I endearingly called May 25, 2008, “The Wedding Olympics.” No one was competing for any scores. There was no torch to light and pass. A Beatles medley played in place of national anthems. However, the day was full of events that had us leaping from place to place, and it was tiring. We made it through on adrenaline and love, so the long jumps and the synchronized swims and badmintons of the day did not feel too exhausting. So as true athletes do (ohmygosh, I just had the audacity to compare my husband and myself to athletes… true ones, even), we basked in our glory and winnings (each other) and enjoyed some nice, quiet alone time after the ceremony, otherwise known as the yichud.
The Hebrew word yichud translates seclusion in English. Traditionally, unmarried men and women should never be secluded together, so, in theory, the wedding day is the first time this ever happens between the bride and groom. This law came about after the rape of King David’s daughter when she was left alone with her half brother. It was then that David and his high court extended this prohibition to all unmarried girls. Typically, the laws of yichud are followed by Orthodox Jews, but all Jews may interpret the laws to fit their ceremony or beliefs.
In early historical times, the yichud was when the just-married couple would consummate the marriage, and witnesses would be there to guarantee privacy and verify that it indeed happened because technically, this was a legal and required act. Fast forward to 2010. Modern day traditional brides and grooms leave the chuppah and go directly to a private area or room for their yichud. For couples who chose to fast on their wedding day in order to start their life anew, this is when they would also break the fast and exchange gifts. Typically, the bride will bless the groom, saying “May you merit to have a long life, and to unite with me in love from now until eternity. May I merit to dwell with you forever.”
Not every modern Jewish couple chooses to enjoy a yichud after the ceremony, and that’s okay, too! Some just want to get right to the party or have to continue with photographs. My groom and I chose to do a very short and sweet yichud, and it was one of the highlights of our day. Those ten minutes marked the first time we got to really talk and rehash our mornings and afternoons when we were apart. And we reminisced about the ceremony and the vows we said to each other and how the weather perfectly cleared up as we left the chuppah to “Here Comes The Sun.” We sat in a garden 50 feet away from our flower-kissed chuppah, hand in hand, excited for the kick-ass party that was about to start inside and gushed about the gold medal event that had just taken place: becoming husband and wife.