I love weddings, and not just because it’s a great excuse to have a manicure (and why not) a pedicure too, without feeling guilty (hah!), but I love the drama of the occasion, the lovely surprise of seeing long-lost friends and family, and the “Six Degrees of Separation” connections with strangers who ask, “Do you know so-and-so–?”
At the wedding in Santa Barbara, Edie and Joel, a couple sitting next to us, told us their son was marrying a girl whose parents were born in the same city as Mr F and I. We didn’t know them, so they ‘texted‘ their daughter to ask for her mother-in-law’s maiden name. Five minutes later Edie showed me the name on her phone: “Freed”. Honest! Her daughter’s mother-in-law is Mr F’s first cousin.
Jaime and Jess’s 4th of July wedding over-flowed with love, joy, happiness, blessings, and a few tears. When two soul-mates marry you are grateful to know that there are people like them in the world, and feel lucky to be part of the celebration.
There are many beautiful traditions and customs in a Jewish wedding. The Ashkenazi ceremony is usually held outside under the stars just before sundown, as a reminder of the blessing given by God to Abraham, that his children will be as “numerous as the stars of the heavens.”
The wedding always takes place under the Chuppah, a canopy supported by four poles, and a symbol of the couple’s first home together. Four close friends or relatives hold each pole during the service.
The Chuppah that Jaime and Jess used was sewn from four pieces of the dress that Jaime’s late mother, Anne, wore on her wedding day. When it blew in the wind during the ceremony, I felt Anne’s spiritual presence at the wedding.
Once under the chuppah, the bride and groom circled each other a total of seven times. Just as the world was built in seven days, the bride and groom create their own “new world” together.
The Ketubah is a Jewish marriage contract (dating back to biblical times) that lists the responsibilities and commitments the couple promise each other once they are married. It is signed before the ceremony in the presence of two witnesses. It’s been a tradition, since the fourteenth century, to decorate the Ketubah, and hang it in the home as a piece of art.
Jaime and Jess created a personal and meaningful Ketubah which they read to us during the ceremony.
Wine is a symbol of joy in Jewish tradition, and two cups are drunk during the ceremony. The first cup is drunk after the rabbi recites the betrothal blessings.
In Jewish law a marriage becomes official with the exchange of rings. As Jaime placed the ring on Jess’s finger and said, “My Husband,” she giggled with such delight and happiness, that the rabbi said, “Sounds good to say ‘My Husband’, doesn’t it? Why don’t you say it again!”
So, with a smile that spread from here to the east coast, she repeated the two words: “My Husband,”
Close friends and family recited the Seven Blessings which celebrate the sacred nature of the day, and affirm the married couple’s commitment to creating a new home, and life together. After the readings the second cup of wine is drunk.
The wedding ceremony ends with the breaking of the glass.
“The groom steps on the glass as a symbol of the fragility of life and as a reminder that each moment together is a blessing”.
When the rabbi placed the glass under Jess’s foot he said, “Please wait for me to take my hand away before you stamp on it…”
I wonder how many rabbis have had their hands crushed by over eager grooms?
After the ceremony guests are expected to bring joy to the bride and groom by celebrating with plenty of eating, drinking and dancing. We were happy to oblige: the setting at the ocean was magical, the food delicious, the band fantastic, and we had the best view of 4th of July fire-works.