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Welcome to the second installation of our Persian Jewish wedding customs blog-series! We’ll be continuing from where we last left off which was about “Before the Wedding” and will discuss the ceremony for a Persian Jewish wedding.
On the Jewish side of traditions:
The Khuppah (also spelled as chuppah)
Much like the western tradition where the wedding party begins the procession followed by the bride, after the Ketubah signing ceremony, the Jewish wedding ceremony begins with the procession of friends and family, followed by the bride and groom. The Khuppah is a canopy symbolizing the home the couple will build together. It is under the Khuppah where the couple along with their parents will stand for the duration of the ceremony. Couples can decide to decorate their Khuppah to match their wedding theme and can be as elaborate as they want.
During the ceremony: Kiddushin and Sheva Brachot (Seven Blessings)
The Kiddushin is where the groom will place a ring on the bride’s right index finger thus marking them as husband and wife. You can opt to do a double ring ceremony where you can also place a ring on the groom’s right index finger. The Sheva Brachot (Seven Blessings) are good wishes for the couple that are recited by the rabbi or shared among honored guests. The entire ceremony is spoken in English, Hebrew and Farsi.
Breaking of the Glass
Probably one of the most popular features of a Persian Jewish hybrid wedding is when the groom shatters cloth-wrapped glass with his right foot. At the sound of broken glass, guests yell, “Mazal Tov!” and this concludes the ceremony. Although there are many meanings behind the breaking of glass, it is thought to commemorate the destruction of the Holy Temple in Israel.
On the Persian side of traditions:
Persian wedding ceremonies have two parts: the first is the “aghd,” where we witness the bride and groom sign a legal contract. The second part is the wedding reception known as “Jashn-e-Aroosi” which traditionally lasts from 3 to 7 days, but many couples are opting to have both parts take place the same day.
The aghd ceremony takes place on a a beautiful and elaborate spread on the floor or on a raised platform/stage called the “sofreh aghd.” Since there are many components to the sofreh aghd, we have it all mapped out in a separate blog, “Persian Weddings: Sofreh Aghd“
(Image: Luna Photo. From one of our weddings at the Darlington House! See more here. It was featured on Style Me Pretty as well )
So you’re trying to plan a Jewish Persian wedding, and you don’t know where to begin. You’d be surprised at how similar both cultures can be when it comes to the wedding traditions. We are going to break the process down so it doesn’t seem so complicated (or scary!).
Both celebrate a formal engagement process involving both the bride and groom’s families. You can practice and incorporate both sides, or you can “pick and choose” based on how traditional you and your groom want to be. As a Persian Jewish or Jewish Persian bride, you really can get the best of both worlds!
The Formal Engagement/Proposal
Before getting the “on-bended-knee proposal” your groom will probably be going through your family first.
The Persian traditions:
It’s a two-step process, “khastegari” and the “second khastegari.” The first khastegari ceremony is where one or more of the groom’s family members visits the bride-to-be’s family to introduce themselves for the first time. This meeting comes with no obligations or commitments to a marriage–it’s just a meet and greet; sometimes you can have more than one khastegari/meet-and-greet if the man and his family feel it is required.
For the second khastegari, a marriage proposal is made by the intended-groom and his family! Traditionally, the bride’s family will welcome the suitor and his family into their home. The bride’s family will discuss what makes her an attractive wife, and the groom’s family will do the same. Then, the bride’s father will announce that tea will be served, and the bride will serve it for her guests. Afterwards, the newly engaged couple will have some alone time to discuss their future (and wedding plans!).
Since most couples usually meet on their own now, as opposed to their families fixing them up, the first and second khastegaris can be done in one day.
Now… for the “engagement fun!”
Bale Boroun: the ceremony publicly announcing your engagement! Here is where the groom’s parents will give a gift to the bride, traditionally a cloth to be made into your wedding dress and a ring.
Majless: Takes place at the bride’s home, it is when the couple (with the help of their family) decides what the “gift of love” will be, also known as mehriye, and the wedding date.
Namzadi (THE ENGAGEMENT CEREMONY!!!!): This is where you and your groom will exchange rings, and then proceed to party & celebrate!
Shirini Khordan: Don’t party too hard because you still need to do “Shirini Khordan” a.k.a. the sharing of refreshments. This can be done during the namzadi as well, but you’re basically eating sweets (cookies, chocolates, fruits/nuts, tea, desserts) with your guests to symbolize the sweetness in your marriage.
The Jewish traditions:
Choose a date… with the help of your Rabbi! Your Rabbi will be well-versed on which dates in the Jewish calendar are not available for your wedding. For example, you can’t really plan your wedding on a Saturday because of the Holy Sabbath, but you can if you wait until sunset to begin the ceremony and festivities.
Now it’s time to get engaged officially! To put it simply, a contract, Te’naim, containing your wedding date and financial obligations between both families, is read aloud by your Rabbi or close friend. Then, the mothers of the bride and groom break a China plate to seal the agreement. Then a party is thrown immediately afterwards! Yay!
According to Jewish law, the Te’naim is a mutual agreement between the bride and groom’s parents of the couple’s intention to marry, and it carries a lot of weight! (Note: this is an Orthodox Judaism practice.)
Eirusin, Kiddushin, and Nissuin (this 3-step process has gone from a year-long period to happening within minutes under the chuppah [bridal canopy representing the couple's future home]. So we will share this information here, but for the most part, the Eirusin, Kiddushin, and Nissuin will happen on your actual wedding day.)
Put a ring on her! This symbolizes that the groom wants to take the bride off the market.
You (the bride) accept the ring! (Note: this is VERY similar to when you exchange vows and rings during a traditional Western ceremony)
Share the home (the chuppah) and make that marriage official… with a kiss!
The next step of the wedding process is coming soon! Keep an eye out for that on our blog!
Before The Jewish Wedding
“Tena’im” is the actual Yiddish name for an engagement.In the culture, it carries a great deal of weight, and even more so than the American culture. It binds you in the realm of a legal Jewish status. There is a signing that takes place at what the Jewish people refer to as “the groom’s table”. The reading of the “Tena’im” is given either by a dear friend of the groom’s or a Rabbi.
Te’naim is a contract between the parents of the bride and groom.
It reverts back to the third century C.E.; It is predominantly done through the orthodox custom.
Eirusin refers to the ring being given. In essence, the bride cannot wed anyone else.
Kiddushin means the ring is now accepted.
Nissuin refers to the couple sharing a home together.
It ends with a festive party with the bride, groom, and their parents, as they celebrate the wonders of this new chapter. More often than less, it is kept private with direct family.
In a Jewish wedding, many traditions take place, which have been implemented for centuries, since biblical times. One in particular, is a well known custom in their ceremonies.
After the official signing of husband and wife, also known as the “ketuba”, the bride and groom follow their fathers and the rabbi into a separate room, referred to as the “bride’s chamber”. This is for the veiling of the bride, also known as “badekan”.
This tradition reverts back to many centuries ago, in the bible, when the apostle, Jacob, who put all his effort to marry Rachel, was left to discover that her father just so happened to do a switch on them, and offered up Leah, his other blind daughter to be his wife.
So, this of course breaks the American tradition of avoiding to see the bride before the ceremony. The Jewish people beg to differ, and many might agree, that centuries of tradition, would justify their desire to be sure ,that in fact, that their bride-to-be is not the sister, or the neighbor, for that matter.
Style Me Pretty California selected Erica and Matt’s Jewish-American wedding at the Darlington House in La Jolla to be featured on their prestigious blog! We’re really excited to be recognized by Style Me Pretty, as it is a well-known resource for wedding inspiration. Thanks to the amazing vendors we worked with and the gorgeous couple, Erica and Matt, for making this possible.
To see the feature, click here. Please share the link and your thoughts on the wedding!