Finding true love is a rare occurrence – some would even call it a miracle. It’s even rarer to find a love story between two people from different cultures that they are deeply passionate about. This is the story of Aisea and Elmira – two loving, creative people whose souls found one another, and who blended their Persian and Tongan cultures in their relationship and on their wedding day.
Elmira and Aisea were married at the Union Hill Inn in Sonora, California. This location was the perfect blank slate for their traditions to come to life. An Occasion Events worked tirelessly to design and execute a wedding that incorporated Tongan dances, a Persian sugar ceremony, and more. As a photographer herself, Elmira trusted Kelsey Lauren to photograph their special day. Aisea and Elmira’s wedding was deeply rooted in tradition, love, and the beauty in people’s differences.
Two Cultures Fused
Aside from honoring Persian and Tongan traditions, Elmira and Aisea aimed for a rustic, boho vibe. Crystal pieces, dried florals, and a trendy hat were all showcased in this beautiful flat lay.
Elmira described her dream wedding dress as something comfortable, flowing, and elegant with a boho vibe. Her Allure Bridal gown proved to be the exact right choice for her.
On the 7th dress that I tried on, [the feeling] was instant. I was so moved with emotion that I started crying in front of the women that accompanied me that day. I guess you can say that the dress chose me.
The groom and groomsmen wore an article of Tongan dress, a mat wrapped around the waist, called Ta’ovala. The wrap/skirt underneath the Ta’ovala is called a tupenu. A friend of the Taimani family custom-made all the tupenus for the groom, groomsmen, and the wedding officiant to wear for the wedding.
The Sofreh Aghd is a traditional Persian wedding ceremony spread. Each element symbolizes a form of protection and prosperity for the soon-to-be-married couple.
Almonds represent abundance, a needle and thread represent the union of two families, and candles signify clarity for the couple. We absolutely adore the beauty of this tradition!
A Tongan-Persian Union
Processional: “Malo Eiki” Written by: Haileni Penisini // Performed by: Minor Islands
Recessional: “Eiki Koe ‘Ofa A Au” // Traditional Tongan Hymn // Performed by: Minor Islands
First Dance: “So Sure” by: Aisea Taimani (Unreleased) Written by: Aisea Taimani and sang to Elmira when he proposed to her on that rainy Sunday afternoon on December 13th, 2020.
Aisea stood with is jaw on the floor as he watched his beautiful bride walk down the aisle.
Our most memorable moment of the wedding day happened during our ceremony. We had over 30 people that consisted of artists, poets, musicians, singers to help us share our story. The room was packed and it was clear that this was the first time in a while that many of us have gathered under one roof.
After the official welcome, the choir sang a cultural Tongan hymn about love & forgiveness to open up the ceremony. What happened in that moment will stay with us for the rest of our lives. When the choir in the back started singing to the front of the room, members of the bridal party in the front joined in and started to sing along towards the back of the room. This created a surround sound choir for all who were caught in the middle of this musical storm. Soon, a domino effect happened and people in attendance, who also knew this song also joined in, singing passionately, full of heart and emotion, creating a powerful tornado of harmony.
For the few minutes that we sang, eyes were closed, hearts were open and time stood still.
Strangers became friends, friends became family and 2 became 1. This moment was a breath of life, where every person in that room belonged to one another and all was well.
The hour-long wedding ceremony included the tradition of the Persian sugar rubbing ceremony. This ritual involves women holding a Unity Cloth over the couple while sugar is sprinkled above them. This tradition is performed to help invite sweetness into the new marriage.
From the ceremony to the reception, the food to the music, there was not a note, color, or texture that was not thought through. This was our movie, written, directed, and produced by us.
Both sides of the wedding party looked absolutely stunning when shown side by side. Sheer proof that nothing will ever be as in-style as remaining true to yourself!
Aisea and Elmira looked as though they were on Cloud 9 in their post-ceremony photos. The love between them is palpable!
Boho elements like clay vases and dried florals lined the wooden reception tables. The look was rustic, chic, and beautifully down to earth.
Our advice about planning your wedding is to be intentional. Create an experience that reflects your values, honors your story, and celebrates your communities. Have fun and invite your friends and family members who can help you curate a wedding that authentically reflects you both. Lean into one another during the challenging times and learn how to work as a team.
The dessert table was decorated with three different wedding cakes for guests to choose from.
As creatives, we collaborated to re-imagine a wedding that would honor where we both come from, our faith, and our communities. We invited loved ones to help us design and curate an experience that would embrace our love for each other, unite our beloved communities and celebrate our cultures.
What an amazing wedding celebration! Congratulations to Aisea and Elmira from the whole team here at GWS!
photography: Kelsey Lauren Photo // venue name: Union Hill Inn, Sonora, California, USA // event design: An Occasion Events // planning: An Occasion Events // florals: An Occasion Events // wedding dress: Trudy's Allure Line (Style L58) // hairpiece: Amaroq Design // bride's shoes: ASOS // bride's ring: The Art of Jewels // bridesmaid dresses: Amor Dresses // hair stylist: Erica Villanueva // makeup artist: Erica Villanueva // groom's ring: The Art of Jewels // videography: Aaron the Nomad // paper goods: Ginko Gold // handmade details: Elmira Taimani // catering: Borage Family Dinners // cake: Butter and Cream Bakery