Originally published on Middle East Eye on April 7, 2022.
Ornamental bread, cheese, and green herbs are tied together with flowers and ribbons. Golden coins, almonds and walnuts, painted eggs, sweet pastries, and rose water complete the lavish spread.
This is the “table of commitment”, also known as sofreh aqd, and sits at the heart of Iranian wedding rituals. The spices and herbs protect from the evil eye. Eggs and nuts represent fertility and abundance, while coins represent prosperity. Pastries point to the sweetness of a shared life, and the mirror and candles represent the bright future ahead.
Some Muslims will include a Quran on their spread. Others place a book of mystical Persian poetry like Hafez or Rumi. Other religious groups use their own scriptures, like a Torah, Bible, or Avesta, often alongside Persian poetry.
Many see it as a living Persian poetry, with each element symbolising the couple’s happy life ahead.
Although Iran is a diverse country, and every family celebrates weddings differently according to their ethnic, cultural and religious group, there are some aspects that are common throughout all weddings.
Here, Middle East Eye explores what happens at a traditional Iranian wedding as part of a series on wedding traditions from around the region. Stay tuned for the next part, which will be published next week.
For most Iranian families, before the wedding planning can start, the families must meet, and the young couple-to-be allowed to court. Khastegari (courtship) refers to a process by which a family looks for a suitable partner for their child.
Meetings are arranged between families and potential partners. In the initial meeting, the groom’s family often brings flowers or sweets, and the potential bride emerges to serve them tea.
While in the past potential partners had limited say, today people may meet dozens of partners over many years before picking someone, a decision made following several meetings.