In many Orthodox Jewish weddings I have attended, there is a short ceremony at the groom's table called "tana'im". This site explains:
These are conditions agreed upon by the couple; both parties accept several conditions related to the partnership of bride, groom and their families. They consist of the agreed wedding date, as well as the financial liabilities of the two parties. The contract is binding on both parties, in case of a breach of conditions the offender must pay compensation. This contract is signed by two witnesses.
It also states:
the parents undertake to provide financial support until the wedding and to make sure the children have the clothing articles they need. It ends by stating a date for the wedding ceremony.
I have several questions regarding the document and the ceremony itself:
- Why is this document necessary, esp. if it is first signed on the day of the wedding? Is it the equivalence of nissuin in any way?
- It says that the parent's agree to financial support. In most families, the parents are already supporting their child, or the child is self-supporting, anyway and may not need or isn't relying on parent's support. What does this support mean or involve?
- In terms of financial support, IIRC, the ketubah places that obligation on the husband. Practically, then, if the chuppah will occur shortly thereafter, why even mention this part of parental support in the tana'im?
- Among some Hassidim, the tana'im is done a few months earlier at a "vort" ceremony. (A vort is a gathering of friends and family to celebrate the couple's engagement announcement.) Is there any reason why they do it earlier vs. on the wedding day?
- Does this document need to be read in public? If not, why do they do it? And why is this done in the groom's room only? If the bride is involved in this, shouldn't they repeat the reading in the bride's room?
NOTE - A link at the bottom of the site allows you to download a copy of the tana'im text.