My Big Fat Iranian-American, Bahá’í -Catholic Wedding

I grew up with many cultural influences in my life as well as multiple religious influences. This blend of cultures an religions has been a blessing and part of my identity. It even because the pillars for planning my wedding and marriage.
* * * *
A little Background

I was raised in Wisconsin with the teachings of The Bahá’í Faith, the youngest of the world’s independent religions. Its founder, Bahá’u’lláh (1817-1892), is regarded by Bahá’ís as the most recent in the line of Messengers of God that stretches back beyond recorded time and that includes Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster, Christ and Muhammad. The central theme of Bahá’u’lláh’s message is that humanity is one single race and that the day has come for its unification in one global society.

My upbringing in my predominantly all-white, Christian region of Wisconsin was complimented by the traditions of the Iranian culture–language, food and music. While there are too many things to write about the Iranian culture, let’s just say I came home from school once to find a slow-cooker full of sheep’s brain. No joke. So as you can imagine, growing up was a juggling act between regular kid problems and managing these cultural and religious differences.

Boy Meets Girl and then Get Married

Fast forward to college where I met my now husband. I wish our story was as simple as ‘Boy Meets Girl and then Get Married’, but it was not. Boy met girl. Boy dated girl. Boy and girl moved to opposite ends of the planet for a few years, then found one another again and got engaged. While the details of this almost decade-long relationship aren’t important, what is important is to acknowledge that I found the most Midwest guy who, incredibly enough, embraced my multi-layered identity so much that sometimes I think he’s more me than I am!

While I make jokes about my life until now,, it has truly been a blessing having these different cultural and religious influences in my marriage. In fact, it even made our wedding and marriage more colorful that I could have ever imagined.

Marriage and Family Life
Bahá’ís understand that the family is the basic unit of society. Unless this all-important building block is healthy and unified, society itself cannot be healthy and unified. Bahá’u’lláh said marriage is “a fortress for well-being and salvation.” The Bahá’í writings further state that married couples should strive to become “loving companions and comrades and at one with each other for time and eternity…”. The process of preparation [for marriage] includes a requirement for parental approval of the choice of a spouse. This does not mean that Bahá’í marriages are arranged. Individuals propose marriage to the persons of their own choice. However, once the choice is made, the parents have both the right and the obligation to weigh carefully whether to give consent to, and thus guide, their offspring in one of life’s most important decisions. Bahá’ís believe that this requirement helps to preserve unity within the marriage–and within the extended family.

Bride and Groom - Iranian_American_Bahá'í_Catholic Wedding - Copyright Longing to Travel

Our wedding was a mix of all the various parts of us: Iranian, American, Bahá’í and Catholic. We chose parts of each culture/religion and adapted it into what made our wedding ceremony uniquely us.

Sofreh Aghd - Iranian_American_Bahá'í_Catholic Wedding - Copyright Longing to TravelWe chose to get married in front of a sofreh aghd, a traditional Iranian wedding spread. There are various items one can include as part of the sofreh aghd, which represent different things like fertility, health, wealth, love, etc.

Wedding Ceremony - Iranian_American_Bahá'í_Catholic Wedding - Copyright Longing to TravelWe also incorporated another Iranian tradition which is calls for a piece of fabric to be held (by women) over the heads of the bride and groom. The tradition calls for happily married women to grind cones of sugar over the heads of the bride and groom in order to ‘shower them with sweetness’. (Don’t worry, the cloth was over our heads, so no sugar fell on us!)

Simple Vows and Ceremony

“We will all, verily, abide by the will of God.”

Following these traditional Iranian customs, we chose to incorporate a few spiritual readings from both the Bahá’í and Catholic scriptures. In The Bahá’í Faith, the marriage requires only the simplest of ceremonies. In the presence of two witnesses designated by the local Bahá’í governing council, the couple recites the following verse: “We will all, verily, abide by the will of God.” Beyond these simple requirements, Bahá’ís are free to design their own marriage celebration. Depending on personal tastes, family resources, and cultural traditions, Bahá’í ceremonies run the gamut from small to large, including all manner of music, dance, dress, food and festivity.

Eftekhari-Brandon - 2012-09-29-

After that, in true American and Iranian style, we celebrated! There was food, a father-daughter/mother-groom dance, our first dance and of course an all-night dance party which included music from around the world.

* * * * A N S W E R  B E L O W * * * *
Have you been to a wedding that incorporated other cultural or religious elements?
If so, we want to hear your stories and see your pictures!

For more information about the Baha’i Faith, visit:

(Italicized Content Adapted From Here.)


5 thoughts on “My Big Fat Iranian-American, Bahá’í -Catholic Wedding

  1. Wishing you both all the best. I had a Baha’i wedding 27 years ago at the Baha’i House of Worship in Langenheim Germany. We were both American and both Baha’i. After much soul searching I made the decision to leave the faith and dedicate myself to Jesus Christ. I only now wish that our vows had been more than “we will all verily abide by the will of God”.
    The words “will you love her and keep her, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, will you keep to her only”, in other words a traditional Christian ceremony is what I would want now.


    1. Wow! I haven’t been to the temple in Germany yet, but it’s on my list! During my ceremony, we exchanged our own vows…but looking back I see that I wasn’t able to adequately express the love I had for my husband in just the few short lines I wrote. But I tell him and show him often and that is why I’m not too caught up with what wasn’t said during our vows. Hopefully you will find your own way to be at peace with your past. 🙂


  2. This was a beautiful read! Looks like it was a beautiful wedding, too. Lovely how you were able to combine and express so many layers of your identities. Three cheers for midwestern husbands – mine is from Chicago and we met in Indiana. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your post in the #MyGlobalLife Link-Up!


  3. I was in attendance at this very ceremony and it was the best, most moving, most celebratory way of meshing and acknowledging culture differences within a framework of love, admiration, and family. I was honored to be invited to share in this special day.


    1. Thank you for your kind words, Brian. We were humbled by your presence then and your words now. And yes, it really was a great night full of culture and love. Hope to see you guys this summer.
      – Pouneh & Chris


Leave a Comment Below

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s