Zhaleh and Erica first met online in 2012. Six years later in 2018, they tied the knot in a beautiful outdoor ceremony in Brooklyn, NY. Their wedding theme imagined if Zora Neale Hurston (author, anthropologist, and filmmaker whose works centered on the Black American experience) and Forough Farrokhzad (feminist Iranian poet) threw a garden party with a "sophisticated Harlem Renaissance parlour feel."
"For our guests, our wedding was a lot of 'firsts' . . . This is a memory that we cherish because this is how we live our lives every day, so it was very special to witness our loved ones experience this, too."
This wedding was filled with thoughtful details and traditions, as it was important to Zhaleh and Erica for the day to incorporate their personal values and represent their cultural backgrounds. For instance, Zhaleh's sister and aunties set up a sofreh aghd (a wedding table spread), a tradition of Iranian wedding ceremonies. They also had guests participate in khaleh ghand (which means "sugar cones"), an Iranian wedding tradition where guests grind large cones of sugar over the couple (protected by a lacy cloth) to bring sweetness to the marriage. Additionally, they jumped the broom, which is a custom in African-American weddings. "The love story of Zhaleh and Erica is one full of love and community and the many cultures that they blended together to become one!" Alicia Smith from ILE Events, who organized the wedding, told POPSUGAR.
"For our guests, our wedding was a lot of 'firsts': first multi-faith (Christian and Muslim) ceremony, first experience hearing Farsi poetry, first time experiencing a gospel choir — we had Lavender Light, the LGBTQ+ gospel choir sing — and for many guests their first lesbian wedding," Zhaleh and Erica wrote. "This is a memory that we cherish because this is how we live our lives every day, so it was very special to witness our loved ones experience this, too."
Beyond traditions, the couple were conscious about supporting small businesses and causes they are passionate about as they made wedding planning decisions. Every last detail was given thought and consideration, including Zhaleh's intricate lace top, which was beautifully crafted by Puyan Saheb Djavaher, an Iranian designer based in Berlin, and their venue location, The Brooklyn Society For Ethical Culture. In addition to a traditional registry, they invited people to give to the Audre Lorde Project, which supports LGBTQ+ people of color in NYC, and to Inter Pares, a Canadian charity that was a favorite of Zhaleh's late parents.
During the wedding, the atmosphere was one filled with love and emotions. "One of my favorite memories was walking down the aisle, hand in hand with Zhaleh, and seeing all of our friends, family, loved ones, and their children greeting us with big smiles, cheers, and tears," Erica told POPSUGAR. "It was extremely emotional (which you can see on my face in the pictures) and just filled with so much love." Keep reading to see the photos of the joyous occasion.