Our Chuppah

 

"Home" is any four walls that enclose the right person. -- H. Rowland

The Chuppah, Revealed

One thing we decided to adopt from the Jewish tradition is the carrying and holding of a chuppah - or "bridal canopy" - above the marrying couple.

The first thing you might want to know is how to pronounce "chuppah" (which isn't even the only acceptable spelling, since it's a transliteration from Hebrew anyway). The first syllable, "chu," is accented. The "ch" sound kind of like the "ch" in the Scottish word "loch." The "u" is the vowel in "wool." And "pah" sounds pretty much the way you'd expect. So you put chu- and -pah together, like on Sesame Street (you know, the two-headed monster?) and get chuppah!

The chuppah symbolizes the home the new couple will make together and their ties to the community. The canopy is held up by means of four poles, one on each corner of the canopy. The poles are held up, unsurprisingly, by people designated as "chuppah holders." This creates the effect of a tent with the chuppah as the roof and four open "walls." The open walls symbolize the tradition of openness and hospitality, while the roof symbolizes the shelter of family and community.

Chuppahs, Care and Feeding Of

There are dozens of conflicting traditions about chuppahs. In one, the bride makes the canopy herself. So we decided to pick the cloth together, and then, yes, indeed, ina did in fact pull out her trusty Singer and sew the canopy herself.

We also love the tradition of including cloth contributed by our families. Given that ina learned her sewing skills in 6th grade home-ec, integrating these into a whole was a bit of an undertaking. Below are the pictures of the original pieces. A picture of the final chuppah will be added as soon as we get it mounted.

03 November 2003. We arrived home to mysterious padded envelope. Had to open--better than eBay! First gift of cloth. From one of ina's older brothers and sister-in-law, happy couple, married ever-so-long, cloth from their ceremony. Good omen!

15 November 2003. Continuing the padded envelope motif, second piece arrives. Another good omen--this from the couple that reintroduced us. A piece of her wedding dress (gold and ivory). The wedding was where we re-met--brings back good memories.

Thanksgiving 2003. Two wonderful pieces from Avrom's parents: From his mother, the lining of a suit that his Great Aunt Rae made for her; from his Ma Phyllis, linens from her mother's table.

30 November 2003. When you've been teacher and student, coworkers at a library, and members of the same book club, of course the cloth is going to have books.

Early-Mid December 2003. At the end of November, Avrom and Ina discover that they are going to have to find a new house. Amidst the chaos (mostly during packing parties), various pieces arrive.

Ina couldn't bear to cut up this wedding blouse, so the bride who had worn it did it herself.

Every successful marriage should start with one or two small miracles. We were amazed at how well all the colors of the cloth blended--whites, golds, browns, and blues. This satiny white is (surprise) not from a bridal gown but sailcloth from one of our favorite newlywed couples, who sail blissfully together in every sense.

Overdyed cotton from our favorite designer (responsible, FYI, for the save-the-date cards and invites, etc). See what we mean about the colors!?

We love the symbolism of this eyelet cloth. The person who gave it to us said that it represents the transparency and flow and layers that come with a good marriage. (Besides, adds ina, it's so bridal!)

Dember 27, 2003. At 3:00 A.M., ina found herself giggling with one of her Chuppah holders while helping to steam said Chuppah holder's wedding dress. These were two of the leftover pieces from the dress.

January 14, 2004. (Just in time for our birthdays!) Isn't it nice to have artists in the family? ina's adoptive sister hand-painted these modified mendhi patterns on sequined silk (the rose in the right corner is her own invention, however). They each have little bits of text around them: "Joy/Happiness/Love/Delight" and "Ina and Avrom/March 6, 2004".

 

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