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The canopy is the limit: Designing and building your own Chupah

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Last time, we looked at the history of the chupah and marvelled at gorgeous canopies which are often provided by your synagogue or you can commission from an expert. But what if you want to create something truly personal with your own hands?

As Jordana Horn points out at Forward.com, “making a chupah more personal to the couple beneath it feels new, but actually dates back to the Babylonian Talmud, Gittin 57a: ‘It was the custom when a boy was born to plant a cedar tree and when a girl was born to plant a pine tree, and when they married, the tree was cut down and a canopy made of the branches.’”

 How to make a Chupah

And the sky – or at least the canopy – is the limit for what you can create. Karen Cinnamon runs a Jewish (and “Jew-ish”) wedding blog called Smashing the Glass. “Within the Jewish ceremony, we have so much latitude for beautiful, creative elements where we can really express ourselves,” Cinnamon told Forward.com. “And you get inspiration and confidence when you see other people doing things that are different, and realize: I don’t have to listen to my parents, or do what they did. We can do something that expresses the identity of the two of us.”

Seth and Amy Krostich have documented their chupah project online along with shots of them hammering, painting, assembling – and even kissing under it. After its formal use, they planned to keep it around as a reminder when they erect it in the garden of their new home.

 

DIY Wedding Chupah Stands

Instead of designing your chupah all by yourself, make it a communal effort. Elsa Wachs asked friends and family to contribute personal items to be incorporated into her son’s chupah. “You, our family, are very precious to us,” she wrote, “and having a ‘piece’ of you in our family wedding canopy will mean a great deal to us… I know you are wondering what you can send that will be significant; the answer is quite simple: almost anything! Your offerings are an integral part of our family history…” Not a single person failed to respond.

The chupah has become a family heirloom and has been used at the weddings of Wachs’ three sons, two cousins and other relatives. Rahel Musleah’s lovely article, “Chupahs of Hope“ from Jewish Woman magazine tells how chupahs have evolved to symbolize what one artist calls “Love, beauty and joy.”

Marc Cardinalli and his (now) wife asked their friends “to decorate a one foot square piece of 100 per cent cotton cloth with any memories, thoughts, words, pictures, whatever they thought. My bride-to-be took the squares to a seamstress who put them all together onto an old family heirloom square about eight foot by eight foot. We lost my mother last year, but her chupah square remains as a lasting memory of her. We have hung our chupah on our wall so we can see it every day. Someday, perhaps, our children will get married under the family chupah.”

 

How To Build A Wedding Archway for Under $50

If you are lucky enough to be planning some time under a chupah, you’ll want to make sure that everything goes according to clockwork. But life doesn’t go as planned, as you’ll see in Chupah Horror Stories presented at the Country Yossi Family Magazine website. There are tales of red wine spilled on white wedding dresses under the chupah, the band that missed the chupah because it was stuck in the elevator, and the couple that only realized under the chupah that they hadn’t bought a wedding ring – and proceeded to purchase one from one of their guests.

 

Now THIS is how to break the glass under the chupah!

 

And then there is my favourite: some poor soul accidentally (and prematurely) dropped and broke the glass under the chupah. One of the guests who apparently wasn’t paying too much attention yelled out “mazel tov”. Thereupon the band started playing “Od Yishama” before the wedding was actually over. The couple and their parents tried to tell everyone they weren’t done, but they couldn’t be heard over all the singing.

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