In Yekkish Ashkenaz minhag are there any wedding customs distinct from general Ashkenaz wedding customs?

For example, I've read online that there is a minhag to use the chattan's tallis for the chuppah and that Yekke authorities did not object to getting married in shul (whereas Polish Ashkenazi authorities considered it chukos ha'goyim because Christians often married in churches). Are there sources for these or other customs?


4 Answers 4


According to an ancient tradition attributed to Maseches Soferim and explicated in the works of the Ge’onim, Rishonim, and Acharonim, the wedding is divided into two chuppah (marriage canopy) ceremonies. The first chuppah is referred to as Chuppas Main and the second, in which kiddushin is performed and sheva berachos (seven nisuin blessings) recited, is called Chuppas Tallis. In earlier times the Chuppas Main was held before Shacharis and the Chuppas Tallis was held after Shacharis or after Minchah. According to the Rokei’ach, the reason for holding the wedding so early in the morning is because of the conceptual similarity to the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, which took place in the morning. Since the Chuppas Main was held very early in the morning, the assembly would bear torches and candles to light the way. It is also reminiscent of the lightning flashes that were seen on Mount Sinai. As it became more and more difficult to gather participants so early in the morning, the two chuppah ceremonies were held before and after Minchah or before and after Ma’ariv. Some performed the two chuppah ceremonies one immediately after the other with no intervening services. The Chuppas Main ceremony proceeds as follows: The assembly accompanies the groom to the entrance to the synagogue courtyard (in Mainz and its hamlets) or to the door of the wedding house (in Worms and its hamlets). If the rabbi is to officiate at the ceremony, he escorts the groom to the chuppah with the groom leading, the rabbi following, and the rest of the assembly behind or ahead of them. The assembly escorting the bride and groom to the chuppah carries lit torches at the Chuppas Main only, and not at the Chuppas Tallis. The children are usually given the task to bear the candles and torches simply because they enjoy such activities. Musicians play the ancient Chuppas Main melody (the same triumphant melody is used on Purim when reading the verse Vayislu es Haman in the Scroll of Esther). 109 When the groom arrives at the chuppah area, the officiating rabbi takes him by the hand (not the arm) to the Chuppas Main bench, where he waits for the bride. The groom sits down and his escorts flank him on both sides. The torch bearers, musicians, and the bride’s friends accompany the bride from her home to the chuppah area, accompanied by a separate retinue of women. The bride’s face remains covered with a cloth veil while walking to and from the chuppah. Two women or the two mothers walk beside her. Since the bride’s face is covered, her attendants support her by holding her arms. Since the groom’s face is not covered, his arms are not held. When the bride reaches the entrance to the synagogue courtyard, the rabbi takes the groom by the hand and leads him to his bride, accompanied by distinguished members of the community. The groom takes the bride’s hand and thereby effects the nisuin stage of the marriage (Kesuvos 48b), while the rabbi continues holding his other hand. All three walk in this fashion to the Mein bench, which is considered the official chuppah. During this procession the participants throw wheat kernels upon the couple and call out “Peru urvu!” If the participants are likely to take offense at the bride and groom holding hands, he may hold on to part of her bouquet instead. The bride and groom sit together for a short time on a bench or platform. The bride’s attendants escort her home and then young boys lead the groom to prayer services in synagogue. The rabbi and the rest of the assembly follow them. Chuppas Main is held only for a woman’s first marriage. (Source Madrich Ashkenaz 2009)


On the morning of the wedding, the groom is seated in a distinguished location in synagogue during Shacharis, and candles are lit in his honor. He leaves the synagogue before Tachanun and returns before Kaddish. On Mondays and Thursdays he is given an aliyah. The bride and groom fast until the chuppah. Since the chuppah is traditionally held during the day, this is usually not a full day fast. Therefore, the bride and groom are permitted to engage in this fast during the month of Nissan. In the past the boys would entertain the groom and the girls would entertain the bride on the wedding day. They would sing and sometimes dance. Aside from a short address before the chuppah blessings on the gravity of the event, no saddening poems or words of rebuke are addressed to the couple on the day of the wedding.
110 The chuppah is held after the time of minchah gedolah. The bride and groom pray before the chuppah and add Aneinu in Shema Koleinu and Vidui before Elokoy Netzor. On Rosh Chodesh some recite only the Ashamnu. Those who join the groom for Minchah omit Tachanun. (Source: Madrich Ashkenaz 2009)


The bride covers her face on the day of the chuppah for modesty purposes and in order to avoid the evil eye. Since there is no badeken (veil covering ceremony) as a substitute for the Chuppas Main, neither the groom nor the rabbi covers the bride’s face, just as they take no part in any other stage of her dressing. 116 It is customary for the bride to cover her face before going to the Chuppas Main. The ancient custom in Alsace was for the bride to cover her face only after kiddushin. The veil should be transparent enough for the witnesses to identify the bride from a short distance. (Source Madrich Ashkenaz 2009)


There is no set location for the chuppah. Originally it was held in the home, but as the communities grew it was held outdoors in the synagogue courtyard. After the Emancipation, there were those who held the wedding in synagogue to emulate the gentile custom. The Chasam Sofer was adamantly against this innovation, but R’ Hirsch allowed it as an unavoidable concession in his day. The groom is escorted to the chuppah at the time the wedding is called for. Before the chuppah, the father, grandfather, and sometimes the mother of the groom bless him as is customary on Shabbos. The same is done for the bride. The bride wears her jewelery to the chuppah. Only if she is a widow does she remove her jewelry. In Germany up until the war, the bride wore shrouds (Sargenes, kittel) to the chuppah, to temper her intense joy, unlike the Christians who wore radiant white gowns. In earlier generations she would wear a fur Kürzen (overcoat) over the kittel. Either the Sargenes or the Kürzen was drawn over the head as an additional sign of mourning. The Kürzen was traditionally worn also at the onset on Shabbos and on Rosh Chodesh. The groom did not wear a kittel; rather, he covered his head in the custom of a mourner and put ashes on his head at the place where the tefillin rests. All this is done as a means to temper the intense joy of the occasion to remind us that we still live in exile without the Beis Hamikdash. The groom is accompanied to the chuppah by the assembly, and the bride, whose face is covered, is held by the hands by both mothers. For a first marriage, violinists walk before the couple while playing their instruments. The bride is escorted to the chuppah under a canopy supported by four boys. It is not customary for the bride to make circuits around the groom. This practice draws unnecessary attention to the bride and forces the mothers to squeeze in between the men. As the groom approaches the chuppah, a choir sings the verses beginning with the words Baruch haba. The name of G-d is enunciated as in prayer. Some also sing the short piyyut of Mi Adir. Some repeat the singing of Baruch haba at the approach of the bride. Several communities sing Ma Tovu at the approach of the groom. Some sing Hallelukah Odeh (Tehillim 111) and the like. This singing is omitted if the marriage is a second one for both the bride and groom. (Source Madrich Ashkenaz 2009)

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    Shemesh Marpe (responsa of R' Hirsch) is clear that R' Hirsch personally felt that indoor chuppos are entirely correct and in keeping with old minhag Ashkenaz.
    – AKA
    May 2, 2018 at 18:49

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