Tag Archives: Jewish wedding traditions

The Chuppah Explained in 62 Charming Seconds [Video]

Looking for a quick background on the wedding chuppah that’s both short and sweet? g-dcast made this video with you in mind:

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Another Jewish Wedding Tradition You’ve Probably Never Heard Of – And a Koi Fish Video

Another nearly forgotten wedding custom from Jewish Life in the Middle Ages:

A live fish played a part in Oriental Jewish weddings, and the newly married pair leapt thrice over the bowl in which the fish disported itself.

Here Oriental refers to the Eastern Mediterranean, the area that now includes Southern Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel. I wish there were more details, but no. More from Isreal Abraham’s book here.

Why the video is important: Wedding planning requires an occasional mental health break. Koi is an official color of Fall 2013. It was time for me to post my first YouTube video.

Not ready to go back to work? Listen to a Little Jewish Wedding Music from The Huppah Project (Video)

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What’s Going On? This Jewish Wedding Program Explains [PDF]

Jewish wedding program
While reorganizing my office this week I came across the program I wrote for my wedding to explain Jewish wedding traditions to the guests who weren’t Jewish (since I come from a large family of people who are not Jewish, that was a lot of people). I thought I’d share it, especially for couples putting together something similar. One of the best things I did was to include in the heading the phrase “Consider it an invitation to join in the celebration,” because that’s just what people did. See the program…

7 Ways to Decorate a Wedding Huppah

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25,000 Guests Attend Tuesday’s Royal Jewish Wedding (Video)

The Jewish royal wedding of the season took place in Jerusalem on Tuesday night, when Shalom Rokeach, 18-year-old grandson of the leader of the Hasidic Belz Rebbe dynasty, married 19-year-old Hannah Batya Penet in an ultra-Orthodox ceremony. While the groom is Hasidic royalty, the bride is a commoner, inviting parallels to Wills and Kate.

The most widely cited wedding detail is that 25,000 people attended. The second most cited detail is that the bride wore a veil the entire evening, although the veil for the reception was smaller than the one she wore for the ceremony. As Kate Dries of Jezebel observed, these aren’t the kind of details that get you featured on Style Me Pretty, so I wanted to highlight some of the deets I love:

  • Sunset ceremony.
  • People holding candles.
  • A huppah befitting a royal wedding: It looks like its about 25-feet square. The canopy is blue — looks like velvet — with scalloped valances that are embroidered in gold and edged in heavy gold bullion fringe and gold tassels.
  • Chandeliers — 5 of them — hung under the huppah.
  • The bride’s full ball gown without a train – formal, but nothing to trip on when circling the groom.
  • The bride’s ceremony veil. It’s heavier than most, for the sake of modesty before all those male guests, but the bride wears it well, and the length is great.

I still don’t know what they served at the reception, which was my first question after finding out about the 25,000 guests. If you find out, let me know.

Here’s another video, where we get to see a little more of the bride in action. She circles the groom at the 2:00 minute mark.

The Jewish Wedding Ceremony, Step by Step

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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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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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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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How tall should the huppah (chuppah) poles be?

Huppah poles and huppah bearersWhat size huppah (chuppah) poles should you use?

In most cases, the best height for huppah poles is 8 feet. That gives you lots of space under the canopy, and this size works for most conventional hotels and wedding venues and for ceremonies held outside. The poles in the photo at left are 8 feet tall.

However, some small spaces require 7-foot poles, such as many inns, private homes, and cruise ship spaces. Huppahs.com has rented huppah poles for ceremonies in all of these types of venues.

Your contact at the venue or your wedding planner will be able to tell you the height of the ceiling in your ceremony space.

See 8-foot and 7-foot huppah poles for rent…

Simplicity Huppah TinyALSO SEE:

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Recipe: Traditional Spiced Almond Hors d’Oeuvre (Pareve)

In Hebrew, the numerical value of the word for nuts, egoz, is 17, the same as the value of the word tov, good. Which means that the two things are related to each other. Hence the prevalence of nuts, particularly almonds, in traditional Jewish wedding celebrations.

Spiced almonds also fit into very modern celebrations as a tasty hors d’oeuvre for a cocktail hour or hors d’oeuvre reception. They can be made a week before serving, which makes them self-catered-wedding-friendly.

This version comes from Gil Marks’ cookbook, The World of Jewish Entertaining: Menus and Recipes for the Sabbath, Holidays, and Other Family Celebrations. It’s a great go-to cookbook for celebrations large and small. Marks also includes in his book a more savory version with rosemary and cayenne pepper.

Gil Marks World of Jewish EntertainingOne of the great things about a cookbook collection is remembering how each book came to be on your kitchen bookshelf. I received this book as a gift after teaching for a few terms at the New North London Synagogue. I miss London! And as Shavuout approaches, I really miss the cheesecake at Paradise Bakery on Golders Green Road. Best cheesecake in the world, you used to be only a short walk from home. Sigh. Let’s see… does Mr. Marks include a cheesecake in his cookbook? He has two! I’m feeling better already.

Ingredients for Spiced Almonds
Makes 4 cups

  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground mace or nutmeg
  • 4 cups (20 ounces) almonds
  • Optional: Salt to taste

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Combine the oil, honey, and spices. Add the almonds and toss to coat. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet.

Roast, stirring occasionally, until the almonds are golden and crisp, about 15 minutes. If desired, sprinkle with salt. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Make Ahead Option

Store the almonds in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.

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What do the Jewish bride and groom wear?

I was recently asked what a Jewish bride and groom wear. Here’s the answer for a traditional Jewish ceremony:

demure wedding dress

Ivanka Trump: The dress she wore for her 2009 Jewish wedding started the popular trend toward more demure gowns.

The Jewish Bride

The bride wears a white gown. For a most traditional ceremony, the gown is modest, with a collar that is not too low. The shoulders are covered, and maybe the elbows too (thank you Ivanka Trump, for setting the pace for elegant demure wedding gowns.)

The veil is a must. The groom traditionally lowers the bride’s veil just before the huppah ceremony. The ritual is related to the Torah passage that tells of Jacob unknowingly marrying the sister of the woman he loved. He could not tell he was marrying the wrong woman because the bride’s face was covered by a veil. Now the groom lowers the veil so he knows who he is marrying.

Any jewelry is removed before the huppah ceremony, as an indication that we marry a person, not a person’s possessions. The jewelry can go back on after the ceremony.

The Jewish Groom

The groom covers his head with a kippah (also called a yarmulke). In some communities he wears a hat on top of that. Covering our heads before God is a demonstration of respect and awe.

For the ceremony, the groom wears a tailored white robe, called a kittel, over his suit or prayer shawl, called a tallit, over his shoulders.

Both the bride and groom wear white because Judaism teaches that a person’s wedding day is a day of spiritual renewal; a personal Yom Kippur. All one’s sins are wiped away, and the bride and groom approach the huppah with spiritually pure souls.

21 Things Rabbis Wish Wedding Coordinators and Couples Knew About Planning a Jewish Wedding (Huppahs.com)

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Middle Eastern Stuffed Dates Hors d’Oeuvre Recipe (Parve)

This week at Backyard Huppah, we’re all about hors d’oeuvre receptions, a great option for small weddings. We started with tips for Hors d’Oeuvre Receptions, and all week we’ll be posting hors d’oeuvre recipes for a 40-person reception. The menu will be kosher, and meaty (with vegetarian options), with make-ahead options for couples self-catering their reception.

See the full Hors d’Oeuvres Reception Menu

Jewish dessert cookbook Gil MarksOne or two sweet hors d’oeuvres make a nice counterpoint in an otherwise savory menu.

These Middle Eastern stuffed dates, datils rellenos, are a popular Sephardic treat brought to us by Gil Marks in his fabulous cookbook, The World Of Jewish Desserts: More Than 400 Delectable Recipes.

Ingredients for Stuffed Dates Hors d’Oeuvre

Makes 36 hors d’oeuvres

  • 1 cup almond paste
  • 36 medium (1 pound) pitted dates
  • ½ cup dried apricots

Instructions for Stuffed Dates Hors d’Oeuvre

  1. Mince the dried apricots and stir them into the almond paste.
  2. Slit the dates open lengthwise, form the paste into thin rolls, place in the center of each date, and press to close.

See the full Hors d’Oeuvres Reception Menu…

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Why do the Jewish bride and groom wear white?

In Judaism, a person’ wedding day is a day of renewal, a personal Yom Kippur. On the wedding day, the bride and groom’s souls are wiped clean. White is a symbol of the bride and groom’s spiritual purity. The bride wears a white wedding dress, and the groom traditionally wears a white robe called a kittel, or a tallit, a prayer shawl.

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How old is the practice of using a huppah for Jewish weddings?

Chuppah Middle AgesHuppahs (also spelled huppas, chuppahs, or khupas) became a part of the Jewish wedding ceremony during the Middle Ages in Europe, about the same time and place that men began covering their heads with kippot (yarmulkes). The Middle Ages sounds like a long time ago, but when you consider that Judaism’s history reaches back 5,000 years, the wedding huppah is a relatively young custom.

The earliest huppah poles were only a few feet tall. Four young men would hold the poles as they escorted the bride, who walked under the huppah, from her home to the synagogue.

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Who can hold the huppah poles?

Anyone can hold a huppah pole. That makes the role of huppah bearer, or unterferer, a great role to offer someone who you want to honor but who isn’t Jewish or isn’t comfortable reciting Hebrew during the ceremony. Of course, all rabbis have their preferences, so as with all aspects of a Jewish wedding, always double check with the rabbi who will be performing the ceremony.

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Why does a Jewish wedding ceremony take place under a huppah?

The huppah serves as a visible representation of the home, both physical and spiritual, that the bride and groom will share as a married couple. Traditionally, the bride creates their shared spiritual space as she steps under the huppah and circles the groom.

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What Makes a Huppah a Huppah?

Outdoor huppahThe huppah’s structure evokes a tent — specifically, the tent that was the home of Judaism’s first couple, Abraham and Sarah, 5,000 years ago.

A huppah (also written chuppah or huppa) has a fabric canopy held aloft by four poles or a frame with four legs. The huppah is open on all four sides, as the tent of Sarah and Abraham is said to have been because of their great hospitality.

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Outdoor Huppah Inspiration: With a Love Like That, You Know You Should Be Glad

San Francisco huppah

"...We circled each other. We did, in fact, feel our lives intertwining..."


With friends taking part in the Jewish wedding traditions, Meg found true bliss in the loving atmosphere of her intimate wedding. Their huppah is a tallit suspended by hand-held poles. Thank you for sharing, Meg. Read more…

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A.’s Shower of Huppah Blessings

quilted huppah
Home made huppah
Home made huppah
A.’s huppah, crafted by her Mom from huppah squares made by family and friends, became a way for her non-Jewish family members and friends to feel intimately connected with her wedding ceremony. Standing underneath the huppah, it felt to her like a shower of blessings and love.

Wedding photo taken by Davina + Daniel of New York and Montreal.

Read more…

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Recipe: Herbed Mixed Vegetables for a Crowd (Parve)

British Royal Family Wedding

"As soon as the service is over, I'll race you to the buffet."

This dish is from the Buckingham Palace reception menu posted on December 13. I’ll be posting recipes from the menu all week, kosher-fied and with additional special touches, so that you can recreate the menu for your wedding.

This is the final dish in our Buckingham Palace reception menu. The traditional English dinner is meat and two veg. We put the two veg’s into one simple-to-prepare side dish. (And if you ask for this dish at Buckingham Palace, be sure to pronounce the “h” in the word herbed.)

The recipe is based on the herbed green beans in Jeanne Jones Entertains: Cook It Light Menus for Every Occasion. I don’t think the book is in publication anymore, but it’s been a good friend to me.

Recipe: Herbed Green Beans and Carrots (Parve)

Serves 50

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. fresh green beans
  • 2 lbs. fresh carrots, cut into long thin pieces
  • 6 Tbls canola or corn oil
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, finely chopped, or 1 heaping Tbls dried
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 cup finely chopped chives

Instructions

  1. In batches, steam the vegetables for 5 minutes. Rinse under cold running water, drain, and set aside.
  2. Using two large skillets, heat 3 Tbls of oil in each skillet. Add half the herbs and salt to each skillet. Add half the vegetables to each skillet. Heat just to serving temperature.

Make Ahead Option

Steam the vegetables the day before. After they’ve cooled under the running water and drained. refrigerate them in sealed bags. Reheat them with the herbs the next day.
See the full Wedding Menu Fit for Royalty (You!)
Read more recent posts…

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Vegan/Vegetarian Wedding Recipe: Spanikopita (Parve) – Serves 8

Prince Philip Buckingham Palace Reception

"I say, have you tried the spanikopita?"

This dish is from the Buckingham Palace reception menu posted on December 13. I’ll be posting recipes from the menu all week, kosher-fied and with additional special touches, so that you can recreate the menu for your wedding.

This entree is for your vegan/vegetarian guests. The Buckingham Palace reception menu calls for spinach-filled crepes, but crepes require milk, which wouldn’t fit into our kosher meat menu. We turn, then, to spanikopita, spinach pie, which uses parve phyllo dough. The tofu, walnuts, and nutritional yeast in the filling provide hunger-satisfying protein. Since The Queen’s husband, Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, was born The Prince of Greece and Denmark, I’m sure he’d appreciate the dish’s Greek roots.

The recipe comes from Vegan with a Vengeance : Over 150 Delicious, Cheap, Animal-Free Recipes That Rock. The author is Isa Chandra Moskowitz, a Jewish vegan tsunami. I picked up my copy of the cookbook several years ago in order to get protein into my meat-averse daughters. (One of my daughters was only five years old when she first yelled, “I’m a vegetarian and you don’t understand me!”)

The instructions are a bit fiddly, so if you’re catering your own wedding, making servings for all of your guests is going to take a lot of time — time that’s especially precious in the hours leading up to your wedding. Instead, prepare one of these pies, which provides 8 servings, and reserve the servings to the side for your vegan/vegetarian guests. (If all of your guests are vegetarian, then enlist extra hands to prepare enough servings for everyone.)

Prince Charles in synagogue

"Do you think they'll let me hold one of the huppah poles?"

Recipe: Spanikopita – Spinach Pie (Parve)

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • ¼ plus 2 Tbls. olive oil, plus extra oil for brushing the phyllo
  • 2 bunches fresh spinach, rinsed very well, long stems removed
  • 1 bunch scallions, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chopped dill
  • 2 lbs. firm tofu, drained and pressed
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • Dash of ground or freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¾ cup finely ground walnuts
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Several dashes fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 box frozen phyllo dough, thawed overnight

Instructions for Making the Spinach Filling

  1. In a large heavy-bottomed pot, warm 2 Tbls olive oil over medium heat for a minute, then add the scallions, spinach, scallions, garlic, and dill. Add the spinach in small batches if pot it too full.
  2. Satuè until completely wilted and soft and a good amount of liquid has sweated out of the greens. Remove from heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.
  3. In a large bowl, mash the drained tofu (use your hands for more control) to a smooth but slightly grainy consistency.
  4. Take the cooled spinach mixture by small handfuls and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Discard the liquid.
  5. Add the squeezed spinach to the tofu. Add the lemon juice, oregano, nutmeg, ground walnuts, ¼ cup of the olive oil, and the nutritional yeast. Mix well with your hands, season with salt and pepper. Taste the mixture; it should be pleasantly salty and tangy.

Instructions for Making the Pie

  1. Preheat oven to 325º.
  2. Oil a 9”x12- to 13” baking dish.
  3. Prepare eight sheets of dough with olive oil in the following manner: Lay one sheet of dough in the pan, brush it generously with olive oil. Lay the second sheet on top and brush it generously with olive oil. Continue until you have eight layers of dough. If the sheets of dough go up the sides of the pan, that’s OK.

    Helpful Hint: Phyllo dough dries out very quickly. Keep the layers you’re not working with covered with a damp cloth or piece of plastic wrap. The first time you work with the dough it can seem like you don’t have enough hands to work and keep the layers covered, but once you get into a pattern it’s quite easy.

  4. Gently spread the spinach mixture on top of the dough.
  5. Prepare another eight layers of phyllo (or add a few more layers if you have leftover dough), put on top of spinach layer, and tuck into the sides of the pan any overhanging dough.
  6. Lightly score the top layer of dough into 8 rectangles of equal size (this will prevent the dough from crumbling too much when slicing after it’s baked.)
  7. Brush with lots of olive oil.
  8. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until golden brown, being careful not to let the phyllo burn.

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Wedding Menu Fit for Royalty (You!)

Prince William and Kate Middleton engagement photo

"What shall we serve at the wedding?"

This weekend, Prince William and Catherine Middleton released their official engagement photos. Mazel tov, William and Kate! In honor of the happy occasion, we’re posting a wedding menu based on the menu of an actual Buckingham Palace dinner reception. Throughout the week we’ll post recipes for all the dishes so you can serve them at your wedding, too.

The menu comes from a reception I attended at Buckingham Palace some years back. I can’t say it was an exclusive affair — there were more than 3,000 guests — but it was memorable. The night included cocktails, a meet and greet with the royal family, a buffet dinner, and dancing in the ballroom(!).

What I remember most, because it’s what I had been most looking forward to seeing, was what The Queen served for dinner. The event planning part of my brain, which takes over nearly all of my brain sometimes, knew that it had to be a menu that met some of the most complicated food service challenges an event planner can face. The menu had to provide something to satisfy most of the dietary restrictions the world has to offer. The preparation could not be complicated, and all the food had to hold up impressively on a buffet. Finally, because The Queen had to feed 3,000 people at a cost-conscious time, the ingredients had to provide good value for cost.

wedding in privy gardenGod bless The Queen (and her kitchen staff). The menu met all those criteria, and it serves as a great example for anyone who wants to create a no-worries special event dinner, even if the backyard in which you raise your huppah doesn’t feature a royal privy garden. Here’s the menu:

Wedding Buffet Menu Fit for Royalty (You!)

Dessert

Wedding Cake
The Queen didn’t serve wedding cake, but you’ll need one:

During the next week, we’re posting recipes for all the dishes on the menu, with quantities for serving an intimate wedding crowd of 50 people. We’ll add some special touches that are possible when you’re serving 50 rather than 3,000 people.

We’ll include make-ahead options where possible, especially for couples who plan to self-cater, or partially self-cater, their weddings. The menu will be kosher, of course.

We’ll start with dessert. Check back for tomorrow’s post: Chocolate Mousse for 50 (parve)…

(And Kate and Will, if you’re looking for a huppah, for your wedding I’d recommend a huppah of beautiful bridal lace.)

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Filed under Catering, Wedding DIY, Wedding Reception