Thirteen Ways to Enrich Your Jewish Wedding
1. At Alita Al Koolam - Have an aufruf. On the Shabbat before her wedding, Rachel Anisfeld received an aliya and layned the haftorah during shacharit services at the women’s tefilla group in her synagogue.
2. Turn the Tables - Have a kalla’s tish. Before her bedeken, Bracha Leah Shapiro and her friends gave divrei Torah, berakhot and joined in song.
3.Wrap it Up - Put a tallit on your chatan at the bedeken. At Avital Ellis- Rech’s wedding, where Rabbi Nosson Shaffer was mesader kiddushin, the women danced her and the men danced her husband to a central location in the room. After the chatan placed the veil over her face, Avital placed a tallit on her chatan.
4. To Everything Turn, Turn, Turn - Have your chatan walk around you at the bedeken. At Aleeza Nemirovsky Wadler’s wedding, her chatan circled the bedeken chair seven times.
5. Ooph’ros Alecha - Have women hold the poles to your chuppa. At Debby Koren’s wedding, for which she consulted with Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, she had her two daughters from her previous marriage and her husband’s daughters from his previous marriage hold the poles to their chuppa.
6. Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother - Have your mother’s name in your ketuba. At Noa Hochstein’s wedding in Israel, she wanted her mother’s name to appear in the ketuba along with her father’s. This request found its way to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. Their answer was that it was unusual, but they could not find anything halakhically wrong with it.
7. Finding Our Voices - Have a woman read the ketuba. At Rahel Berkovits’ wedding, where Rabbi Dov Berkovits from Israel was mesader kiddushin, a woman read part of the ketuba and another woman read the t’nai ketuba that Rahel and her husband had written themselves. Rahel’s mother and mother-in-law also read the welcoming statements for the bride and groom respectively.
8. Word For Word - Have a woman translate the sheva berakhot under the chuppa. Rabbi Dale Polakoff was the mesader kiddushin at a number of weddings in which a man would say one of the berakhot and a woman would then be called up to the chuppa to translate the berakha into English.
9. A Woman’s Wisdom - Have a woman give a d’var Torah or preside under the chuppa. Laura Shaw- Frank presided at the wedding of her friend Rabbi David Kalb at which Rabbi Avi Weiss was the mesader kiddushin.
10. Kol Kalla - Respond under the chuppa. Shelley List, whose mesader kiddushin was Rabbi Herschel Cohen, said, “I accept from you this ring of kiddushin” after her husband placed the ring upon her finger.
11. Bring in the New - Give a ring to your chatan after kiddushin. At Diana Newman’s wedding, where Rabbi Abraham Levy from London was the mesader kiddushin, she gave her chatan a ring after kiddushin while reciting a verse from the Song of Songs.
12. Put Your Foot Down - Break the cup. At Frannie Pollack’s wedding, at which Rabbi Tsvi Blanchard was mesader kiddushin, both she and her husband each broke a glass at the end of the chuppa ceremony.
13. Share the Blessing - Have a woman say sheva berakhot at the meal. At Amanda Newman’s wedding, at which Rabbi Shlomo Riskin was the mesader kiddushin, she had her aunt say the sixth sheva berakha.