Anywho, at the advice of a friend from shul (and subsequently a few other friends from shul), I nabbed a copy of a classic Judaica book that, I was told, will enlighten not only me, but any family members with lingering questions or queries, about what to expect with an Orthodox wedding. The book? "Made in Heaven" by the illustrious Aryeh Kaplan. If you start out with the "dedications" page, you'll rest assured that this guy's advice is second to none -- the book is dedicated to the author's nine children! Obviously, Rabbi Kaplan knows his stuff, right?
I'm not one for touchy-feely books, and aside from tidbits here and there about the eternal bond of marriage and the future generations, the book is very readable, and I highly recommend it to those who are prepping for marriage. Each chapter homes in on a specific topic: the ring, the chuppah, the wedding day, the ketubah, the processional, and more. It even gets as specific as talking about the tallit and the various specific blessings. The chapters are short, and the author was very, very good about being concise and quick in his lessons on the halakot.
I can't even begin to tell you how many questions I've developed for my rabbi. Feel free to chime in here, but I've heard some "that sounds crazy!" comments from friends. I'll let you know what my rav thinks. I'll admit, many of these are CUSTOMS, but still, I like to know/make sure I'm doing things "right."
- Some sources say that, for the wedding band, gold is preferable to silver, others silver to gold. Add to this the fact that you are supposed to use a ring that is pure -- not masked, such as plated gold -- because this could invalidate the ceremony entirely! Does this mean I can't have a white gold ring? The point of the ring being simple (no designs, no stones) is that the bride (and others) should be able to ascertain the value of the ring at a simple glance. If it's plated or masked in some way, it's harder to discern. As such, white gold has a specific value, right? So white gold *should* be okay?
- The tradition is that the kallah (bride) gives her chatan (groom) his tallit (prayer shawl) for the wedding. Often it's used for the chuppah, too. Now, Tuvia has a tallit his paternal grandfather bought shortly before his death, so he wants to use that since it's unused and in great condition. What do I do for the chatan then!?
- What's doing with this whole no seeing each other for a week before the wedding? According to the book, many hold the tradition of just the day before hand, but even then, it used to be a tradition to hold a prenuptial meal the night before the wedding! What did you do at your wedding? What's the tradition/community custom/standard these days?
- There is a definite decision that men fast the day of their wedding, but some rabbis hold that the kallah does not fast! What gives!? Do I fast, or do I not fast?