Chuppah 101: Planning Your Chuppah

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April and May have been busy times around these parts, leading up to this week’s launch of my newly redesigned web site. In honor of this significant milestone, I’m starting this series of blog posts about chuppahs. Today, the first in the series: Planning Your Chuppah. The Basics!

Before I start with practical advice, I want to share with you Anita Diamant’s explanation for what a chuppah is, and what it represents:

The bridal canopy is a multifaceted symbol: it is a home, a garment, a bedcovering, and a reminder of the tents of nomadic ancestors. The fact that the huppah is open on all sides recalls in particular the tent of the biblical Abraham, a paragon of hospitality, who had doors on all four sides of his dwelling so that visitors would always know they were welcome. […]

Huppah means ‘that which covers or floats above.’ It is said that the space beneath the canopy is spiritually charged because the divine Name floats above it.

Diamant goes on to point out that, while the chuppah has a legal function, there are no specific requirements for its size or decoration: “Its appearance is entirely a matter of taste, another opportunity for personal expression and hiddur mitzvah–the beautification of piety.”

I love this explanation because it addresses a concern I sometimes hear from clients, especially those who’ve been given the task of planning a chuppah without knowing a lot about chuppahs. (And really, who knows a lot about chuppahs? Unless you’re Anita Diamant or your work involves weddings somehow, it’s not something that comes up every day.) When I’m asked if there are “rules” for chuppahs, my answer is always:

– choose something that feels beautiful to you
– everything else takes care of itself

The Practical Advice Part

That said, there are some practical decisions to be made when planning your chuppah. Here are some tips to help you make them:


In the Studio…

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…working on new things. Exciting developments soon!

chuppah for a southern wedding: next steps

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live oak wreath chuppah

It’s been a busy couple of weeks, full of get-togethers and wedding events.  I also started using Twitter, which I think we can all agree is a dangerous time sink a great tool for learning what’s up.  (You can follow me @raftersofcedars if you like.)

Meanwhile, I’ve been intending to post more about the progress of this chuppah, which is for a wedding later this month in a Southern venue. The main decorative element is a wreath of appliquéd live oak leaves, which is now finished, barring a few tweaks.


a new arrival in the workroom

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Due to the demise of her predecessor, the charming but unreliable Fredo, a new arrival is now gracing the workroom:

gaila the viking

I’ve named her Gaila.  So far she’s performing admirably. :)

Despite Fredo’s sudden departure, work continues on the current chuppah as well as on some new projects.  I’ll be posting more later this week; for now this is just a quick snapshot of the work in progress–the wreath of live oak leaves in varying stages of done-ness:

live oak wreath in progress

Gaila's handiwork: leaves done, half-done and not yet done.

4 fresh ketubah designs

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ketubah designs

One of my favorite trends of the last few years has been the resurgence of interest in handmade goods and independent designers.  Sites like Etsy have opened the door for new creators to enter the market, bringing fresh perspectives and new aesthetics, while making it easier for people who value their work to find them.

One area where this has made a big difference in just a few years is in ketubah design.  I love that younger designers have taken on this traditional form and refreshed it to suit the tastes of a new generation.  These four are just a few of my favorites!

1.  Folk Botanicals Ketubah by UrbanCollective

2.  301 Flourish Ball by coolketubah

3.  Signature Wedding Ketubah by artseed

4.  Peony Ketubah by UrbanCollective

in the studio: starting a new chuppah

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chuppah project 1 materials

It’s Monday, the day I’ve chosen to share the progress of chuppahs and other projects I’m working on.  Despite a pesky cold that has me wanting to curl up on the couch, watch Fringe and eat cake (that someone will make for me, naturally, because people with colds need cake), the blog must go on, so here I am!

The lovely images you see above are of the basic materials for a new chuppah.  Tomorrow I’ll start the process of making it, and will continue for the next four to six weeks.