October 11, 2007
Iranian couples trapped by six-figure party dilemma
(Page 2 - Previous Page)Another group, Woodland Hills-based Mayan Kheset, provides silk flower centerpieces in lieu of real flowers. The organization's volunteers drop off and pick up the arrangements, and only ask that couples donate the money they would have spent on flowers.
"We encourage people to try to support a wedding of an orphan in Israel," said Hirbod Cohentoe, Mayan Kheset's founder. "We encourage couples not make their weddings so fancy, but donate some of the money to Israel or their favorite Jewish charity."
While many local activist and religious leaders are trying to encourage Iranian Jewish families to have smaller weddings, others are calling for more radical steps to be taken.
"I have always wanted to see a revolution occur in the community when two or three affluent families that everyone knows very well, invite only 200 or 300 close relatives and friends for their weddings," Aramnia said. "This will cause others who are trying to 'keep up with the Joneses' to copy them, and it may help solve our problem."
Despite the community's struggles to keep with old traditions and grapple with the high cost of weddings, experts said the pressure on young couples to have larger weddings is common in almost every culture worldwide.
"Well, there's an old saying, 'Every woman gets to plan a wedding -- her daughter's,'" said Dr. Sharona Nazarian, an Iranian Jewish psychologist. "It's not just because we're Persian or Jewish that we're concerned. It's universal, something that many brides and grooms have to deal with."
While members of the local Iranian Jewish community said they were not opposed to those who had the financial means to have expensive weddings, they hoped others without such means would reconsider spending when they have to incur large debts.
"If someone can comfortably afford to spend lavishly on the wedding, that is their choice," Nazarian said. "But it's also important for families to work within their own means and be more concerned with their own needs as opposed to what others think about them."
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