When it comes to beautiful and symbolic wedding traditions, the Jewish chuppah is one of the most unique and interesting. The word itself means protection or covering. Simply speaking, a chuppah is a piece of cloth held by four poles, attached to the top and not the sides. It is open on all sides and symbolizes the groom’s home which becomes the bride’s new domain. Historically, those closest to the bride and groom sought to decorate the chuppah and create a piece of artwork for the newlywed couple to have as a keepsake. There are many ways to make your chuppah a one-of-a-kind memento.
One option is to use a large tallit, or prayer shawl, as your chuppah covering. If you have one in the family, it can be fun to carry on a tradition using one that has been passed between several generations. If your family doesn’t have one, buy one that strikes your fancy. Tallit can vary in price, depending on their extravagance. Basic ones will be cheaper, and more detail means a higher price tag. Using keepsakes from elderly or deceased family members can be a powerful and touching way to include them in your wedding ceremony.
An old wedding veil, apron, tablecloth, or article of clothing from times past can make a beautiful chuppah that contains many happy memories already at little to no cost.
Another great option to consider is a specially crafted chuppah made by those closest to your heart. Give out small squares of fabric and ask each friend or family member to decorate them. Every square can be embellished with well-wishes, various quotes, or specially painted. When assembled, your unique chuppah will be a reflection of the love and support provided by those who care most about you and your spouse. This can make for a fun activity during an engagement party or wedding shower. Simple fabrics will obviously be cheaper than more exotic or detailed fabrics. And the amount spent on additional décor is entirely up to you. Ask guests to bring some of their own art supplies or meaningful objects to add to their squares in order to cut costs.
Coordinate Your Colors
If you want a chuppah that matches with the colors you’ve picked specifically for your wedding, find a colorful fabric at a craft store or tablecloth. Fabrics can vary significantly in price; it all depends on what type of look and feel you are after. Take the time to add colored sequins, your name and date, quotes, or special words or designs. A chuppah made solely from flowers is nice, but brides can really get creative by adding beautiful flowers not only directly onto the chuppah but also onto the fabric that you drape onto the structure. Using real flowers adds that touch of elegance and whimsy and can also tie in with your wedding colors. Flowers can, however, add quite a bit of cost to the budget; if you are working within a tighter budget think about only using the flowers on the front two posts rather than wrapping the entire chuppah in flowers.
No matter how you choose to decorate your wedding chuppah, don’t lose sight of its symbolic meaning. Whether your chuppah is expensive and extravagant, or simple and frugal, it will be the start of many memories to come. After the wedding, there are many options to choose from when it comes to storage and/or displaying. With a few simple changes and additions, you can turn your chuppah into a bedspread to adorn your new bed together. Or you can frame it and hang it on the wall as a unique piece of décor for your shared home. Another option is to turn it into a special tablecloth to be used on holidays or your wedding anniversary each year. And if you have children, you can turn it into a baby blanket in hopes that someday your child will use it in his or her wedding. The possibilities are endless.
Olivia Nicholas has been writing and blogging about weddings for over 10 years. She works as a writer for Storkie.