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Weddings around the world symbolize a union between two people who are joining their lives together for eternity. Persian traditional weddings have different customs and beliefs that can vary in different parts of Iran. In some cases, Persian weddings are very similar to other wedding traditions you might know.
Guest lists commonly exceed over 400 guests and the wedding budget can rise to over $80,000. There are many similarities to other weddings you might see in the United States: long lavish white dresses for the bride, the first dance with the bride, and the roles of the groomsmen and bridesmaids.
Here are a few things that are unique in a Persian wedding.
Sofreh Aghd (Table of Wedding)
A long table at the wedding is filled with extravagant floral and food arrangements called the Sofreh Aghd. Among other decorations, there is also a mirror that is placed on top of the table called Aayeneh-ye Bakh, known as the mirror of fate. This mirror symbolizes fate bringing the couple together and joining them in holy matrimony for eternity.
Image courtesy of PersianWeddingOfficiant.org
The Sofreh Aghd also represents some of the gifts and blessings the guests bring to the couple in honor of their future life together. Behind the table with all the arrangements and decorations is the Mokhaddeh, the seat where the happy couple sits throughout their celebration. The Sofreh Aghd is always one of the main arrangements in a Persian wedding, bringing together beautiful decorations and symbolic items representing the union of the couple.
Mahrieh (The Gift)
Years ago, arranged marriages were the only way couples were joined in matrimony. In the 21st century, Iranian couples can now decide to get married on their own, without following the traditional route of arranged marriages. Similar to other wedding traditions, the groom must ask for the woman’s hand in marriage as a sign of respect to her father. The groom must offer a gift to the bride that symbolizes their financial security in order to show the father-of-the-bride that he is ready to take care of his new wife. The gifts can vary between money, stocks certificates, gold coins, or religious items such as a holy book.
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The gift of gold coins represent money the groom will use to contribute to his new family or to take care of the bride, while the holy book symbolizes a union of the couple under the eyes of God. During the first part of the ceremony, the bride and groom and their families sign the official marriage contract after the delivery of the gift. This contract is an official document that represents the unity of the couple and their newly-joined families.
Aroosi (The Party)
In most cultures, wedding receptions only last a few hours. Persian wedding traditions require a few days of celebration. The Aroosi, which is the reception, can last from three to seven days depending on how big the wedding is.
There are parties and feasts among friends and family celebrating the union of the two families. After the ceremony, the celebration can continue for up to a year after the official marriage date. Traditionally, the groom’s family typically pays for the costs of the reception and wedding, but today couples tend to share the costs. Depending on the couple’s wedding planning choices, the Aroosi can take place anywhere including a community park, a family home, or a reception hall.
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The perfect Persian wedding can take a long time to plan. Making sure all the right customs and traditions are followed can be a difficult task for the bride and groom. Modern Persian weddings require both families to work together to showcase an extravagant wedding ceremony filled with many customs and traditions. Some Iranian couples choose to have religious traditions as part of their wedding and some choose to not have any religious elements in their ceremony. There is less pressure on Persian couples seeking marriage to follow the traditional Persian wedding practices than there once was.
We have shared with you a few of the common wedding traditions and customs Persians practice during their lavish wedding ceremonies as part of our series on wedding traditions around the world. Many wedding traditions around the globe have continued for hundreds of years (if not longer) and have a symbolic history or legend that may date back generations. We will look at some of the most interesting and popular matrimony traditions in some of our future articles on wedding traditions around the globe.