….the highlight of our trip to Italy was our son’s wedding to his beautiful Iranian bride
Talk about a destination wedding. What do you do when half your family lives in Canada and the other half in Germany and Iran and your friends come from all over (Canada, England, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, etc.)? You find a location that everyone is happy to travel to and won’t break the bank.
That perfect place was at Casa Rosa near Assisi. Az and B already had a connection to the place through a friend whose family owned the ‘farm’. It is actually located in the hills of Umbria about 10 kilometres away from downtown Assisi.
On the day of the wedding the family was very busy getting the spread called the “Sofreh-ye Aghd”ready for the ceremony. Traditionally the Sofreh-ye Aghd is set on the floor facing east, so when the bride and bridegroom are seated at the head of the Sofreh-ye Aghd they will be facing “The Light”.
On the cloth, the two most important elements are the mirror and the two candelabras on either side of the mirror. They represent the bride and groom and the brightness in their future. All the different foods on the cloth are symbolic. For example, the tray of seven multi-colored herbs and spices “Sini-ye Aatel-O-Baatel” guard the couple and their lives together against the evil eye, witchcraft and drive away evil spirits. The eggs and decorated almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts in the shell symbolize fertility. A bowl made out of crystallized sugar “Kaas-e Nabaat/Shaakh-e Nabaat” sweetens the life of the newly weds and a bowl of gold coins or money represents wealth and prosperity.
At the beginning of the ceremony the bride is hidden from the groom. In our case a group of women, friends and family, stood in front of Az while B (our son) sat on a bench in front of the Sofreh-ye Aghd facing the mirror. He lit the candelabras and was asked if he consents to marry the bride. In a loud voice he answered with a rousing yes. When the bride enters she sits on the groom’s left side and the wedding party holds a canopy over the couple’s heads.
This is where the fun begins. Az’s uncle was the officiant and when he asked her if she consented to marrying B her role is to make the guests and the groom uncomfortable by not answering the first time. Some of her friends then call out that she’s doing the laundry as an excuse. The same thing happens the second time she is asked. The officient asks a third time, and this time, the bride says ‘with the permission of my father and mother- balé!’ And everyone starts kelling (the loud lee-lee-lee-lee sounds all middle easterners make) and clapping in joy.
Az’s uncle did a great job explaining all the rituals and symbolism of this ceremony. One other interesting symbol is the needle and the seven coloured threads used to hold up the canopy or shawl above the couple. Figuratively it represents sewing up the mother-in-law’s lips to keep her from speaking unpleasant words to the bride! As you can imagine I got quite a bit of ribbing about that one.
After the bride and groom have consented to marrying each other, the groom picks up a jar of honey (asal) from the table. He dips his little finger into the jar of honey, and feeds it to his bride. She then does the same for him. This is to symbolize that they will feed each other sweetness and sustenance throughout their lives together.
In this ceremony Az took her shoe at the end and snuffed out all the candles. I can’t remember what that symbolized and I can’t find anything on line to explain it. Maybe some of my Persian readers could bring me up to date on this tradition.
As in western cultures the ceremony ended with the groom kissing his bride.
After congratulations were bestowed upon the newly married couple the guests and the wedding party made their way to grounds where tables of food and drink were set and photographers were busy snapping hundreds of photos.
The food at this wedding was amazing. Our son kept telling us to leave some room for dinner. The first round of food immediately following the ceremony were just appetizers and cocktails. I can’t even begin to explain or describe how much food there was and everything was so delicious. When dinner was served there were five more courses and dessert was served later. I never made it to dessert. In fact I never made it to the party. After dinner I was done and went to bed. In hind sight it was a dumb thing to do because I couldn’t sleep anyway. Between not feeling well from too much rich food and the noise from the party afterwards, sleep was impossible. The party went till 4:00 in the morning. Somehow I managed to fall asleep around 3:00. All in all it was a great day, one that I will never forget.