We had the opportunity to attend an Iranian wedding party with our couchsurfing host Hamed. It was just across the road from our host’s house in the village of Nasroleh Mahaleh, near Fouman in Gilan Province. The bride was in a typical white western style wedding dress and had her hair unveiled (!!) but that’s where the similarities with weddings as we know them ended. There were hundreds of people there, it seemed the entire village was present, but instead of sitting around tables, everyone sat on chairs in rows facing the stage at the front. Many people were also standing at the back. It was outside but there was an open sided marquee set up.
We sat nearish the back and watched the bridegroom and other guys dance up on the stage. They were dancing Persian style and we think the guys were trying to impress the single ladies. They could certainly move and groove in ways quite foreign to us kiwis! We missed most of the girls dancing which was before we arrived but saw the bride groove a little as the night went on. The music was loud and people chatted amongst themselves.
The wedding was during the Noruz holiday so there were many younger people back from the big cities to see their families in the village and catch up with each other. We met some of Hamed’s friends who were also very good at English. One particularly well dressed, confident guy spoke to us about his life in Tehran and involvement in ‘network marketing’. He had given up whatever his other job had been and was focusing solely on network marketing, something akin to Amway. We were surprised to hear these kind of pyramid schemes were popular in Iran, although they also join the long list of illegal things apparently. Hamed wasn’t interested in getting involved (to the disappointment of his friend) and we shared his views about the awkwardness they can create when friends and family become targets for marketing.
During the night we also met one of the boys Hamed was teaching English to, possibly around 10 years of age. He practiced some basic English with us and was very mature and respectful when relating to us. We were impressed! Apparently he was a wonderful Koran singer but the wedding party wasn’t quite the place to demonstrate this to us!
At one point during the night all the male guests lined up and approached the stage to hand over their envelopes with money to the married couple. Hamed and Antony took our gift up and handed it over. Antony was a little surprised to get kissed on both cheeks by the groom!
Sometime after 11pm it was time for dinner. First drinks were passed around (non-alcoholic of course!) then helpers came round carrying large trays of polystyrene boxes filled with individual meals. These were passed down the rows of people and then eagerly consumed. According to our host the chicken and rice dish guests received was very typical food for a wedding. Almost all the weddings they had been to, this was what they ate. After the meal we chatted with Hamed’s friends and family then headed home to sleep, grateful for the experience.