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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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Unashamed by Christine Caine

 

Christine is a Christian author who travels the globe preaching, teaching, and advocating for justice. She and her husband Nick founded A21, an anti-human trafficking organization that fights slavery around the globe. Christine has a heart for freeing captives, both physically and spiritually, but ultimately it comes back to her primary focus: building the Church.

 

Her recent book UNASHAMED Drop the Baggage, Pick up Your Freedom, Fulfill Your Destiny is a book about how damaging SHAME can be and what steps you can take to release its hold on your life.

 

SHAME is an internal feeling of inadequacy, in it we feel unworthy, dishonored or experience deep feelings of regret. And lots of stimuli can trigger feelings of shame, it could be another person, a circumstance or a situation – but the other thing that can bring about shame is the expectations we place on ourselves. If we’re perfectionists, if we have high ideals, SHAME can rob us of the life that God has promised.

 

SHAME leads to us withdrawing from others, we self exclude ourselves from activities and friends. And the downside of SHAME is that it masks itself as guilt. SHAME keeps us locked away so that we don’t talk about our feelings with others – we feel guilty so we hid rather than bring this darkness out to where the light could nullify it.

 

In her book, Christine Caine walks the reader through her own story of shame and she takes you (hopefully) to a place of healing. Yes, the book is written from a Christian woman in leadership P.O.V. but I would argue that men need to be released from these feelings as well. So to any men out there – it’s a hard back book with a dustjacket – buy the book without SHAME (ha ha) and take the dustjacket off! Boom! No Worries!

 

Even if you don’t ‘think’ SHAME is an issue in your life, I think after reading Christine’s book you’ll see how far reaching this emotion is.

 

I think anyone who feels alone, abandoned, unworthy or like nobody understands them – this is the book that will speak to your heart. Highly recommended.

 

Thank you to Zondervan for this advanced copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.

 

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I Don’t Wait Anymore by Grace Thornton

Grace Thornton is known for being a blooger. Her blog received more than 2 million visits after her post “I Don’t Wait Anymore,” on living fully as a single person, was posted. This book is an attempt to reach a wider audience on that same theme.

Joseph Campbell once said, “We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.” Truly, this is what Grace Thornton’s book is about.

Getting the book, the first thing I noticed is that it’s printed like a gift-book. It’s a hard back with glossy colored pages, a silk book mark and a dedication page at the front. But it’s not at all set up like a devotional, there are not pages for daily reading. No from there it simply reads like a book. But at 224 pages it’s just a super long gift book.

To start, i’d suggest you read her blogpost that she wrote. It’ll give you a good taste of her writing style and the impetus for writing this book.

But I would also say that this book is not like her blog. Remember a blog is the wittier trying to capture your thoughts and inspire you in just a page or so. But when a publisher says, “now write a book about it” you have to take that idea and expand it. For instance, Grace’s original blog was about being single – but the book isn’t necessarily for single ladies. However, I think a book on being a single Christian woman would have been the more powerful, more vulnerable book. But that’s just my opinion.

What do I know about being a single Christian woman? Nada

No, this book is about the expectations that we place on life. Looking beyond our own hopes and dreams and seeking the life that God has already given us.

Grace writes in a very humble and forthcoming way. Her book fulfills at every level and would be a great “gift” for that certain someone who has been facing an uphill road with no end in sight.

As a male reviewer, (and pushing 50) I really didn’t think this book was for me. (see above) This book is probably written more for youngish Christian women.

Thank you to Zondervan for this advanced copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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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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