The customs and tradition of Persian weddings are extensive and require the assistance of the family. There are two stages in a Persian wedding ceremony. The first stage is the aghd, which is the legal process of a bride and groom becoming married. The second stage is the Jashn-e Aroosi. The Jashn-e Aroosi is the wedding reception, which can last anywhere from three to seven days consisting of various family activities.
The actual wedding ceremony takes place in front of what is called a Sofreh-ye Aghd. The Sofreh-ye Agdh is a complicated, elaborate and beautiful display, which is spread on the floor facing east. There are various elements placed on the Sofreh-ye Agdh including (but not limited to):
Mirror — represents fate.
Two candelabras — represent brightness in marriage.
Tray of seven multicolored herbs and spices — to ward off evil and witchcraft. The herbs and spices include: poppy seeds, salt, wild rice, frankincense, black tea, angelica, and nigella seeds.
Decorated flatbread — represents prosperity; the bread that is sometimes shared with the guests.
Basket of eggs and separate vessels for almonds, walnuts, and hazelnuts — all representing fertility.
Cup of rose water — said to perfume the air of the ceremony.
Incense — believed to ward off the evil eye and bring health.
Bowl of gold coins — represents wealth and prosperity.
A beautifully decorated shawl — this fabric is held over the bride and groom by married female relatives, which in turn is said to bring happiness in marriage.
Two crystallized sugar cones — these cones are typically covered in tulle and ground together above the bride and groom's head (on the scarf) to literally “shower” them in sweetness and happiness.
Pomegranates or red apples — represent a joyous marriage together.
Goblet of honey — said to sweeten life. After the couple is declared married, the couple should dip one pinky finger each into the honey and feed it to each other.
One needle and seven strands of colored thread — representing sewing up the mother-in-law's lips from speaking unpleasantly to the bride! These threads are typically sewn in one corner of the shawl.
Holy book — depending on the couple's religion, their particular holy book is placed on the sofreh-ye aghd with a red rose laid in the center of it while the book is open. If a couple if not religious, a book of poems or the Avesta is used for tradition purposes.
Sweets and pastries — these are shared with guests right after the ceremony; Jordan almonds and baklava are Persian favorites.
Some popular ways to incorporate Persian traditions in your reception are:
Offering Jordan almonds or honey as favors.
Using pomegranates in your décor and food. Some examples include pomegranates floating with candles on your buffet table or to light the path to your cocktail hour. You can also use pomegranate seeds in your salads or serve pomtinis (vodka and pomegranate juice martinis).