I stepped into the Bayit's main room, which seemed to be filled with more people than we had invited. I had always imagined ketubah signings as small, pre-wedding affairs, but probably 90% of the people coming to the wedding were there early to witness this. It was amazing (and a little intimidating) to see so many people and the start of what would be an incredibly emotional day.
I walked further into the room and there was L, sitting at the end of a long table. The first thing I noticed about her, amazingly, was not her dress nor her hair nor her makeup, but rather her smile and her eyes. Both were bigger and brighter than I had ever seen them.
It was then that the cryfest began. Luckily, I had snagged some napkins from the back room and had them ready in my pocket. I even found it hard to look at L, because every time I saw her she'd have that combination giant-smile/tears in her eyes that would set me off. I needed to focus, so I paid close attention to everything Rabbi Z said.
Rabbi Z. The first in what I now call the parade of rabbis. And so began the parade of rabbis. Rabbi Z would be one of three rabbis participating in the days events. It is to Rabbi Z's credit that a number of people later came up to me and told me how interesting and moving the ketubah signing was. Most of these people weren't Jewish and some of them had never even heard of a ketubah before. But because of his thorough explanations and thoughtful presentation, many walked away knowing more than they could have expected. All I know is that I had a hard time seeing anything, what with the tears and the napkins that kept blocking my view.
My first job as the groom was to veil L in a ceremony called Bedeken. This is an old Jewish tradition, dating back thousands of years and one with which readers of The Red Tent would be familiar.
I also was finally able to compose myself enough to get a good look at L and how beautiful she looked. I had seen pictures of the dress when it had been worn by her mother and her sister at their weddings, but always had a hard time imagining what they would do to it to bring it up to 2004. Needless to say, it looked great on her. (I'll post a picture of her in the next post.)
I then sat down and the ketubah signing began. It was signed by four witnesses, two of my oldest friends (one from my own summer camp and one from college) and two of Leora's (one from high school and an old family friend). Then it was my turn. Now, writing my Hebrew name is not something I do every day, but marrying a rabbi has its advantages. Earlier, L had lightly written out the Hebrew lettering for me so I could cheat a little. It was a good thing she did because with everything that was going on and everything I was feeling I would have forgotten how to write my English name.
After the ketubah signing, most of our guests headed to the building where the wedding ceremony would take place. Our immediate families hung back with the photographer and took a few of family pictures outside in about every combination possible. Me, L and my parents, sister and grandmother. Me, L and her parents. Me and my grandmother with my sister and L. Just me and L. Me and a tree.
The big news of the morning was, of course, The New York Times. Our friend D brought a copy with her and showed it to us following the ketubah ceremony. Even after months of complaining about the Sunday Styles section I had to admit to people that it was pretty cool to be in there.
Then it was on to the ceremony. L, in her long dress and white shoes, was driven over. With family, I walked out of the Bayit into a bright, beautiful, sunny day, the perfect day for a wedding.
Part 3 coming up...Posted by The Groom at September 9, 2004 09:34 AM