At a wedding recently I saw that the grooms shoes were untied, someone explained to me that there is a custom to make sure there are no knots under the chuppah. Where does this come from?
According to this article:
Before the chuppah all the knots on the groom's garments are untied. This symbolizes that at the moment of marriage all other bonds are eliminated, except this intimate one made between the bride and groom.
Apparently, this may be a Hassidic custom? I haven't seen any weddings where I have seen this done. Then, again, I assume that the chattan has done this prior to walking down the aisle, and I'm not exactly looking at the chattan's pants or shoes. A number of chattanim, including myself, wore slip-ons. I think one wore crocks (a bit weird, I guess, but, there was probably a med reason for that.)
So, according to this view, the chattan, who often davens under the chuppah, can't wear a gartel???
According to this shuir(starting at 16:30) from Rav Shachter, quoting Rav Soleveitchik, this is not a minhag based on anything (minhag shtus).
Rav Moshe Heinemann explains in Mah Nomar Shidduchim - Sheva Berachos (6:8):
The Torah writes when you lend someone money and want to take collateral to ensure payment, “לֹא יַחֲבֹל רֵחַיִם וָרָכֶב כִּי נֶפֶשׁ הוּא חֹבֵל” (Devarim 24:6) don’t take the grinding stone which he uses to grind the wheat since he needs it for his פרנסה either as a job or for food. That’s poshut pshat. The Targum Yonasan ben Uziel (Devarim 24:6) says לֹא יַחֲבֹל refers to not tying up a chosson or kallah because רֵחַיִם means the woman and the רָכֶב is a משל to the man. There’s a certain kishuf you can do to prevent the chosson and kallah from being נזקק with one another, so the Torah says a special איסור beyond kishuf to not tie up the chosson and kallah. However, there are two things the chosson and kallah can do to ensure the kishuf doesn’t work. The first thing they can do is not have any knots. The second עצה is for the chosson to put gold in his pocket. For this reason, the minhag was to give the chosson a golden watch, often a pocket watch, so he could put the gold in his pocket to prevent this kishuf from taking effect. I’ve never heard of anyone who knows how to do this kishuf today, so we don’t really have anything to worry about. They don’t have to untie all the knots, and if they do then they’ll have some problems with the button sewed onto the jacket which likely have knots on the end of the thread. If it makes you happy to untie all the knots, then you can do it, but you don’t have to do so.
As DanF cited, there appears to be a Hassidic custom about "no bonds are as strong as this one." I don't know the source on that, but here's a theory.
There's a slightly more prevalent custom for the chasan to remove any jewelry he's wearing before going under the chupa. This could easily be explained by the nuts-and-bolts halacha that the kiddushin would be voided if based on a false premise. If she thought "I'm only marrying him because he's rich [see, he's covered in bling]", or "wow, he's giving me that ring plus all that bling he's wearing!"], we could have halachic issues.
Thus my guess is the practice went from:
- "Make clear if you're wearing bling that she knows what you're really worth, and what you're actually giving her"
- Take off the bling.
- He and she should take off the bling. Or anything blingy. Eh, even cufflinks or chains.
- Just untie everything.
- Oh, what a beautiful custom! We do it to show that no bond is stronger than marriage!
(Someone who had the no-jewelry custom had asked the German-born Rabbi Shimon Schwab, proper gentleman that he was, about removing his cufflinks under the chupah. What, and look like a shlepper?! Of course not! [Then again, in that culture, the bride would never have a remote dream that he'd be caught removing his cufflinks in public to give her.])