Calgary Wedding Photographer: Persian Wedding at Pinebrook Golf & Country Club - Soudabeh &
Two days ago I was privileged to document a Persian wedding (my first!). We had a little rain during the ceremony, but the weather turned around not long after, and we had a wonderful sunset. To say it was a wonderful wedding was an understatement; I always love weddings filled with not only love and friendship, but also traditions and culture. This was colourful to say the least, with intricate details throughout (and lots of dances!).
I read a bit about Persian weddings online, and some of the captions underneath the photos below are taken from the following website: (I apologize in advance if there are any errors; please feel free to contact me and I'll be happy to edit it :))
The day was filled with non-stop actions from start to finish! There are almost 1,300 photos (edited high resolution files) that Soudabeh and Keyvan will receive; it's so difficult to narrow down to few dozens for the blog! Big thanks to Soudabeh and Keyvan for trusting me to capture their big day, and I wish both of you the sweetest new chapter!
Photographer: RaraA Photography
If you are a vendor at Soudabeh and Keyvan's wedding, please contact me, and I'll be more than happy to include you and provide a link to your website!
The couple's name embroidered in the inner part of the groom's jacket.
The groomsmen had quite the time figuring out how to put the boutonniere up :)
Their first look.
This is the ceremony portion of the wedding. Just as in western weddings, in this portion, the bride (aroos) and groom (dāmād) are situated before the guests, and this is the point at which wedding vows are exchanged and the official marriage contracts are signed. However, there are many customs and rituals observed in the aghd that are very different from Western customs. In the aghd portion of the wedding, the ceremony begins with the groom seated on a bench in front of the guests. In front of them is the sofreyé aghd, a table which contains several highly symbolic items. Above his head is a canopy held by female family members or female members of the bridal party. The bride walks into the ceremony wearing a veil. She is preceded by someone burning a special incense called esfand, which is said in Persian tradition to ward off the evil eye. The bride takes a seat to the left of the groom with the groom seated on her right hand- this designates a place of respect.
This is perhaps the most important element of a Persian wedding, and what makes it unique from all others in the world. Sofré is the word for tablecloth in Persian. sofreyé aghd is very similar to the sofreh set at nowruz, the Persian new years. Like the one set for nowruz, the sofreyé aghd also directly hails from Zoroastrian tradition, and it has changed very little in the last few thousand years. The tablecloth itself is normally either on the floor on a rug to prevent slippage in an indoor wedding, or constructed on wood raised from the ground about 6-8 inches in an outdoor wedding. It is usually covered by either a simple cloth, or an elaborate cloth called a termé. Usually the bride's mother spends several months before the wedding gathering elements of the sofré- these elements are both objects that are near and dear to the hearts of the bride and groom, and elements that contain imagery and symbolism relating to their impending union. They include the following:
1. ayné va shamdoon (mirror and candlesticks) This is the most important and most iconic part of the sofré. The mirror and candlesticks will become a part of the couple’s home as a memento of their wedding ceremony, and must therefore be chosen wisely and with the personality of the couple in mind. Traditionally, the mirror and candlesticks were gold dipped or made of silver, but modern couples often opt for other materials. The mirror symbolizes eternity and the candlesticks reference Zoroastrianism, in which light and fire play an extremely important part. In this context, the fire and light represent the brightness of the future and eternal passion. The mirror and candlesticks are situated in front of the bride and groom during the aghd, with the mirror facing the couple and away from the audience. After the bride sits on the stool beside the groom, she lifts her veil, and the groom sees her for the first time in the mirror.
Note: it is customary for the bride and groom to have several photos of them looking into the mirror, again representing them looking into the future.
2. nooné sangak (specially baked flatbread) nooné sangak is a certain type of flatbread baked in a coal oven on top of coals and stones. On the sofreyé aghd, the bread is usually ornately arranged, either into a shape like flowers, or with the word mobarak (celebrate/congratulations) etched into it. The bread represents prosperity for feasts and the couple’s life thereafter.
In addition to this decorative bread, there is generally a tray of bread, feta cheese, and fresh herbs that are intended to be shared with the guests after the ceremony. This is done to share the couple’s happiness and prosperity with the guests.
3. basket of decorated eggs (tokhmé morgh) and nuts The sofreyé aghd also includes a basket of decorated eggs- often beaded or painted gold, and various nuts such as almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts, also painted gold. These represent fertility.
4. bowl made out of crystallized sugar The bowl made out of crystallized sugar often also contains more crystallized sugar (also known as rock candy) inside it. This represents sweetness in the couple’s life.
5. bowl of gold coins These are pretty self explanatory- they represent future financial prosperity for the couple.
6. basket of fruit A basket of fruit is included- usually either anār (pomegranates) orseeb (apples), depending on the season, to represent a joyous and fruitful future for the couple.
7. tray of spices This is a well designed part of the table- a tray in which seven spices of seven different colors are laid out in order to represent prosperity and spiciness of life. Each of the spices generally have a specific meaning and significance.
8. esfand During the ceremony, someone will walk in front of the bride holding an incent called esfand, which will then be placed on top of the sofré. Esfand is a very important element in Iranian tradition, because it has been used for thousands of years to ward away the ‘evil eye’.
Evil eye is a concept prevalent in the Middle East, and refers to people that look with malignant envy at success. In Iranian tradition, burning esfand prevents the evil eye of people from causing actual harm.
9. canopy As the bride and groom are seated before the guests, a canopy is held above their heads by several unmarried women, traditionally family members, but in modern weddings, by the bride's wedding party. Until the 19th century, the canopy was green, the favorite color of Zoroastrians, but in recent years, it is a white piece of cloth to blend more with Western culture.
As the ceremony is taking place, happily married members of the family take turns grinding two sugar cones together so that the sugar granules fall into the canopy, symbolically showering the couple in sweetness.
10. an abundance of flowers Flowers are used in Persian weddings to decorate the sofré, but they are also used as a symbolic sign of life, spring, and beauty.
11. golab (cup of rosewater) Rosewater is extremely important in Persian culture, and it is used as perfume as well as for cooking. In this case, the rosewater is intended to perfume the air during the ceremony.
12. a book of significance for the couple For religious couples, the quran is placed on the table, open to a verse about the importance of marriage. Secular couples, on the other hand, will usually display a book of poetry by one of the great Persian poets, or another book that holds a significant place in their relationship.