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Katie Couric officiates Peter Cincotti's wedding

Exclusive: Inside Peter Cincotti and Zeynep Onaran's postcard perfect wedding - where Katie Couric officiated

Peter and Zeynep first met in 2009 in Istanbul 

Rebecca Lewis
Rebecca Lewis - Los Angeles
Los Angeles correspondentLos Angeles
June 17, 2024
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American singer-songwriter Peter Cincotti has wed his longtime partner Zeynep Onaran in a stunning ceremony mixing Eastern and Western traditions. 

The pair got married on May 8, 2024 at Adile Sultan Palace in Turkey, a stunning venue that looks out over the Bosphorus Strait, which connects Asia and Europe – and their officiant was none other than Katie Couric, a close friend of the happy couple who had never undertaken the responsibility before.

Peter Cincotti and Zeynep Onaron © Vivent Production
Peter Cincotti and Zeynep Onaron

"Five stars, she was great," joked Peter of the moment, with Zeynep exclusively telling HELLOthat Katie "took it very seriously… she really made it more special." 

Peter, 39, and 33-year-old Zeynep met in 2009 when he was performing at a jazz festival in Istanbul, when Zeynep was assigned to the singer "because she was the only one who spoke English".

Katie Couric officiates Peter Cincotti's wedding© Vivent Production
Katie Couric officiates Peter Cincotti's wedding

They became friends and over the years, after she moved to New York City, they stayed friendly until 2018 when they "were both free and single" and decided to go out for a real date. The proposal took place in Bryant Park – which held incredible significance to Zeynep and her family – and during planning, Peter and Zeynep flew back and forth to Turkey four or five times over the year to ensure a smooth process. 

As for the dress? Zeynep tried on over 100 dresses and she did it all by herself.

Zeynep Onaron in her Oscar de la Renta wedding gown© Vivent Production
Zeynep Onaran in her Oscar de la Renta wedding gown

"I didn't want to drag my friends into a long process," she laughs, but finally found the perfect dress, a "classic and elegant" Oscar de la Renta with matching veil and custom gloves.

Peter and Zeynep wed in Istanbul, Turkey: 

Zeynep: Istanbul made sense as it's where we met, but it's also such a special unique place and a lot of his friends and family had never been before so what better excuse than a wedding? But I live in New York, so I found a wedding planner, Aysegul Kavakli, and my family helped. 

Peter Cincotti married Zeynep Onaran in Turkey© Vivent Production
Peter Cincotti married Zeynep Onaran in Turkey

For the venue, we wanted something traditional and old school Turkish because there's a lot of history there. 

Adile Sultan Palace had such great energy and more than everything we were looking for. I visited Turkey four or five times over the year before we got married, and it was the first venue we visited in person and it was an easy choice. 

Peter Cincotti and Zeynep Onaran wed looking over the Bosphorous Strait© Vivent Production
They wed looking over the Bosphorous Strait

Peter: It looked like a postcard. It overlooks the Bosphorus Bridge, the oldest Suspension Bridge in Istanbul, Turkey, and it's really stunning. It connects the European side and the Asian side of Turkey, and visitors take a ten minute boat across the Bosphorus to the Asian side, it was perfect.

Zeynep really did a lot of the planning and it was also in Istanbul so even if I wanted to I couldn't do much because I don't speak Turkish. 

Peter Cincotti and Zeynep Onaran walk back down the aisle© Vivent Production
Peter and Zeynep walk back down the aisle

The perfect proposal: 

Zeynep: There's a tradition in Turkey where the parents bury the umbilical cord in a place where they want their kids to perhaps attend college or live their life, and it took my mom eight years to decide on Bryant Park in New York City. Years later, my dad took me to New York to visit and they picked us up from JFK and dropped us over Bryant Park and I immediately fell in love with it – but had no idea about this cord story. 

I then moved here for college and all my jobs were near Bryant Park, and then Peter and I began going to the Bryant Park Christmas market each year. He always makes jokes about the different trees or plants being my "belly button" growing, and then in 2022 he said: "I found your belly cord," and there was the ring box on the ground. It really was beautiful and so special. 

Finding the Oscar de la Renta dress: 

Zeynep Onaran before her big day© Vivent Production
Zeynep before her big day

Zeynep: I did try on a lot of dresses. Maybe over 100 but I wanted to keep an open mind because I didn't really have a dress in mind... Let me try the puffy sleeve, a sleek dress, all of it but this Oscar de la Renta was the first one I felt really comfortable in. 

It really felt like me — and I did all of this alone because I like getting things done, I didn't want to drag my friends into a long process. But although I tried it on, I decided to keep searching but this dress was just on my mind constantly. 

Peter Cincotti wore Louboutin shoes, Alber Simpatyan cufflinks and boutonnière by AND Event & Design Studio© Vivent Production
Peter wore Louboutin shoes, Alber Simpatyan cufflinks and boutonnière by AND Event & Design Studio
Zeynep Onaran's Louboutins © Vivent Production
Zeynep's wedding Louboutins

My mom came to visit in May and so I waited for her to get here to purchase it together. I loved wearing it. It was very comfortable. It was classic and elegant. 

I also had an Oscar de la Renta veil, and custom gloves made from the same fabric, but we wore Louboutin shoes. 

The first look: 

Zeynep Onaran walks down the aisle to Peter Cincotti © Vivent Production
Peter's first look at Zeynep as she walked down the aisle

Peter: I was adamant to not see Zeynep before. I know a lot of people do the first look thing but I didn't want that; it was one of the few things that was very important to me. 

I now have that moment always, to see her and her father was a moment that I'll always remember. 

Zeynep Onaran walks on the arm of her father© Vivent Production
Zeynep walks on the arm of her father

Zeynep: My dad's also unfortunately going through cancer treatment right now, so it was really extra special. He has the best memories as well now and he was so excited. Before we walked down the aisle, we didn't say much but there was a lot of holding hands and hugs and seeing he was smiling the whole time really was the most special thing. 

Choosing Katie Couric as officiant: 

Katie Couric officiates Peter Cincotti's wedding© Vivent Production
Katie has been a long time friend of Peter's

Peter: I've known Katie since I first started performing in music when my first record came out. 

She was one of my early supporters when she was still on The Today Show, and she's been a great friend ever since so she was excited about the wedding. She had never officiated before, it was a new side business, but five stars. She was great. 

Zeynep Onaran and Peter Cincotti kiss© Vivent Production
Zeynep and Peter seal the deal

Zeynep: Katie is just such a lovely and warm person naturally, and when Katie and John [Molnar] first heard about our wedding day they were immediately telling us, 'We're coming to Istanbul, we're going to be with you.' So who better to officiate than Katie Couric? 

She's amazing and she definitely knows what to say, and she took it very seriously – she interviewed us separately, even though she knew our story already. It was lovely. It was perfect. It was beautiful. She really made it more special. 

First dance nerves: 

Zeynep Onaran and Peter Cincotti's first dance was to Nat King Cole© Vivent Production
Zeynep and Peter's first dance was to Nat King Cole

Peter: Our first dance was "Around The World," the Nat King Cole recording. We always think it's kind of a mysterious thing that we've ended up together. She was from the other side of the world, and if it wasn't for that 2009 show we would not have connected. It just felt like us. 

Zeynep: We were both excited but shaking the whole time. We practiced a few steps beforehand but the song really means a lot to us, and describes our relationship – and he is used to the spotlight but I think he was more nervous than I was. 

Performance time for Peter: 

Peter Cincotti performs at his wedding© Vivent Production
Peter performs at his wedding

Zeynep: Katie was really on him to perform, and he couldn't say no. But it was special and became a really nice moment of calm, where we could both take it all in as he sang 'One In A Lifetime'. 

Peter: [I performed] reluctantly, because I really didn't want to perform at the wedding. I was sure I wasn't going to perform and I gave Katie seven no's and then I was on my eighth drink and I cracked. Seven no's and eight drinks! 

Peter Cincotti performed for his wife at their wedding© Vivent Production
Peter sang 'One In A Lifetime'

I performed that one song but then the band leader after that did put a keytar over my neck, and I have to say it was so much fun to play. I had a blast. 

So I was suddenly playing with his band and then my trumpet player Tony came in and played just unexpectedly and joined the song, and that was one of the highlights. 

The food: 

Michelin star restaurant Borsa put on the feast© Vivent Productions
Michelin star restaurant Borsa put on the feast

Zeynep: The restaurant attached to the venue, Borsa Restaurant, is a Michelin star restaurant. We wanted traditional Turkish food, and it was very rich but delicious. We had lots of Ottoman-style cuisine; Borek, which is my favorite dish, and Manti, a Turkish ravioli, and lots of lamb dishes with yogurt and eggplants. 

Peter: Part of the reason we picked that venue was because they're known for the food, and food and music were our top priorities. They have great cuisine and my friend is a chef. He couldn't believe that the amount of plates they prepared at such a high level – wedding food is not always great! 

And we had personalized drinks - I had the golden New York martini and she had Belly Dancer Margarita.

A riotous reception: 

Peter Cincotti and Zeynep Onaran at their wedding reception© Vivent Production
Peter and Zeynep at their wedding reception

Zeynep: We picked a percussionist band, who really played the elements of east and west, they had these big drums and it was belly dancing style music mixed with western music. They brought in really great energy. 

Peter Cincotti plays keytar at his wedding© Vivent Production
Peter plays keytar at his wedding

Peter: Actually Zeynep's father thought of him. His name is Emir Ersoy, and his band were incredible and his father was a very famous musician in Turkey and he is quite known there as well. I had my band coming and so we couldn't have mediocre musicians there! 

They were really killer.

Peter Cincotti and Zeynep Onaran© Vivent Production
Peter and Zeynep visited the Maldives for their honeymoon

A mix of traditions: 

Peter: We didn't have groomsmen or bridesmaids like that, but we each had a friend that we designated with responsibilities; her friend Hanya handed the ring to her, my friend Alexander for me.

We did speeches the night before at the rehearsal dinner; they don't really do speeches in Turkey but we wanted to combine both of our traditions so we put the speeches the night before and then at the wedding we did the father daughter dance, mother and son dance, and tried to cover all different cultures at once.

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