Hungry for Chuppahs? Feast Your Eyes!

Times are tough. They say the economy is in the toilet. We’ve heard it all before. But who says the housing market is so bad? On your wedding day, you’ll own the most beautiful home you could ever hope for: a chuppah.

The Hebrew word “chuppah” literally translates to “canopy” or “covering,” and it’s what the bride and groom stand under during their Jewish ceremony. In its most basic form, a chuppah needs a canopy or a sheet, attached to 4 poles in each of its corners, tall enough to allow the couple and their officiant to stand inside.

A chuppah symbolizes the first home that the bride and groom build together, and it’s considered a regular and basic requirement for any Jewish wedding.

Like many Jewish traditions, there are many explanations for the chuppah’s elements. The 4 open sides of the chuppah represent hospitality, just like Abraham’s tent was intended. Therefore, the family and friends who attend and witness the wedding ceremony are considered the bride and groom’s first guests in their “home.” This “home” features no furniture because tradition says the basis of a Jewish home is the people in it and not the possessions or material objects. Apparently, Pottery Barn and Bloomingdale’s Home Store are not actually priorities in the true meaning of life! Thank you, Jewish traditions, for grounding us and keeping us humble.

Even the order in which the bride and groom enter the chuppah has meaningful significance. The groom enters the chuppah first to represent ownership of the new home on behalf of the couple. Then, the bride enters, receiving shelter from her soon-to-be husband, symbolizing his care and responsibilities to her. Totally sweet and gush-worthy, right?

Chuppah decor is a major part of the wedding planning process. Brides are faced with many choices when it comes to designing a chuppah, so we’re offering a brief brainstorm of ideas and chuppahs we’ve seen that work. If you choose to have your florist provide your chuppah and its decor, make sure that the florist has designed and built a chuppah before. When I was planning my wedding, I once met with a florist who didn’t know what a chuppah was. That was a quick and easy cross off my possible florist list!

It’s no lie that chuppahs are beautiful. No matter which style or styles you design, you will be standing under an inspiring and warm space with your partner, in front of all of your favorite people, and pledging to each other the most romantic promise: lifelong love. This alone will make any chuppah you choose a vision of beauty.

In its simplest and very beautiful form, a chuppah canopy can be a tallit that’s attached to the 4 poles that are either secured into the ground or held up by people that the bride and groom may wish to honor. I’ve even heard of a family table cloth draped over the poles to signify a life that’s never hungry and a life that’s full of the company of friends and family, just as that tablecloth had hosted for several generations. Here are some examples of traditional chuppahs:

simple-chuppah

simple-chuppah

Floral chuppahs are probably the most popular. Flowers that coordinate with the wedding’s overall theme and colors are typically incorporated in the chuppah. Here’s a hint: you can save a bit on your flower bill if you reuse the pieces on the chuppah in your reception. They can be recycled and placed on the bride and groom’s table, decorating on a piano, presented along a fireplace, bordering the bandstand, sprucing up the bathroom, or laced within the dessert or dinner buffet. Here are some chuppahs that feature lush and beautiful flowers:

floral-chuppah

floral-chuppah

Many modern Jewish brides are also incorporating cool and chic textiles into their chuppah. Strands of crystals are very glamorous and trendy right now. They give the chuppah some extra sparkle and offer a very rich and unique style. Other modern chuppahs tend to feature severe draping made out of fabrics like gossamer or tulle. The posts of the chuppah can also have modern inspirations, using unique woods like bamboo or twisted pines. These styles complement the surrounding canopy and other embellishments. Below are some neat examples of modern chuppahs:

crystal-chuppah

crystal-chuppah

modern-chuppah

Combining elements from each style of chuppah is gorgeous, too! If you want to hang some strands of crystals from your great grandfather’s tallit canopy and include bunches of dahlias around each post, you would be marrying different ideas to form one beautiful concept.

The day you stand under the chuppah is so special and beautiful! Your chuppah should reflect you as a couple and the kind of life you’re about to begin together.

Welcome home.

Images courtesy of Next Exit Photography, Kim Fox, Michael Norwood, Marc Berenson Studio, Jay Kelly.

  • sarah says:

    I’m not Jewish but I’ve always loved the idea of a chuppah… would it be so wrong for a shiksa like me to get married under one?

  • Alison says:

    Sarah: TOTALLY okay for shiksas to enjoy a beautiful chuppah!! In fact, I’ve seen many non-Jewish weddings include a chuppah whether the couple adopts the meaningful symbolism into their wedding or they just downright think they’re purty! Any inkling that you’ll be designing a chuppah in the near future?? :)

  • Jill says:

    As a very reform Jew who is almost engaged to a non-Jew, this was very helpful info for me. Most of the weddings I’ve been to are not Jewish so after reading this, I feel certain that I’ll want to have a chuppah at our ceremony. The chuppah’s purpose and significance will represent the deep love we have for each other. Thanks.

  • Emily N. says:

    Hi, I love these chuppahs. What great inspiration!

  • Sarah says:

    here’s hoping there’s a chuppah coming soon, Alison :)