The Wedding Day

The Wedding Day  The Jewish home is considered a replica of the Beit Hamikdosh, the Holy Temple which stood in Jerusalem, and which, G-d willing, will quickly be rebuilt with the coming of Moshiach. Every aspect of the Temple was holy, for the spirit of Hashem, G-d, was manifest there. So, too, in a Jewish home we are called upon to make every aspect of life holy, for the spirit of Hashem is always present.
During the wedding ceremony the new couple embarks on the first step of building their own personal Beit Hamikdosh together and every effort is made to imbue this beginning with holiness. In fact the very name of the marriage ceremony is "Kiddushin", holiness.
In many aspects, the wedding day, for the bride and groom, is like a personal Yom Kippur. It is spent in fasting, prayer, and spiritual reflection. Tradition tells us that on this day Hashem completely forgives them for any transgressions they may have committed in their lives, so that they can begin their married life with a totally clean slate. The bride's white wedding gown, as well as the white "Kittel" (robe) that the groom wears, symbolize this elevated state.

Kabolas Panim - Reception

During the lively bridal reception, the bride, sits on her symbolic "Queen's throne", surrounded by her family, as she greets her guests, while friends and relatives dance in her honor.
Tradition tells us that on certain occasions or during certain special moments, Hashem hears and answers our prayers with an added measure. For example, the moments after a woman lights the Shabbos candles on Friday night are one of these special occasions. For the bride and groom the wedding day is another one of these times - especially the moments under the Chuppah. It is perfectly appropriate to approach the bride and groom during the Kabolas Panim and ask them to pray for a friend or loved one who is particularly in need of Hashem's blessing.

Badeken - Veiling of the bride

Following the Kabolas Panim the groom is escorted to the bride by family members, Rabbis and friends. According to the Chabad custom, as they start walking, all of the men sing a sacred melody known as "The Alter Rebbe's Nigun", composed in the 18th century by Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the founder of the Chabad Lubavitch movement, and the author of the test and Shulchun Aruch. This melody is sung only prior to the wedding ceremony and at other sacred occasions. The groom places a veil over the bride's face.
This custom is reminiscent of the Biblical account of Rebbeca's encounter with Isaac prior to their marriage. The bride is then blessed by close family members.

The Chuppah - Wedding Canopy & Ceremony
 
The traditional Chuppah symbolizes the home that the groom and bride will, with G-d's help, establish together. Just as Abraham's tent was open on all four sides to welcome guests from all directions, the open Chuppah symbolizes the wish to always have an open and welcoming home.
The sanctity of the Chuppah has an added dimension. In Jewish tradition we are taught that the souls of dear ones come from heaven to participate in the wedding and to bless the young couple.

The Rebbe's Letter
(In a Chabad Chassidic wedding, the following is customary.)

It was the Rebbe's custom to respond to invitations to participate in a wedding by sending a letter of blessing to the groom and bride. Traditionally the letter would be read at the beginning of the wedding ceremony. While we keenly miss the Rebbe's physical presence today, we pray that we merit his participation in our simcha from on High. Today we read a letter of blessing from the Rebbe that was written to a bride and groom.

The Marriage Blessings

Since marriage is a Mitzvah (Divine commandment), Jewish law mandates that a blessing be recited prior to its' performance. The actual ceremony begins with the blessing over a cup of wine followed by the betrothal blessing recited by the officiating Rabbi. The groom and bride each take a sip of wine from the cup.

Giving of the Ring

 The groom takes the ring, and in the presence of two designated witnesses, places it on the bride's right forefinger. As he puts the ring on her finger, he recites the following words in Hebrew: "With this ring you are consecrated to me according to laws of Moses and Israel". The ring is made out of solid metal with no gems or stones in it; a simple unbroken circle, symbolic of the limitless bond of husband and wife.

Reading the Ketubah

At this point the Ketubah is read aloud in its' original Aramaic text. It spells out the obligations of husband to wife. This custom recalls the reading of the Covenant of Laws to the Jewish nation at the time the Torah was given.

Sheva Brochos

The "Seven Blessings" are now recited. Beginning again with the blessing over the cup of wine, these blessings acknowledge G-d as the creator of man in His image, of husband and wife, of joy and happiness, of harmony and delight, of friendship and peace and conclude with the prayer that we speedily merit to rejoice with the groom and bride in Jerusalem rebuilt. The ceremony concludes as the groom carries out the ancient ceremony of breaking the glass, reminding us of the destruction of our holy Temple. A round of "Mazal-Tovs" resound under the Chuppah. Within moments that groom and bride are escorted amongst dancing and singing to the "Yichud Room", the private room where they will spend a short time together, and break their fasts.

Seudat Mitzvah - Dinner Celebration

And now the simcha really takes off! The wedding meal begins, punctuated by much joyful singing and dancing. Tzedaka pushkas are often placed on both the groom's and bride's table, so that those in need can benefit from the simcha as well. Many include a table for poor people so all are welcome to join in the simcha.

Sheva Brochos - The Seven Blessings

After many hours of dancing and celebration, the traditional Grace After Meals is recited followed by another recitation of the Seven Blessings in honor of the groom and bride.

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