The question of who stands under the wedding huppah is one of the more popular email questions we get at Huppahs.com. The answer is a matter of custom rather than Jewish law or strong tradition. Generally, the couple getting married and the officiant stand under the huppah. Parents and members of the wedding party stand to the sides.
The inclusion of the officiant under the huppah is a relatively new development. If you look at etchings of early huppah ceremonies from the Middle Ages, when huppahs as canopies first became part of the Jewish wedding ceremony, only the bride and groom stood under the huppah. This is consistent with the idea of the huppah representing the couple’s home and shared spiritual space.
Because we’re talking wedding custom rather than law, there is room for exceptions. At the wedding of ultra-orthodox royalty earlier this year, dozens of people stood under the huppah. But that huppah was probably at least 25 feet wide on each side. And they had 25,000 guests.
(Photo: Wedding at Brooklyn’s Prospect Boat House under an Organza Huppah. Thank you to mother of the groom, Nancy Gershman.)