Wedding Tradition – Teheran, Iran

Malak went to a city school in Teheran. In the summertime which was three months long, her family went to stay at their country house. The country house was situated in a location called Ajeen Dogeen which is three hours outside of Teheran. Malak is one of several children however two of them died in the revolution. Her extended family which included many cousins came to Ajeen Dogeen for the summertime. This was a time for fun and recreation for her family.

Her most vivid recollection is celebrating a wedding in the village. Everyone who lived there was invited. Weddings started traditionally on a Wednesday night and lasted until Friday afternoon. The weddings were all arranged marriages. The bride and groom did not know each other particularly well.  The groom’s family was to discuss arrangements with the bride’s family in a very businesslike manner. The groom’s family paid Shir Baha. This is translated to mean “milk price” which is money given for security in case the husband dies or if the couple divorces. The more affluent the family, the more generous the Shir Baha. In addition the groom’s family paid for the wedding. The bride’s family contributed towards furniture for the new couple’s house. They were married according to Muslim tradition. The wedding was particularly loud however the only two instruments that were played were the flute and the drum. This celebration was very inclusive of all, and everyone in the community was involved for the three days. Malak herself was approached by a gentleman to marry her but her family declined. She subsequently immigrated to the United States.

It is ironic that the occasion seems so rigid and rule-bound yet it is such a community affair. One would expect such an affair that involved others to be welcoming but by the sounds of the business dealings between the families it sounds like quite the opposite.

It is unique to see that the groom’s family is the one pays for the expenses of the wedding. In the United States it is common for the bride’s family to take care of all the expenses incurred from the wedding.

I know that in many cases people who have arranged marriages learn to love each other. In some instances arranged marriages are successful because the people that are creating the arrangement have the best interests of the two individuals at heart. However personally I feel that marriage is a lifetime commitment and I would like the ability to choose my husband rather than having my husband pre-selected for me. It is not that arranged marriages are bad bur they are just originally based off other qualities with the factor of love absent.