Tag Archives: Jewish wedding planning tips

Get Inspired by this Outdoor Wedding Tablescape from Top Chef

top-chef-edna-lewis
Planning an outdoor wedding reception? For a tablescape that celebrates the outdoors while delivering major style, take this Top Chef table for inspiration. It’s built on a sophisticated layering of color, pattern, and texture:

  • Tablecloth with a large leafy botanical print.
  • Wide table runner in a natural hue with unfinished and slightly frayed edges (You could DIY this with a length of plain weave natural fabric, like hemp)
  • Rafia placemats.
  • Dark amber water glasses.
  • Sideways glass vases holding pink flowers to give the setting a modern lift.

This screenshot, by the way, is from Top Chef’s 14th season, in South Carolina, at an estate that housed the restaurant and home of Edna Lewis, a luminary of traditional Southern cooking.

Maria BywaterMaria Bywater is the designer behind Huppahs.com and author of Sew Jewish: The 18 Projects You Need for Jewish Holidays, Weddings, Bar/Bat Mitzvah Celebrations, and Home.

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A Tip for Using Ribbons on Your Wedding Huppah

ribbons for wedding chuppah

Once you cut ribbon, the threads at the end can fray and look messy. Packing up the ribbon to get it to your wedding venue and tying the ribbon to your huppah can make the fraying worse. That’s not a fun look for your wedding. But you can prevent stray threads and keep your ribbons looking neat by sealing the ends with liquid fray check, which you can find it at fabric and craft stores.

After cutting the end of the ribbon neatly, apply fray check and let it dry. After it’s dry, trim the ribbon again to leave a strip of fray check that is no more than about 1/8″ (3mm) wide.

More tips for decorating your huppah with ribbons here.

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Who Stands Under the Huppah?

wedding at New York Prospect Park May 2012

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.

Jewish Wedding, by Moritz OppenheimThe 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.)

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10 Scrumptious Wedding Cake Dessert Pairings

Small weddings don’t need big dessert buffets. Simple can be celebratory. Start by choosing a wedding cake with personality. Then add a second, complimentary dessert to the plate. Think seasonal fruits, home made ice-creams, sherbert, refined cookies, and the many manifestations of chocolate.

Consider these wedding dessert matches made in heaven:

  1. Coconut Chiffon Cake & Sour Cherry Compote
  2. Chocolate chili cupcakes

    Chocolate cupcakes with chili chocolate frosting.

    Chili Chocolate Cupcakes & Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
  3. Croquembouche & Honey Lavender Ice Cream
  4. Hazelnut Cake & Chocolate Mousse (Both parve)
  5. Flourless Chocolate Cake with Fresh Whipped Cream & Fresh Raspberries
  6. Angel Food Cake & Spring Berry Compote (Both parve)
  7. Vanilla Pound Cake & Ginger and Lemon Sherbert
  8. Orange Almond Cake & Chocolate Almond Truffles
  9. Ricotta Cake & Broiled Honey-Glazed Spiced Figs
  10. Lilikoi Layer Cake with Fresh Passionfruit & Ginger-Macadamia Nut Snowballs

Thinking of another great pairing? Share it in the comment section!

And you might want to take a look at these:

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DIY wedding dress in Kate Middleton style from Butterick Patterns

Kate Middleton Wedding Dress Pattern
DIY brides and Kate Middleton fans: Butterick Patterns has released a pattern for a Kate Middleton-inspired wedding dress. The design features the high lace collar, tight bodice, and pleated skirt we know and love from the Duchess of Cambridge’s royal wedding.

Sizes: Misses 6-20
Difficulty Rating: Advanced
Pattern Number: B5731

Pippa Middleton inspired bridesmaid dress pattern from Butterick.

Pippa Middleton inspired bridesmaid dress pattern from Butterick.

And yes, Butterick also offers a Pippa Middleton-inspired bridesmaid dress pattern in sizes 6-22. Difficulty rating: Average.

Photo credit: http://butterick.mccall.com

Thank you, Butterick!

Wedding DIY wedding gown pattern

Grace Kelly-esque pattern from Vogue.

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Pre-Passover Is a Great Time to Choose a Kosher Wine for Your Jewish Wedding

When we asked a group of prominent wedding rabbis to give us their tips for organizing a Jewish wedding, one of their comments was that couples and wedding planners should make sure that the wine used for the huppah ceremony is kosher. If you don’t know a lot about kosher wines and aren’t sure what’s available in your area, then this is a great time to check out your options. In these last weeks before Passover, lots of kosher wine shops, synagogues, and Jewish organizations offer wine tastings and special sales.

If you’ve missed the special wine tastings in your area, experiment during the Passover Seders. After all, if we’re drinking four glasses of wine during each Seder, you can make each round a different variety. Not many options available locally? This is also a good time to order great kosher wines online so that you can have them in hand in time for the holiday.

Can you recommend a wine? Share it in the Comment section!

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A Wedding Chuppah for All Venues: The Simplicity Huppah

Simple elegant huppah

While finalizing the reservation of a Simplicity Huppah yesterday, I realized that of all our rental huppahs, we’ve probably shipped this style huppah to the widest variety of wedding venues, from backyards to bistros and hotel ballrooms. Its clean, classic design fits just about any setting (and like all of our huppahs, it’s easy to transport and set up anywhere).

Just for fun, we went back through the files and revisited some of the varied venues where couples have wed under Simplicity Huppahs:

You can check the availability of our Simplicity Huppahs for your wedding day or get more details at Huppahs.com. Or see all our huppah designs.

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Colorful Ketubahs, Eco-Friendly Kippot, Re-Invented Cake?! Mazelmoments.com Lays Out the 2013 Jewish Wedding Trends

2013 Wedding Trends Report Mazelmoments

Want a quick overview of the smoking trends for Jewish weddings in 2013? Mazelmoments just released their 2013 Wedding Trends Report. The folks at Mazelmoments filled the report with colorful, informative snapshots of what we’ll be seeing a lot of at Jewish weddings this year, including decor, catering, ketubahs, and huppahs (Spoiler alert: just like Huppahs.com, Mazelmoments finds that couples are having a love affair with organza huppahs).

To get the report you’ll need to sign up for Mazelmoments’ newsletter, but if you’re planning a wedding or if you’re a wedding vendor, their mailing list is a good place to be. Sign up and get the report.

Are you loving a trend that you’re seeing? Shout it out in the Comments section.

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The Jewish Wedding Ceremony, Step by Step

The Jewish wedding ceremony is richly layered in centuries of tradition, Jewish law, spiritual teachings, and customs from communities around the world. Here we’ve laid out the basic structure of the traditional Jewish wedding, with some of the most widely-accepted interpretations of the parts of the ceremony. We’ve also included some of the most popular customs and practices that couples have added during the past few decades. If we’ve missed any of your favorite customs or interpretations, feel free to add them in the Comment section.

Greeting the Couple

Traditionally, Jewish wedding celebrations begin with separate receptions for the bride and groom, together called kabalat panim. Many contemporary couples combine the activities of these receptions into one small pre-huppah ceremony attended by only a few family members and friends.

Attending the Bride. At the bride’s reception, referred to in Hebrew as hakhnassat kallah, the bride sits on a specially decorated chair and receives well wishes from her guests.

The Groom’s Table. At the groom’s reception, or chossen’s tish, two traditional documents and one newly-adopted document are signed.

  1. The Tenaim. The traditional formal agreement between the two families that the bride and groom will marry.
  2. The Ketubah. This is the wedding contract. In the most traditional of Jewish weddings, the purpose of the ketubah is for the groom to assume his legal and moral obligations to his wife. The groom and two witnesses sign it. Increasingly, couples choose ketubahs that lay out both partners’ obligations to each other, and both partners sign them.
  3. Prenuptial Agreement. The Prenup is a new agreement, introduced in the 1950s and embraced by a wide spectrum of Jewish communities. It helps ensure that a woman who marries under Jewish law and decides in the future to end the marriage will be able to obtain a divorce under Jewish law. The Conservative movement incorporates this agreement into its standard ketubah through what is called the Lieberman Clause. Modern Orthodox communities generally use a separate prenup form.

Veiling the Bride. Also called bedecken. The groom lowers the veil over the bride’s face. The groom is the person who lowers the veil so that he can make sure that the bride is the person he intends to marry. The practice recalls the Biblical story of Jacob, who was tricked by his father-in-law into marrying the sister of his intended bride.

The Huppah Ceremonies

In a traditional Jewish wedding, the groom puts on a kittel, a white robe, before the festivities move to the huppah. Wearing white, for both the groom and the bride, signifies that for them this day is a new spiritual beginning. The kittel has no pockets, symbolizing that the bride marries the groom for who he is rather than for what he owns. For the same reason, the bride removes her jewelry before the huppah ceremony.

The wedding takes place under a huppah, a canopy that represents the couple’s physical and spiritual home. The huppah is open on all four sides, like the tent of the first Jewish couple, Abraham and Sarah, to associate the couple’s home with the hospitality for which Abraham and Sarah were known. Historically, a bride was escorted from her home to the ceremony while walking under a huppah carried by four huppah-bearers.

The Procession. For a ceremony using a traditional hand-held huppah, the huppah bearers carry the huppah into the ceremony space. Then, as with other modern wedding processions, any special honored guests are escorted to their seats, and the members of the wedding party enter and take their places. The groom is escorted to the huppah by his parents, and the bride is escorted by her parents.

Kiddushin, The Betrothal. When the bride reaches the huppah, she circles the groom seven times, creating the spiritual space that will surround them in marriage. The number of circles can vary. Today, both partners may take turns circling each other to symbolize their mutual obligations to each other. After circling, a bride stands to her groom’s right.

  • Opening Blessings.
  • Blessing for the First Cup. The rabbi recites a blessing over a cup of wine, and the wedding couple each take a sip. Some couples may pass the cup to their parents or other guests for them to sip.
  • The Ring Ceremony. This is the central act of the Jewish wedding ceremony. The groom places the ring on the bride’s right index finger while reciting the following, in Hebrew or his native language: “By this ring you are consecrated to me in accordance with the laws of Moses and Israel.” Today, some brides also give the groom a ring at this time, while reciting a similar statement to that of the groom.
  • Bride’s Acceptance. Two people must witness that the bride accepts the ring willingly.

Reading the Ketubah

Reading the ketubah is not a formal part of the ceremony, but today most couples incorporate it into the ceremony at this point.

Nussuin, Nuptials

The sheva b’rachot, seven blessings, are recited. These prayers place the couple within God’s continuing act of creation and celebrate the many voices of joy that God created in the world, including the voices of the bride and groom.

Breaking the Glass

The groom smashes a glass on the ground with his foot as a reminder of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. Everyone yells “Mazel tov!”

Yichud

The newly married couple spends some time in seclusion — at least eight minutes according to strict interpretations of tradition — breaking their wedding-day fast and sharing their first married moments alone together. The bride puts on the jewelry she took off before the huppah ceremony.

For modern couples who do not have a double ring ceremony under the huppah, this is a good time for the bride to present the groom with his wedding ring.

After the yichud, it’s time to join everyone else at the party!

What do the Jewish bride and groom wear?

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The Surprising Thing Missing from Many Jewish Wedding Planning Checklists

Jewish wedding New York park ivory silk chuppahThis is the season when engaged couples start looking in earnest for — and media start posting and publishing — wedding planning checklists. Each year I’m surprised at the number of Jewish wedding planning checklists that leave out a critical item: the huppah. I suppose it’s a bit self-serving of me to mention this, since my company rents huppahs, but I guess I’m hoping to get this item included in as many guides as possible or get it hand-written onto as many couples’ lists as possible to help ensure that the huppah is a source of joy for couples rather than a last-minute worry.

Last-minute huppah rentals are something of a specialty of Huppahs.com. In fact, we love being able to tell panicked clients who contact us just a few weeks before the wedding that they will have a huppah, delivered to their door, no problem. But every once in a while we have to say that we no longer have anything available, which is heartbreaking for couples and for us.

We also work with clients who reserve their huppahs more than a year before their weddings. The nice thing about working with brides and grooms as far in advance of the wedding date as possible, for them and for us, is that we can give them as wide a range of huppah styles to choose as we can.

The check box for reserving a huppah should ideally lie just under the check box for choosing the ceremony location. When you know where your ceremony will be — whether it’s a synagogue, beach, country inn, hotel, backyard, bistro, or zoo — you have a good idea of the style of your wedding and the style of huppah that you would most prefer.

So we recommend that couples contact us to check huppah rental availability soon after they choose the location for their ceremony. That’s when you’ll have the widest selection and the best chance of securing the huppah that works best for you.

And we do try to make your huppah rental the easiest box to check off your to-do list.

How can we make huppah rentals even easier for you? Leave us a note in the Comments section.

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Oh, Martha Stewart, THIS is an ice bar

Walk-in ice bar at Damenti's Restaurant, Mountain Top, Pennsylvania

Walk-in ice bar at Damenti’s Restaurant, Mountain Top, Pennsylvania. Photo: Bill Bywater.

Martha Stewart’s wedding website recently featured an ice bar, an 18″ piece of ice sitting on a tabletop, charmingly carved, with cylinders cut out for chilling the bottled beverage of your choice. OK, it was pretty cool. But take a look at the walk-in ice bar constructed at Damenti’s Restaurant in Mountain Top, Pennsylvania, for a series of fundraising events this winter. That’s an eighteen-foot-long sculpted ice bar protected by eight-foot Trojans – yes, Martha, this ice bar is bigger than yours.

What’s really cool: Damenti’s owners, Kevin and Helen MacDonald, set up the bar every winter to help raise funds for lots of local charities.

What’s even more cool: You could set up an ice bar like this for an event in the heat of summer.

One of the sculptors who created the walk-in ice bar, Bill Bywater (my big brother ;P), explains how it holds up in winter and summer, and gives some tips for using one at your own event:

With a freezer unit attached it can maintain during those days we had last week that peeked into the high fifties. And the freezer has been off all this week as the temps dropped back down. It will last like this from mid December through St Patrick’s Day.

That said, most customers want to know how it will hold up through an event. The answer is beautifully. All the construction elements are 5 to 10 inches thick making them very durable. Guests will feel a drop in temperature when they step up to the bar to order a cold drink. The ice will shrink at about 1/4 inch an hour at room temperature, resulting in a bar that will still be there the next day.

Even on a hot summer day it will last five hours without issue. Direct sunlight can actually be the bigger foe. The ultraviolet light shatters the crystal structure turning an ice block to rubble, from the outside in. Look at your prospective location at the time of day you will have your event to see where your shadow options are. That is where you want your ice bar. The ice bar looks best in darker setting anyway where it can be up lit or be illuminated with strings of chasing LED lighting.

Also consider reserving the ice bar to vodka drinks, or chilled white wine, a frozen drink or a couples “signature” drink. That way it won’t have ten people in front of it when the cocktail hour starts (so no one can see it). Let a house bar take care of high volume and mixed drinks.

The bar front can be themed or designed to the event at well at the bar top with engraved snow filled lettering.

Love the signature drink idea to avoid a crowd blocking the bar. Suggestions for a chilled signature drink, anyone? Please do share in the Comments section.

UPDATE: It turns out that the tops of the Trojans’ helmets are shot luges. I think I’ve used the word cool too many times in this post to use it again here, which is a shame.

Tips for Finding and Working with a Top-Notch Ice Sculptor (Huppahs.com)

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How to Safely Use an Older Tallit for a Huppah

Simple elegant huppahAre you thinking of making a wedding huppah from an older, well-worn tallit, like a grandfather’s tallit, but concerned that the tallit is too frail to be tied to huppah poles? No one wants to risk damaging such a special heirloom. I thought I’d pass along great idea from one of our Huppahs.com clients who faced the same dilemma.

Our client rented a Simplicity Huppah and laid his grandfather’s tallit over the top of the canopy without tying to the tallit to the poles. The ends of the tallit draped over the edge of the canopy, so the fabric and fringe were visible.

The couple were able to wed under the tallit worn by the groom’s grandfather free from any concerns about damaging the tallit.

Thanks for sharing, Robert, and Mazel Tov!

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Wedding Huppah Rentals “as Easy as Zappos.com”

Lace wedding huppah

Lace Wedding Huppah

We love all the positive reviews we get for Huppahs.com, and one of my favorites said we “make it as easy as Zappos.com to receive and return your chuppah.” Zappos is a company that we thought of as we designed our services. We try to make it as easy to rent and return a wedding huppah as it is to buy and return shoes for Zappos.

Here’s how we do it:

  • We ship the huppah by FedEx to arrive by the Wednesday before the wedding so you can be confident you’ll have it when you need it.
  • We provide simple instructions for attaching the huppah canopy to the poles. It takes about three minutes.
  • When it’s time to return the huppah, use the box the huppah arrives in and the pre-paid FedEx return shipping label we send. You can drop it off at a FedEx location or call for FedEx to pick it up, which ever is easier for you.

For more info: Huppahs.com | Check huppah availability for your wedding date

Is there a way we could make huppah rentals even more convenient for you? Send us an email.

RELATED:
Real Jewish Wedding: Natalie + Richard Wed Under an Ivory Silk Huppah in a New York City Park
Real Life Jewish Wedding: Under an Organza Huppah at Brooklyn, New York’s Prospect Boat House
Free printable templates: Do a favor for your guests and a good cause: Give a charitable donation instead of wedding favors

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HE’BREW: Great Kosher Beer for Your Jewish Wedding

wedding bar kosher beerOne big plus of moving Huppahs.com to New York has been finding out about HE’BREW beer, a line of great-tasting kosher craft beers. If you want to offer your wedding guests something different at the bar and give the beer lovers in the crowd something they’ll appreciate, serve up some Origin Pomegranate Ale, Hop Manna, Messiah Brown Nut Ale, or one of the line’s other amusingly-named but seriously good brews.

I don’t have the beer vocabulary to even bluff at describing the tastes, but one reviewer who presumably does have that vocabulary was reduced to the word “WOW.” In the 2011/2012 World Beer Championships, where HE’BREW’s maker, Shmaltz Brewing, entered fourteen beers, nine of their beers won gold medals and five won silver. It’s good beer.

HE’BREW beers are brewed in upstate New York, but you can find them in more than thirty states (as well as extremely selected locations in Canada, Australia, and Japan). A newer line of Coney Island Craft Lagers is available through a more limited number of outlets. Shmaltz Brewing’s website provides helpful lists of wholesalers, shops and bars that carry its products.

roundstone-rye-whisky catoctin creekRelated: Special Wedding Details: Catoctin Cocktail with Kosher, Organic, Rye Whisky

Generally, an unflavored beer made with only water, barley, yeast, and hops, without any additives, will be kosher even without certification (for this information, I go to Orthodox-Jews.com). But when you want to get at all adventurous with taste and still keep kosher, you have to look for certification. HE’BREW beers are certified by the Orthodox-grade Kosher Supervision of America.

I raise my glass to the folks at Shmaltz Brewing Company for advancing the art of beer for the rest of us to enjoy and impress our guests.

East River Bar Brooklyn New York NYRELATED: Real Life Wedding: Alanna + Joe’s Brooklyn Neighborhood Wedding

Persian Pomegranate Sangria (Kosher Drink Recipe)

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Recipe: Blueberry Sauce (Parve, Vegetarian, Non-Dairy)

This gorgeous, sweet sauce can be made with fresh blueberries in the summer and frozen berries year round.

wedding dessert recipeWe post this sauce to accompany our baked pears for an autumn or winter celebration, but can’t you imagine it with something lemony? Let us know how you use it.

The recipe comes from one of my go-to cookbooks, Marlene Sorosky’s Fast & Festive Meals for the Jewish Holidays. Not all of the recipes in the book are kosher, but sticking to the kosher recipes, I’ve found them to be not only delicious, but fast and foolproof.

Ingredients for Blueberry Sauce

Maked 5 cups of sauce

  • 1 quart (4 cups) fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup water

Instructions for Blueberry Sauce

In a medium saucepan, stir all ingredients together. Bring to a boil over moderate heat and cook, stirring often, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until sauce thickens slightly and sugar is dissolved. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.

Make-Ahead Option

Sauce can be refrigerated, covered, up to 2 weeks.

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Recipe: Baked Pears for an Autumn or Early Winter Wedding (Parve or Dairy, Vegetarian)

wedding dessert recipeThese pears work for both elegant and rustic menus. Add homemade berry sauce and serve them as an accompaniment to a slice of light wedding cake or as a side dish for a wedding brunch.

Today my daughters and I packed a brunch and brought it to my parents’ house to celebrate their wedding anniversary. The planned menu included poached pears, but last night, when I should have started the poaching, I hung out with a bunch of brothers and sisters and in-laws instead, talking about, among other things, Bill’s latest ice sculptures. So this morning, my daughters and I prepared the pears by baking them. The prep for baked pears is less fussy and less time-consuming than than for poaching, which makes them an appealing dish not just for easy-going family weekends, but for small self-catered weddings, too.

Serve these baked pear halves with a slice of light wedding cake and homemade berry sauce for a complete wedding dessert, or include them as a side dish for an autumn or early winter wedding brunch. We’ll make the berry sauce recipe our next post.

Menorah Ice Carving Hanukkiah

Menorah Ice Carving Hanukkiah

BTW, here’s a pic of the Hanukkiah ice sculpture Bill carved today during a demonstration at Yeshiva Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch in Manhattan.

Ingredients for Baked Pears

Serves 24

  • 12 Bosc or Anjou pears
  • Cooking oil spray
  • ½ cup butter, melted (or for a pareve version to serve with a meat meal, use non-dairy margarine)
  • 6 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

Instructions for Baked Pears

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF (190ºC).
  2. Lightly spray the bottom of two 9″x13″ baking pans with cooking oil.
  3. Cut pears in half, cut out the core, and peel the pears.
  4. How to bake pears

    Make 4 slices in each pear half, stopping about a quarter inch from the narrow end of the pear.

    Optional: Make four slices in each pear half, stopping about ¼” from the small end. This will enable you to fan out the slices on the plate when you serve it. Or leave the halves unsliced for a more rustic presentation.
  5. Place the pears flat side down in the baking pans.
  6. Mix the melted butter, honey and spices. Drizzle the mixture over the pears.
  7. Cover the pans and bake for 40 minutes or until the pears are tender.

The pears can be stored overnight, covered, in the refrigerator.

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Reader Question: How Do I Attach 2 Tallits Together to Make a Wedding Huppah?

Question: We are thinking of making a huppah canopy by combining the groom’s father’s tallit and his grandfather’s tallit. Do you have any recommendations for how we might do this?

Answer: The idea of making a wedding huppah canopy from more than one tallit, or prayer shawl, is a definite trend. At Huppahs.com we’re getting variations on this question more and more often.

Jewish couples have been marrying under huppah canopies made from tallits for centuries (Quick point: The Hebrew language plural for “tallit”, also spelled “tallith” would be “tallithim ” or “tallisim”. However, I’m using tallit as an English language word, so I’m using the plural “tallits”). Through the ages, the bride and groom stood under the groom’s tallit, in keeping with the symbolism of the huppah as the couple’s physical home and their shared spiritual space.

Many of our clients use our huppah poles with their own tallits or a tallit of a family member to create a very personal huppah.

Today, the idea of combining the tallits of more than one person is seen as a way to honor people who are special to the bride and groom and to represent the presence of these people in the couples’ lives.

As a huppah and tallit designer, I can recommend a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Compatible Lengths: Make sure the two tallits you want to attach together are the same length.
  2. Final Canopy Size: Every fabric canopy will drape in the middle. The larger the canopy, the more the drape. You’ll want to make sure that the size of the combined tallits isn’t so large that it drapes too low in the middle. Also, the larger the canopy, the more it will weigh, and heavier canopies pull more on the huppah poles. Be sure to use poles that are strong enough to handle the weight of the combined tallits without bending. For Huppahs.com’s poles, we recommend a canopy size that is no larger than 60″x80″ (1.5mx2m). That size yields a nice drape, and the poles are easy to hold.
  3. Tallit Age: If you are using an older tallit, such as a grandfather’s tallit, look it over carefully to make sure the fabric isn’t frail or threadbare. Stitching two prayer shawls together will make small holes in the tallits, and when the canopy hangs the huppah poles, the weight of the tallits will pull at the fabric along the seam. Make sure the tallits are strong enough to hold up well to this kind of treatment.
  4. Religious Nature of a Tallit: Keep in mind the religious role of the tallit. Wearing a tallit for prayer isn’t just a tradition, it’s a practice rooted in religious obligations laid out in the Torah. The Biblical and spiritual power of the tallit lies in its shape, with four corners, and the ritually knotted strings on the corners. Sewing two prayer shawls together changes this physical structure. It reduces the tallit to a symbol, rather than a garment that, when worn with the intention to fulfill a religious commandment, can raise prayer to a higher level of spirituality. And although sewing tallits together can create a huppah canopy with great emotional meaning, my recommendation as a huppah and tallit designer is to use only one tallit for your huppah, to ensure you are preserving the tallit’s religious and spiritual power.

Given these practical and spiritual considerations, my recommendation in most cases is to use only one tallit for a huppah canopy and honor additional special people in other ways. Here are some options:

  1. Ask them to hold a huppah pole.
  2. Ask them to recite one of the seven blessings during the ceremony.
  3. Acknowledge them during a speech or toast at the reception.

Update: Here’s another option for using two tallits that doesn’t involve sewing them together: Attach one tallit to the huppah poles, and lay the second tallit on top of the first. You would want to make sure that the fabric of the first tallit is strong enough so that it won’t rip at the point of the tallit where you tie it to the poles, especially since the fabric will be carrying the weight of two tallits.

This would be a way to combine two tallits without sewing them, and it would be a way to include a second tallit that is older and frail or too delicate to sew or carry weight.

This idea comes from a Huppahs.com client who wanted to use a grandfather’s tallit that was too frail to be tied to the poles. His solution was to start with a Simplicity Huppah and lay his grandfather’s tallit on top of it. A great idea.

Do you have any other suggestions for honoring special people on your wedding day? Please share them in the comment section.

Jewish wedding New York park ivory silk chuppahRELATED:
Real Jewish Wedding: Natalie + Richard Wed Under an Ivory Silk Huppah in a New York City Park

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Filed under Huppah Traditions, Huppahs, Jewish Wedding Traditions, Wedding DIY

Now Trending for 2012 Weddings: Organza Dresses, Accessories, Decor…and Huppahs!

jewish hand-held wedding chuppah huppa organza

jewish hand-held wedding chuppah huppa organza It’s only March, but I’m calling Huppah.com’s top huppah of 2012: the Organza Huppah. Organza always places among the top wedding fabrics, but this year it’s pulling away from the rest of the pack early. Organza’s light weave lets light diffuse through, creating a soft, romantic aura. The fabric has more drape than tulle and more body than chiffon, making it a great choice for dress overlays, fabric flowers and huppah canopies. Huppahs.com’s Organza Huppah features a thin ribbon scrolling across the fabric, to add texture and play gently with the light that filters down to the ceremony below.

In celebration of organza, I’ve gathered these organza wedding dresses, accessories, and decorations from some of my favorite Etsy designers:

Organza Tea Length Wedding Dress
“Acacia”, vintage-inspired tea length bridal gown from Ellana Couture.

organza bridal headpiece wedding
“Floressa” organza flower bridal hairpin by PowderBlueBijoux.

organza wedding favor pouches
Silver organza favor pouches with navy and white scalloped circle thank you tags by WeddingsBySusan.

Pink organza flower girls dress toddler girl
Pale pink satin, organza flower girl dress with cascading vertical ruffles. For babies, toddlers, and girls, from Daisies + Damsels.

Organza chair sashes for weddings
Organza chair sashes, custom made in a rainbow of colors by GiftsForHer26.

organza bridal headband rhinestonesWhimsical organza bridal headband with rhinestone accents by TKDesignsetc.

ivory organza sash bride bridesmaid dress
“The Lucille”, Ivory organza bridal or bridesmaid satin sash or belt by Ted Zeppelynn’s Fine Wedding Accessories.

East River Bar Brooklyn New York NYRELATED: Real Life Wedding: Alanna + Joe Share their Favorite Hangouts in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

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Tangerine and Pink Wedding Decor – Gorgeous!

tangerine and pink wedding decorDoes Tangerine Tango, Pantone’s 2012 color of the year, work for weddings, I asked in a post a couple of days ago. Photographer JeanneMarie, of Hawaii-based JeanneMariePics, answered the question by sharing some gorgeous photos of a tangerine and pink wedding she shot earlier this year on the beach in Kailua.

JeanneMarie’s pic of the bridal bouquet at right gives you an idea of how the colors play out. To see more photographs from this wedding, and to see especially how these colors play out against a blue sea and green lawn, visit JeanneMarie’s blog >.

Thanks for sharing JeanneMarie!

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Winter Wedding Hors d’Oeuvres Recipe: Latkes for a Crowd

Latkes are great dish to serve for a winter wedding, not just weddings at Hanukkah, because they are so satisfying on a cold day. You can serve them as an appetizer or with the entree as a tasty, creative alternative to baked potato or rice.

One year I had the pleasure of making latkes for a large group of American military service members. It was during Hanukkah in one of the four years I lived in Kuwait. This was between the Gulf Wars. My husband was the U.S. Defense Department’s designated lay leader for the Jewish service people who cycled through the country, which means that I was responsible for making holiday meals and parties for the Jewish service people in my home. It was a great time, we met a lot of really great people, and I hope they’re all now safe at home enjoying the country they’ve served.

On this particular Hanukkah evening, I was rushing to get ready for a crowd of service people who were coming for a party. I was in the middle of preparing the latke batter when they called on their way over to say that instead of the seven people that were expected, they were 16 people. I would need more latkes.

I started throwing all kinds of things into the bowl to bulk up the latke mix: more potatoes, more onions, more eggs, a couple boxes of dried latke mix that family had sent from the States, ricotta cheese, sour cream, and I’m not sure what else, maybe even some cream cheese. Of course, they were amazing, but because I didn’t keep track of exactly what went in them, I would never know how to reproduce them.

It’s OK that I don’t remember, because I want to give you a non-dairy latke that you can serve with any wedding meal, including meals that include meat. And I want to give you a version that is easy to prepare and can be made a day or two before the wedding. The recipe below is adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks for a Crowd: Recipes with a Vegetarian Emphasis for 24 or More, a book that I relied on heavily when serving large crowds in Kuwait. I raised the flavor profile a bit to create a more refined, wedding-worthy dish by adding sautéed leeks and a non-dairy sour cream with chives to serve on the side. Yum.

Recipe: Latkes for a Crowd (Parve)

Serves 24 (2 latkes per person)

Latke Ingredients

  • 4 ½ lbs. potatoes
  • 4 lbs. onions
  • 2 cups chopped leeks
  • 24 large eggs
  • 2 Tbsp. salt
  • 1 ½ cups bread crumbs or matza meal
  • 1 cup + 2 Tbsp vegetable oil

“Sour Cream” with Chives Ingredients

  • 2 pints (4 cups) non-dairy sour cream
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh chives

Latke Instructions

  1. Chop the leeks and sautée over medium heat for 3 minutes until just translucent. Remove them from the heat and put them aside.
  2. Grate the potatoes coarsely with a food processor or hand-held grater.
  3. Put the potatoes into a colander and squeeze them to eliminate excess water.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350º.
  5. Grate the onions and drain them in a colander. Squeeze out the excess water.
  6. In a large bowl, beat the eggs.
  7. Add the potatoes, onions, leeks, salt, pepper, and bread crumbs or matzo meal. Mix well.
  8. Pour ¼ cup of oil into the bottom of four half-size insert pans (12½” x 10¼” x 2″) and place them in the hot oven for 5 minutes.
  9. Pour the batter into the hot pans. Spread the oil smoothly across the top of the batter with a spatula.
  10. Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes, or until crusty and golden.
  11. While still hot, cut each pan into 12 latke squares.

“Sour Cream” with Chives Instructions

Make the sour cream the same day you intend to serve it. In a medium bowl mix the chopped chives into the non-dairy sour cream.

To Serve

  • If your serve the latkes pre-plated, put two latkes on each plate and two tablespoons of “sour cream” next to the latkes.
  • If you are using a buffet, serve the “sour cream” in a bowl next to the latkes.

Make Ahead Options

You can make the latkes a day before the wedding. Cover them with foil and keep refrigerated. Reheat in 350º oven for 10-12 minutes.

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Filed under Catering, Recipes, Wedding DIY, Wedding Reception

Wedding Music Budget Advice: A Little Live Music Makes a Big Impact

Are you weighing the pros and cons of live music versus a DJ for your wedding? Are you considering a custom iPod music mix for the cocktail hour or dance party, like I wrote about in my previous post? Recorded music can really stretch your music budget, but few details elevate the atmosphere of an event more than live music, so if you don’t have live music for the dinner reception and dancing, try to find room in the budget to add an element of live music during the ceremony, and the cocktail hour, too, if you can swing it.

If you’re planning a Jewish wedding with a bride’s reception or you’re planning to sign the ketubah in front of all your guests, consider having live music during those events also. For my own wedding, we hired musicians to play klezmer music while escorting the groom from the ketubah signing to the bride’s reception for the veiling. It was a lot of fun and really ramped up the party’s energy as we prepared for the ceremony under the huppah.

You could go with a small trio or quartet, but even a single instrument playing during your procession can heighten the emotional intensity of the moment, taking your breath away and tugging at your guests’ tears.

Find musicians on wedding planning websites, the music departments of a local college, or through friends’ recommendations.

The musical world offers so many instruments, you are sure to find one that matches and enhances the feel of your wedding. Here are some options:

  • Cello
  • Harp
  • Flute
  • Guitar
  • Piano

Am I missing your favorite?

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Filed under Jewish Wedding Ceremony, Wedding DIY, Wedding Reception