Last year by the end of summer I made the biggest decision of my life and got engaged to my travel partner for life. You’ve probably seen Parsa’s pics on the sidebar of the blog already as he has recently joined me in contributing to the blog with our travels. I shared the news of our engagement with you guys and decided to put you through the details of our Aghd party and the planning phase of our Persian wedding. I know lots of people enjoyed it and I got so many beautiful messages and emails from those who thought it helped them understand the traditions before attending an Iranian wedding or those who were planning to marry an Iranian.
We had our big Persian wedding this spring, during Nowruz which also coincided with Easter holidays and therefore our families could join us from overseas. I wanted to wait until I had received some of the pictures so I could add them to this blog post. And so they arrived!
Our big day was everything I could wish for. It was definitely way better than I had imagined and we both had plenty of fun. 🙂
Before I get into the details of Iranian wedding traditions, I’d highly recommend for you to read the first part of my wedding series as it’s where I explain about all the customs and traditions that are followed up by a Persian wedding.
Like I had mentioned before, the plan was to have a separate wedding reception for men and women as we both come from religious families and I also wear the hijab. This means that I won’t be sharing as many photos as our mixed Aghd ceremony but I’ll try to give you as many snippets as possible. 😉
Our separate wedding went like this:
We had the ceremony were we said our vows for the second time among our close family and then the reception was separated. Parsa obviously accompanied me to the ladies section, we greeted our guests, had our first dance and many more with the guests, cut the cake and Parsa left us for the men’s section. We would later join each other for a private dinner as tradition in Iran. This is pretty much how things go in most separate weddings in Iran. You can imagine the fun part is actually the female section and the men are busy chatting about boring stuff over tea and fruits and hardly ever dance. However, the male section of our wedding turned out to be crazy dance floor as there was non-stop Kurdish group dancing involved. I’ll get to that later. 😉
Planning our Persian Wedding
The size of a Persian wedding really differs from one family to another. Recently some couples decide to avoid the whole wedding altogether and save the money for travel or anything else. I had always wanted a wedding and Parsa and his family were really up for it.
Our wedding may seem absolutely huge to many foreigners but it was actually a decent mid-range wedding in Iran.
Like I said in my previous posts, families have a big role when it comes to their children wedding. Parsa’s parents were quick to find a venue for us 6 months in advance and we already had a date after our Aghd. It might seem normal for Europeans, but Iranians usually don’t plan so far in advance and there’s no such thing as Save the date.
Purchasing the Jahaz or furniture
Still, up to this day, the majority of Iranian couples only start living with each other after the wedding. In bigger cities like Tehran, it’s not surprising to find couples living together without any legal or religious contract. But it’s still not the norm and the government is completely against it. I and Parsa started living together after our Aghd, but mostly because I was living on my own and there was no reason why he shouldn’t move in with me.
Most couples get a home together months before the wedding and make sure it’s completed right until the wedding day. This means the last few months up to the wedding can be a total crisis, not just because you’re planning for the wedding but also because you’re making a home!
Jahaz is the furniture that the bride brings to the house. In most parts of Iran, the brides family help their daughter in buying basic stuff. In more traditional families this goes as far as becoming a responsibility for the bride’s parents and also an excuse to show off.
There are many aspects to wedding traditions in Iran that I find absolutely insane and sickening in our culture. You might ask why the bride doesn’t buy everything herself?! Well, the truth is a lot of girls in Iran get married before even having a job. They might still be students, they might have decided to become housewives or something else. And even if they had worked for a few years, it won’t be enough. Unless they marry some rich guy who’s ok to afford for both the wedding and everything else.
Now the Jahaz is not necessarily a bad thing. My parents kindly helped me to buy many things and I had started working on and off since I was 18. Iranian parents feel extremely responsible for their kids until the last day and while this might result in raising irresponsible kids if they’re not careful, but helping a newlywed couple to start a life can never hurt. What’s bad is when the whole Jahaz buying process gets competitive. Brides and their parents come to a point where much of the purchase is to please others and compete with friends or recently married cousins. The competition gets worst in certain cities like Esfahan or Tabriz. I’ve seen parents who put so much pressure on themselves to buy things that they themselves don’t have after decades of marriage. But what disgusts me the most is actually the tradition of Patakhti!
Patakhti is a ceremony held the day after the wedding. This is when women from both sides of the family come to see the bride at the new house and get a house tour. Now you can imagine this is where the big show off happens. People go crazy to decorate everything for that day and there’s usually a few nosy members in the family who want to peak into every closet and cupboard.
Fortunately, Patakhti has long reached its extinction in my family and Parsa’s family didn’t have the tradition either. I could never get my head around having people over the day after my wedding and the whole concept seems silly.
Now I know a couple of Iranians might come and suggest that I’m representing everything in its worst way and some Patakhtis are just for the girls to have some extra fun and bring gifts for the bride. But I can never understand why there’s any need for another party and I’m not ashamed to talk about some of our not-so-reasonable traditions. Crazy traditions exist in every culture. They usually have beautiful routes but have turned into a burden in today’s modern lifestyle.
Finding the dress
Finding the right wedding gown is the most fun and exciting part of every wedding. There are a few districts in Tehran that sell wedding dresses and plenty of designers that can tailor one for you. It’s actually not uncommon to have a tailored wedding gown as you can find it in all kind of prices. There are also some shops that make your wedding dress but take it back to be rented later. This means you can get the dress that you want for a smaller price but don’t get to keep it.
Today’s wedding dresses in Iran are not too different from elsewhere. They are white and follow the trend. In smaller villages, wedding dresses might be red or a more elaborate version of their traditional clothes.
My first wedding dress fitting session was with my friends. We went to one of oldest neighborhoods for wedding gowns in Tehran and went crazy in trying some of weirdest wedding gowns. This helped me to get an idea of the kind of dress that would fit my body shape best.
It’s not uncommon for the bride to go shopping for her wedding dress with her husband. We don’t think it’s bad luck if the groom sees the dress before the big day, but I personally kept it a surprise. 😉
It took me 3 hunting days to find the dream dress that I fell so deeply in love with. I decided to rent my dress as it was much more affordable and obviously practical since I didn’t have the space to keep it. It was an off-shoulder A-line dress with a super long tail that could be attached to the back to make it shorter. This meant that there was no problem conquering the dance floor all night long. 😉
Sending out the invitations
Notice of our wedding date was given to everyone way in advance but our cards were handed out a few weeks before the big day. We both went to the wedding card bazaar of Tehran but eventually decided to design our own card and have it printed.
Flowers, makeup and photographer
Months before the wedding ma and Parsa had visited numerous photo studios, called many florists to ask for prices and I had had a few sessions with makeup artists. I wasn’t too happen with our photographer (I didn’t think they were very creative in what they do) but very happy with the flowers and my light wedding make up. The makeup was probably the part I was most stressed about as many Iranian artists go for a heavy makeup for brides which was something I absolutely hated. But thankfully all went well and I didn’t look very different from myself.
Our big day!
So it was finally the big day! We both woke up early in the morning. Parsa dropped me off at the beauty salon and left to get everything else sorted.
As we were celebrating our wedding during the Noruz holidays, Tehran was free of its residents. The weather was gorgeous and the city of traffic free. I got my hair and makeup done, they helped me to put on the dress and I was ready for Parsa to pick me up by noon.
During the morning, Parsa had been busy getting his hair done, dressing up and handling the florists who were kind enough to come to our house to decorate the car. He picked me up at noon accompanied with our photographer. We first went to the studio and then to a garden to have some outdoor shots and we were ready by the evening to join our guests at the venue.
Our first dance
For our first dance, we wanted a romantic song that was Iranian but could also work with a duet. Most Iranian couples opt for an English song as it’s really hard to find an Iranian song suitable for a tango. Persian dance is a lot quicker and involves a lot more movement. It’s not exactly the most romantic, but to me, it’s the most elegant and delicate dance in the world.
After many hours of research, we found a song from one of our favourite Iranian music bands called Daal. 🙂 It’s a beautiful positive romantic song and I doubt many couples have chosen it as their first song. I absolutely love it and it will forever hold a special part in my heart. This was the song for our slow tango and which was later continued with the more common Persian wedding music. Listen and let me know what you think. 😉
Our Persian wedding playlist
Persian pop music isn’t something either me and Parsa listen to a lot, so when it came to our wedding playlist we had to go through many songs to pick a few. We had a DJ for the wedding but we wanted to have our own playlist for the time Parsa and I were going to be together. I decided to put up a few songs from our playlists, but it’ll probably sound a bit weird if you’re just listening to it without knowing the dance moves. :))
Parsa wasn’t very keen on sharing this but I promised people won’t think we’re cheap just because we danced to cheap pop music at our wedding. haha!
The Kurdish dance
Parsa’s parents have routes in Kurdistan, a province I had recently visited before meeting Parsa. Kurds are best knowns for their love of dancing and especially their Kurdish group dances which means that the Kurdish dance has been constantly making a scene during our marriage ceremonies. Thankfully I had had many opportunities to learn the moves and already mastered the dance before the wedding. 🙂
Kurdish dance has a few different kinds. The dancers would form a circle which would be a mix of men and women as a symbol of their equality and move their feet in a special order. If women and men are not dancing together, the women would go for a more subtle version of the dance and the men would go all the way.
How long does a Persian Wedding last?
Today’s Persian weddings are only for one day. In some parts of the country, they would traditionally last a few days but I’m sure if that still happens anywhere.
Our wedding lasted until midnight and both our parents accompanied us to our new house after the wedding. It’s tradition that the father of the bride puts the hand of the bride and groom over each other and says a prayer and finishes by reminding them to take care of each other forever, which is very sweet. 🙂
Pagosha: Widening your legs!!
Pagosha is a verb in Persian. It means inviting a newlywed bride and groom to your house for the first time. After the wedding is over, close family and friends start inviting the couple for the first time for dinner. By Pagosha or literally widening your legs means that the first official invite will be an excuse for the couple to feel comfortable to visit their family more often. At a Pagosha, the host also gives a gift to the couple which is usually money or a gold coin.
Mah-e Asal: Honey Moon
After the wedding like most places around the world, the couple goes on their honeymoon. If they are very religious, they might choose to go to Mashhad to pay their respect at Imam Reza’s shrine but these days, many couples choose to go overseas or to Kish island instead.
Me and Parsa didn’t really go on a honeymoon. We had just gotten back from India and had plans to go to Europe for summer. None of those trips really had a honeymoon vibe, so we might decide to plan for a romantic getaway in the coming years. :))