Yes, it happens. Turkish weddings are big, boisterous and fun and they happily invite everyone. You can sometimes have upwards of 500 people in a Düğün Salon (wedding salon). There will be music, normally the drum and various pipe instruments and lots and lots of Turkish dancing. You can be invited as a guest by a family member, who you may meet causally via other friends, or you might even be looking at his Istanbul flats for sale and get asked.
Of course, there are weddings held in ways Europeans recognise, at a hotel with dinner, alcohol and everyone dressed up quite spectacularly. The more traditional weddings are much more relaxed, with people arriving dressed as if they have come from work, many will have. The bridal party will be dressed up of course. The bride in a normally very sparkly white wedding dress and veil with her hair and makeup done beautifully. Although some brides will be covered, their wedding dresses and head coverings will be something special. Normally in a Düğün Salon, the food available will be snacks, nuts or small biscuits, with Cola, Fanta and juices offered to drink. Normally no alcohol is served at these weddings. If offered an invite, do go but take lots of energy, eat beforehand, and if you want to take a gift for the bridal couple, it is normally to offer money or gold. These will be pinned onto the couple as part of the whole wedding ceremony – it can be a long event!
If you attend a traditional or a more modern wedding, certain practices will be seen at both. The enormous wedding cake, the standard is about eight tiers, but it can be much more, standing taller than the couple. The Turkish dancing, where it does not matter if you can dance or not, it is so much fun to join in, and everyone will be willing to teach you the steps. Depending on the area in Turkey the family is from will dictate certain dances and music but most weddings have the favourites where everyone gets up to dance. The ceremony of the gifts is very important, most of the gold will be used to help the couple get settled and offset certain expenses. The family often give gifts of jewellery, and for certain, the bride will receive a necklace, earrings and bracelet set. Other family members will give gold bracelets; the majority of the guests will give çeyrek altın, which is quarter gold. There is also yarım altın (half gold) and tam altın or Cumhuriyet altını. These coins can be bought from a Kuyumcu, a specialist jewellery shop. The coins are sold at a price set by the Government, and their weight is strictly regulated. Get the jeweller to write your name on the ribbon. These coins are a popular way of saving and investing and are very well received gifts.