Samira and Ian’s recent wedding at the RAC Club in Pall Mall showed how wonderful a wedding venue it is. It also gave an insight into the unique Persian wedding traditions and what they mean for a couple’s big day. Having photographed a few Persian wedding I was familiar with some of the traditions.
The traditional Persian wedding is in two parts, though most couples celebrate them both on the same day. The first, the Aghd, is the legal marriage ceremony, while the second, the Jashn-e Aroos, is the reception celebration. While this is similar to many Western style weddings, there are differences within these two parts that are unique to the Persian tradition.
The elements of a Persian wedding date back centuries, drawing on the Zoroastrian traditions. Before the wedding itself, the groom proposes and asks the bride’s family for her hand in marriage. As part of this, the groom gives the bride’s father a gift, known as a mahrieh. While this can occur before the wedding, many couples choose to incorporate the act of gift giving in the Aghd.
The Aghd is the legal ceremony, during which the couple are joined as husband and wife. This takes place on a special fabric sheet, called the Sofreh-ye Aghd or wedding spread. The fabric is set up facing east, with the couple sitting at the head of the spread. In front of them is a variety of objects with symbolic meaning. These may include gold coins, eggs, honey, herbs, spices, apples, rose water, candelabras, mirrors, incense, a holy book, thread, and a decorated flatbread.
During the Aghd, the married female family members hold another piece of fabric above the heads of the bride and groom. The groom is asked once if he wishes to marry the bride, while the bride is asked three times if she wishes to marry the groom.
Following the Aghd, the Aroosi is a lavish feast celebrating the newly married couple. It can last up to a week, and features an elaborate buffet style meal. This buffet will include foods, such as jewelled rice, that have symbolic value. Most of all, though, the reception is meant to be fun, with plenty of dancing and food.
The RAC Club in London is a perfect venue for a Persian wedding, or any wedding. With beautifully decorated rooms, the central London club offers everything you could want from a wedding venue. It offers everything you would expect from an elegant country house, but with the added bonus of a stunning view of London. Whether you opt for the opulent setting of the Mountbatten Room or the outdoor beauty of the Terrace Room, it is an excellent choice for any wedding.
With so many beautiful locations within the club, it’s also a favourite for London wedding photographers. From poses on the grand staircase to the old club ambience and motoring details of many of the rooms, it offers plenty of photo-worthy spaces.
It was an honour to be asked to photograph Samira and Ian’s wedding day and I wish them a very happy life together.
Here are some of the photos from the day.