This Persian Celebration—Held at an Oasis of a Garden in California—Had the Most Impressive "Sofreh" Spread
When Anusha connected with Yalda on a dating app in 2018, he realized they had a dozen or so mutual friends—so he had the perfect opening line: "How have we never met before?" The two changed that right away, and after drinks turned into dinner, which turned into a second date, Yalda knew she'd met the man she was going to marry.
A year-and-a-half later, on September 7, 2019, they gathered nearly 150 of their loved ones to celebrate their love at Filoli gardens in Woodside, California. For their Persian ceremony, the pair kept it classic with romantic colors (antique pink, mauve, maroon, crimson, and white) and personal touches, like an impressive sofreh spread curated by Yalda's mother. "Sometimes weddings can be all about the show, but we didn't want that vibe," Yalda explains of her and Anusha's big day. "We just wanted it to be elegant, simple, and romantic, with every element speaking to the emotions of the day or to our personalities."
To do so, the pair wrote their own vows, and packed the night with heartfelt speeches from their friends and family. But most importantly, when it came to planning, they moved quickly—and kept outside opinions to a minimum. "We planned our wedding in about eight months, which is a short amount of time to pick the venue, set a date, and get a dress, so it wasn't easy!" Yalda explains. "We limited outside input to just close family whose input and taste we really appreciated, but mostly kept it between us so every element would truly be a reflection of us." And as the pair swayed during their first dance to "Can't Help Falling in Love," they knew that it absolutely was.
The venue's lush florals inspired the romantic letterpressed and calligraphed Grey & Cake stationery suite, which included the neutral color scheme and a custom illustration that was meant to communicate unity, love, and beauty; the symbol went beyond the traditional monogram or crest that is typically made up of letters.
The couple chose the historic Filoli gardens for their ceremony and reception because it was "a little slice of Europe in California," Yalda says. "We were looking for a venue that was upscale, but not stuffy; romantic, but still wild; natural, but still refined; and above all, had character." It was also close to Yalda's family, which was important to the couple.
Yalda knew she'd wear a Monique Lhullier wedding dress—hers is the "Willow," a silk trumpet silhouette with embroidered appliqués—ever since her sister wore one for own wedding 12 years ago. Her best shopping advice for brides? "Definitely limit who comes with you when you're serious about finding the dress, and limit it to people whose taste is like yours," she says. "You don't want people who don't have similar style putting doubt in your head, since the dress should be a reflection of your style and vibe."
Anusha wore a custom classic black tuxedo by Balani without any other accessories—except for his new gold wedding band and a striking red boutonnière.
Lush First Look
The pair shared their first look in the garden house on the property. "I was so excited for Anusha to see me," Yalda says. "When I did see him, he brought me so much calm, and I just thought, 'This is everything I ever wanted in a man.'"
Surrounded by Love
Bridesmaids wore blush dresses of their choosing, while the groomsmen kept it classic—and matched the groom—in black tuxedos.
Yalda's four-year-old niece, Nava, served as flower girl during the ceremony, and wore a blush-colored tulle dress. "Everyone was nervous that [she] would trip and fall walking down the aisle by herself," she says. "But I knew she could do it, and she did it effortlessly!"
"Nava was so excited, that she threw all the petals in the air during her first few steps, and ran out of flowers by the mid-point, but her excitement over the flowers just added to her adorableness," recalls the bride.
During the ceremony, a string quartet played Elvis Presley's "Can't Help Falling in Love" as Yalda made her debut. Later, they played Antonio Vivaldi's "Violin Concerto in E Major" for the recessional.
Making an Entrance
Yalda wore two important pieces of jewelry from her father, who escorted her down the aisle. The first was a pearl and diamond bracelet he'd given her 10 years ago; she promised that she would wear it on her wedding day. "Around the same time, he had also gotten me a citrine pendant necklace surrounded by small diamonds that I have pretty much worn every day, and it only felt right to wear it on my wedding day," she says. "I always have my father close to my heart this way."
An elaborate sofreh, a ceremonial Persian wedding spread, defined the ceremony. "Every item on the sofreh is rich in history and signifies a blessing for the couple," Yalda explains. Although many Persian couples hire outside help to craft their sofrehs, Yalda's mother insisted on doing it herself. Hers featured Baccarat crystal candelabras, an embroidered "termeh," homemade sweets, and a mirror that the bride's parents used at their 1975 wedding in Iran.
The couple incorporated modern elements into the Persian ceremony. For instance, they wrote their own vows, during which they promised to love each other forever.
After recessing back up the aisle, the newlyweds stole away to bask in the afterglow of the ceremony—and to absorb everything that had just happened, together.
Meanwhile, Yalda and Anusha's friends and family wandered through the lush garden to the cocktail hour.
Dining Al Fresco
"I think every couple that got married before us at Filoli did dancing inside, but we wanted to have the entire wedding outdoors against the stunning backdrop of the historic mansion," Yalda explains of the reception setup. Gold chairs lent a gilded touch to the romantic space.
Studio Mondine crafted the party's florals, using a diverse, bold palette on the tablescapes.
Gold-rimmed plates marked each place setting, where guests sat down to a feast of beet salad, sea bass, beef tenderloin, and orecchiette.
The couple agrees that the toasts—from the best man, as well as Yalda's father and sister—were one of the most memorable parts of the night.
Sway with Me
Yalda and Anusha began their first dance to "Can't Help Falling in Love" before transitioning into a Persian dance.
And for dessert? I Do Wedding Cakes whipped up this three-tiered, flower-topped confection; Chantilly icing covered vanilla cake with banana and strawberry cream filling.
Yalda's father presented the couple with a special surprise on the big day: His 1955 Chevy Bel Air, the same car he drove to pick up his daughter from school every Friday. "When I see pictures of me on my wedding day in that car, I see my childhood," Yalda says. "And that's a very full-circle special feeling."
Photography, Sally Pinera
Event Planning, CMG Events
Flowers, Studio Mondine
Videography, YTM Studios
Officiant, Bahman Kalbasi
Stationery, Grey & Cake
Cake, I Do Wedding Cakes
Music, DJ PS
Rentals, Standard Party Rentals; Hensley Event Resources; La Tavola
Bride's Gown, Veil, and Shoes, Monique Lhuillier
Bridesmaids' Dresses, Eliza J; Aidan by Aidan Mattox
Groom's Suit, Balani
Lighting, Sound Image Productions