The wedding hall coordinator thrust a single rose into my hand. I had bought a bouquet earlier in the day with my shomer. I intended to give ASoG the rest of the roses later, but they mysteriously vanished from my dressing room. The guys were going crazy singing and jumping up and down as we made our way down the hall to the shmorg area. I felt very strange (in an almost out-of-body-experience way) to be the center of attention instead of one of the young men clamoring to get to the front of the group. There was the usual squeeze for space, with some guys getting pushed out of the way as we went through a set of double doors – after which they ran back around to rejoin everyone once we entered the hall where ASoG was holding court.
The women waiting for our arrival whipped out their cameras and flash bulbs went off all over the place. Oh my, there were a lot of cameras – most of the pictures we have of the badeken, even the official ones, feature at least four or five women holding a camera. My father and ASoG’s released my hands, and I there I was, just standing there holding the rose, amidst the cheering and flashing cameras, because no one told me what to do.
To be honest, I had never heard of the whole flower giving thing before ASoG casually mentioned it during our engagement. In all the marriage books I read, I don’t think I ever saw this practice referenced once. ASoG insisted, and after I surveyed a number of friends who gave a flower at the badeken (several of whom had also not heard of doing so before their fiancées told them), I saw no real objection to it and acquiesced to her request.
Anyway, I handed ASoG the flower, after which she and I exchanged confused expressions and I asked her what I was supposed to do exactly. I had recently read that the kallah’s father was supposed to do the veil, and in my own experience, I had never been close enough to the badeken to actually see what the procedure was. So she beckoned me over, bowed forward slightly, and I reached up and over to gently pull the veil down over her face.
Remember how I mentioned there were certain times when I was basically ignored back in post two? This was one of them. As soon as I veiled ASoG, it was like I didn’t exist. ASoG was blessed by her father, my Father, her grandfather and great uncle – and the entire time everyone was singing and taking pictures, and I was just standing there alone. After a few minutes of feeling awkward, I decided to dance by myself in place, since there wasn’t much else I could do.
Following her great uncle’s bracha, I turned around with our fathers and a friend rushed over to give me the obligatory ride on the shoulders to the pre-chuppah ready room. I say obligatory, because that seems to be the case in the most every wedding I’ve been to. However, recently I went to a Lakewood/Ner Yisrael wedding wherein they didn’t do this, which seemed odd to me (and several other guests made similar remarks to me).
At any rate, I am not so much scared of heights as I am about the possibility of being dropped from a height that could injure me. I once saw a chosson lifted onto a table (yes, one of the round ones in the wedding hall) who fell flat onto the table, but thankfully was injured, as well as a relative who raised up on a serving tray (yes, the little round ones the servers put dirty dishes on) and rhythmically danced without incident.
Regardless, for anyone who has ever been lifted on someone else’s shoulders before – and I’m guessing only the male readers have any inkling of what it is like since no one else can be like Rav Acha (from Kesubos 17A) and hoist the bride on his shoulders for wedding shtick – it can be a little worrisome. In order to make sure I didn’t tilt too much and fall off, I immediately (and repeatedly, as we danced along) called out to nearby friends and grabbed their hands for balance and support. This worked out nicely, since I prevented myself from having an awkward confrontation with the floor thanks to gravity, and I got to “dance” with guys instead of merely hitching a ride.
Thankfully, we made it to the pre-chuppah ready room without incident – though ducking under the door getting out into the hallway was, as always, a bit of a close call. I slid down from my perch and as soon as my feet hit the floor all the guys exploded with singing and dancing, to the point where the wedding hall coordinator guy had to make two or three attempts to get the guys to head to their seats so we could get on with the show. Just as I was about to close the door, they burst into one final niggun so they could triumphantly get “the last word in,” much to my delight as well as the chagrin of the wedding hall coordinator.
Finally the door was shut, leaving just my immediate family alone for a few minutes of peace and unity before everything really began. Earlier in the day, while temporarily making a detour to my shomer’s house, I had translated a wonderful tefillah/bracha from Yom Chuppah L’Chatan for my parents to say, which they read aloud together. It was a very emotionally impactful moment – the last time we would share our status as the nuclear Grey family without the soon-to-be daughter-in-law added to the mix. I think Mom wiped back a tear or two, but for the most part we were overwhelmed with excitement and nervous about the tremendous change that was about to take place. I would no longer be their little boy, playing with my action figures and annoying them when I wouldn’t turn the volume down on my videogames.
After a round of hugs, everyone but my parents and I were called out to begin the procession. My parents and I waited a big longer, then stepped out into the hallway, doing our best to remain carefully out of sight as the doors opened and closed for the others walking down before us. The wedding coordinator handed my parents their candles, which Mom was nervous about carrying, since she didn’t want to drop it and burn the hall down. He then made sure to emphatically instruct us that we were to walk to the edge of the doorway, stop, and then proceed with our right foot forward. I had read about this in Yom Chupa L’Chatan – it’s a significant omen that the wedding should start off “on the right foot,” with the proper intention and with good mazal.
My walk-down theme began to sound from the nearby chuppah room, and we cautiously crept forward and stood still by the door. After a deep breath, all three of us took that all-too-important and life changing right step into the next phase of our lives.