Wedding ceremonies can be full of rituals and traditions that are commonplace but we often don’t know why our society partakes in them. Why does a bride wear white? What is the purpose of a veil? Was the diamond ring a marketing ploy by the diamond industry? Who the hell invented confetti?
Jewish wedding ceremonies are no exception. Why do we break a glass at the end of the ceremony? Does a Rabbi need to officiate? What’s the deal with the chuppah (wedding canopy)?
I’m afraid I don’t have all the answers. But I did stumble across this great resource for Jewish weddings: A Jewish Wedding Ceremony Guide. It was written by two entrepreneurs in the Jewish wedding industry in USA, although still completely relevant for us in Australia. It explains all the different Jewish rituals, customs and laws from the lead up to a wedding to after the wedding with links for further reading. It also gives egalitarian options and new traditions that some couples have embraced. For example, when drinking from a cup of wine in the wedding ceremony (which is a ritual to symbolize an abundance of joy and love), some couples have started to empty some wine from the cup, as is the custom at Passover of lessening our full cups as a call for justice for marriage equality.
As it turns out, the deal with the chuppah is that it is a symbol of the home the couple will build together. Just as a chuppah is open on all four sides, so was the tent of Abraham open for hospitality. The history of the chuppah is another interesting story altogether. In Biblical times, the Jewish wedding ceremony was done over two occasions. The ‘betrothal’ ceremony, or ‘kiddushin’ was done first and was a kind of engagement where the bride was promised be with groom, and only the groom! The second part, known in Hebrew as ‘nisuin’ was the actual wedding, and after the wedding, the couple would consummate their marriage in a chuppah. Needless to say we don’t live in Biblical times and Jewish weddings have evolved to being one ceremony, all taking place under the chuppah.
To grab a copy of the guide, please email me. Or email ketuv who are one of the producers of this guide. If you are interested in incorporating any of the Jewish rituals in your wedding, I am happy to oblige. I can also read and speak in Hebrew should you wish. Hope you enjoy this resource!