177. The chuppah should be set up outdoors underneath the heavens.1 The reason for this is that the couple should be blessed with offspring as numerous as the stars of the heavens.

178. Once the chosson has been prepared for the chuppah, the shushvinin hold the chosson’s arms, with the chosson’s father (or escort) on his right side and the kallah’s father (or escort) on the left, and he is led under the chuppah. The shushvinin should be holding candles,2 and all present sing the Alter Rebbe’s niggun of the daled bovos.3

179. The chosson stands under the chuppah facing east.4

180. The moments under the chuppah are powerful indeed. The Rebbe’s father Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Schneerson instructed the Rebbe that under his chuppah he should think the entire time about Yiras Shomayim and that he should have children who are G‑d fearing and a blessed generation of upright people — together with the kallah with whom he has been blessed by Hashem.5

181. The moment standing under the chuppah is a most auspicious time to request all one’s heart’s desire from Hashem. It is on the day of the chuppah that one is forgiven for all one’s sins and one is compared to a king. In the blessings we recite under the chuppah the couple are likened to their being created in the Garden of Eden before the sin of the Tree of Knowledge, and in that lofty status, they should take the opportunity to pray for all good things for their future life together.6

182. Then the kallah is led under the chuppah, with the shushvinos holding her arms. The kallah’s mother (or her chosen escort) should be on the right of the kallah and the chosson’s mother (or the wife of the chosson’s chosen escort) on the left. Both shushvinos should be holding candles.

183. As thekallah reaches the chuppah, some have a custom for the chosson’s shushvinin to step forward and greet the kallah.7

184. The kallah, both pairs of shushvinin, parents and grandparents (male and female) all walk around the chosson anti-clockwise seven times, accompanied by the singing of the Alter Rebbe’s niggun, after which the kallah stands to the right of the chosson.8 During this procession, the chosson, kallah and shushvinim should have thoughts of Teshuvah.

185. After the Hakkofos someone is honored with the singing of Boruch Habo — Mi Adir.

186. The Rebbe’s letter is read under the chuppah.9

187. Some honor the Kohanim to bless the couple with the priestly blessing.10

188. The Rav may wish to address the chosson and kallah.

189. The Rav Mesader Kiddushin will then recite the Birchos Erusin. A glass is filled with wine11 (the same glass is later also used for the Birchos Nisuin and is then broken12) and the Rav reminds the chosson and kallah to listen carefully to the blessings of Hagofen and Erusin and have in mind to fulfill their obligation with his recitation. They should not say “Boruch Hu Uvoruch Shmo” when the Rav mentions Hashem’s name, but they should say Amen after both the Berachos.13 The Rav then recites the berachoh over the wine and the Erusin blessing whilst facing the chosson and kallah.14

190. The chosson and kallah are given to drink from the wine. The custom is that the wine is given to the chosson by his father or his escort, and thekallah is given the wine by her mother or her escort. Both the chosson and kallah have had in mind to fulfill their obligation by listening to the Rav’s blessing and therefore they both drink the wine without making a further blessing. The Rav does not drink from the wine.15

191. Then two kosher witnesses are designated to be the witnesses of the kiddushin to the exclusion of all others. These witnesses are usually appointed before the chuppah and the Rav has already clarified that they are kosher and not related to each other.16 The two witnesses should stand close enough to see the act of kiddushin.17 The Rav will ask for the ring to be produced and then the Rav will show the ring to the two witnesses and ask them if it worth a perutah (the value of a small coin). They must respond in the affirmative. The ring itself must actually belong to the chosson. The Rav may therefore ask the chosson if the ring belongs to him and that he purchased the ring with his own money. (If the father of the chosson purchased the ring, then the chosson should acquire it through a halachically valid method of acquisition/kinyan.)

192. The chosson then takes the ring in his right hand (unless he is left-handed, in which case he uses the left hand) and the kallah extends her right index finger. (If the kallah is left handed, then she should extend the index finger on the hand she usually wears rings.)

193. The chosson begins to place the ring on the finger when he begins to say Haray At...While saying the last word Veyisroel he securely places the ring on her finger.18 (If the chuppah is a chuppas niddah, the chosson should be careful not to touch the kallah’s finger.19) The kallah is silent during the placing of the ring.

194. After the witnesses see the act of kiddushin and the ring has been firmly placed on her finger, the two witnesses declare — Mekudeshes (she is married). The witnesses must be very careful to see the placing of the ring on the bride’s finger and to hear the entire Haray At etc., said by the chosson. (A word needs to be said here about the photographer. The photographer needs to understand the utmost importance of the witnesses seeing the act of kiddushin and therefore in no way should he obstruct their vision just in order to catch a better view.)

195. After the kiddushin, someone is honored with reading the Kesubah in its entirety. The honor of reading the Kesubah is usually given to a Rosh Yeshivah or another Rav, and is considered as an honor second only to Sidur Kiddushin. After the Kesubah is read, it is rolled up and given to the chosson who then gives it to the kallah (who then usually gives it to her mother or escort). If it is a chuppas niddah, the Rav should hand it to the kallah’s escort. It is vital that the Kesubah be kept in a safe place throughout the lives of the couple. In the great excitement of the wedding great care must be taken that the Kesubah is not misplaced. Therefore, after the chuppah, the Kesubah should be kept safe by a relative/friend until after the wedding and then the kallah should take it home with her.20

196. After reading the Kesubah, the Birchos Nisuin are recited, using the same glass as the Birchos Erusin. (The Nisuin blessings are only recited in the presence of a minyan.) The cup is topped up with wine, and the blessing over wine is recited followed by the Sheva Berachos.

197. Some divide up the honor of reciting the Sheva Berachos among relatives and friends. However, the first two blessings of Borei Pri Hagofen and Shehakol Boro Lichvodo should not be separated unless absolutely necessary.21

198. Thechosson and kallah are again reminded by the Rav that they should fulfill their obligation by listening to those honored with saying the Sheva Berachos and to answer only Amen and not Boruch Hu Uvoruch Shmo.

199. In the blessing of Samach Tesamach, the first word is read Samach with a Patach (and not Sameiach — with a Tzayray under the Mem).22

200. After the Sheva Berachos the chosson and kallah are given some wine to drink. This time around, the custom is that the chosson receives the wine from the kallah’s father or escort, and the kallah receives the wine from the chosson’s mother or escort.

201. After they drink from the glass, someone else is asked to finish the rest of the wine (and he should make a berachoh on the wine). The glass is then wrapped in a protective cover, and placed under the chosson’s right foot. The chosson then breaks the glass with his right foot and all shout Mazal Tov! The musicians then play simchah music.23