The Chuppah and Kiddushin
The Chupah – Marriage Canopy
In order to ensure that the Chupah is arranged according to the Jewish laws there is a Rabbi officiating the ceremony. Besides for that there will also have to be 10 males, above the age of 13, present (a minyan).
Our sages z”l called the first stage of marriage, the engagement, “the Kedushin”. This stage is what transforms a single girl to a married woman an “Eishes Ish”. The significance of this status is that from now on she is prohibited to any other man other than her husband. The couple is made for one another, they will now build a new personal life together. The creation of this new entity has exuberance and a sense of connection with eternity. Yet at this stage the women is still prohibited to her husband, until he will give her a Ketubah in front of two witnesses.
The Chupah ceremony is done under a canopy held up by four poles, which symbolizes the house. The canopy must be open from all sides, and is held beneath the open skies as a sign of the promise G’d gave Avraham that his children will be as the stars of the heaven.
The bride and groom don’t wear any jewellery under the chupah, their commitment to each other must not be based on any external factors only on each other’s essence.
After the Ketubah is written and checked, the fathers of both bride and groom escort the groom down the aisle to the chupah, followed by the mothers of bride and groom accompanying the bride.
The custom of most Ashkenazi Jews is for the bride to circle round the groom seven (or some only three) times under the canopy accompanied by her and her groom’s mother. This is as though the bride is creating a wall surrounding the groom to protect him from outside influences and any evil eye so that no harm can have control over the marriage, as we see form Yehoshua when he surrounded and encircled the walls of Yericho before concurring it.
After completing this, the bride stands to the right of the groom.
Kidushin – Sanctification
Before the Kidushin the first glass of wine is filled (the second one is filled before the seven blessings) on which the blessings of betrothal are said.
The Rabbi stands beside bride and groom and says the blessing:
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹקינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹקינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ עַל הָעֲרָיוֹת וְאָסַר לָנוּ אֶת הָאֲרוּסוֹת וְהִתִּיר לָנוּ אֶת הַנְּשׂוּאוֹת לָנוּ עַל יְדֵי חֻפָּה וְקִדּוּשִׁין, בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי מְקַדֵּשׁ עַמּוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל עַל יְדֵי חֻפָּה וְקִדּוּשִׁין
Then the bride and groom have a sip of the wine, usually the mother of the bride gives her the cup.