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Having a Chuppah in your wedding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re having a Jewish wedding, or adding a portion of Jewish tradition to your wedding, your bride or groom might have suggested adding a chuppah (pronounced ‘hoopa’) to the ceremony.

 

I’m sure this drove you straight to google to find out ‘what a chuppah’ even is? (and yes, google will tell you even if you spell it wrong ha ha) so as a Pastor and as someone who performs weddings a lot, let me give you my two cents.

 

The legend of the chuppah begins in the Old Testament

 

Numbers 15:37-41

The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the people of Israel, and tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a cord of blue on the tassel of each corner. And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the Lord, to do them, not to follow  after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to whore after.  So you shall remember and do all my commandments, and be holy to your God. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I am the Lord your God.”

 

Here God instructs the Hebrew people to make a ‘prayer shawl’ that would serve as a symbolic reminder of the Hebrew laws and customs. An observant Jew would wear this shall (tallit) and use it as a way to draw comfort in times of worship and prayer.

 

Years later, the custom began that the officiating rabbi would take one of these prayer shawls and then have two other people – lift it over the heads of a betrothed bride and groom. The symbolism was that “God hovers over his people” and that the Lord “oversaw” and protected this couple.

 

Even further after that, the helpers who held the prayer shawl were replaced by four sticks (probably because of long winded rabbis – ha ha) and the symbolism changed again so that the Chuppah represented the “home” this couple would build together.

 

During the first betrothal ceremony (the erusin) the groom would tell his bride…..

 

John 14:3

I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

 

This was his promise to her, that during their betrothal he would build her a home (or a wing onto his Father’s home).

 

So how do you make a Chuppah?

 

Well, I’m sure you’ve done a D.I.Y. search and seen a lot of pictures on pinterest, but a careful bride or groom who wanted to do it right, should observe a few key points.

 

1. It should really be 4 sided. I saw a Martha Steward video where hers was a triangle and I have seen some lovely floral arrangements that made it a circle – but the symbolism should be that the chuppah is a “home” and the best way to create that image is with 4 sides. The fabric canopy should then be attached to the very top of the poles or to the frame that makes the roof – do not attach the canopy to the “sides” of the poles – again, this takes away from the illustration of a home. The Jews have laws concerning what constitutes as a “wall” and what is a “roof.” It might not mean anything to you, but believe me, Grandma and Grandpa will notice (ha ha).

 

2. Using an actual prayer shawl would be the most traditional and most orthodox, although now couples typically want something a little more “pretty” and visually captivating. So, if you go the road of designing your own from scratch, I would suggest that you use a pure white fabric with no design or pattern. This becomes a symbol of the purity and delicacy of your marriage. Of course you can decorate it with flowers and ribbon, but the cloth itself should be pure.

 

3. Because of the time needed and for brides who want beautiful displays, the chuppah is typically set up early and left throughout the ceremony. This is fine, but if you wanted to lean more with tradition – and less with decoration and fancy – then a great thing to do would be to have the best man and the maid of honor hold a prayer shawl over the couple after the reading of the ketubah (the Jewish prenuptial agreement) or another great idea would be to have the grooms parents hold one side and the bride’s parents hold the other.

 

Most of all, have fun – discuss your plans with your bride or groom and get as much or as little information as you are comfortable with, before anyone else – this is YOUR special day so make it a great memory.

 

Shalom aleikhem

 

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She broke up with me over email….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So last night I got stood up by a client. She broke up with me over email (ha ha) and it simply said that she and her fiancé were going to have a “family friend” marry them instead of me.

 

And I get it…. this is probably the third time this has happened to me. As the date gets closer, the bride and groom either feel pressured, or the funds start tightening or they just flat out change their mind.  I get it.

 

But even though this is the third time this has happened, and I should be “used to it” by now, the thing that hurt the most this time was the wedding was only 14 days away…. not to mention that I had already had a sit down with the couple and already begun work in good faith.

 

I had already put in time, taken time away from my family and spent gas money on this… and now…. the couple just “changed their mind.”

 

Has this ever happened to you as an officiate?

 

The irony is, a bride would never do this to anyone else they hired for their wedding. They would never flake on their photographer, their venue or their DJ at the “last minute” and do you know why?

 

Because then they’d lose their deposit.

 

Yea…. see, I never required a deposit before.

 

My fee is so small that it just doesn’t make sense to break it up, plus then I have to remember who has paid me what and I am terrible with keeping track of money.

 

My brother works in the wedding industry and his fees are WAY larger than mine and he has been telling me… and telling me… and telling me….

 

“Have your couples pay you a deposit to secure the date.”

 

And I was tying to be easy.

 

I was trying to be nice.

 

And I still want to be going forward… but I will start requiring a deposit and so should you. Just because you’re the pastor doesn’t mean your time is not valuable.

 

Every minute you work on a wedding is a moment lost from your family and your church and true it’s extra money and that’s nice to have, but if your couple “breaks up with you” that’s income lost.

 

Money left on the table.

 

Your work as a wedding officiate is just as important as any other vendor there.

 

So elevate your status and show your couple that you are just as “official” as all the other parts to the wedding.

 

Start requiring a deposit to secure the date.

 

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There’s a guy here taking pictures, we asked him to come

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was meeting with a bride the other day and she reminded me of something that I thought was very important. It’s the idea of cell phones at weddings.  You might not remember this, but…. a long time ago there were no cell phones with cameras. It was a magical year called 1999. Yeap, that’s right. The camera phone is 16 years old and a lot has happened in those 16 years. One of the main things that has happened it has put photography into everyone’s hand. Today, everyone thinks they are a photographer. Some of us even think we’re pretty good.

And hey… you might be.

But here is how it relates to weddings. Everyone who goes to a wedding brings their cell phone and of course it’s good etiquette to turn your ringer down, I have rarely been to a wedding where it was interrupted by an inopportune call. But… what we see now is everyone whips out their camera phones to take a picture of the wedding.

Especially when the bride is walking down the isle.

OK, listen up everyone. The bride and groom hired a photographer for the wedding and they were not cheap. This means the bride and groom really want good pictures at their wedding. So that means when they get their pictures back, they want a picture of your smiling face, not you leaning over Uncle Eric trying to take that perfect picture with your Motorola.

Listen, take all of the pictures you want outside on our way in – snap a selfie of you and your date “Alex and Stephanie are tying the knot today woo hoo!”

Once you are inside (or seated) take a few pics of the venue – it’s pretty – why not?

But once the wedding starts… once the photographer begins doing their job, please… out of respect…. put your cell phone away until you’re dismissed. Don’t worry, you can take more pictures at the reception. That’s what the reception is for…. have fun.

Are we good?

Did I hurt anyone’s feelings?

Bride’s make a sign to go out when people arrive, and place a notation in the bulletin just so everyone is on the same page. You won’t make any enemies and you’ll have prettier pictures.

My favorite: “There’s a guy here taking pictures, we asked him to come – so please rest your cameras – our ceremony only needs one.”

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The Seven Laws of Love by Dave Willis

Dave Willis is a pastor and the founder of the website “Stronger Marriages.” Dave and his wife, Ashley, partner together to create marriage-building resources and events as a part of their ministry. They have four sons and live near in Georgia.

In his new book “The Seven Laws of Love,” Willis take a very easy to read approach to his view on relationships. Now, know right off this isn’t a “marriage” book – it’s a “relationship” book and so relationships cover everything from parents, to children, to spouses to friends.

 

And with so many helpful resources out there that help us fix our houses and help us make a quick six minute meal, we probably need to spend that same amount of time trying to get better at building stronger and more loving relationships. Don’t you think?

 

….And what better example of love is there, than God?

 

God is humble, He is a serving God, a committed God and a truthful God. Shouldn’t those also be qualities that we emulate in our relationships with others?

 

As Willis goes through the Bible (yes, the Bible people) he will point out the seven essential truths (he calls them “laws of love”) that are vital for any healthy relationship to grow.

 

I think this a great book and a wonderful resource, written with real world examples in a often humorous style.  I think this book can help hurting relationships heal and also help healthy relationships grow – well recommended

 

Thank you to Thomas Nelson publishers for this advanced copy in exchange for a fair and honest review

 

* Have you ever read a book on building healthy relationships? Which book did you read? Did you like it? Tell us below

 

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They’ve exchanged rings.. now what?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ok so your couple has exchanged rings, now what? I have been to a lot of weddings where the officiant just “lands the plane” right here. But this moment can be a beautiful time to say a blessing. I know sometimes we use the word “blessing” to mean a prayer and certainly by all means PRAY! (ha ha) but I mean actually say a blessing over the couple. Here are a few of my favorites I have picked up over the years from other speakers.

Blessing For A Marriage, by James Dillet Freeman

May your marriage bring you all the exquisite excitements a marriage should bring, and may life grant you also patience, tolerance, and understanding. May you always need one another — not so much to fill your emptiness as to help you to know your fullness. A mountain needs a valley to be complete. The valley does not make the mountain less, but more. And the valley is more a valley because it has a mountain towering over it. So let it be with you and you. May you need one another, but not out of weakness. May you want one another, but not out of lack. May you entice one another, but not compel one another. May you embrace one another, but not out encircle one another. May you succeed in all-important ways with one another, and not fail in the little graces. May you look for things to praise, often say, “I love you!” and take no notice of small faults. If you have quarrels that push you apart, may both of you hope to have good sense enough to take the first step back. May you enter into the mystery that is the awareness of one another’s presence — no more physical than spiritual, warm and near when you are side by side, and warm and near when you are in separate rooms or even distant cities. May you have happiness, and may you find it making one another happy. May you have love, and may you find it loving one another.

 

Other options…

You are now wed. May you always remain sweethearts, helpmates and friends. May your life together be full of kindness and understanding, thoughtfulness and rejoicing. May the years bring you happiness and contentment. May you enter into each other’s sorrow by sympathy, Into each other’s joy with gladness, Into each other’s hope with faith and trust, Into each other’s need with the sure presence of love, Into each other’s lives with enthusiasm and embracing. Amen.

 

May this moment gleam eternally in your lives. May it add glory to every achievement and cast a blessed light over any ill fortune that may appear. May you give vitality to each other in all undertakings. May you care for each other in all sadness. May you give cheer to each other as you each care for the sacred passion of love. May all that is virtuous, beautiful and trustworthy, remain with you always.

 

May these two find happiness in their matrimony. May they live faithfully together, may they ever remain compassionate. May years be rich in the joys of life, and their days be long upon the earth.

 

Go into the world and fulfill your lives. Hold fast to your ideals. Give to each other experiences of joy. Challenge each other that you may grow. May the love you hold for each other now sealed in marriage continue to mature, that your life together may be a source of strength and inspiration to others.

 

As you continue on your journey together, I ask you to remember this advice: The key to love is understanding, as it is the little things that say so much by themselves. The key to love is forgiving, to accept each other’s faults and pardon mistakes, The key to love is sharing, Sharing your good fortunes as well as bad, together. The key to love is giving, Giving without thought of return, but with the hope of just a simple smile, and by giving in but never giving up.

 

 

 

 

 

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