Jan 31, 2010

Goin' to the Chuppah and We're, Gonna Get Married ...


I can't believe I did it. I just purchased a wedding gown off the internet, before viewing, before trying on, before anything. Now, I know what you're thinking, Are you crazy!? And yes, I am a little off my rocker, but it's hard to be a tzniut-style girl searching for a proper wedding gown. So I went to Nordstrom's at the advice of a few Twitter friends for my measurements, sent them off to the gown's e-store, heard back from a nice lady, and ordered the gown. It should get to me in approximately two to three business days. Talk about FAST service. I'm praying like you wouldn't believe that it's the ultimate, perfect wedding gown. I just have to get over the self-esteem shocker of ordering a wedding gown two/three sizes too big. What's the deal with that anyway? I mean, if someone wears a size 10 (not me, that's for sure), why should they have to buy a size 14 wedding gown? Don't you think brides have enough issues about size and shape on their mind that forcing them into a super-sized wedding gown will only make matters worse? Egads.

Anywho, at the advice of a friend from shul (and subsequently a few other friends from shul), I nabbed a copy of a classic Judaica book that, I was told, will enlighten not only me, but any family members with lingering questions or queries, about what to expect with an Orthodox wedding. The book? "Made in Heaven" by the illustrious Aryeh Kaplan. If you start out with the "dedications" page, you'll rest assured that this guy's advice is second to none -- the book is dedicated to the author's nine children! Obviously, Rabbi Kaplan knows his stuff, right?

I'm not one for touchy-feely books, and aside from tidbits here and there about the eternal bond of marriage and the future generations, the book is very readable, and I highly recommend it to those who are prepping for marriage. Each chapter homes in on a specific topic: the ring, the chuppah, the wedding day, the ketubah, the processional, and more. It even gets as specific as talking about the tallit and the various specific blessings. The chapters are short, and the author was very, very good about being concise and quick in his lessons on the halakot.

I can't even begin to tell you how many questions I've developed for my rabbi. Feel free to chime in here, but I've heard some "that sounds crazy!" comments from friends. I'll let you know what my rav thinks. I'll admit, many of these are CUSTOMS, but still, I like to know/make sure I'm doing things "right."

  • Some sources say that, for the wedding band, gold is preferable to silver, others silver to gold. Add to this the fact that you are supposed to use a ring that is pure -- not masked, such as plated gold -- because this could invalidate the ceremony entirely! Does this mean I can't have a white gold ring? The point of the ring being simple (no designs, no stones) is that the bride (and others) should be able to ascertain the value of the ring at a simple glance. If it's plated or masked in some way, it's harder to discern. As such, white gold has a specific value, right? So white gold *should* be okay? 
  • The tradition is that the kallah (bride) gives her chatan (groom) his tallit (prayer shawl) for the wedding. Often it's used for the chuppah, too. Now, Tuvia has a tallit his paternal grandfather bought shortly before his death, so he wants to use that since it's unused and in great condition. What do I do for the chatan then!?
  • What's doing with this whole no seeing each other for a week before the wedding? According to the book, many hold the tradition of just the day before hand, but even then, it used to be a tradition to hold a prenuptial meal the night before the wedding! What did you do at your wedding? What's the tradition/community custom/standard these days?
  • There is a definite decision that men fast the day of their wedding, but some rabbis hold that the kallah does not fast! What gives!? Do I fast, or do I not fast?
And those are my questions and I'm not even halfway through the book! Luckily, Rabbi Kaplan's given me plenty of insight and things to think about. 

I've also discovered -- via the advice of the same friend that suggested I pick up this book -- a way to involve people in the entire service without violating halakot! The great thing about a Jewish wedding is that there are about a million different positions people can serve. There are six witnesses -- all must be shomer mitzvot, Jewish males -- as well as those who read the sheva brachot (seven blessings), and thanks to this friend's great thinking, the translations of these brachot also will be read, that is, by women and non-Jewish friends of mine. It's a beautiful way not only to involve everyone, but also to help those who aren't familiar with Hebrew or the Jewish traditions to really get the full impact of the blessings in order to understand the service. 

You'd be amazed at all of the obstacles and pits of fire and dragons that await one with planning a wedding like this. I'm sure they exist in all faiths, but with there being specific binding laws regarding various parts of the service, you really have to think hard about who to involve and how to involve them. It's a delicate, delicate process.

All I can say is, I'm getting married in less than four months, and I'm jazzed!

17 comments:

mekubal said...

* Some sources say that, for the wedding band, gold is preferable to silver, others silver to gold. Add to this the fact that you are supposed to use a ring that is pure -- not masked, such as plated gold -- because this could invalidate the ceremony entirely! Does this mean I can't have a white gold ring? The point of the ring being simple (no designs, no stones) is that the bride (and others) should be able to ascertain the value of the ring at a simple glance. If it's plated or masked in some way, it's harder to discern. As such, white gold has a specific value, right? So white gold *should* be okay?

This is a Kabbalistic thing. Silver is rachamim, Gold is Din, while white gold is considered to be best on account of it being din sweetened by rachamim(also important to know for sofrim... but that is a different story).
* The tradition is that the kallah (bride) gives her chatan (groom) his tallit (prayer shawl) for the wedding. Often it's used for the chuppah, too. Now, Tuvia has a tallit his paternal grandfather bought shortly before his death, so he wants to use that since it's unused and in great condition. What do I do for the chatan then!?
This is an Ashkenazi thing, as Sephardim start wearing a Tallit when they are Bar Mitzvah. In those communities that bride typically doesn't give a gift(other than herself) to her husband.
* What's doing with this whole no seeing each other for a week before the wedding? According to the book, many hold the tradition of just the day before hand, but even then, it used to be a tradition to hold a prenuptial meal the night before the wedding! What did you do at your wedding? What's the tradition/community custom/standard these days?Most hold between three days and a week. Consult your local Orthodox Rabbi.
* There is a definite decision that men fast the day of their wedding, but some rabbis hold that the kallah does not fast! What gives!? Do I fast, or do I not fast?
This is also a purely Ashkenzic custom. Sephardi Gedolim condemn the practice. If you want my advice, don't fast. But then again ask your local Orthodox Rabbi.

mother in israel said...

Mazal tov!
1. I don't know about halacha, but I don't know anyone with a silver wedding ring. It's not practical, too soft and gets tarnished. White gold is still solid gold, as far as I know. It certainly costs as much. Again, many people use it.
2.German Jews, for example, use a tallit from Bar Mitzvah age. It's not universal as a gift. No other ideas though.
3&4. We didn't see each other for a week, and I did fast. Some people just don't like women to fast, in general, I guess.

cpgorski said...

hey, kiddo,

I can't (obviously) speak to the licitness of metals, but Amber doesn't like yellow gold so I did a bit of research on colored gold alloys...

White gold can be anywhere in purity up to 18 Kt. (Much more than that and there's just not enough of the balance metal to turn the color white.) The balance metal is generally *not* silver, though (which, peculiarly, turns a gold alloy green when you put enough in). In the US it's most often nickel, which gives the alloy just a slight yellow tinge. Imported white gold is more often made with palladium instead of nickel. The alloy doesn't have quite the lustre of the nickel alloy--it actually looks a little bit gray next to the other one--but it is hypoallergenic, so if you've ever had negative reactions to jewellery, it might be worth avoiding the nickel alloy just in case.

The reason I bring it up, though, is that most (but not all) white gold is plated in rhodium, which is a very bright, shiny white color, with no yellow tinge like a nickel white gold and no gray cast like a palladium white gold. If you expect plated jewellery is a problem, ask your jeweller. If he tells you that ALL white gold is plated, he's wrong or he's lying to you to sell you something -- I've heard "all" before, but Amber and I have wedding bands of unplated palladium white gold, and her engagement ring was nickel white gold, and neither is the stark white of rhodium.

hope the dress is perfect -- looking forward to pictures, even if they aren't 'til The Day

peace to you,

--Christopher

Kat said...

Re: ring issues. Jeremy and I got our engagement ring off of etsy (OneStoneNY) and we had complete input on what we wanted. If you are worried about plating, going to an independent artist might be the way to go. (Incidentally it was also really fast- maybe a month turn around total and that included us dithering on the stone forever).

Malka said...

As someone who recently did all of this maybe I can help. 1) The ring should be plain and unadorned because its symbolic of life being a circle and that you marry each other for what matters. That is also why the kallah does not wear jewlery under the chuppah. 2)There are two customs in regards to gifts that go back many generations and that is for the chatan to buy the kallah the candle holders and for the kallah to buy the chatan a set of shas. The rest is just made up. 3) The not seeing each other part is mostly so you dont fight or get impulsive in other ways. and 4) Fasting is personal based on how you are as a faster. It is a nice way of marking that you are starting over with a clean slate and as a new person. The wedding day is considered a personal yom kippur.

Sorry for the novel. If you have any other questions please feel free to ask.

TMC said...

I know it's stressful and all that, and it can't be easy planning a wedding while doing grad school, but I just wanted to share that I'm so happy to see you so excited about this wonderful occasion. :)

mekubal said...

That is also why the kallah does not wear jewlery under the chuppah.

I have never heard of this one. Can anyone confirm? The custom that I was always aware of was that the Challah wore the Jewelery that she had received as gifts leading up to the wedding.

Chaviva said...

@mekubal I've heard this from MANY people. It makes sense -- you're supposed to be completely pure, without adornments! Even the groom is not supposed to wear adornments.

GilaB said...

Although people may have put other meanings on the practice since then, not wearing jewelry at the chuppa is a takana (Rabbinic decree), I believe from the times of the gemara, such that poor brides shouldn't be embarrassed by not having jewelry. (A similar decree was the ban on fancy coffins and shrouds, because people were bankrupting themselves displaying their love for the deceased by burying them in gold and silver.)

I did not give my husband his talleisim (he has one for Shabbos, one for weekday), as he'd been engaged before and already had new ones. I think we're doing OK, notwithstanding.

Most people I know have white gold wedding rings, because they match the white gold settings that have been popular for engagement rings for a long time. The only thing to worry about is that it's halachically suitable - no adornments/engravings, not for any special spiritual reasons, but because the ring is being used to make a contract, and it's supposed to be something that the average laywoman can assess the value of easily.

Not seeing each other is a custom in some groups and not in others, and I've heard many rabbis say that one should actually not keep this custom even if it is yours because it becomes a burden to all of your guests as they wait for well over an hour as you take your pictures post-chuppa. I think the idea was that the couple shouldn't see each other after the woman has gone to the mikva pre-wedding, so as not to get the idea that sex then is OK. From a logistical perspective, we were SO SO glad that we'd decided to take our pictures before the wedding, because it let us have more time during the wedding to actually enjoy it.

Our mesader kiddushin is very, very Brisker in his outlook, and he posited firmly that there's no idea in the sources of the kallah fasting, and he didn't seem particularly excited by the chasan fasting, either. I had chronic fatigue syndrome when I got married, and never considered fasting. If you happen to find fasting particularly meaningful, I guess go for it, but please please eat/drink if you start to feel unwell. It's not worth it.

With regard to involving others, you can also have whomever you like act as the emcee (announcing who's going to be honored with this or that bracha, etc.), or hold up the poles of your chuppa if you have one of the person-supported ones.

Mazel tov!

Ben-Yehudah said...

B"H

Mazal Tov!

Dunking Rachel said...

once again, Congrats!
I think you have received some great advice...and of course ask the Rabbi! lol....

Another way to involve others non Jews/family is to have ushers for guests, if you are doing an order of service/explanation of the ceremony a younger person can be in charge of handing those out…if you are having many non Jews to your wedding another person could be given the task of handing out head coverings men/women etc…..The “pole holders” is also a good task and puts someone up front for the actual ceremony. ….
Also during the Badeken there are roles for mother, and other elder female relatives even if not Jewish
If you are doing the tradition of Yichud you could designate someone male as the “ guard”
Not sure how separate your community celebrates…but if it is a totally women separated from men event there are various ways to honor women while circle dancing etc…..ie …best friends in the center…cousins in the center etc….

No matter what you do HAVE FUN….. by the way I have a simple white gold ban that is a concrete symbol of all that I deeply cherish … when I look at my ring it is with deep appreciation of my new religion, my new husband and our bond together!....

Suburban Sweetheart said...

Can't wait to see the dress you chose! <3 Can't help with the other questions, but I'm sure you'll find the input you need to figure it all out.

shavuatov said...

You can get rings that are stamped out of the gold in a complete circle, rather than having a strip that is soldered together. If you can find a jeweller that sources this type of ring, that would be hugely symbolic, I think.

Good luck with everything!

rachel

tzip said...

dh had a talit from his grandfather who he was named after. so i bought him a new talit that he wears everyday and he wears his grandfathers talit on shabbat. i bought beautiful embroidered atarot for both talitot.

MrsJessica said...

Okay, we got married about two and a half years ago, so I can chime in here.

First, I am glad you got a lot out of the book - I couldn't take the style!

For your questions.

1. Metal - I have no idea, but my rabbi said okay to our white gold band. I was there when he bought it so I know how much it is worth!

2. I did give my husband a tallit, but he got me a kiddush cup since I didn't have one and had been looking at this particular style in Jerusalem and whining about how I couldn't afford one. I think other items of Judaica are fine, but it's not halacha whatever you do.

3. We got married on a Sunday, and our rabbi said that the not seeing each other for the week before is WAY too stressful on everyone. He wanted some kind of distance, so I stayed in the hotel rather than at my in-laws house (we got married in his home town)for the four days before the wedding, and we didn't see each other after Shabbat lunch the day before. We had dinner with just my side of the family the night before the wedding. For pictures, we did most of the family pictures beforehand - me with my side and him with his side, and then afterwards we did pictures with both sides. It avoided a lot of the waiting around for the guests but we got a ton of pictures.

4. With the fasting - generally, the idea is to fast because it's like a personal yom kippur. However, teh rabbis found about a million ways for women to get out of the fasting if it was hard on her - so if you're a good faster, go for it. I am a terrible faster, and so I had a bagel the morning of the wedding anyway. We got married around lunch, so I didn't eat after that until the reception, but not on purpose.

Mazal tov!!

KosherAcademic said...

What could I add here that others haven't? Well, I'll tell you what we did for 2 of your questions:

We both fasted. Since I fast poorly, I was told to only fast half the day, but honestly, I was so nervous/excited that I didn't eat until after the Chuppah. You're getting married early, right? So if you aren't opposed to it, why not fast?

We didn't see one another for a week. But we did talk on the phone. I think it is only a custom, and I hadn't heard about it preventing fighting, but about it making it all the more sweet when you get to see one another, all decked out, for the first time in a week. There's just something stunning about it...

Have I told you yet that I cry at the bedeken? I cry at EVERYONE's bedeken. It's just the most gorgeous time. So I'm going to cry at yours, too :)

Sophie said...

Mazel tov on your upcoming wedding! The halachot around Jewish weddings can be crazy, and expensive. I learned alot when planning my kosher wedding and offer tips on surviving the financial burdens: http://www.orthodoxjewishwedding.blogspot.com/

All the best!
Sophie

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