There are many contradicting adjectives that could be used at the same time to describe this fun spring wedding: sophisticated and simple, traditional and modern, laid back and intense. Below are the highlights from a modern Persian wedding that took place in Long Island, NY, and further below is a description of typical Persian wedding customs. All wedding photographs are fine examples of Long Island wedding photography by LuxPhotos.
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Persian Wedding Customs
There are two stages to a Persian marriage. Most often both take place on the same day, but occasionally there could be some time between the two.
The first is called “Aghd”, the legal process of getting married, when both the bride and bridegroom and their guardians sign a marriage contract. The second stage is “Jashn-e Aroosi”, the wedding reception – the actual feasts and the celebrations, which traditionally lasted from 3 to 7 days.
By custom Aghd would normally take place at bride’s parents/guardians home. The arrival of the guests, who are to be witnesses to the marriage of the couple, initiates the wedding ceremony. Traditionally the couples’ guardians and other elder close family members are present in the room to greet the guests and guide them to their seats. After all the guests are seated the bridegroom is the first to take his seat in the room at the head of Sofreh-ye Aghd. The bride comes afterwards and joins the bride and groom at the head of Sofreh-ye Aghd. The bridegroom always sits on the right hand side of the bride. In Zoroastrian culture the right side designates a place of respect.
On Sofreh-ye Aghd, the following items are placed:
– Mirror (of fate) “Aayeneh-ye Bakht” and two Candelabras (representing the bride and groom and brightness in their future) one on either side of the mirror.
– A tray of seven multi-colored herbs and spices “Sini-ye Aatel-O-Baatel” to guard the couple and their lives together against the evil eye, witchcraft and to drive away evil spirits.
– A specially baked and decorated flatbread “Noon-e Sangak” with blessing “Mobaarak-Baad”
– A basket of decorated eggs and a basket of decorated almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts in the shell to symbolize fertility.
– A basket of pomegranates and/or apples for a joyous future. Pomegranates are considered heavenly fruits and apples symbolize the divine creation of mankind.
– A cup of rose water extracted from special Persian roses “Gol-e Mohammadi” to perfume the air.
– A brazier “Manghal” holding burning coals sprinkled with wild rue “Espand” a popular incense. Wild rue is used in many Zoroastrian ceremonies, rituals and purification rites. It is believed to keep the evil eye away and bring on plenty of health.
– A bowl of gold coins representing wealth and prosperity.
– A scarf or shawl made out of silk or any other fine fabric to be held over the bride and bridegroom’s head throughout the ceremony by various happily married female relatives (mostly bride’s close family members).
– Two sugar cones “Kalleh Ghand” made out of hardened sugar to be used during the ceremony. These sugar cones are grinded together above the bride and bridegroom’s head (over the scarf held above their heads) throughout the ceremony to shower them in sugar (symbolizing sweetness and happiness).
– A needle and seven strands of colored thread to figuratively sew up the mother-in-law’s lips from speaking unpleasant words to the bride! The shawl that is held above the couple’s head throughout the ceremony is sewed in one corner by the needle and threads.
– A copy of the couple’s Holy Book is placed on the spread. For Christian couples, it would be the Bible, for Zorastians Avesta, For Muslims Qur’an, …. This symbolizes God’s blessing for the couple. Some couples use a poetry book such as Khayyam’s poetry collection or Hafiz poetry collection instead of a religeous holy book. Traditionally “Avesta” the ancient Zoroastrian holy book was used by the majority of Iranins and Bible by the Iranian Christians during the ceremony and readings were made from it. Eventually Qur’an replaced Avesta for most wedding ceremonies.