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Wedding Traditions: The Chuppah

July 27, 2015 by The Marquardt Ranch

Who can forget the timeless Gilmore Girls scene when Luke delivers a handcrafted Chuppah to the doorstep of bride-to-be, Lorelai?  You remember it, of course.  Lorelai was engaged to Rory’s Jewish teacher, Max, and convinced that she should get married on the front lawn of her home underneath a traditional Chuppah.  The piece remains a permanent fixture in the Gilmore front yard, and thusly, some of our only exposure to this Jewish wedding tradition.

Want to know more? Well, you can either binge watch a few episodes of Gilmore season 2 on Netflix or keep reading this blog.  We suggest a healthy combination of both for all intellectual purposes, of course.

While the chuppah has folk origins, it’s main purpose in a wedding ceremony is to do more than just decorate.  The chuppah declares the couple’s marital status, bound by law and by God, in front of family and friends. It is meant to be a visual representation of “leaving and cleaving”, painting the literal picture of the groom’s home welcoming the new addition of his bride.  The chuppah is the first step in the bride and groom establishing their own home.

The fabric and structure of the chuppah is also used on purpose.  Fragile, delicate curtains and a frame with no walls indicate the “for better or for worse” part of the vows.  Even with very little, barely a roof over their heads, the couple under the chuppah promises to love each other for life.  Contentment is the focus of the chuppah and its design.  The chuppah reminds the bride and groom to focus on the big things in life– wealth of community, elegance, each other–rather than the fleeting, failing promises of earthly riches and trendy fashions.

For Jewish couples, the chuppah is the central point of the wedding ceremony.  It goes far beyond mere tradition or eye-catching beauty.  It shows the watching the world that their commitment will stand the test of time.  Together, the bride and groom begin their new chapter in life. They declare themselves as their own family unit and walk down the aisle as one.

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