All in the Family
Jewish weddings are open to including family and finding ways to honor those who are closest to you. You may want to pay tribute to certain members of your very own tribe, but perhaps you’re not sure how. Today the Yentas give you ideas that say “Thanks! Love ya!” to the ones who are most special to you.
What You Wear:
We’re giving a new, literal meaning to the term “close-knit family.” Why not include, if available, a piece of your mom’s dress or veil somewhere on your own bridal body. This could include sewing in some fabric to your own dress, making a garter out of the remnant, or pinning a piece to your bouquet. If your mom’s wedding wardrobe is yellowed or long gone, you could also wear some of her jewelry or hair clip. Many accessories are timeless and will still go with your overall look.
If you’d like to honor your father or someone else equally as important the same way, you could take fabric from one of his “that’s SO dad” neckties and use it as a hankie (you will probably tear up at least twice) or glue it into the soles of your shoes. You could also include a small photo in your bouquet or wear a necklace with a locket pendant.
It’s nice to think that while you begin the rest of your life with your new husband, you also have those who were always your biggest cheerleaders with you for support and love during the big day.
If you’re feeling crafty, you can recruit some of your favorite relatives to help you make your chuppah. If the chuppah is not a free-standing structure, another way to honor family members is to include them in your chuppah ceremony by selecting four people to hold the poles as you, your partner, and rabbi stand under it.
Every chuppah needs a canopy, so you can use a grandfather’s tallit or a grandmother’s table cloth. If there’s a special garment that has significant meaning to a particular family member, this is another great way to honor those you love the most.
Showcase a Photo Table at the reception. Perhaps your venue has a side table near the bar, or a fireplace mantle, or even a closed piano and create a scape of family wedding photos. Guests love to see the bride and groom’s parents on their wedding days because some of them were probably there, and also to gush at the resemblance the “kids” have to their parents. Seeing the classic black and white photos from 60-ish years ago of grandparents and, if you’re lucky to have them, photos of great-grandparents, is very special. If there are relatives who are deceased, this is also a wonderful way to honor them and give them a place at the wedding day.
Make the Most of a Toast:
Ask one or two people you absolutely love to make a toast. You’ll probably have toasts scheduled to be given by your best man and maid of honor, so you don’t want to take time away from your reception with a zillion toasts. However, it’s okay to include a couple more interspersed throughout the reception if you’d like to honor an extremely special person or two. Perhaps one can give a speech welcoming everyone to the reception. If there’s a singer in your family, a song counts, too! What you don’t want to do is water down your festive wedding with lots and lots of speeches. Guests who aren’t involved will become bored and this eats up your time with your band or DJ. So, double-dip where you can!
If you really want to enjoy more speeches, it’s okay to include these special people at your rehearsal dinner where, usually, you’ll enjoy a more casual atmosphere that’s concentrated with many family members.
Let’s Holla’ for the Challah:
Around the time that you’ll sit down for dinner, it’s traditional to say Ha-motzi over a challah. You can honor a family member with the recitation of the blessing before the kitchen slices up the delicious challah. The blessing can be tailored to the newlyweds’ measure of tradition, so this is something you may want to confirm with your rabbi or cantor.
Don’t forget to provide the name of the person you’re honoring to your emcee or DJ. When you go over the timeline of your reception with your coordinator or entertainment, make sure to tell them that you’d like to include this tradition and you’ll work together to decide when this takes place.
You can honor an additional family member with the mitzvah of creating a challah cover! Perhaps you have an aunt or a grandmother who knits or sews. Ask her to make the challah cover used during the Ha-motzi and she’ll be thrilled to be a part of your wedding in this way.
Just in case, the blessing is as follows:
Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the Universe who brings forth bread from the earth. (Amen)
and in Hebrew:
Barukh atah Adonai Elohaynu melekh ha-olam ha-motzi lechem min ha-aretz. (Amen)
The wedding day is a personal expression of you as a couple. It’s so nice to honor those who’ve supported you in your lives and in your couplehood. Don’t feel restricted by rules or regulations. Do what feels right and everything will be!