Our wedding is right around the corner. We’ve done the leg work: the venue, the DJ, the invites, the catering, our attire, and on and on the list goes. Here I’m thinking that all the hard work is done so now we just kick back and work out some little details. Whew, was I wrong! The real work has just begun.
I’m talking about the nitty gritty details of the actual ceremony. Being a non-Jew, I just had absolutely no idea what kind of intensity goes into the structuring of a Jewish ceremony. Yeah, I knew there would be ritual but my gosh. There is so much history behind each and every aspect of the ceremony. It makes my head spin trying to sort it all out. Thank goodness that our Rabbi is as awesome as she is or we’d be completely lost.
Here in lies the thick of it. Because Alx and I come from such different backgrounds and various other reasons, we have chosen to dissect every piece of the ceremony to make sure that each element that we choose to include has meaning for both of us. Well in order to do that, we have to understand the reason as to why the specific ritual is done in the first place. That’s where our Rabbi comes in and a handy little guide by Anita Diamant called The New Jewish Wedding. They both really break-it-down in an efficient, effective way.
So far, we’ve decided to include: the chuppah, the badeken, the ketuba, the giving of the rings, the seven blessings, the breaking of the glass, and the yichud.
The chuppah, or canopy, was an easy call. It symbolizes the home that the new couple will build together. We both thought this was a nice sentiment and it also adds a beautiful visual element to the ceremony especially since we’re having it outdoors.
We were a little wishy-washy on the badeken for a while but decided to include it in a more modern way. I’m not wearing a veil because really I just don’t do veils. It also isn’t happening before the ceremony. We decided to have a public private moment. It’s going to happen when we first enter the chuppah. Basically, we are going to have a moment of silence with our Rabbi and each other to take a breath and center ourselves.
One of the harder decisions for me was the ketuba. Long story short, I wasn’t jazzed about officially getting married in any sense because I really don’t need a piece of paper from the government or anyone else stating who I love. So on that line of thinking, why would I need or want a ketuba? In steps the genius of our Rabbi. She pointed out that if I thought about the ketuba simply as a piece of paper stating that we were married I wasn’t giving it the chance to be all that it could be. Our Rabbi challenged us to think of the ketuba as something we could mold to represent who we are and what our relationship means to us. We really went outside the box on this one but you’d have to read my other post, It Lives, to get the skinny on that.
The giving of the rings was a no-brainer. Come on, what girl doesn’t want to get a lovely bit of bling? Materialism aside, this held meaning for both of us. I can’t speak for Alx but I’ve always associated being married with wearing rings. I guess, for me, it’s a way of publicly showing my commitment to my relationship without having to say a word. Not that I need to do that but it’s also a little piece of Alx that I carry around with me wherever I go. Well, you know, besides our son.
We’re going to do the seven blessings because well, why not? Who wouldn’t want blessings and well wishes? This is one of the parts that we still need to work on. The traditional seven blessings have a bit of a disconnect for us so we are trying to come-up with something to supplement them. I know that there are a several things that could be done like asking friends and family members to give blessings and such. We just haven’t settled on anything that seems appropriate for us. Any ideas? I’m all ears.
Another easy call was the breaking of the glass. From what I understand, this has numerous meanings ranging from a symbolic gesture as a reminder of the destruction of the Temples in Jerusalem to symbolizing the breaking of the hymen and the consummation of marriage. Whatever the symbolism, it’s simply something Alx has always wanted to do because it’s just cool. I’m down with letting him have his moment.
The yichud seemed very practical and just made sense to us. Traditionally it’s directly after the end of the ceremony when the new couple are escorted to a special room where they are left in seclusion for a short time which signifies their new status as husband and wife. For us regardless of what the history of it is, it really seemed like a good idea. After literally being married, why wouldn’t one want to stop for a second and just be in the moment with the person that you are going to spend the rest of your life with? I actually think this ritual is kind of genius in recognizing the need to just breath and take it all in.
All-in-all, we’ve done a lot of work in sorting out the details but we still have so much to do. The most important thing to us is to make sure that each ritual that we include has significance for us. I think that we are slowly but surely headed towards a beautiful ceremony full of love and meaning for us both as well as for our friends and family.