In case you weren't sure what was going to happen at our wedding (besides us getting married), we've laid out what you can expect to see in the order in which it will happen.
Kabbalat Panim (Receiving of Guests)
When you arrive, Terri will be seated in one room in a throne-like chair, surrounded by her and Matthew's female relatives and friends, receiving guests while the cocktail hour is going on in the same room. Feel free to nibble and drink, and visit Matthew at his tisch.
Chatan's Tisch (Groom's Table)
At the same time, in another room, Matthew will be seated at a table where his male friends and family will sing and celebrate the upcoming event with him. Guests should feel comfortable stopping by both rooms. Various documents will be signed during this time, including the t'naim which represents the agreement of the families that the couple will marry. Once, this document was signed up to a year in advance of the wedding; now it is signed as a formality. At its conclusion, a plate will be broken by both mothers, to show the gravity of the contract; once it is broken, it can never be repaired. The ketubah (marriage contract) will also be signed at this time. The ketubah spells out Matthew's obligations to Terri and was designed and painted with love by our good friend Ariela Housman. It has items important to both of us as part of the design (see if you can figure out which things belong to which person).
Badeken (Veiling Ceremony)
After the documents are signed, Matthew will be escorted by his family and friends to Terri. He will veil her himself, to make sure that she is his intended bride. After she has been veiled, Terri will be blessed by her mother and Matthew's father.
Chuppah (Wedding Canopy)
The chuppah is representative of the home that we will build together. The canopy itself was constructed by Terri's mother, and includes her father's tallit (prayer shawl) as part of the ceiling. Adorning the sides of the chuppah are ribbon flowers. Some of those flowers are made from Dr. Ash's bow ties, and the rest were made by Terri, her sister Hannah and friends. Thank you to Terri Machtiger, Jen Taylor Friedman, Laura Baron and Liz Shayne for your hard work making the flowers.
Matthew will enter first, escorted by his parents. He will put on a kittel, a white garment symbolizing purity and the solemnity of the High Holidays. Terri's mother will escort her to the chuppah. Terri's brothers will sing songs of welcome when Matthew and Terri arrive. When she is under the chuppah, Terri will circle Matthew seven times. Seven is a powerful number in Judaism, indicating the days of creation as well as the concept of completeness.
Rabbi Jason Herman, Matthew's good friend and former roommate, will perform the ceremony. He will recite the birkat erusin (betrothal blessings). We will each drink from a cup of wine. Witnesses chosen by Matthew will examine the wedding ring that he intends to present to Terri. This ring will be a simple band of solid metal. This is symbolic of the circle we hope to create with our marriage - solid, with no beginning and no end. After Matthew gives Terri the ring, the ketubah will be read aloud.
Various honorees will be called up to recite the sheva brachot, seven blessings that create nissuin (marriage). After these blessings are recited, we will drink from a second cup of wine.
Even at the times of greatest joy, we must remember that our lives are not complete without a completely rebuilt Jerusalem. Matthew will break a glass to symbolize that even in the height of our celebration, we still must mourn the loss of the Temple.
Immediately after the ceremony, we will retreat into seclusion for a short time. It is important that we spend our first moments as husband and wife alone. Witnesses will stand outside the door to guard our privacy during this time.
While we are in seclusion, we hope that all of you will head straight to the ballroom. We will join you shortly for dinner and dancing. So much of what makes a Jewish wedding joyful is the participation of all the guests in the wedding dancing. We hope you join us to make our wedding special.