The Persian Wedding Experience (from a non-Persian perspective)

This post was originally published on blogspot on Monday, May 21, 2012

This weekend I designed my first Persian Wedding for Tala and Kian. Tala came to me asking for help with the décor for the event, with a general theme of a Moroccan Lounge with blues and greens as the color palette. She knew she wanted candles and flowers and an air of romance, but, like most brides, her vision changed daily. Email after email came through with lovely designs she’d found on Pinterest, TheKnot, and Style Me Pretty, among others. With each photo, the design changed, and the result was a very romantic, glowing PINK wedding!

Throughout the experience, I learned a lot about the Persian wedding traditions. I’d done some planning for Persian parties and receptions in Los Angeles and remembered the elaborate displays of food and the fantastic Persian music—a DJ accompanied by a conga drummer that made everyone rise to their feet and dance, but I’d never seen or dealt with the ceremony. It’s really a beautiful setup, with symbolism and history in every detail.  The Sofreh (ceremony table) is set with elements like spices, apples, grapes, pomegranates, honey, and candles. A large mirror faces the couple that sits at the end of the low table, the couple facing their guests. As the two entered, the guests applauded their arrival and at the end of the ceremony, the couple stood to receive well wishes and gifts from close family and friends.

Tala and Kian had an English interpreter for the Persian ceremony, and I learned what each item I’d set up on their Sofreh meant to them. This website explains very well all of the elements and their meanings: http://www.persianmirror.com/wedding/sofreh/sofreh.cfm#spread

At the reception, the couple’s first dance was to traditional Persian music and was a conversation in undeniable seduction. They followed this ritual with a customary American bride and groom dance. Guests joined the couple on the dance floor throughout the evening and the room revved with energy when the DJ switched from the American style of music to the Persian dance music. My favorite part of the evening was the cake knife dance—yet another ritual involving an unmistakable element of seduction. Ladies from the pool of guests take turns dancing with the cake knife, enticing the groom to want to get the knife from them by giving them money. Gentlemen guests do the same, dancing for the bride and teasing her (usually in a comedic way) into reaching for the knife. The guests take turns, refusing to give up the knife, but taking the money and passing the knife to the next woman or man in the audience. The last of the guests to dance for the bride and groom finally gives them the knife, to the applause of the bride and the rest of the guests, and the cake cutting continues.

Here is the explanation of the cake knife dance from www.persianmirror.com :

The purpose of the Persian Knife dance (Raghseh Chagoo) is for the couple to retrieve a knife from the dancers so they can cut the wedding cake. The dance starts with one person dancing a typical Persian dance, with the knife and basically asking the couple for money. Once the dancer gets the money, the knife is passed on to the next dancer. The bride and groom continue to offer money to try and get the cake knife. A little back and forth, and a few dance moves later, the couple finally are given the knife and are able to cut the cake. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDi0uFYw8TQ&feature=related

Best Wishes to Tala and Kian!

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