It’s that time of year again! Summer? Well, yes, but it’s also WEDDING SEASON. After reading about Drew Barrymore’s wedding a few weeks ago, it occured to me that lots of you romance writers and readers might not know what a Jewish wedding looks like.
Because it’s different from the typical American wedding you see on TV. Keep in mind of course that there is no such thing as one standard Jewish wedding just as there is no standard Christian wedding. I’ll talk about my ownn traditional wedding since I’m most familiar with it.
The biggest way a Jewish wedding differs is that there is no exchange of vows. Nor is a Rabbi necessary. In fact, the only things you need for a Jewish wedding are a bride, a groom (and even that’s shifting in this world of same-sex marriages), a gold ring worth at least a few dollars and a ketubah.
So, Jewish wedding has two big acts. When guests arrive, and a Jewish wedding can be anywhere…beach, hotel, synagogue…. the men go to one room and the women go to another. The men gather around the groom telling ribald jokes and keeping his mind off his nerves. The women gather around the bride, who is often seated on a chair on a dais with her mother and future mother in law. Marital advice is given.
The men come dancing in to the women’s room with the groom toward the front. He will greet his bride. Ensure she is indeed the woman he intends to marry then place tthe veil over her face. Remember your bible story where Jacob is tricked into marrying Leah instead of Rachel. This modern practice has origins in that story of viewing your bride unveiled before the ceremony.
Once the Bedeken- or veiling is complete, all the guests go to the main room or the main ceremony. Groomsmen and bridesmaids are optional, and most modern brides opt to have them. I did. The groom will walk down the aisle accompanied by both parents. And both parents remain under the Chuppah ((wedding canopy) with him.
Then the bridesmaids come down followed by the bride accompanied by BOTH parents. Again the parents remain. This is one area where I think Judiaism does it well. A marriage is a coming together of two families so it makes sense to have everyone remain under the chuppah. Next comes a really unusual part…which you’ll learn about tomorrow.