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Displaying items by tag: Gulet

2020 was deeply frustrating for those many couples planning to get married as their plans kept being altered by ever-changing COVID regulations. Legions of boat owners also found their racing and cruising plans frustrated.

One local couple managed to resolve both issues concurrently by holding their wedding celebrations on board the family gulet in Turkey in October 2020, creating an event which will live in the memories for all the participants for a long time.

The happy couple on the stern of gulet ‘Salamander’.The happy couple on the stern of gulet ‘Salamander’

A gulet is a traditional Turkish sailing vessel with voluminous, luxurious accommodation and great stability, hence an ideal holiday for a mix of sailing enthusiasts and those more apprehensive around boats. And contrary to common opinion, gulets do indeed sail when the wind direction and strength are suitable. Typically all the large cabins have their own bathrooms en suite, and there are many relaxing areas both on and below deck, in and out of the sun. Imagine the comfort and service levels of an excellent boutique hotel but with the scenery constantly changing, going where you choose, and loaded with paddleboards, kayaks, sailing dinghies and snorkelling gear.

Juliet Cooke from County Antrim and her boyfriend Alex were in Northern Ireland from their base in Edinburgh to collect a car when they were accidentally but fortuitously locked down in her family's holiday home on Strangford Lough. They arrived in late March, ended up staying for six months, and became engaged there in April.

The initial plans for a sizeable wedding at the holiday home in 2021 were soon abandoned as it became clear that the future for weddings was no less certain than the present, and much smaller weddings were the only alternative to an indefinite postponement.

Juliet's parents suggested using their beloved 26-metre Turkish gulet 'Salamander', which they have run as a successful fully crewed private charter business for some 17 years. Although they usually are fully booked for 26 weeks a year with family groups of up to 12 guests from all over the world celebrating significant birthdays, anniversaries or just enjoying the turquoise waters in the Aegean, there were inevitable unexpected gaps in 2020 season as travel advice kept changing, and several groups of guests had to postpone their voyages on Salamander. A suitable gap for wedding celebrations suddenly emerged!

Turkish gulet Salamander coming alongside gulet Aganippe in preparation for the wedding ceremonyTurkish gulet Salamander coming alongside gulet Aganippe in preparation for the wedding ceremony

Despite a common misconception, it is not legal for the Captain to marry a couple on board his ship in most countries, so a modified plan was hatched accordingly. Alex and Juliet were able to get married in accordance with the prevailing lockdown regulations in Northern Ireland with a small church wedding for just the two families, followed by an outdoor champagne reception. One week later, the ever-tightening regulations would have prevented this happy event taking place!

Toasting the arrival of the wedding coupleToasting the arrival of the wedding couple

Then on to the main event. Three weeks later they held their wedding celebrations in Turkey for over three days. 'Salamander' housed the Cooke family and a 30m gulet, 'Aganippe', which is also offered for private charter by Salamander Voyages, was used by Alex's family and a few friends. 'Salamander' was fully dressed for the wedding in bougainvillaea and greenery. Both gulets were moored tightly alongside each other in a quiet bay for the ceremony, which included vows, readings and even a couple of hymns. The participants were on the aft deck of 'Salamander', and the guests alongside on the aft deck of 'Aganippe'.

The Bride emerges from the gulet saloonThe Bride emerges from the gulet saloon

After a champagne reception, both boats motored to the delightful small village of Cokertme, where a restaurant had been prepared with the dining table on the beach and dancing on the balcony. The superb food was provided by the two gulet chefs, who occupied the restaurant kitchen for the evening.

Wedding dinner table dressed for action ashoreWedding dinner table dressed for action ashore

The guests came from all over the UK and Ireland, Turkey and even Serbia. Inevitably the different nationalities wished to display their prowess at their national dancing after dinner, and even a nearby forest fire did not disturb the celebrations.

The bridal walkway with both private charter gulets anchored offThe bridal walkway with both private charter gulets anchored off

The happy couple then set off on a smaller gulet for a short honeymoon while the guests slowly meandered back to Bodrum for their flights home. Ryanair's direct flight from Dublin to Bodrum was a real boon for the Northern Irish guests, who then did 14 days of quarantine buoyed up by very special memories. Salamander Voyages' claim of 'probably the safest place in the sun' was indeed well made.

Waiting for the wedding guests at Orhan’s restaurant in CokertmeWaiting for the wedding guests at Orhan’s restaurant in Cokertme

The restrictions of lockdown were the inspiration for a truly memorable wedding celebration

Salamander Voyages is happy to assist other couples wishing to get married away from the vagaries of Irish weather in the sun in southern Turkey, as well as their more normal fare of providing private groups of up to 12, with wonderful voyages of discovery in the sun with exquisite food on a highly inclusive basis. They offer a small number of different carefully selected gulets to match groups of different sizes. They even offer one specialist gulet in Turkey which can comfortably accommodate a private party of up to 22 guests. Prices start from around €1200/head excluding flights.

Salamander Voyages also offer gulet charters in Montenegro.

If you want to know more about private gulet holidays in Turkey or Montenegro for up to 22 guests visit the website at or please call Tessa on +44 7887 874886

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