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A Beautiful Desert Wedding Inspired by Iranian Culture and Handicrafts

By Shayna Seid | Photography by 

Omid Talebi Studio

Furniture and interior designer Sanaz Mianji and Ali Ahmadi met at their mutual friend’s birthday at Alleycatz Restaurant Lounge in Toronto on the dance floor. After eight years together, they decided to get married. “On the 8th of August in 2018, which was also our 7th relationship anniversary, our family gathered together, and we had a little engagement celebration at our home and made it official.”

When it came to their wedding aesthetic, Sanaz, like many brides, made herself a mood board of inspiration. “We wanted our wedding to be earthy, simple, and draw influence from Iranian culture and handicrafts,” she explains. They had taken a magical trip to the Mesr Desert for the Persian New Year and dreamt of celebrating their love in the middle of the Iranian Desert, “which was culturally out of prevailing political approaches and nobody had ever done such a wedding in Iran. But we accepted the challenge and decided to do it despite all the restrictions.”

To tie the knot, Sanaz had a vision to wear something simple and elegant in polka dot lace. “My dear dressmaker, Mrs. Amini, obliged, and it turned out to be a beautiful version of my everyday self,” the bride says. While it was easy finding her gown, her search for her emerald-cut diamond ring proved to be more difficult. She and Ali ended up flying to Dubai to have the ring custom-made by a friend of his uncle. 

Elyas Catering and Anoosheh Pirbadian helped the couple plan and coordinate their multi-day celebration. The evening before the ceremony, they held their Henna Bandan—an old Iranian pre-wedding ritual, where they danced, ate, played instruments, and painted everyone’s hands with henna. That night, they stayed in a traditional homestay in a desert village, and the the family who owned it welcomed them with the most delicious dinner called “Dizi” that was cooked for a day underground.

On the day of the ceremony, Sanaz got ready with Mona Talebi, who perfected the bride’s beauty look. However, the location of the service had to be moved last-minute due to a rare sand storm in the area. Finally, the area cleared, and everything was set back up.

“We had our beautiful ‘Sofre Aghd,’ which is the most important element of a traditional Persian ceremony. It represents elements and blessings for the couple’s new life together; however, we set it up in a non-traditional way,” Sanaz explains. “Once we shared our first kiss as husband and wife, we all toasted our wine glasses, and after spending some time there, we all headed up to the homestay to continue the party!”

The newlyweds entered their reception and had their first dance to the classic Persian wedding song “Aroosi” by Sattar, played by their DJ, Shibiza Recordings. Then the dance floor remained packed for the remainder of the night. The energy was so great that me and Ali couldn’t stop dancing, and some people ended up dancing on the roof!”

Once the day came to a close, guests walked back to the desert and sat around a bonfire, while Ali’s cousin played the Setar. “We all shared a beautiful and relaxing moment there, and our night ended in the most perfect way possible!”