Our wedding ceremony was at New West End Synagogue in St Petersburgh Place, Bayswater. One of the oldest and most beautiful synagogues in London. Though neither of us are very religious, it meant a lot to our families that we had chosen to get married in a synagogue and I was glad we’d chosen one with such incredible architecture and history.
But, fortunately, the wise rabbi was on hand to give him some advice.
I want to write this blog post to not only describe my experience of getting married but also to explain some of the traditions of Jewish weddings. The Chuppah (above) is central to the Jewish marriage ceremony. The bride and groom marry under this canopy which symbolises the roof of the home that the couple will build together.
Our Chuppah had been beautifully adorned with white orchids by our florist, Rob Van Helden.
and from publishing….
and some of my family. We had 250 people coming altogether, so a lot of family and friends!
While all this was going on at the synagogue, I was with my parents…stuck in traffic! As beautiful and magical as everything felt, it was a pretty hot day and sitting in that car and knowing I was late was not particularly fun!
I love this photo though where by coincidence a coach with my name on it was captured in the background!
When I finally arrived, we were around twenty minutes late; the wedding was supposed to start at three.
When I entered the synagogue the rabbi was there to greet me. Mr Silver and I had met with him several times and he’d given us lots of advice as to how to have the perfect marriage…basically do what ever she says…
The rabbi led me into a room called ‘The Bedeken Room,’ (that’s Mr S’s mum on the left by the way) also known as the bride’s room. Unlike at a Christian wedding this is where the groom first sees the bride. In the Bedeken room the Groom sees the brides face to basically confirm she’s the right person! The tradition is based on the Bible story and the wedding of Jacob and to Leah, whose face was hidden by a veil. Jacob had thought he was marrying Leah’s sister, Rachel. Luckily, there was no imposter and he had the right person.
Here’s Mr S heading to meet me…
And seeing me for the first time on our wedding day.
Tradition has it, that the groom than covers the bride’s face.
Then Mr Silver walked down the aisle first with his parents.
Then the adorable flower girls,
and finally my parents escorted me down the aisle.
I love the fact that in a Jewish wedding, both parents come down the aisle with you, allowing my mum to have that special moment too.
Walking down the aisle is probably one of the shortest yet most meaningful walks you take and in my heels, I had to step very carefully!
As I walked down the narrow corridor I looked around at all the familiar faces of my family and friends looking at me with huge smiles on their faces…
Then I saw the smile of my favourite person…
… and he took my hand and led me under the Chuppah. Both sets of parents also stood under the canopy with us to be part of the joining together of our families.
A song of welcome is sung after which the bride circles the groom seven times. The act symbolically binds the groom with ties of love and removes any barriers between them. I love the symbolism of being bound together but I have to say I felt a little silly having to walk around him so many times. Plus, my mum had to follow me holding up my huge train.
Mr Silver’s close family (sister-in-laws, sister and grandmother) all looked on with big smiles!
The next symbolic moment is the Kiddushin or Sanctification. The rabbi recited two blessings and Mr Silver and I drank from the same cup of wine symbolising the sharing of the rest of our lives together. I’d asked for white wine but I looked in horror to see a very full cup of red wine…fortunately there were no spills or mishaps on my beautiful white dress!
Mr Silver now recited the most important phrase of the day in Hebrew, meaning ‘Behold, thou art consecrated unto me with this ring in accordance with the Law of Moses and of Israel.’ He then placed the ring on the forefinger of my right hand, my acceptance of the ring showed acceptance of the declaration of marriage. In a Jewish wedding, the bride doesn’t actually speak at all, everything is symbolised with actions. a fact I was quite glad about with my nerves jangled! Plus, it was a very hot day and I was getting very warm under that veil.
Next the rabbi read the Jewish contract of the marriage, the Ketubah.
He then handed it to the Mr Silver, who gave it to the me cos I look after all the important things in life! Following this moment, God is praised in the recitation of the Sheva Brachot or the seven nuptial blessings.
And finally the Groom smashes a glass to represent the destruction of the Temple, and of our ties to Israel. I hope I’ve explained everything well enough but if you’d like a bit more explanation of the traditions that take place during a Jewish wedding check out my favourite Jewish wedding website, Smashing The Glass
Mazel Tov!!! And now it was time for kisses and hugs with our parents because we were officially married!!!
Look at the silly grin on my face!! As with a Christian wedding it was now time to sign the register.
After signing the register we headed to the Yichud (Unity) room, which was a chance for us to spend five minutes alone, our first time in privacy as a married couple.
It may sound strange, but these five minutes alone were probably my favourite part of the day. I loved seeing all my family and friends together but those five minutes were a reminder of what the day was all about, the two of us. We exchanged rings properly, as you may have noticed the groom doesn’t actually receive a ring during the ceremony. We had a little hug and reflected on what we had experienced that day and what was still to come.
Most of the guest were leaving as we came out of the synagogue but Mr Silver and a few of our friends helped me out with my long train and veil.
And we climbed into the wedding car to head off to our reception at The Dorchester, finally a married couple.
Next week: The Reception