We Created a Modern Persian Wedding with a SoCal Spin

But the bride still had to be asked three times

Leyla, Manager & JorGe, freelancer

Sum-up of the wedding vibe: A playful and relaxed traditional Persian ceremony with modern interpretation in a quintessential SoCal desert setting.

Number of guests: 140

Where we allocated the most funds

Catering for 140 guests for sure. We wanted food that reflected our taste, and honestly, we have both attended too many weddings where we felt like the food was less than tasty enough for the money we knew people were spending. Jorge and I went through many tastings and finally worked with Fusion Flair who created the most amazing simple, but elegant meals for us. It reflected the California cuisine we wanted to have but with a little ethnic flair so it wasn’t too basic.

Also, the key thing I remember asking when I tasted the steak was, “But will this taste as delicious with over a hundred people and having to scale the recipe?” To which Tony responded with dead serious eyes that it would. And honestly, it did—so much that it is one of the proudest photos my husband shares from the wedding.

Where we allocated the least funds

I think we went somewhat small with our “wedding cake” for the dessert portion of the event. We got a very elegant small two-tier cake from Exquisite Desserts, but what we really wanted were some delicious hearty items that reflected our taste in sweets as well. We heard that on average each slice of wedding cake costs $7, and that seemed like a lot of money to spend on something I honestly don’t even care about. Instead we got delicious locally baked cookies and donuts from Aspen Mills Bakery and Swiss Donut. This cut our costs down so much, and people seemed to like it more than some fancy cake with expensive frosting, anyway.

What was totally worth it

Our wedding planner and her team were absolutely money well spent. She was my counselor through picking vendors and as we led up to the wedding, I really didn’t have the time to think through small and ridiculous details (like where do we get more small clothing pins? What are the specific property requirements to hook up a generator?). These types of things could just eat away at your precious time, so why not outsource? Plus, the day before I was honestly able to relax and enjoy most of the destination with family because she handled the fires that would pop up. And believe me, that happened.

The biggest fire was that the city of Palm Springs became super strict with outside noise, and our wedding venue decided we should hold the dancing portion of the reception all indoors. Despite being caught off guard with a last minute need for a Plan B, Jennifer was able to work with the venue to fight for return of some funds and to also work the logistics directly with our rental company and organize moving ALL the property’s inside furniture to now coordinate an indoor dance reception. In the end though, amazingly it all worked out and I was really pleased!

What was totally NOT worth it

Portable toilets! We had to get them because our guest list went over eighty people, but no one used them. Also, I loved my flowers, but I think we also could have cut them ourselves, given we got married outdoors during a beautiful springtime bloom.

A few things that helped along the way:

I used Wedding Wire to help budget, and I really asked my planner a million “Is it ridiculous that we don’t want this wedding cliché thing?” questions. She was very in tune to my more modern interpretation of what I wanted a wedding day to be like. For example: don’t bother with huge expensive cake if you don’t like to eat cake.

My best practical advice to my planning self:

Do it all in advance so you don’t do anything other than enjoy the day when your wedding rolls around.

Favorite thing about the wedding:

We loved that we did a modern interpretation of a Persian wedding. It was unique, and it honored Leyla’s heritage but also represented us together. We printed handouts so that all the guests understood the symbolism in the sofreh aghd, and one of our closest friends was our officiant.

anything else we should know:

We really made sure to make the wedding something that reflected us both, not just the bride, and not just what we thought was aesthetically pleasing. We chose Palm Springs because we both love that area, and everything down to the dessert options and invitations had our signature and taste infused through it. We wanted to experience our wedding with all the people we love, and to make our wedding special with the small things.

Traditional Persian weddings are so beautiful and rooted in tons of history and Zoarastrian history. They are also extremely old fashioned in a way that didn’t make sense with our more modern sensibilities. Our goal was more to have a Persian-inspired secular ceremony rather than adhere to all the fundamental things. I just wanted to bring in what I thought was fun and “modernize” things by bringing in elements that were part of most American or western weddings. Here are some examples of both:

Sofreh Aghd: A table set in front of the bride and groom decorated (usually by the mother and her family and friends) with key things symbolizing various elements unique to Persian weddings.

Our Spin: We handed out a small booklet as the program so it explained all the elements to those who aren’t Persian in background so they could take part and understand the meaning of all the objects.

Walking in: I chose to walk in behind a processional of family and friends. We had three flower girls, then the two mothers, and lastly the rest of family including my nephew and his father (my brother). Lastly I came out but did so with both my father and my stepfather because both were huge influences and dads to me.

I was still seated at the sofreh on a bench with my groom facing the mirror because this symbolizes looking into our future together and seeing us together.

The ladies: I didn’t want to have traditional bridesmaids. Mostly because I remember all the times I had to be one, and forcing my friends and family to match in color or dress wasn’t important to me. But, in Persian ceremony, usually the bride has ladies close to her hold the lace above her and the groom, while married women in “happy unions” grind sugar to spread their fortune and blessings into our new marriage. Traditionally the women holding the tarp are unmarried and the women who grind the sugar are married. I didn’t care about these facts and frankly just having them there with a purpose and seeing them share in the ceremony was more meaningful. Plus, by some coincidence they all looked remarkably coordinated in spring colors and the photos were amazing!

Jorge just had one best man (Andy), but rather than hiring an officiant, we chose one of his closest friends to actually do the ceremony. And she took the role very seriously, rehearsing and learning all the things necessary for a Persian wedding. The entire process really impressed me, and we worked together to keep the parts we liked, leaving off what didn’t really connect for us.

Asking the Bride: Another interesting part of a Persian wedding we kept is the first few moments of the ceremony where the officiant asks the bride if she’s ready to marry the groom. Tradition dictates that you have to ask the bride two times first, where she ignores you completely and the guests yell out excuses why she’s unable to commit. “She’s out picking flowers!” or “She’s busy washing her hair!” are comments usually blurted en masse and in Farsi. But we organized a pre-ceremony “hype man” to help get our guests into the action and finally the third time, I as the bride agreed to marry my groom. He only had to be asked once.

My last favorite “Persian” thing we did was that we fed each other honey at the end of the ceremony from a single goblet using our pinkies. Besides just being cute, it symbolized our giving ourselves whole to one another, and I think it was just nice to have a physical act of our commitment beyond just the kiss.


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