My man-friend of superior years and gossip called into the office the other day to regale me with tales of his granddaughter’s Orthodox Jewish wedding in Canada. I have never been to one and was intrigued because his granddaughter, who was raised Protestant, had converted to Orthodox Judaism. A process that took three years.
The bride, though she had met her husband-to-be, had never touched him (unrelated men and women are not permitted to do so). I asked if perhaps anyone ever cheated. No, I was told, but after the ceremony the bride and groom retreat to a private room for 15 minutes before the other festivities begin.
The ceremony itself was held outdoors, which is tradition, under a wedding canopy called a Huppah and conducted in Hebrew. The reception, high-spirited with much dancing (often in circles) to traditional music, was held in a hotel nearby. Men and women danced separately–divided by a high ‘wall’–and the bride and groom, on their respective sides of the wall, were each hoisted up on tables so they could see each other.
There was plenty of booze–an open bar–although it was only the ‘Gentiles’ who filled their boots. By all accounts, the Orthodox Jews didn’t need too much encouragement to get the party started (which is the principal function of booze at an Irish wedding) and continued long after the Gentiles had gone home.