For Iranians, weddings are one of the most important events in their lives. A festive event with months of planning and preparation, where no expenses are spared, and everyone is invited to participate in a celebration of their lives! As more and more second-generation Iranians marry non-Iranians, wedding celebrations have become even more meaningful and filled with ritual.
What is incredible is that, even though most Persian wedding traditions originated in Zoroastrian times (the first monotheistic religion dating back to the 2nd millennium BCE), they are still celebrated today. Since that time, Iran has gone through empires, revolutions and war. Technology has changed lives, and many Iranians have migrated throughout the world. Despite all this, many wedding traditions and rituals have continued the same way for thousands of years.
Perhaps these rituals continue to be celebrated because of the strong sense of pride Iranians have towards their cultural heritage. Or is it because the Persian wedding ceremony is filled with beautiful, festive and touching aspects? An event where many individuals can take part, gathering close around the couple, with ladies taking turns to rub sugar loaves, shout that the bride is out picking flowers, sew the couple’s destiny with needle and thread, offer honey to add sweetness to their lives, or present gifts, among other joyous activities. Today, with the increase in mixed marriages, the welcoming and open nature of the Persian ceremony is even more apparent.
This fun and festive ceremony lends itself well to inclusion of rituals from other cultures. Many interfaith or interracial couples choose to hold a Persian ceremony and incorporate elements of other traditions into their wedding. The Sofreh Aghd (Persian wedding ceremony spread) is a great place to display important items from other traditions. Rituals such as exchange of vows, lighting of the unity candle, coin ceremony, lasso ceremony, breaking of the glass, lucky horseshoe, wedding bells and many others fit well into the Persian wedding celebration and many couples choose to incorporate them.
Nothing is more beautiful and meaningful than the union of two people from different backgrounds and walks of life embracing the richness of the traditions that have nurtured them, and celebrating their differences with love.