As I mentioned in my last post, the reason I've not been on DW much recently is because I have just got married (and spent pretty much all my free time during the previous six months planning my wedding*).
* If you're going to get married, try to leave yourself more time. All the preparations went through all right, but ended up being completed at absolutely the last moment. And we only ended up completing getting the cake ordered the day before the wedding!
Before the wedding was even over, there was a stream of photos of it turning up on Facebook. Here's a report of the wedding put together from our wedding guide book and a selection of those photos. I've omitted a lot to make this, but (a) it took a lot of time getting the photo URLs out of Facebook (and they'll only be valid until the next time Facebook changes the way it works), and (b) this post is long enough already, so I think this will do. (If you want to read more, liv wrote a very nice report of the wedding and some of its ancillary events on her own blog.)
It's normal in the UK for Jewish weddings to have a registrar present to carry out the civil part of the ceremony. We couldn't do that because UK law does not permit me to be married in the UK unless I've been resident there for the previous several weeks; we ended up having a civil wedding in Andrea's home town of Wuppertal, which allowed her ninety-seven year old grandmother, who has poor mobility, to attend.Married in the eyes of man but not yet God:
Religious weddingThe religious wedding was held at the New North London Synagogue on Monday 28th August. This being a Bank Holiday, it should have plukhed it down; instead it was gloriously sunny. I fear I may have sold my soul somewhere as part of the wedding preparations to achieve this.
Traditionally before the bride comes to the chuppah (see on), the groom would place a veil over her face. Andrea, however, preferred to go to the chuppah with open eyes, seeing what she was letting herself in for, so we reversed this, with Michael instead unveiling her before the chuppah—an action better matching the Biblical justification for this part of the ritual: making sure the wrong bride hasn’t been substituted, as happened to the patriarch Jacob.Arrival of the groom, having been accompanied to the oyfdecken room by the male members of his family (photo: Paul Grant):
Coo-ee! (photo: Paul Grant):
The Jewish wedding ceremony takes place under a canopy, called the chuppah, symbolising the household the couple will build together. We are grateful to Michelle and Ben Supper for generously allowing us to be the fifth couple to be married under theirs. (Photo: Michelle Supper.)
The ceremony itself falls into two parts; kiddushin or betrothal, and eirusin or marriage. In ancient times, these were separate ceremonies, but today they are performed back-to-back, separated by the reading out of the kesuba or marriage contract.
It is traditional for each of the couple to be led under the chuppah by their parents. Addressing the imbalance caused by the absence of Michael’s late mother, Michael and his father decided that he should he accompanied to the chuppah by his father Richard and Richard's sister Vivien, along with her husband Steve (photo: Michelle Silver); Andrea was accompanied by her parents Florin and Gaby (photo: Clara Silver).
When the bride reaches the chuppah, she would traditionally perform seven circles around the groom. In order to help make the ceremony more egalitarian, something important to both Andrea and Michael, they split these circles between them: Andrea performed three, to honour the three Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), then Michael four, to honour the four Matriarchs (Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah). (Photos: Clara Silver.)
During the entry of the bride and groom, and the circling, our friend Gregory Ser sang and played guitar for us:
Circling (photo: Paul Grant), whilst Gregory plays and sings:
The ChuppahUnder the chuppah (photo: Paul Grant), the officiant (either Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, Michael's rabbi in London, or Rabbi Gesa Ederberg, our rabbi in Berlin) recited the two betrothal benedictions over a cup of wine, from which bride and groom drank:
The bride and groom now each placed a ring on the other’s finger, declaring הַרֵי אַתָּה מְקוּדָּשׁ/אַתְּ מְקוּדֶּשֶת לִי בְּטַבַּעַת זוּ כְּדַת מֹֹשֶׁה וְיִשְׂרָאֵל. "Behold you are sanctified to me with this ring according to the law of Moses and Israel." Andrea recited this first, to give it halachic meaning as a kinyan (acquisition, through the ring, of rights over her husband). (Traditionally, only the groom would make such a declaration, and were the groom to go first, one could argue this would render the bride’s declaration meaningless, as they would already be married).
The kesuba or marriage contract was now signed by two witnesses, whilst Gregory played further, then read out. (This normally happens at an earlier point in the proceedings, but as that would mean the witnesses were signing that they had witnessed something which hasn’t happened yet, we have moved this, on R. Gesa’s advice, to later in the ceremony.) (Photo: Michelle Supper.)
The artwork on our kesuba was created for us by Nehama Grenimann Bauch. It features things in it that speak of us both—rabbit and squirrels and pomegranates for Andrea, pineapples, maps and the Priestly Blessing in the script used in the Ketef Hinnom amulets (the only First-Temple period artefact bearing a Biblical quotation) for Michael.
The text is, following ancient tradition, in Aramaic, but was read out in English translation (photo: Frauke Ohnholz):
Final parts of the ceremony
The wedding ceremony consists of seven benedictions read by the officiant over wine with the common theme of celebrating joy, love and life. This isn't captured very well by photos. :o) At the end, the bride and groom again drank of the wine.
As a reminder that our joy cannot be complete while all is not well with the world, and in particular as a memory of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem nearly two thousand years ago, a glass was now smashed underfoot by the groom. Beforehand, Gregory will sing Psalm 137:5–6 (אִם־אֶשְׁכָּחֵךְ יְרוּשָׁלִָם תִּשְׁכַּח יְמִינִי׃ תִּדְבַּק־לְשׁוֹנִי לְחִכִּי אִם־לֹא אֶזְכְּרֵכִי׃ אִם־לֹא אַעֲלֶה אֶת־יְרוּשָׁלִַם עַל רֹאשׁ שִׂמְחָתִי׃ "If I forget thee Jerusalem, may my right hand forget [its skill]. May my tongue cleave to my palate if I do not remember thee; if I do not elevate Jerusalem above my chief joy.").
Just before the smashing of the glass (photo: Michelle Supper):
Confetti (photo: Clara Silver):
Simcha DancingEntry of the bride and groom (photo: Michelle Supper):
No Jewish wedding is complete without the bride and groom being lifted onto chairs during the dancing (photo: Michelle Supper):
Clara cools Andrea after an intensive bout of dancing:
The BanquetOf course the wedding featured rabbits; and given that the groom was wearing a top-hat, it was inevitable that one would be produced at some point from it:
Best Human's speech (photo: Michelle Supper):
The CeilidhDuring my four years living in Edinburgh, I picked up a taste for ceilidhs (Scots folk-dancing); I subsequently introduced Andrea to it, and so we decided to have a ceilidh at our wedding. It was lots of fun, even though it was completely new to most people (which is why we had a caller). It suffered a little I think from people being worn out by the two previous bouts of simcha dancing, but my aunt wrote to me afterwards saying she was raving to everyone about it, and thinks every wedding should have one, so I'd call that a success! There's a video of Andrea and I doing the first dance together (a Gay Gordons), but I haven't figured out how to link to it on WhatsApp (see here for why), so you're not going to get to see it here. ;^b
The aftermathWe survived to the end! (photo: Judith Prais):