we have mutuals. He is laughing but also kinda shocked as what are the odds?! We immediately look her up on FB and low and behold - several mutuals, one of whom is a very good friend. I immediately text my friend asking how she knows her. I do realize this text is very random but she answers right away saying they went to high school together and then promptly asks why in the hell I asked. I texted back, “I’m in Istanbul on a date with her ex boyfriend. Gotta go….I’ll fill you in later!” She’s gonna die laughing when I tell her.

The world is small people. So very small.

I tell him of my dating stories and about the amazing group of women online who have been encouraging me. I share how I’ve been working on starting a blog, hoping one day it turns into a book thanks to all of your encouragement. He is very excited and wants to read it. I’m not sure how I feel about the guys reading these dates. I mean I guess that’s ok…? Im intrigued by what they would think of what I wrote about our dates…or what they would think about the other ones. I share with him some of the things I’ve learned so far and how I’m always looking for new ways to see a place. He’s quick to offer suggestions including taking me to a vineyard that he loves. By the way, I had no idea that Turkey had such great wine. My favorites so far were the local ones from Cappadocia. A vineyard date does not sound like a bad idea. The hours have passed quickly as we are discussing our upcoming travels and hilarious dating stories. I felt comfortable with him and could already tell that I’d be seeing more of him this week.

He asked if I’d like to explore another part of the city and specifically asked if I’m comfortable with that. I had already declined his initial offer to pick me up for the date and had explained that I preferred to just walk and meet him. He was very understanding of this and respected my decision. I appreciate that he checked in and wanted to make sure I was comfortable going to a different location which I was.

Note: I know that many people may not be comfortable getting into a car with a date and I understand and respect that completely. I always have an exit plan. I’ve always been within walking distance let alone taxi/uber/metro/bus access. I share my location with people. All that to say, what or how I date may not be the way you do and that’s ok. Safety is important so do it at your comfort level and be sure to have an exit plan.

He drove us along the Bosphorus Strait which connects the 2 seas and divides Europe and Asia. The coastline is packed with people at cafes and restaurants, couples strolling the promenade and sections of yachts lined up with people relaxing on board. We are sitting at a red light and he points to a fancy building next to us announcing that it is a very popular wedding venue. I immediately confess that crashing a wedding is something that I want to do some time in my travels. He IMMEDIATELY PICKS UP THE PHONE AND CONTACTS HIS FRIEND. He sends her a voice text saying he has an American friend wanting to crash a wedding that week, do they know of any happening?! I’m sitting there in the passenger seat (likely with my jaw wide open) as I’m in complete shock. What just happened?! I panic and sputter at him that I can’t just crash a bride’s day! I don’t have anything to wear and we can’t just show up! This happens in the movies but do people actually do this in real life? Guests cost money! Also who was that person he called?! He informed me that this is his event planner for work and she does tons of wedding planning and if she’s ok with it then we are in.

WHAT IS HAPPENING!? I immediately panic and while this sounds like what hilarious wedding crasher/rom com dreams are made of, can we pull this off?! I worry that my blonde hair won’t blend in and someone is gonna notice that we don't belong. My one black jumpsuit definitely isn’t fancy enough. What if we get caught? I legit have NOTHING TO WEAR.

Four whole minutes. That’s how long it takes before she replied with a message saying there are 14 WEDDINGS THIS WEEKEND SO WE CAN CHOOSE WHICH ONE. HOLY SHIT.  This might actually happen!

He asks if I have heels. ABSOLUTELY NOT. Who backpacks with heels?! Also when was the last time I actually wore heels? Lol. I doubt I remember how to walk in them. Oh lord. This is gonna be a disaster. I’m already picturing myself face-planting in front of the wedding couple. He insisted we pick the fanciest, biggest wedding at the nicest hotel, get me a dress and heels, he’ll put on his tux and we’ll go for it. I’m tempted. Oh, so tempted. I tell him I need to think about it. But also - if we do this then we have to get a pic with the bride and groom because OBVIOUSLY that needs to happen.

I cannot stop laughing at this insane idea and he wants to know what else is on my list. He is clearly down to make just about anything happen and I appreciate his commitment to my very weird bucket list. We check out some of the gorgeous bridges crossing the strait and before I know it he’s offering a full weeks worth of activities. I encourage him to slow his roll a bit and we decide that one day at a time is best and make plans to go visit his favorite vineyard the following day. Can’t help but still be considering the wedding crashing though. Stay tuned.

Teaser: Definitely saw Date #9 again but was NOT prepared for how the week went.

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Loni James

As I collect and record these stories, I hope they make you laugh, curse and dream of far off places. May they inspire you to cross oceans and meet plenty of interesting people along the way.