Alex and Heather smile as a crowd of women hold a cloth over their heads; Heather is wearing a white dress and a veil and holds a small box in her hands
A group of people inside a room with a spread of flowers, candles and food on the ground; Heather and Alex are on one side of the room seated below a cloth
A wedding spread with flowers, leaves and small bowls
Elaborate golden bowls and bows on a table lined with a decorative cloth
Alex and Heather dance in their wedding clothes as others cheer and clap; HeatherÕs hand is on her head
Alex and Heather dance in their wedding clothes as others cheer and clap; Heather reaches out to Alex
Persian wedding ceremonies stem from ancient Zoroastrian religion rituals and can vary in different regions of Iran. A wedding traditionally includes two stages: the legal and contractual ceremony, or Aghd; and the reception, or Jashn-e Aroosi. In ARUSI PERSIAN WEDDING, Alex and Heather’s marriage ceremony incorporated both traditional and non-traditional customs.
From gifts and gold, to incense and delicacies, learn about classic Persian wedding customs.
Mahrieh: The Gift
In the 21st century, most couples in Iran decide to get married on their own. Out of respect for the older generation, the groom will often ask the bride’s father for her hand in marriage. As a way to demonstrate the significance and responsibilities of the union, the groom must give the bride a gift, or a mahrieh, which symbolizes financial protection. The bride’s family asks for the mahrieh, which can be anything from property to money that will be given to the bride in the event of divorce. In contemporary Iran, this practice is often more symbolic, with gifts ranging from gold coins to holy books.
The mahrieh is set during the first part of the wedding ceremony, called Aghd, or “knot.” It is during this ceremony that the bride, groom and their families sign the official marriage contract.
Sofreh-ye Aghd: The Wedding Spread
The Aghd ceremony takes place in a room with a Sofreh-ye Aghd, a special fabric spread that is set on the floor facing east, in the direction of the sunlight. The couple sits at the head of the spread, which often contains the following items:
Gold coins, a symbol of wealth and success Eggs or nuts, which represent fertility Honey or crystallized sugar, for sweetness Two candelabras and a mirror, representing light and fire, a part of the Zoroastrian tradition symbolizing the couple and their future. Incense to ward off the evil eye Noon-e Sangak, a flatbread decorated with the blessing “Mobaarak-Baad”
During the ceremony, married female family members hold a fabric shawl or scarf over the heads of the bride and groom. The groom is asked if will marry the bride once, while the bride is asked three times before she answers. This tradition is meant to symbolize the husband’s pursuit of the wife.
Aroosi: The Party
The Aroosi reception follows the Aghd and can last from three to seven days, with parties and feasting among family and friends. It may take place any time from the same day as the Aghd to up to a year later. Although the groom’s family has traditionally paid for the wedding party, modern couples often share the cost.
Similar to Western wedding parties, the contemporary Aroosi may take place in a home, park, restaurant or reception hall and includes dinner, cake, music and dancing, as well as Persian-specific traditions. The meal is traditionally buffet style and may include many dishes, including Jahaver Polo, a dish of rice, pistachios, orange peel, almonds and berries. The colors in the dish signify jewels; the name of the dish translates to “jeweled rice.”
View a photo journal of Alex's photos of their journey >>