Concept #2: Kabbalat Panim

It is customary for the chatan and kallah (groom and bride) not to see each other for a week before the wedding. Therefore, before the ceremony the two must be kept in separate rooms until the badeken. At the Kabbalat Panim the kallah sits between her mother and mother-in-law and greets her guests. The chatan sings and shares divrei Torah (words of Torah) with his friends. During this time guests enjoy hors d’oeuvres and refreshments.

The kallah is likened to a queen and is usually seated in a “throne” or a special, decorative chair. Guests approach her and it is at this time that the kallah gives brachot (blessings) to her guests.

The chatan is likened to a king and is seated at a large table, surrounded by friends. The chatan’s reception is usually private while the kallah’s is usually public.

Customarily, it is also at this time that the ketubah is signed. In some circles, a plate is broken at this time, symbolizing the irreversible act of a marriage commitment.

 

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Concept #1: Badeken

Before the actual wedding ceremony, the badeken takes place. The groom, escorted by his father and father-in-law,  proceed to the bride, who is seated among her mother and mother-in-law. The groom at this time veils the bride reciting the blessing given to Rebecca before she married Isaac.

This tradition of the badeken originates with the Biblical story of Rebecca and Isaac. The story goes that as Isaac approached Rebecca, his bride, she took her handkercheif and covered her face.

There are many ways to understand this tradition, but a common way of understanding it is that it accomplishes the concept of the chuppah. Chuppah, according to the Torah, means a groom “spreading a cloth” over his bride. Therefore, the badeken  could be seen as accomplishing this law.