Updated: Sep 3, 2020
What is a Persian Ceremony?
The aghd, or ceremony, is a traditional process in which the bride and groom become married. In front of the couple is the Sofreh aghd, a table that contains symbolic items. Traditionally the bride and groom sit under a canopy held by female family members, signifying that the bride and groom are now combined under the same roof. The family members then take turns rubbing sugar cones together above the canopy. Sugar granules are sprinkled onto the canopy, signifying showering the couple in sweetness. During the ceremony, the officiant asks for the consent of the bride and groom to wed. First, he asks the groom if he consents to marry the bride. The groom immediately says "bale," or yes. Next, he asks the bride. When he asks the bride, her goal is to make the guests, and especially the groom, a bit nervous by making them wait for an answer. The officiant will ask the bride several times, someone from the audience could yell out excuses for why the bride isn't answering. When the officiant asks the bride's consent a third and final time, she will say "bale." After the couple says "bale," the groom picks up the jar of honey (asal) from the table. The bride and groom then dip their pinky finger into the jar and feed it to each other. This gesture is to symbolize that the bride and groom will feed each other sweetness and sustenance throughout their lives together. Finally, the groom is free to kiss his bride. To end the ceremony, immediate family members come up to congratulate the new bride and groom. When the family members have congratulated the newlyweds, they stand from their seats and make their exit. During this exit, the newlyweds are showed with coins, flower petals, and confetti.
Why was important for us to have a Persian Ceremony?
Learning about different cultures has always been an important part of my upbringing since my family has hosted exchange students for most of my life. And this might be the reason why I find different cultures so appealing. Since my husband was Persian, there was no question in my mind that we would have a Persian ceremony. This wedding was not only about us but about our families coming together. So it was my honor to plan something so special to my husband's family and to honor his late grandmother. But, I also wanted to combine these traditions with American traditions.
How did we combine the two cultures together?
I decided I wanted my "baby" uncle Nathan and my Grandfather, who was already the officiant, to do the Persian ceremony. I felt having them learn and take part in this Persian tradition and explain what a Persian ceremony is to our guests, could allow everyone who came to our wedding to understand what a Persian ceremony was and what it meant.
So how did we actually combine the Persian Ceremony with the traditional American, place the ring on their finger and say I do, wedding vows? We started our ceremony with the Persian portion. Ramtin and I took our seats behind the Sofreh Aghd. Nathan then came up and welcomed everyone to the wedding. He spoke a little about what a Persian ceremony was, and the significance of some of the items that were on the table. He then had the ladies come up and hold the cloth canopy, or "sofre". The women took turns rubbing sugar cones together above our heads as Nathan recited a poem from Rumi. My Grandfather then stepped in to ask consent from us to wed. After the process of consent, Ramtin and I stepped forward to exchange our rings, recited our wedding vows, and finally Ramtin kissed his bride (me). Similar to a traditional American wedding. And then we exited and lived happily ever after.
We were told this was a beautiful ceremony. I hope that it lived up to my new Persian family's expectations. And also allowed our guests to experience something new.
What is on the Persian Table?
Sofreh Aghd (The Persian Wedding Table)
This is the most important element of a Persian wedding. Sofre is the word for tablecloth in Persian. The table is usually covered by either a simple or elaborate cloth. This is where the name of the table comes from!
Ayne va Shamdoon (Mirror and Candlesticks)
The mirror symbolizes eternity and the candlesticks reference Zoroastrianism (light and fire.) The light and fire represent the brightness of the future and eternal passion.
Feeding honey to each other is a gesture is to symbolize that the bride and groom will feed each other sweetness and sustenance throughout their lives together.
Sugar Cones & Cloth Canopy
The cloth canopy signifies that the bride and groom are now combined under the same roof. Sugar granules are sprinkled onto the canopy, signifying showering the couple in sweetness.
Noone Sangak (Special Baked Flatbread)
The noone sangak (bread) represents prosperity for feasts and the couple's life thereafter.
Tokhme Morgh (Basket of Decorated Eggs and Nuts)
The tokhme morgh represents fertility.
The bowl of crystallized sugar is usually filled with rock candy. This represents sweetness in the couple's life.
These coins represent future financial prosperity for the couple.
Seeb (Basket of Apples)
This is to represent a joyous and fruitful future for the couple.
Golab (Cup of Rosewater)
The rosewater is intended to perfume the air during the ceremony.
This is a well designed part of the table- a try in which seven spices of seven different colors are laid out in order to represent prosperity and spiciness of life.
-Khashkhash (poppy seeds)
-Berenj (wild rice)
-Raziyane (Nigella seeds aka coriander or fennel)
-Cha’i (black tea leaves)
-Sabzi Khoshk (Angelica)
The flowers are a symbolic sign of life, spring, and beauty.
The incense is a very important element in Iranian tradition, because it has been used for thousands of years to ward away the "evil eye."
A book of significance for the couple is placed on the table. It is usually opened to a verse about the importance of marriage or a significant verse.