weddings are meant to be very public celebrations, taking
place in front of as many people as possible. Bride prices
are perhaps higher in Iran than in any other Muslim country;
they are so high in fact that to many, they are almost prohibitive.
The cost for a bride includes not only gifts for her and her
family, but also the entire cost of the reception, which as
mentioned is typically very large and very long.
In order to offset these
costs, many Iranian couples are no longer having the traditional
large ceremony, instead electing the Muslim equivalent
of eloping (the marriage is still blessed by the imam,
but there is no contract. This is usually very hard on
the bride, who must bear the wrath of her parents). Another
way in which Iranians are offsetting the cost of nuptials
is by getting married in a ceremony involving two, three,
or more other couples. This way, the costs are shared
Both ceremony and reception take
place at the house of the bride’s parents. The ceremony
is started when the guests begin arriving.
The Persian ceremony includes
the ceremony itself (Aghd) and the reception of three to seven
days (Jashn-e Aroosi). There is a very elaborate floor spread
set up for Aghd, including several kinds of food and decorations
(Sofreh-ye Aghd), all with a significance of their own. The
spread is set up so that faces east towards the light:
The elaborate cloth placed underneath the set up on the floor
is passed down from mother to daughter. It is made of expensive
cashmere, satin, or silk, and is embroidered.
• A tray of herbs and spices. There
are seven different elements on this tray, each with a different
color. The herbs and the colors are said to ward off evil
• Mirrors and candles. A mirror is
placed in front of where the couple will sit, with two candles
on either side. This arrangement again symbolizes light, and
the candles unity. The bride sits down veiled but then removes
the veil, and so the first thing a groom sees at the table
is a reflection of his bride.
• Fertility symbols. Several types
of nuts in shells as well as eggs are placed on the spread
to symbolize the wishes of a fertile union.
• The Quran. A copy of the Quran is
opened to the middle and placed in the center of the spread.
A prayer rug and prayer kit is also placed on the center of
• Coins and various sweets. A bowl
of coins is used to bring wealth, and there are several sweet
pastries that represent the sweetness of the new life and
also to share with guests.
During the ceremony, the bride
and groom often have the sugar from special sugar cones shaved
off by guests and onto their heads. This is thought to bring
good fortune, as well as representing a wish that their new
life will be filled with joy (sweetness). The bride will keep
these cones as souvenirs and for good luck.
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