There’s been a sudden surge of chuppah use I see on social media and I’ve noticed quite a few non-Jewish weddings use them too. What exactly are chuppahs for and can non-Jewish couples use these for their wedding?
The chuppah, is also spelled “huppah” or “chuppa”, and more commonly called “wedding canopy” or “bridal canopy for the non-Jewish. Translated from the Hebrew word “chuppah” it means “covering.” It is usually made out of 4 poles of wood, a square cloth and sometimes carried or held by four men. The cloth is attached to the four poles. It is common for non-Jewish couples to have their wedding sponsors stand by each one of the four poles. The chuppah is mentioned in the Bible, “As a bridegroom goes forth from his chuppah” or “Let the bridegroom proceed from his chamber and let the bride go forth from the chuppah.”
For the Jewish, not only is it part of a ceremonial tradition but it’s also part of their legal process. The chuppah permits the couple’s marriage to be actualized. It is a legal marriage process conclusion that began with the betrothal. These two acts of acquisition (called kinyanim) are called chuppah “ve’kiddushin.”
What Does a Chuppah- Symbolize?
First and foremost, a huppah symbolizes a home. It’s a home that also follows Abraham’s open tent, a symbol of hospitality who kept his tents open on all sides. Lastly, it also symbolizes the tabernacle built in the desert to house the presence of God. According to the Jewish Midrash, God also created 10 chuppahs for the marriage of Adam and Eve. The chuppah symbolizes the groom’s home, the bride’s new domain.
Wedding canopies are most commonly and preferably used for outdoor weddings, under the stars. It symbolizes God's promise to Abraham of a very large family, “I will greatly bless you, and I will exceedingly multiply your children as the stars in heaven.” And although it is preferable to be held outdoors, it can also be held inside a synagogue.
Is It Okay to Use a Chuppah for Non-Jewish Couples?
Yes, you can. Just like any other item at a wedding, it can be used as a tradition or as a necessity. For some couples, it can be a wedding accessory to make their wedding prettier. A wedding chuppah helps highlights the couple during the wedding. Adding flowers, vines and lights make it prettier too. I don’t know any Jewish person who gets offended by non-Jewish couples getting married under a chuppah. Although, it can help if the non-Jewish couple is aware of the symbolism of the huppah and appreciate not just its beauty but also its significance.
A wedding canopy symbolizes a new beginning and home for the newlyweds. Whether they be Jewish or not it's also a great piece of art that frames the couple during their ceremony. It’s not expensive to own or rent one and it can give a great touch of elegance to any wedding. Some families lend their chuppahs to other family members weddings. Remember that the chuppah symbolizes a home and that lending it out to a family member makes it have an even deeper meaning and connection to the family.
Where Should I Buy or Rent a Chuppah?
You can inquire with your wedding planner or florist if they know one. You can also inquire about Jewish synagogues. Or, you can choose one of my own chuppahs available for rent here on my website. You can choose from several wood species. I can also make a custom chuppah if you need a custom design shipped to you.