Sorry it’s been so long since the last time I continued this series. Heck, ASoG and I celebrated our X-month anniversary not too long ago (X < 10, but I don’t want to give any stalkers the chance to figure out when we got married), and I finally remembered to get back to work.
We had a special guest sing Mi Bon Siach. The singer’s (a friend of mine) rendition of Mi Bon Siach from his album was ASoG’s favorite version, so I arranged for him to be there at the chuppah as a sort of surprise (she knew about it beforehand). As ASoG walked around me the requisite seven times, accompanied by our mothers, I alternated closing my eyes in prayer and sneaking a loving glance toward ASoG. Every time our eyes met we’d exchange a private little smile. The unspoken thought shared between us was “Yes, it’s finally here. This is real. Thank G-d.”
From the department of things that go wrong at weddings: ASoG just informed me that when she was being walked around, her dress was hiked up her slightly to accommodate her circling. In doing so, the bottom edge of the dress lifted, revealing the bottom of the white, poofy under-thing (ASoG said it’s called a crinoline) that brides wear to maintain the poofiness of their dress. While nothing scandalous was visible (just the white dress-thing, which was basically ankle length) no one bothered to fix it, and it remained that way throughout the chuppah. Consequently, we threw out a bunch of pictures that were ruined by this unfortunate oversight. Oh well…
Once ASoG finished her last circuit around me, we stood side-by-side beneath the beautiful chuppah, made of some white transparent material and a beautiful floral arrangement. My uncle served as the announcer and called up our Mesader Kiddushin (MK) to begin the ceremony. The MK said the brachos for Erusin and I took a drink from the wine, which was one of the most awful wines I’ve ever tasted in my life. When ASoG’s mother handed her the wine to drink, she also visibly recoiled when it touched her tongue.
I had read somewhere in my pre-wedding reading list that the wine under the chuppah should be sweet – aside from the positive omen aspect of it (sweet wine = sweet beginning/marriage), the more practical reason is that you haven’t had anything to drink all day, and why shouldn’t you enjoy it? Clearly the wedding hall just bought a case of mini-bottles of the cheapest stuff that could be found without really caring about the effect on their customers.
Anyway, my uncle called up the two Eidei Kiddushin, one a prominent YU Rabbi and the other a rebbe from my childhood. The MK asked me to produce the ring, I turned to Dad who had been holding it for me. Dad gave me the little box, I took out the ring and held it up. The MK asked me if the ring was in fact mine, purchased with my own money and I answered it was.
Parenthetically, when I bought the ring, I had taken cash out of an ATM per our MK’s advice to ensure the money was totally mine (the checking account I had been using was in both my name and my Mother’s, dating back a few years). To make things even better, the jeweler opened a new account in their computers so the receipt even had my name on it. He proudly handed me the receipt and said “Now you can tell the Rabbi it’s 100% kosher.”
The MK asked me to show the ring to the eidei kiddushin and asked them if they thought it was worth a sheva pruta, which they relied they believed it was. Earlier, at the Chosson’s Tisch, I had requested that the MK feed me the words to “Harei At,” because I thought I might get too nervous and forget them (I had also read this was the right thing to do, and it made sense to me), but in the moment I didn’t need any assistance. Calmly, with full confidence, I said the most important words I’ve ever uttered in my life.
Harei at mikudeshes li, b’taba’at zu, k’das Moshe v’Yisrael.
Behold, you are consecrated to me, with this ring, according to the laws of Moshe and Yisrael.
I carefully slid the ring over ASoG right index finger – just enough to get it close to her second knuckle. There is no halachic reason to force the ring to go further than that, and the ring was sized to fit her left ring finger anyway, so if it didn’t quite fit, why try to force it on and hurt her? The MK turned to the eidei kiddushin who declared “mikudeshes, mikudeshes.”
My uncle called up ASoG’s family rabbi to read the kesubah, which he did with gusto and emotion instead of the typical rush-through read. I raised the kesubah and gave it to ASoG, who promptly handed it off to her mother. The MK then took a few minutes to speak (per my request) and addressed us as well as the crowd. He spoke of our dedication and commitment to Judaism, and our future goals in life, among other things (it’s kind of hard to remember all the details, sufficed to say I thought he did a great job).
Next were the sheva brachos themselves, which were pretty difficult to organize – in order to keep everyone on both sides of the family happy (I hear this basically happens with everyone). Among those honored were relatives, rabbeim, and prominent YU personalities. I still very keenly remember the smile on each man’s face as he joined us beneath the chuppah, some offering a word of encouragement (“you’re doing great!”) before they went about the task of reciting their bracha.
After the last bracha was completed, we drank again from that horrible, awful, vile wine. I really recommend to anyone who has a chance to prepare beforehand to go buy a bottle of Moscato D’Asti or some other nice white wine (since no one wants to get red wine anywhere near the Kallah’s dress) to make sure you can at least enjoy drinking the wine under the chuppah.
A cousin of mine proceeded to sing Im Eshkocheich, and the wedding hall coordinator got the glass ready for me to stomp. As many readers may recall from my previous post on the subject, I had decided to break the glass while Im Eshkocheich was being sung – and I did exactly that. However, the coordinator was of a more traditional mindset and vehemently argued with me for a few seconds that I should wait to break the glass. In hindsight, it may have been appropriate to announce that that was what I was going to do, since the crowd was awkwardly silent for a bit after the singing ended. Friends reported to me later that there was a momentary debate regarding if I had broken the glass or not, with some saying I had with others countering that I hadn’t. Thankfully, the band started the classic post-chuppah Od Yishama and everyone leapt to their feet, cheering and wishing us “Mazal Tov!”
Look for Part 6 Soon!