I was one of those people who, when I saw it done at a friend’s wedding, I knew I had to do it, too.
And if I had to choose just one highlight from a day filled with them, it would be that moment when Paulie and I first saw each other.
We women were on a deck, surrounded by redwood trees. My friends Felicia and Jen had been singing and drumming, and women were dancing. Some were kneeling down in front of me to receive blessings, as it is believed that brides and grooms have special blessing powers on their wedding day.
But then the sound of the drums got louder. Paulie was coming, with our fathers on each side of him, while our friends David and Matty drummed along. My friends closed in around me, so Paulie wouldn’t see me until the very last second. I heard him say “Where is she?” and my friend Michelle pointed, so he would end up right in front of me.
I’ll never forget that moment, when the women parted to let him through. Tears were streaming down his face, which made me start to cry, too.
Our officiant, Elizheva, silenced the drums, and everyone allowed us a few moments of silence just to take each other in. Somehow, among the 135 or so guests, we managed to focus only on each other. We smiled and cried simultaneously, and then, Paulie lowered my veil.
“Yup, she’s the one,” he said. “I am so sure.”
Then, I stood up, and wrapped my husband-to-be in a tallit that we had chosen several months before. Although my husband’s mother is Jewish, his parents did not raise him Jewish, and therefore he had never owned one. While the bride draping the groom in a tallit has become a standard way of making the bedeken more egalitarian, it was Paul’s idea that I give him one for our wedding.
Our late August wedding last summer fell on the third day of the month of Elul. Many years earlier, I had learned that it is customary in traditional circles to hear the shofar blown every day in Elul, as it is the month before Rosh Hashanah. It is a way to prepare the soul for the internal work done during the Days of Awe. Despite my husband’s lack of a Jewish education, the first time he picked up the shofar, we learned he was a natural; he could blow it like the best of them. So we decided to incorporate a shofar blast into our wedding.
Following our friends Felicia and Eric, who had married just a month earlier, we decided that Paulie should blow it after the ketubah signing, to signal the end of that part of the ceremony.
After we veiled and draped, we signed the ketubah, and then the guests closed their eyes while he let out a resounding shofar blast. Our guests then made their way to their seats so the ceremony could begin.