Downton Abbey Portrays Reality of Interfaith RelationshipsBy Gerri Miller
Go inside Season 5 Episode 9 where the story line of Atticus and Rose's interfaith relationship comes to a head.Go To Pop Culture
Eleven days to go!
All of the details are starting to fall into place and it’s actually looking like we’re going to pull this wedding off. We’ve done so much work and there is still some to do. Clean the house, meet with the caterer, get the stuff to the venue…my gosh, it’s like running a marathon. Just when you think your cool for the home stretch, you come up against “the wall” gasping for breath with stabbing pains in your ribs. Well, it’s not quite that dramatic but you get the picture.
I’ve run into a little bit of a hurdle in our home stretch. Traditionally in a Jewish wedding vows are not said like in the movies when the blushing bride and groom look into each others’ eyes and proclaim their love before saying “I do”. The ketuba pretty much serves as the vows. Alx and I decided to go with reading the ketubah out loud before signing it to serve as us saying our vows. We wrote it together and it’s beautiful; however, we felt that something needed to be said when we exchange our rings. Maybe I’ve watched too many romantic comedies but whatever the reason I just couldn’t exchange the rings without saying something.
Herein lies the hurdle. What the hell am I supposed to say? Don’t get me wrong, I love the guy with all of my heart but how do you express that in a few sentences without sounding like it came straight from a cheesy romance novel? On top of that, there’s no “do you take this man/woman” stuff to fluff-out any literary shortcomings that my proclamation might have.
The real kicker is that I always bounce my writing off of Alx before putting it out into the great wide open but we decided it would be sweet to not know what each other is going to say. Damn, I didn’t think that one through.
So, I figured I’d hit-up the next best thing and ask you all what you think. Did you say something to your significant other? Is there something someone has said to you that you’d like to share?
In other words, HELP! My wedding is in eleven days and I’m supposed to say something earth shattering to the man I love and frankly, my mind is so bogged down with random details about everything else in life right now that I just can’t get it out. Your insight will be much appreciated. I look forward to being inspired.
So we got our marriage license today. May 7th. Exactly one month from the wedding.
How nutty is that?
Our list keeps getting smaller but for some reason it feel like it never ends. When I worked in the bookstore it felt like no matter how often I alphabetized the stacks or cleaned up the kids section, it would never be done. The next day I would have to start all over again. You know. Like homework. Well. That’s kind of what it’s like planning for a wedding. You turn a corner and boom. Double boom. Two more corners to turn.
I hated homework. In high school it was a chore. In college it was busy work. Now. Homework separates us from our wedding day.
We meet again with Rabbi Berman in a few days and I haven’t even looked at the list of things that we are supposed to have prepared. (She’s reading this now and thinking about how interesting our conversation will be when I tell her that we did it all last minute—Hi Rabbi Berman.)
And we’re talking important stuff here.
Since Lu and I just outright refuse to take things at face value it means that we will be crafting our own 7 blessings. We will be writing the Kettubah. We will be tweaking the language and we will be happy with it. But, man. There’s a lot to do!
So as I sit here knowing full well that the next month is going to be a rough ride I can’t help but think that I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The other night Lu and I talked about how it would be if I were marrying a Jew. Well. I probably would just take it all at face value. Jew to Jew means that you can kind of roll with the punches and take the easy route. I could take what was handed to me and just let it be the Jewish wedding that has happened for centuries. The fact that we are trying so hard to make sure that there is meaning in it for both of us makes it that much more awesome. I’m proud of what we are doing. We are taking a Jewish ceremony and making it have meaning for me, Jewishly and non Jewishly, and crafting the ceremony that Lu has always wanted.
Granted, we could never do this without the wonderful guidance of our Rabbi and community.
It’s a wonderful ride and I have every expectation that we will get an A+.
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.