That time I was invited to an Iranian wedding

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I already wrote about the greatest treasure of Iran which is the hospitality of its people. Iranians love foreigners and when you visit their country, locals will talk to you anytime they find the opportunity. Most conversations even follow with an invite to their homes. Or, if you are as lucky as I was, you may be even invited to an Iranian wedding. If this happens to you, be ready to say yes! Attending an Islamic wedding in Iran was definitely one of the highlights of my trip.

 

that time I was invited to an Iranian wedding

 

As soon as I sat alone in the bus from Kashan to Isfahan, the smiling girl sitting next to me initiated the conversation. After a few minutes of small talk (Where are you from? Are you married? Do you have Instagram?), she asked me where I was going to stay in Isfahan. When I told her I hadn’t booked any room yet, she asked without thinking twice: “Do you want to stay in Isfahan with me and my family?”

At first, I hesitated. I didn’t know anything about this girl. I also wondered if her family would be ok having me, a complete stranger, in their house. But she kept insisting, telling me how much she and her family loved guests. She said they would be really happy to host me.

Had this happened to me in any other country, I am sure I would have politely declined. I would have been worried that maybe what she really intended was stealing my money (or my kidney!). But after a week in Iran, I already knew that when Iranians say they love guests, they really mean it and expect nothing in exchange. So I decided to embrace the adventure and accepted the invitation. Little did I know, Razie’s family would host me like I was her own daughter. The time I was about to spend with them would be the best part of my trip to Iran.

 

Razie and I became good friends.

Despite our very different cultural backgrounds, Razie and I became good friends.

 

From traveling alone to finding a family in Isfahan

 

When we arrived to Isfahan, Razie’s father came to pick us up. As soon as I saw his kind face, I knew I had taken the right decision staying with them! Even though he could not speak any English, he made sure to make me feel welcome. Only a few minutes after we got into the car, he asked me if I wanted to join his family in his nephew’s wedding that was a couple of days later. I was not sure if he was serious. But I was obviously curious about attending an Iranian wedding, so once again, I said yes!

The next couple of days at Razie’s home were amazing. She and her family went out of their way to make me feel good. They showed me around Isfahan, introduced me to more family members and friends, fed me A LOT of amazing home-made Iranian food and more. They did all of this without accepting payment for anything. I was completely overwhelmed by their hospitality. I could not believe that these people, who barely knew me, were doing all of this for me.

The night before the Iranian wedding, I told Razie I had not brought anything sophisticated enough to wear. She opened her wardrobe and made me try some of her best dresses. Luckily for me, there was one that was exactly my size and suited me fairly well. Later that night, Razie and her sister were teaching me how to dance the Iranian way in their living room. I was ready for the party!

 

The Iranian wedding

 

  • Getting ready

On the wedding day I learned many interesting things about Iranian culture. One of them is physical appearance, which is really important in this country! Even though Iranian women are obliged to keep most of their body well covered, they still give beauty a lot of importance. You won’t ever see even the most religious and covered women without their lipstick.

Because beauty is important, getting ready for the Iranian wedding took us hours! In addition to lending me that beautiful blue dress, Razie, her mother and her sister also did my make-up and my hair (using a conventional iron for that and I am not even kidding!).

 

  • Gender segregation

But, no doubt, what struck me most about the Iranian wedding was to learn that men and women would remain segregated during the wedding celebration. A wedding where even the bride and groom cannot be together? Yes. Iranian weddings are like this!

For Islam it is not acceptable that men and women, who do not have a direct family relationship, to interact with each other or dance together. Because of this, they segregate men and women in different parties. The only good thing is that, since there is no risk of sin, women are allowed to dress as sexy as they want for once.

The truth is, it was quite a sight to see so many Iranian women in their night dresses, for one time freed from their hijabs and chadors. Being able to see them like this, in my opinion, was one of the greatest privileges of traveling to Iran as a woman. Sorry guys, but you will never be able to see all the beauty and elegance that Iranian women hide under their veils.

Although there is gender segregation, the only man who was allowed to visit the women’s party was the groom. He came only a couple of times to take some photos with the bride. When he did show up, most women in the wedding were hiding themselves until they were covered as they were afraid that the groom would see them without their hijab.

 

 

  • The dance

The wedding party started at 8:00 pm, but the dinner wasn’t served until 11:30 pm. While I almost starved, I realized unlike weddings in Europe, that are all about eating and drinking, Iranian weddings are all about dancing!

I really enjoyed dancing between women in the Persian style. But I have to say that the music wasn’t that good. It struck me that all the songs were played by men. I then learned of another shocking law in Iran that I did not know: women’s voices are banned in public. After the Islamic Revolution of 1979, some conservative clerics said women’s voices had the potential to trigger immoral sexual desire. Because of this, they banned all the women singing. Quite crazy in my opinion.

 

 

  • The food

As I said, food seems to be something completely secondary in Iranian weddings. It was served really late and we had to eat standing and in a hurry. The dinner consisted of some of the most typical Iranian dishes: kebab, different types of rice and salad. Nothing out of the ordinary. There wasn’t any cake and obviously no alcohol (which is banned throughout the country).

 

  • The party after

When we finished eating, I saw the women began to change their clothes and put on their hijabs again. I thought the party was over. However, the most exciting part of the night was yet to come. When I got into the car thinking we were going back home, I realized that the real party was in the street. This time, with men and women all together (although women were already well covered).

The tradition is after the wedding, everyone accompanies the bride and groom to their new home, stopping several times in the middle of the road to sing, cheer and dance with the couple

Once we were in the new house, I was shocked to see a little sheep that they were sacrificing in honor of the new marriage. When Razie saw my face of terror, she justified it, saying that “this is what tradition dictates.” After the sacrifice, we all went up to see the house and take some pictures with the bride and groom.

Iranian wedding

Posing with the bride and groom after the Iranian Wedding.

 

Attending an Iranian wedding was a very interesting experience that taught me many things about Persian culture. I don’t have enough words to express my gratitude to Razie and her family for allowing me to participate in this beautiful celebration and for welcoming me into their home as if I were part of their family.

Thank you for teaching me the real meaning of hospitality and that friendship and love are not separated by culture, religion or language. Before my trip I had read many stories about Iranian hospitality, but I never imagined that I myself would travel to Iran alone and return three weeks later with a second family.

 

 

Ana

Ana comes from Southern Spain, but you will hardly ever find her there. After a few years living in Germany and Ireland, she found out life without sun was not worthy for her! Now she lives in Istanbul where she teaches Spanish and writes about things she loves.

23 Comments:

  1. This post was really interesting. I loved reading about the hospitality that Razie’s family showed you and was also surprised about the gender segregation at the wedding. But what an amazing experience.

    • Thank you so much, Amanda! Iranian hospitality is really way too much, much more than I could have ever expected! I also didn’t know about the gender segregation but it was such an interesting experience 🙂
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  2. I would love to visit Iran one day, and your post gave me even more wanderlust! What an incredible experience to get to spend your time there in a family setting. And how kind of them to invite you to the wedding! Such a privilege to have the opportunity to get to see it first hand. Thank you for sharing your experience!

    • Thank you for your words, Marissa! I know, I was so lucky meeting Razie and all the people I encountered during my three weeks. I had high expectations about Iranian hospitality but they were by far exceeded. I hope you can go someday!
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  3. That must have been so much fun! I love how you made friends so easily and how hospitable and welcoming they were. And they did a great job with the hair and makeup – you look stunning! I’m sure the wedding was beautiful. The bride and groom look great 🙂

  4. Thank you so much, Kristine! Yes, I really enjoyed all of the experience, including getting ready for the wedding with the ladies, they really did a good job (as I don’t usually wear that much make up, but for an Iranian wedding it was a must… haha).
    Ana recently posted…But why visit Iran?My Profile

  5. Oh Iran, you never cease to amaze with your hospitality. This sounds like a blast, so cool that you got to see it! And the image of all the ladies finally getting to let their hair loose and do whatever they want and dress how they will is great 🙂

    • Thank you so much, Alex! Yes, seeing so much uncovered beauty and dancing with the ladies was a blast and an experience I will never forget! By the way, love your blog and your crazy adventures, enjoy India 🙂
      Ana recently posted…But why visit Iran?My Profile

  6. You are spot on when you say “when Iranians say they love guests, they really mean it and expect nothing in exchange.” — we really don’t! The satisfaction and happiness comes from the joy of hosting. In our blood 🙂 Thank you for sharing your experiences. Hope many more people visit our beaut country.

  7. oh wow what an amazing experience. I’m a bit jealous tbh hahaha.

  8. What a nice story 🙂

    I had an Indian guy and a Belgian girl in my wedding too. Although my wedding was not a segregation one cause we are not religious type of Persians.
    It really depends on the bride and groom’s families to serve the alcohol or not.

    Wish you many more amazing experiences ahead!

    • Thank you so much Pegah! You are so nice inviting foreigners to your wedding, that is a great experience for us. I learned a lot about Iranian culture in the wedding and I must admit I did not even miss alcohol that much… haha. Many great experiences for you too!
      Ana recently posted…But why visit Iran?My Profile

  9. Great that upu enjoyed. Anyway Iranian have many different wedding cultures depending on how rich, or how religious they are. For example some have mix party of men-women, have dj with a woman singer (all are illegal but people do it secretely), or have many other dishes and deaderts for dinner.

    • Thank you for your comment, Azi! I am happy to know that there are non segregated weddings too, where you can all enjoy together and even listen to female singers, that is great! Hopefully next time I visit Iran, I get invited to a wedding like this… haha 🙂
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  10. As an Iranian it does really make me feel good to see foreign people come to Iran and get a lot of good memories about our hospitality and culture and Cuisine,
    To be honest because of our government most of people around the world they don’t want to come to Iran but I really appreciate people like you to share your memories with another people to introduce reall Iran .

  11. Regarding the men and women separation, need to mention more than 90 percent of the wedding that I was attended in iran men and women were not seprated. It depends on the family customs and city to another city it’s different. In addition need to say thanks again to share your wonderful time in iran in your blog. I wish see you again here. Cheers.

    • Hi Mehrdad, that is great that you have attended non-segregated weddings. I was told that they were forbidden, but good to know that people get around and can celebrate together. No need to thank me, I had an amazing time and want to promote travel to Iran and tell the world how safe and wonderful this country is!
      Ana recently posted…But why visit Iran?My Profile

  12. Its should be noted that the sheep at the end is being butchered for some sort of charity.

  13. 😍😍😍😍😂😂 I see this writing for the first time… Excuse me for starve… But you don’t say I like hijab❤❤😘

    • My pretty girl!!! Thank you for your comment 🙂 I only starved in the wedding a little bit, but not in your house, where I ate sooo much! (and so much delicious food!). Yes, you like hijab, but I loved seeing your beautiful hair with no hijab haha. Love you and miss you so much! ❤
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