Fasting on the Day of the Wedding

131. The wedding day is considered a personal Yom Kippur1 and therefore the chosson and kallah fast on this day.2 Chazal say that a chosson on the day of his chuppah is forgiven for all of his sins3 and therefore, there needs to be great introspection, regret over the misdoings of the past, firm resolutions for the future, and one must beseech mercy from Hashem on this day.4 It is praiseworthy to cry during this fast.5

132. It is permitted for the chosson and kallah to brush their teeth or use mouthwash.6

133. If the chuppah is held during the day, it is not necessary for the chosson and kallah to complete the fast. They may break their fast after the chuppah in the Yichud room.7

134. The Previous Rebbe would fast on the day of his daughters’ weddings.8

135. The chosson and kallah do not fast if the wedding is on Rosh Chodesh,9 however they should fast the day before.10 The chosson and kallah do not fast if the wedding is on Chanukah,11 Purim, Shushan Purim, Isru Chag, 15th Av or 15th Shvat.12

The Wedding Day

136. The chosson and kallah should say Tehillim on the wedding day.13

137. The chosson should immerse in a Mikvah.14

138. Tachanun is not recited in Shul if a chosson is present.15 If the chosson is in Shul on a day the Torah is read, he should be called up for an Aliyah.16

139. The Rebbe’s father Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Schneerson instructed the Rebbe that after midday on the day of his wedding he should learn Ch. 25 of Tanya with great Kavanah and immediately afterwards he should pray Minchah with Al Chet with great Kavanah.17

140. At Minchah, the chosson should say Al Chet at the end of the Amidah.18 If fasting, the chosson (and kallah) should include the Tefillah of Aneinu in the berachoh ofShema Koleinu.19 He should also wear a Gartel.20 The Rebbe would give his personal Siddur to chassanim on the day of their wedding from which they would pray Minchah.

141. If possible, one should visit the Ohel21on the day of the weddingand pray that the wedding and married life be successful and blessed with good health, children who keep Torah and mitzvos, and good parnassah. Arrangements should be made to ensure that the chosson and the kallah should not go there at the same time.22

142. Thechosson and kallah should give extra Tzedakah on the morning of the wedding day in honor of the wedding to merit success on that day and throughout their entire life.23

143. The parents, grandparents, family, mentors, shadchanim and friends of the chosson and kallah should also give extra Tzedakah on the wedding day so that the wedding be in a good and auspicious hour.24

The Rav

144. The Rav “Mesader Kiddushin should be G‑d fearing and well versed in all the pertinent halachos of writing a Kesubah and Kiddushin.25 It is up to the Rav to ascertain that all aspects of the wedding are conducted according to halachah. This includes the appointment of kosher witnesses for Tenaim, Kesubah and Kiddushin, the correct writing and text used for Tenaim and Kesubah, and the correct order of the wedding ceremony.

145. The side of the kallah is to appoint the Rav Mesader Kiddushin.26

The Witnesses

146. The witnesses used for the signing of the Tenaim, Kesubah and to witness theKiddushin must not be related to each other, or to the chosson and kallah, and must also be kosher witnesses in all respects.27

147. The following is a list of disqualifications because they are considered to be related as family: a) father or the mother’s husband, b) grandfather, great-grandfather or grandmother’s husband, c) son, d) daughter’s husband, e) grandson, great-grandson, granddaughter’s husband, f) brother, g) brother-in-law, h) uncles, great-uncles, aunt’s husbands, i) cousins, cousin’s husbands, j) nephews or niece’s husbands , from either a bother or sister, as well as their children (i.e. grandnephews or grandnieces).

The Kabbolas Ponim — Reception

148. It is customary to make a reception — Kabbolas Ponim for the chosson before the chuppah. The chosson should sit at the head of the table and refreshments be placed on the table. Arrangements should be made that there are separate rooms for the Kabbolas Ponim of the chosson and the bedeken of the kallah. Care should be taken that the chosson and kallah should not meet until the moment of bedeken.

149. At the Rebbe’s wedding, the Previous Rebbe instructed that the “spiritual part” of the wedding be in the Yeshivah and the meal be in a hall. Therefore the Kabbolas Ponim was in one of the rooms of the Yeshivah, the chuppah was outside in the Yeshivah courtyard, and the Yichud room in the Yeshivah. The wedding meal was in a hall.28 In the invitation it was written that the chuppah was to be at 5:00 p.m. Although the actual chuppah started later at night however the Kabbolas Ponim was actually at 5:00 p.m.29 At the Kabbolas Ponim, the Previous Rebbe instructed that a niggun of each of the Rebbeim be sung, and before the niggun the Rebbe introduced each niggun by saying, “this is the niggun of the Alter Rebbe, the Mitteler Rebbe, etc.” At the Kabbolas Ponim refreshments were served, and those present said Lechaim. On the instruction of the Previous Rebbe, the mechutonim did not say Lechaim.30

150. After the reading of the Tenaim and breaking of the plate (see next section), the chosson should say the maamar Lecha Dodi 5689 (or Lecha Dodi 5714).31

151. It is incorrect to interrupt the chosson whilst saying the maamar, and in those places that have such a minhag, first the chosson should say the maamar in its entirety and then start again and then be interrupted with a niggun.32

The Tenaim

152. The Chabad custom is to write the Tenaim on the wedding day,33 and this is overseen by the Rav Mesader Kiddushin.

153. There is a standard text that we use for the Tenaim.34

154. The following people are required for the writing of the Tenaim: the father (or representative) of the chosson, the father (or representative) of the kallah, two guarantors,35 two witnesses and the chosson. The names of the representatives, chosson, kallah, guarantors, date and place should be filled in. The two witnesses then make a kinyan with the representatives, guarantors, chosson and kallah (or her representative)36. After the kinyanim have been made, the word Vekanina is filled in. After the witnesses have read over the Tenaim, they sign their names together with their respective father’s names (and some add their family names), ending with the word Ed. The kinyanim are made as previously described in the section of the Vort.

155. At the Kabbolas Ponim, someone is honored to read the Tenaim37 in the presence of the mothers of thechosson and kallah (or their escorts), after which the custom is to break an earthenware plate by the mothers (or the escorts). When the plate is broken all exclaim Mazal Tov!

The Kesubah — Wedding Contract

156. A Kesubah is a wedding contract in which the chosson obligates himself to support his wife and fulfill all the Torah obligations he has to her. The chosson must be made aware of the content of the Kesubah before it is signed.38

157. Before the chuppah the Rav must prepare the Kesubah. At the Rebbe’s wedding, the Kesubah was written on the day of the wedding (much before the chuppah) and the Kabbolas Kinyan and signature of the witnesses were all done by day. The chuppah itself was held after nightfall and all that was done at the chuppah was the reading and handing over of the Kesubah from the chosson to the kallah.39

158. Often today, the Rav will use a printed Kesubah in which one needs to fill in the missing information. The Rav must ensure that these details are filled in correctly. (If the Kesubah has been especially written by a scribe, the Rav must ensure that the scribe has written it correctly).

159. The Rav must explain the content of the Kesubah to the chosson, and then the chosson should make a kinyan and accept the obligations of the Kesubah. This kinyan is made by one of the witnesses giving the chosson a garment (such as a handkerchief/cloth napkin/Yarmulka that measures at least 3 fingers x 3 fingers that belongs to one of the witnesses — see section on Vort). The chosson takes the garment and raises it, thereby obligating himself in all the obligations of the Kesubah.

160. The kinyan itself must be done in front of the two witnesses. After the chosson makes the kinyan, the word Vekanina is filled in, and then the witnesses sign their names including their father’s names (and some add the family name) ending with the word Ed.

Shushvinin — Escorts

161. The chosson and kallah are escorted to the chuppah by shushvinin — escorts. The idea behind this is that the new couple needs help and support to overcome any inhibitions they may have in the move from being single to being married. They therefore need (senior) friends to support them in this move. It is for this reason that the shushvinin are a married couple, since they are an example to the chosson and kallah of someone who has made that transition.40

162. The custom is to take two married couples as shushvinin — one couple from the chosson’s side and the other from the side of the kallah.41

163. Where both parents of the chosson and kallah are present, the custom is that both the fathers are the shushvinin for the chosson and both mothers the shushvinin of the kallah.42

164. Where not all are present, then both sides should agree on which married couple theshushvinin should be, and it is best that the chosson and kallah not mix in to their decision.43

165. In a case where the father and the mother of either the chosson or kallah are divorced or remarried, then another married couple should lead the chosson and kallah under the chuppah and the parents may then join in on circling the chosson.44

166. In a case where the mother of either the chosson or kallah is pregnant, then an additional married couple should be taken to circle the chosson under the chuppah.45

Bedekin — Veiling of the Bride

167. It is customary to prepare a special room with a special seat for the kallah. (When both receptions are held in the same hall, a mechitzah should be placed to separate the two areas.) There the kallah awaits thechosson to come from the Kabbolas Ponim to the Bedekin. After the Kabbolas Ponim, the chosson is lead to the Bedekin escorted by his shushvinin and followed by the distinguished guests while singing the Alter Rebbe’s niggun of the daled bovos.46 The chosson places the veil over the head of the kallah so that it covers her face.47 The parents and grandparents then bless thekallah,48 after which the chosson is led away to prepare for the chuppah.49

168. The Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka related that her veil — “Dek Tuch” was quite thick, so much so that it was difficult for her to see on the way to the chuppah.50

In Preparation for the Chuppah

169. After the Kabbolas Ponim the chosson prepares for the chuppah in the following way.

170. The custom is that the chosson should wear a Kittel.51 The Kittel is worn over a silk Kapote52 but under a coat.53 If possible one should wear a Kittel that was made from a garment from one of the Rebbeim.54

171. The chosson should wear a Gartel.55 The custom is that the shushvinin dress the chosson with the Kittel, Gartel and coat. At the Rebbe’s wedding, the Previous Rebbe put the Gartel on the chosson (the Rebbe).56

172. All the clothes that the chosson wears at the chuppah should be new.57

173. The custom is to untie all knots on the garments of the chosson — such as his shoelaces and tie,58 and he should have nothing in his pockets.59 Therefore it is advisable that the ring used for kiddushin should be held by one of the relatives/friends who will be able to produce it under the chuppah.

174. Some have the custom that after putting on the Kittel and Gartel, both fathers (and grandfathers) bless the chosson.

175. The kallah must not have any other rings on her fingers for the chuppah nor should she wear gloves or any other jewelry.

176. If the kallah is a niddah, the chosson should be informed before the chuppah.60