In much of rabbinic literature, the terms chuppah and nesuin are used interchangably. The chuppah is the wedding canopy and symbolizes the home a married couple will make together. Nesuin is the name of the second part of the wedding ceremony; the part of the ceremony that welcomes the couple into the community as a couple.
The chuppah, therefore, symbolizes the home. Not merely an isolated dwelling, though, but a home within the community. In our case, our chuppah was actually made by friends and family, some of whom are here today, and others who were unable to attend. Each square in our chuppah was sent out as a blank piece of cloth. We asked those dear to us to decorate the squares with their hopes and wishes for our union. By creating our chuppah out of those decorated squares, and by standing beneath it as we commit our lives to each other, the blessings and wishes it carries become an integral part of our relationship.
THE BRIT AHAVAH (COVENANT OF LOVE)
In a standard wedding, the Ketubah, or marriage contract, is read between giving of the ring and the recitation of the Sheva Brachot. The purpose of the Ketubah is to guarantee a woman certain marital rights. It is also a reiteration of the commitment entered into by the couple.
Although we do not have the same need for legal guarantees, we drew up this document as a written declaration of our mutual commitment. We left the bottom of the document open for those attending the ceremony to sign. In years to come, it will serve us as a reminder of the joy we felt today.
THE BRACHOT (BLESSINGS)
The explanations which preceded each of the seven blessings in the second part of our ceremony were the best way we could think of to express why we included each of the blessings. We attempted to do so in such a way that the same explanations would hold true equally for the Sheva Brachot that are recited at a standard Jewish wedding. We hope that these explanations will serve not only to illuminate our own ceremony, but to make even the standard wedding ceremony clearer and more understandable.