In spite of knowing exactly two people (mom and dad of the bride) at this weekend’s wedding, we had a delightful evening. It took place on a breezy warm summer evening at a restaurant on the edge of the water in Westport Connecticut. We really enjoyed how different this Jewish service was from previous weddings we’ve been to. I learned later that depending on whether the couple is Orthodox or Conservative or some other denomination, the family has a fair amount of latitude to incorporate whichever cultural and spiritual elements they wish.
First of all, it was a small wedding, certainly under 100 people. We arrived and were guided around the building to where chairs were set up on the lawn facing a simple chuppah, a canopy supported by four poles, which in a Jewish ceremony symbolizes the home the couple will build together. What a lovely idea.
The other ladies and I did our part to help out the facility’s groundspeople as we aerated the lawn with every step of our heels. There’s a real art to getting across a spongy lawn in heels – if you’re not careful, your heel will plunge down into the soft earth, tipping you back and then requiring you to yank up your foot like a toilet plunger. A useful workout for the calves.
Once we were settled in our white chairs facing the bay, we all stood up as the parents of the bride both escorted her together to meet her waiting groom. Instead of being shuffled off to sit with everyone else, both parents – and the mother of the groom – stood with the couple throughout the ceremony.
I was unable to see much since we were in the very back, but I could make out the bride circling the groom several times. I did a little research and learned that this is to symbolize righteousness, kindness, and justice, the virtues of marriage. There was also general laughter when the rabbi instructed the groom to break the glass, saying it would be the last time he’d be able to put his foot down. Before long the ceremony was over and we all called Mazel Tov!
We nibbled appetizers while looking out over the sunny bay but then grabbed our drinks and headed inside as a storm swept toward us. Before too long we all found our tables and were chatting with our dinner companions when the DJ struck up Hava Nagila and the entire room piled onto the dance floor. People sang and circled in the Horah left and right and back and forth regardless of age or talent. They had the stupid Electric Slide and Chicken Dance beaten by a mile.
There was the usual dinner and speeches, but then before I knew it, the bride and groom were on chairs, hoisted up and danced around the room, as were the parents of the bride.
This was one fun evening. I may begin a new career crashing Jewish weddings.