Dancing with knives – my favourite wedding tradition of 2014

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Time to cut the cake!

As a wedding photographer I am in the enviable position of being invited into many different kinds of weddings from people with varied backgrounds. I’ve covered gay and non-denominational weddings, Catholic weddings, Orthodox weddings, Jewish weddings, Persian, Greek, Italian, Sikh, French Canadian, Irish and more and I always take great pleasure in being able to peer into the lives and traditions of people I may not have even met face-to-face before their wedding day. I consider it an honour to be among their guests and I try to use my photography to honour their celebration in return.

I must admit, I particularly enjoy the bursting colours you find in Indian weddings, and the lively dancing and singing at some of the bigger Jewish weddings I’ve covered. But this year I experienced a few Persian weddings and I loved it. If you’ve never had the luck to attend a traditional Persian wedding, you are in for a treat. In addition to having a disproportionately large share of good-looking people, the ceremonies of a typical Persian wedding are very interesting to observe if you are from another tradition – and there are many great visual opportunities if you are hired to photograph one.

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May your marriage be filled with light, goodness and wisdom

At the head of the room where the ceremony will take place there will be a fantastic spread of all manner of foods, sweets and ornate trays and serving vessels called the “Sofreh-ye Aghd” laid out on a blanket before where the couple will sit.  These objects will sit on a special cloth that may have been handed down through family tradition from mother to daughter for many generations. This is called a “Termeh” (cashmere), “Atlas” (silk with golden embroidery) or “Abrisham (silk). There will also be candles on each side of a mirror that will face the couple, symbolizing light, fire, goodness and wisdom.

During the reception, leading up to the traditional cake-cutting ceremony there will be a knife dance called the “Raghse Chaghoo”. It is a sensual, coy and playful dance initiated by one of the bridesmaids who holds the knife and asks for and is given some money from the couple. The first dancer dances before the couple presenting, then holding back the knife a few times before passing it on to the next dancer who does the same, and so on throughout all the willing dancers until the knife is finally given to the couple, who can then proceed to cut their cake.

It’s a gorgeous tradition and the dances will stir even the most somnolent of guests.

I’m looking forward to discovering & photographing new wedding traditions in 2015 like this one.