My big day, dad, and the canary yellow suit
MY DAD refused to walk me down the aisle on my wedding day. I hit some serious dad-related snags on my big day. I’m not saying that my father didn’t get into the spirit of it. I’m just saying that on the morning of my wedding, he invited some people I had never met to our house for a breakfast barbecue and was still in his pyjamas when the car came to pick us up for the ceremony.
We already had a bit of a skirmish when I had caught my dad out on the street inviting the Iranian neighbours – who had just moved next-door, and who I had yet to meet – to my wedding. Iranian culture is very much
“the more the merrier”, and “a stranger is a friend you haven’t met yet”, and “I’ll invite random people to my daughter’s wedding if the mood takes me”, but I did not want to have “My Big Fat Iranian Wedding”.
We Iranians are an exuberant people who will generally enjoy nothing more than getting a rabble together for a party. I remember being at an Iranian get together in Germany in my teens when the police were called because it was so noisy. Somewhere in my piles of old pictures, there is a photo of the two German policemen with their arms outstretched and their hips in a twirl as we taught them Persian dancing.
My Iranian ancestors turned in their graves as I went next door and, as politely as I could, told the new neighbours that my dad was out of his tree and there was no room for extra guests at my wedding. They were very understanding.
I tried to carry on my stressful – I mean special day. My aunt did my hair and make-up, my best friend poured champagne, and once I was in my beautiful frock, my big brother, my comrade-through-childhood, entered in his smart suit and saw me, his baby sister, in all my wedding finery, and said: “Shap! Do I look OK?”
I ended up screaming at my dad to get ready. We were late. I sat on the step in my dream meringue, thinking how glad I was that I was marrying an English man whose family would have been ready an hour after they woke up.
He came down, my father, eventually, wearing a canary yellow suit. The suit swamped him, and you could see it from the moon. I banned the suit, made him change and marched him into the car with my mum and brother, with steam coming out of my nostrils.
In the car, I told my dad that he had to walk me down the aisle.
My father had been to a few British weddings, but he’d always been late and missed the ceremonies, arriving just in time to catch the party afterwards. So he had no idea what I was talking about, and I had to explain.
The tradition of “giving away” a bride doesn’t exist in Iranian culture. He arched an eyebrow: “I give you away? Like you are property? You are not property to ‘give away’!” En route to my wedding, I had no time for feminism and was about to combust before my brother said: “I’ll do it, Shap – it’s not Dad’s thing.”
So in the end, my brother walked me down the aisle, my father changed back into his canary yellow suit after the pictures were taken, and the neighbours next door came to the evening do.
I had a quiet moment with my dad halfway through the day, where we sat far away from everyone together and I said: “Dad, what was this morning all about?”
And my little father, in his actually very gorgeous suit, said: “I don’t know. I just couldn’t really believe you were going to get married. It all felt too strange, too conventional for you.”
He was right. I wish I’d let him invite whoever he wanted, I wish I had wedding photos where we were all upstaged by his suit because it was, after all, my father’s big day too.
Shappi Khorsandi is a comedian and writer.