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Persian Wedding

Scraping Sugar over Tala and Tin at Persian Wedding

Marietta Georgia Style

While we were living in Tehran, because of our friendship with an Iranian family, we were introduced to a prospective Iranian bride and her parents.  We witnessed the matchmaking that resulted in her betrothal and eventual marriage and consummation thereof over the space of two years.


A young lady’s chance of a successful marriage depended on a lot of factors coming together.

1.     The woman who runs the “Bath” is the matchmaker.

2.    The girl must get a big enough dowry to appeal to the best of suitors.

3.    She must be trained to be the sweetest, most well-mannered, most subservient girl in the neighbourhood – and of course the purist and the prettiest.

4.    Finding the best suitor and most amenable suitor.


Everyone knows everyone through the local community “Bath”.  The Bathhouse is available 3 days a week for the men’s use and 3 days a week for women.  The 7th da, Friday, is the Sabbath so no bathing.


At the Bath you are plonked onto a table and scrubbed within an inch of your life all over with a kind of soft earthy soap using a rough canvas mitt.  Then you are plunged into clear warm water, then back to the table to be pummelled and doused with fragrant oils.  By the time you are finished you are ready to flop down on your chaise longue with bon bons and a French novel.


The woman doing the scrubbing you knows everything about you, your mother, your daughters and your immediate family.  She knows who are devout, how much money everyone has and their level of education.


This 20-year old girl’s introduction was met with approval by a boy’s mother at a formal tea.  Several meetings had to take place before a clandestine meeting was arranged by the girl’s friends and the man’s friends.  They all walked through a shopping center where each was identified as they kept walking – that was their only sighting.


Months later the first part of the wedding took place.  The bride was there in her beautiful white wedding gown with veil etc.  The groom made a brief appearance and pictures were taken.  Then the girl moved in with her to be mother-in-law for six months to learn how to take care of her husband according to his mother.


Tala and Tin facing large mirror in first part of Persian Wedding in Marietta Georgia

During this time there were several milestones of this marriage.  After her apprenticeship with her mother-in-law there was the gifting of jewelry.  Then consultation and orientation with the Mullah.  Inspection of the bride by all of the aunts and uncles.


Then there was the showing of the Dowry and gifts to which we were invited.  We were astounded at the amount and value of all the gifts in this very modest little home.  Every penny they had was invested in their daughter’s prospects.  I was told that many Iranian parents would be heavily in debt to ensure their daughter married well.


There was a washer, dryer, refrigerator, china, flatware, linen (including a very elaborate lace covered silk duvet with matching pyjama case), too many gifts to be counted - and a couple of Persian carpets. 


Everything was listed on a very elaborate document signed by everyone showing a huge amount of Rials in the total.


Finally – the big day itself.  The men did not come with us to the wedding and I did not drive, so we three wives hired a car and driver to take us there and we dressed as we would for any wedding.


All the necessary documents regarding the value of the Dowry, what she was responsible for and what he was responsible for was all signed sealed and delivered.


The bride’s gown by this time looked a bit worse for wear as it had been worn several times for the various events and she appeared to be a nervous wreck at this stage. 


 We arrived at the beautiful garden which was the venue for the wedding.  We arrived at 6:00 pm and milled around with all the guests waiting for the groom.  We three Americans were so antsy waiting and waiting for the Mullah and the groom.


At 10:00 pm the groom had still not put in an appearance.

I think they must have been waiting for the Mullah.

Finally the wedding got underway and there were  a lot of words by the wedding party, none of which we understood.

We were much relieved to see that the Bride was actually going to be wed.

Then there was a disturbance at the gates to the garden where the Bride and Groom were exiting.  There was a lot of wailing and shouting.  It transpired that as soon as the Mullah had said all the necessary words the bride in her haste had made some faux pas.


My friend Sherry Deaton checking the setting for a Persian Wedding in Marietta Georgia for her daughter Tala and Tin.

When translations were made for us we found out she had not said all the correct words to her mother as dictated by tradition.  Her mother was shouting at her calling her an ungrateful brat and the bride was sobbing and apologizing for running out the gates with her husband before she properly said her thanks to her mother and getting permission to leave her guests without saying thank you to everyone.  We three foreigners sympathized with the bride – get it over with for heaven’s sake.


All the guests piled into their cars and chased after the bride’s Mercedes decked out in rose petals (easy to identify).  We were with our Iranian friends in their car and after the first two hundred yards we were on the floor of the car. 


Everyone was driving 90 miles an hour through the streets of Tehran shouting and singing dirty ditties and cat calling to the bride and groom.  Even at that time of night traffic is still heavy. All the drivers were doing the same thing; jockeying for position next to the bridal car – what a cavalcade this made parading through this very busy metropolis. 


We arrived at a palatial home high up in the outskirts of Tehran.  Large spacious terraces outside to which we were assigned because we were infidels.  Inside the home we could see all the men in one large room dancing and all the women in another room dancing – fabulous dancing, but not together.  We were served sumptuously by servants running from room to room with large platters of food – no alcohol of course.


I was invited (because of my maturity- 38) to another tea party the next day to celebrate the purity of the bride.  After the consummation of the marriage several aunts were positioned outside the door of the marriage chamber and were given the “pyjama case”.


I was actually invited to be a member of the group of women who would sit outside the bridal bedchamber and wait for the “Evidence”.


 The “pyjama case” was not for pyjamas, but it contained the bloody sheet from the marriage bed to be taken in to the tea to be passed around by the female relatives and friends so they could see the proof that the girl had been a virgin on her wedding night.  I declined to attend this one.


She did very well.  Her man had been in the Iranian Air Force and had been to Cambridge for two years.  He was very good looking and quite polished.  On top of that his father was a well to do businessman and a Haji – this meant he had made the pilgrimage to Mecca – no easy feat for anyone wealthy or poor.


The aftermath of this story is all good.  We went back to another party later when their little boy was 1 year old.

After all - this was what it was all about – she had produced a healthy son and she could now take her mother-in-law’s place and sit next to her husband in the car (her mother-in-law would now be relegated to the back seat) now she would rule her own home.


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