Wedding Q & A

Prayers by the bride
Q: If a bride prays for five or ten minutes and the assembled wait for her, why is such a short period of time considered “Tircha De’tzibura” – a burden on the public? A: “Tircha De’tzibura” is not a matter of quantity, but of attitude. The bride has all day to pray. Why should she do it when everyone is standing around her waiting for her? There is a time for weddings and a time for prayer.

Words of Torah under the Chupah
Q: Our Sages said, “The reward of a wedding consists of the words,” which Rashi explains to mean, “Words that bring joy to the bride and groom.” Why then shouldn’t one say words of Torah under the Chupah?
A: The main thing is to gladden the groom by such utterances as, “She’s a lovely and pious bride,” and the same goes regarding gladdening the bride. The point is this: Certainly one should utter many words of Torah during the wedding, but not necessarily under the Chupah. There is a time for a Chupah and a time for Torah learning. Yet we should leave this decision up to the officiating Rabbi.

"Guided tours"
Q: Why shouldn’t the Rabbi give a “guided tour” of the ceremony under the Chupah so that people can understand what’s going on?
A: Very good, but not just then. There’s a time for a chuppah and a time for a guided tour.

Under the Talit
Q: Is it proper to place a Talit over the heads of the bride and groom?
A: A Talit being placed over the heads of the bride and groom is an ancient, holy Sefardic custom. I should add that it is also an ancient and holy custom of many Ashkenazic communities, and everyone should follow his own custom. The main thing is to conduct oneself modestly.

The bride's head-covering
Q: Should a bride cover her hair right after the ceremony?
A: As far as head coverings following the ceremony, for Sefardim who do not go into seclusion in a “Yichud Room,” some Halachic authorities have ruled that even after just “Kiddushin” [the placing of the ring on the finger], the bride must cover her head (see “Sova Semachot, Ha-Rav Ya’akov Yosef, p. 175). Others have ruled that the ceremony itself marks the completion of “Nissu’in” [full marriage, hence the bride must cover her head] (see Sova Semachot, p. 52 note 7, and p. 132). Yet even for those who take the lenient view, Ha-Rav Ovadiah Yosef wrote, “According to the main letter of the law, the bride is entitled to remain throughout the wedding feast in the head-covering of the wedding ceremony,” i.e. the head covering suffices, but she cannot appear without anything on her head.

The Yichud (seclusion) room
Q: how long should the couple stay in the Yichud room?
A: There are rabbis who say that twenty minutes in the Yichud room is enough, but this is obviously just meant to provide a general guideline. That specific time frame is not something from Moshe at Sinai. The main thing is not to exaggerate and to turn the Yichud room into an extended vacation.

The proper agenda
Q: What is the general idea that should guide the wedding?
A: Our Sages assigned a particular character to the wedding ceremony down through the generations, each community in accordance with its customs. There are many other fine activities that can be performed in life, but they needn’t be pushed into the wedding ceremony.