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Mama Deb
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Mama Deb [userpic]
blueraccoon's wedding

Because life still goes on.

This was my first Reform wedding. I've been to two Conservative ones and God knows how many Orthodox ones, including one tomorrow night. I was invited to a Catholic one but arrived too late to see anything, and I watched a Pagan wedding (I don't know which brand) from my tent one Pennsic. And I've seen many general Protestant-American weddings on TV. This is just to give some perspective on my own experiences.

The wedding was in New Jersey. We don't have a car, and getting one would mean paying four days rent (not to mention buying gasoline.) So we chose to take a bus instead - cab to the Port Authority, express bus to a park and ride by Willowbrook Mall, pick-up by friends of the bridal couple. It all worked well and we got to the catering hall by 11:30.

Which is when the wedding was called for. The ceremony, I mean, not the kabbalat punim, the pre-wedding reception I've gotten used to. This is custom, not law, but it does allow for later arrivals. They had a private bedeken, where the groom veils the bride, but while the bedeken is part of things, it can be done in private.

The cantor was late. We sat next to his daughter (the cantor was the father of the groom's sister's husband) and she said he always got lost. Always. So, even though he was in constant contact by cell phone, he was late. The rabbi told jokes and answered questions and gave little talks about the meaning of the ketubbah and the rings and the glass, and then they decided to just get started. Just after blueraccoon got to the chuppah, the wedding canopy, looking absolutely lovely, the cantor showed up. He had a magnificent voice.

The Hebrew text of the wedding was traditional. The order of the ceremony was traditional (you'd think that would be a given, but my in-laws recently went to a rabbi's office wedding for a cousin where they reversed the order on the betrothal (the ring part) and the wedding itself (the seven blessings.) And I just figured out why - he wanted the ring part at the end.) There were a few non-traditional elements. They exchanged rings, both saying the line "Behold, you are consecrated unto me according to the laws of Moses and Israel." In tradtional ceremonies, the ring is a concrete item demonstrating the bride's acceptance of the legal status of "kiddushin" or betrothal. Because of that, Orthodox ceremonies do not have direct ring exchanges, lest it look like she's giving the ring *back* and negating the ceremony. Those couples who want to have two rings have a number of solutions (many more right-wing men do not wear rings at all, so it doesn't come up.)

They also exchanged "I do"s. This part was very odd, since I'd never seen it at any Jewish wedding before and I didn't expect it. Is it common in Reform weddings?

After this, there was the traditional interruption, but instead of reading the ketubah, the rabbi just displayed and explained it. Honestly? I preferred this. (I've also been to weddings where the rabbi gives a speech instead.) Then the cantor sang the seven blessings, and the rabbi signaled when people should say "amen." And jonbaker, being Jonathan, sang during the parts where people are supposed to sing along. Not many others did. :) And I believe they exchanged a kiss, which is also a non-traditional addition.

Then we were invited to the "cocktail party", which was a large buffet with hot and cold foods, a crepe station, a pasta station, a Peking duck station, plus fruits and salads and cheeses, an open bar and a vodka luge. Let me describe the vodka luge. Imagine an ice sculpture shaped sort of abstractly anthropomorphically. It holds two bottles of flavored vodka, plus there are others iced nearby. There is a tube that runs through the "head" and out between the sort of "legs". The drinker holds a shot glass at the end of the tube; the bartender pours the shot through the top. It was...different. And quite fun to watch. I don't drink vodka, so I can't say how well it worked.

There was also plenty of fruit and fish (herring, lox, whitefish), so those of us who kept kosher could find enough to eat. We ended up shmoosing mostly with sethcohen and another O couple, plus the groom. (They'd showed up rather casually during the cocktail party.) Rebecca spent it being her lovely, social self, so she was everywhere.

Right now, I want to thank Rebecca and her family. They didn't just make sure the five of us (would have been six, but one person was ill) had kosher food - they also went out of their way to make sure we also had a choice of kosher wines - and excellent ones, too - plus kosher "champagne". This was just absolutely lovely of them. And the kosher food itself was delicious.

I'm assuming that the reception was similar to general receptions - a dj pretty much running things, lots of music from different eras, formal and informal dances, set pieces like the bride dancing with the groom and then her father, and groom with his mother. There was a "hora" - a circle dance with the chairs - right in the beginning, too. The most amusing part to my mind was when he played sixties music, and the dance floor immediately filled with people who were all over fifty. :)

We left right after the main course because we'd gotten a ride to the park-and-ride from the other couple, so I don't know how it finished.

We finished the day by going to Midtown Comics and then a Starbucks, and then finally to a dairy place (we only wait an hour after eating meat) for dinner.


We didn't say "I do" at my wedding. We did the consecrated to me part to each other, and had the seven blessings. He said "haray at" and I said "Haray atah," so it was proper Hebrew grammar. :)I wanted to do the walking around the groom, but that was nixed by my mother in law. We did the bedeken, but only family was there for it. My mother and father stood with me, and were mostly stunned from the intense culture shock.

I'm glad you had a positive experience, and it wasn't like "AAAAIIIIEEEEE! A BLACK MASS!"

My mother wasn't happy with my walking around Manny, but I did it anyway. And our bedeken wasn't exactly in private, but was in a location off to one side where most of the guests weren't, though the ones who felt like wandering over were able to.

I'm not sure whether ours would be considered a Reform or a Conservative wedding. The rabbi was Conservative, the ceremony was traditional except with a lot of English translation involved for the benefit of the Hebrew-impaired, and the Ketubah was Lieberman-clause equipped but otherwise traditional. We didn't say any "I dos" and I've never heard of that at a wedding between two Jews (though it's nearly universal at interfaith weddings, I'm told), and we didn't do a reciprocal betrothal -- just one way. But the rabbi said I could perfectly well choose something to say, so long as it didn't seem to "reverse" or return the betrothal, so I repeated the vows from the Book of Ruth, which seemed to suit the occasion.

and the Ketubah was Lieberman-clause equipped but otherwise traditional

May I ask what this means? If you'd prefer not to explain, of course, I'll understand.

It's a Conservative addition in which the groom contracts that, in the event of a civil divorce, he will automatically grant a get, and may be forced to do so by the civil courts.

In our wedding, which was the first close-to-normal one either of us had ever attended, we had a private bedeken, and I walked around him three times before being tangled in train and people and...

I didn't expect a black mass. I had the feeling it would at least look normal,and it did more than look normal. It was lovely.

We handled the ring issue by having Manny give me my ring and I accepted it as part of the ceremony, in traditional Jewish fashion, and then a while afterwards, informally, I gave him his as a gift with no ceremony associated. So we wear similar rings, but the situations were very different. I figured there was nothing wrong with giving your husband a present that happens to get worn on the finger. :)

That's what most of the couples I know who are double-ringed did, too.

That's how we did it.

We did it in the yichud room after the ceremony.

It's sounds wondewrful! An dit also explained a few things that I wondered about when I was a guest at an Ethiopan wedding a few years ago ( and boy, was that a party!)

The cocktail party sounded like a full on buffet!

There are actually excellent, top flight kosher Champagne, I think that it's Rothschild that bottles it.

We don't have a car, and getting one would mean paying four days rent (not to mention buying gasoline.)

Thank you for putting car rental in those terms.

It sounds like wonderful fun!

Most of the Rothschilds wines I've seen haven't been kosher.

This was New York State Champagne. :)

And can't forget the cost of gasoline these days, can we?

Most of the Rothschilds wines I've seen haven't been kosher.

Really? Wow! I saw quite a few Rothschilds an dBaron Herzogs that were kosher in my local markets ( I live in a neighborhood with a strong Reform Jewish community) but they are imported, and that may be due to distribution and me noticing them for being Kosher, instead of plentiful and kosher.

NEw York Wine! Yay!

Gas is expensive- and not worth $80 for just one day!

I've only been to one Reform wedding (mine). We had one ring (not two). We did not say "I do". The plan was for both of us to say "harei...", but there was a glitch and I didn't. (But I accepted the ring, and ketubah, in front of witnesses, so everything's kosher. The woman is not required to say harei.) We did things in the customary order. The rabbi did not read the ketubah but instead used that time to speak. (The ketubah, a beautiful hand-made work of art by a friend, was on display at the reception.) We did kiss during the ceremony, but we had yichud after.

I just checked the CCAR rabbi's manual and they do include the "I do"s in the text, though of course everything there is advisory. There's nothing in the explanatory notes about why it's there.

The witnesses in this case were a married couple.

I have a feeling it's there because it's expected. Just like the kiss.

The witnesses in this case were a married couple.

I wonder how they justify that? O doesn't accept women as witnesses, of course, and it doesn't recognise same-sex marriages, so the question doesn't arise, but if it did it certainly wouldn't accept witnesses who were married to each other! Witnesses must not be related to each other, and marriage is about as close as relationships can get.

Many years ago, I was chatting with a friend who is a rabbi, and he spoke about a wedding he had performed earlier that week; suddenly, as he was describing it, and mentioned the witnesses' names, he realised in horror that their wives were sisters, and therefore they were too closely related to be valid witnesses. After consulting more senior rabbis, he was advised to call the couple back to do a new ketuba in front of kosher witnesses, and preferably to do a new kidushin as well (though not strictly necessary, because plenty of people had seen the kidushin, and could be counted as witnesses if necessary, even though they hadn't been designated as such).

thank you so much for posting about this. It's interesting (for me, anyway) that the things you picked up on are generally the same ones I would have, given that we come from pretty different places on the Jewish spectrum. ;-)

For what it's worth, in the three weddings I've officiated at (two interfaith, - the couples, not the ceremony- and one between two Jews), no one said 'I do'. There were mutual ring exchanges at all three, but in one case we used the 'you are consecrated to me...' formula for both the bride and the groom, in one case he said 'harei aht' and she said something appropriate from Shir HaShirim, and in the third case everyone involved (except me) was allergic to hebrew and not invested in halacha so they said something in English that was davka not "i do."

sorry for spamming your journal, but i'm a bit obsessed with liturgy and ritual - it's just so much fun!

You're not spamming. This *is* interesting.

My mom's boyfriend said "I do" at his wedding to his first wife. My mom and dad said it at their (Conservative) wedding.

So it could also be a generational thing.

hmmm - i also wonder if it could be a media-reaction thing. "i do" is said in almost every pop-cultural wedding, so there will be some folk who (consciously or unconsciously) internalize that as 'this is what happens at a wedding, even if it's not part of Jewish tradition,' and some folk who will make an even bigger deal out of the counter-culturalness of Jewish weddings (heck, active Jewish identity at all) by having their wedding look as little like a TV wedding as possibly.

Does that make sense?

It could be. The early fifties were kind of a nadir in terms of Jewish culture anyway. Even many O shuls had mixed seating, for example.

as a random note, while I'm still thinking of this--we had absolutely no idea the "I do" was in the ceremony. Our rabbi hadn't told us about it and neither of us knew it was going to be in there. We weren't expecting it at all, thus the "..wha?" from Morgan when he was supposed to say "I do". go figure.

i'm so glad you were able to come and I'm really hoping you also had a good time!

The wedding was lovely and you were beautiful. (And I loved that the rings you chose were family rings. That made it very special indeed.)

I did notice something was up when he asked.

Point is, of course, that you're married.

All of the Jewish weddings I've been to have involved both parties saying "harei at mekudeshet li" or "harei atah mekudash li" -- I've never actually seen a wedding where only one ring was used, though I know that's typical in Orthodoxy. I've also grown accustomed to seeing nontraditional ketubot (usually bilingual, and usually incorporating custom-written text) though I know that's a liberal innovation too... :-)

Props to the couple for ensuring quality kosher dining and drinking for y'all. That's fantastic.

On reflection, I suppose my wedding qualified as Conservative only by the affiliation of the rabbi, the use of a Lieberman clause instead of something about igun in the tenaim, and -- well, possibly stopping to kiss the groom halfway through circling him isn't entirely traditional. For certain values of "traditional." Oh, and I said "ani mekabelet tabaat zu, v’hareini mekudeshet lecha...." after he said "harei at." But half our Jewish guests probably considered us Scary Traditional: we arranged the ketubah witnesses so that we'd have two kosher male signatures (actually three total, and their wives -- two couples who were our friends, and the rabbi and cantor), we did a double-ring ceremony in which my husband accepted a ring from me to confirm his acceptance of the ketubah (the Linzer solution, with one accompanying clause changed in the ketubah), and we obediently bopped off to yichud. After some more smooching.

I've been to more Christian weddings than Jewish ones, but I'm surprised to find "I do" so prevalent among the latter -- I really enjoyed explaining the differences between Jewish and Christian marriage ceremonies to the Christian relatives and friends who attended ours.

So we chose to take a bus instead - cab to the Port Authority, express bus to a park and ride by Willowbrook Mall, pick-up by friends of the bridal couple.

Wow, that's within spitting distance of me! (Well, okay, spitting distance by NJ Transit standards, only three zones. And you took the Willowbrook route on Sunday/holiday schedule? Wow.)

I know very little about the different types of Jewish marriage--my father had a Jewish wedding the second-go-round (which, IIRC something you wrote waaaaay back, couldn't have been a religious service? He was Catholic by birth and baptism, never converted.) I wasn't invited--which must've gotten some odd looks, the groom's only child not present?--but I remember hearing an audio tape of the ceremony, with the glass breaking. r must've carried through the entire room.

I'm afraid I still don't understand what it all meant--I was around eight or nine then, and I've since lost touch with that part of the family. But knowing such a wonderful thing happened, so close by, makes me smile.

Thanks for sharing.

(And now I have this urge to hit the library and look stuff up...)

Typo queen does it again...

Er... the line that got cut off in the third paragraph should read:

"Dad must not have taken to the coaching for the ceremony too well, because he kind of froze up at the glass-breaking, and somebody had to cue him, in a stage-whisper that must've carried through the entire room.)

Sorry 'bout that. Tired. Keys are worn and the fingers are fumbling.


A bus every half-hour - very convenient. And we had zero wait time for the bus back.

Also, why did I think you were in Texas and do you want to do the get-together thing?