Simple Huppah Inspiration

by Meg Keene, CEO & Editor-In-Chief

I’ve been meaning to write a post about huppah inspiration, and I’ve finally gathered the pictures to do it! Hooray! Most huppahs (huppot, really, in the plural) these days are very decorated, and I wanted to pull together some pictures of simple, graceful, lovely huppahs.

For all of you non-Jews out there, a huppah is one of the key elements of a Jewish wedding. It’s not just a pretty wedding canopy, it represents (among other things) the home of the newlyweds, open on the sides to the couples community, family, and freinds. In it’s original form, a huppah was a prayer shawl held up by four poles, each supported by a friend or loved one. It’s most traditional for a Jewish wedding to take place outside, with just the huppah and the sky as a covering.
One of the first things David and I decided about the wedding is that we wanted a simple, traditional huppah. For us, this canopy serves as a religious symbol, and we wanted it to be made of a prayer shawl.
Our wedding is going to be outside, and we knew we wanted a natural look, and this photo from Belathee Photography set my little heart on fire. We have to figure out how to get long sapling branches to make our huppah!
Now we just have to decide if we want a free standing huppah (more practical) or a hand held huppah. I love the image of the canopy being carried down the aisle by the wedding party, which is making me lean towards handheld.
Pictures from: Twin Lens Studio, Martha Stewart Weddings, Belathee Photography, Marla Aufmuth via Snippet and Ink, and Jocelyn Filley.

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. She has written two best selling wedding books: A Practical Wedding and A Practical Wedding Planner. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in Oakland, CA with her husband and two children. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit #NASTY

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  • Wow, beautiful! These are exactly what I’ve been trying to come up with. Thanks for doing the legwork! :-)

    The cover (maybe an antique tablecloth?) in the top one is gorgeous.

  • Aimee

    pitter pat, pitter pat! i love the branches!

  • I love the idea of the wedding party carrying it. This is such a lovely tradition :)

  • Jo

    Great entry! We saw an awesome huppah last week- the bride’s mom made it out of the bride and grooms’ grandfathers prayer shaws- really gorgeous. And last year, a bride made a quilt-like huppah with the pieces decorated by friends and family.

    For our huppah, we used a simple white cloth and silk screened the fabric with “double happiness” (the chinese wedding symbol) along with the hebrew phrase Ani L’dodi v’dodi li (I am my beloved and my beloved is mine). This blended both our traditions.

    We also had our groomsmen carry in the huppah. Our polls were bamboo- really affordable and sturdy. We probably could have had them walk in and place the polls in stands. So you could have your cake and eat it too in this case.

    • Anika

      How did you attach your canopy to the poles? We are using my grandma’s hand embroidered table cloth and I don’t want to ruin it!
      Great pictures!

  • LOVE that first image!

    It is inappropriate to have a huppah if you’re not jewish? I love the aesthetics of them and the sybolism. I also adore jewish weddings. Alas, I am not jewish. Would I offend those that are if I adopted this symbol in my wedding?

    • Kim

      Kini – I just read through the million-miles-long comment thread on the other post that is debating the appropriation of cultural/religious wedding traditions, and as comments are closed, I wanted to reply to you here with my own thoughts. While the owner of this blog (that I really, truly enjoy) is obviously FIRMLY against non-Jews having a chuppah, I just wanted to put it out there that not every Jew will be offended in the same way.

      I absolutely believe in sharing traditions; my partner is not Jewish, and I hope that our wedding would be a marriage of our cultures as well. While I do think it might be odd for a non-Jewish couple to use a tallis in their chuppah (but why would they want to use something so religious anyway?), if they wanted to have a four-poled structure with a fabric top (as many chuppas are these days), it would not bother me in the least – as long as they gave a an explanation of where the tradition comes from and what it means to them.

      It is a beautiful thing to think about, the creating of a home and recognizing the challenges, etc. If the symbolism means something to you, and it is important to you, I do not see a problem with sharing that spirit. Especially if you acknowledge where it comes from, and why you are using it in your wedding. Otherwise, people will probably just assume it’s a wedding arch or whatever (and honestly, is that really a problem?) – if a chuppah is not identified as such, is it still a chuppah or is it just a tent? I don’t know, and I don’t care. I would only be offended if you say, made a chuppah using a tallis and said “This is our chuppah. We don’t know what this funny sheet thing with the tassels is on top, but we thought it looked nice, so we put it in our wedding.” — It does not sound like this is your intent.

      I understand that some people would be offended by a non-Jew’s “appropriation” of the chuppah, but I just wanted to throw another opinion out there, as I was honestly sort of offended by the nature of Meg’s comments (and those of others). As long as it is done in good taste, and with the proper attribution/explanation, I see nothing wrong with it. In fact, I would be happy to see the tradition being respected and shared.

      Like I said, I am a Jew (on both sides, ultra-reform, not practicing religiously, mostly cultural, just for the record), and these are my feelings. Obviously people can feel free to do and feel as they please, but I just wanted to represent another point of view on this very sensitive topic.

      • meg

        I was VERY clear that not all Jews will feel the same way. However, given the broad swath of wonderful, kind, thoughtful people that are constantly hurt by cultural appropriation, I would hope most people would fall into the camp of choosing to do no harm. Because yes, it harms people. Maybe not you, but it harms lots of people, including me and mine this week.

        It’s not particularity welcome when I have closed a topic for you to find new ways and new threads to attack me on, and to use words like “offend” instead of limiting yourself to kinder more articulate words. I didn’t personally attack you, and I actually made sure that your position was represented. There is no need to attack me over here. It’s a very unkind way to treat someone whose work you claim to respect. You just made my job harder, again, after a very long week. I week where I was forced to discuss something that I had no interest in discussing – my personal faith and the pain of cultural appropriation.

        • Deep breath. I think Kim’s comment was completely valid, and not at all unkind or unfair. She is replying to a person who is asking if it would be a offensive for a non-Jewish couple to use a chuppah in their wedding. She is not finding new threads to attack you on. She is not attacking at all, she is stating her feelings. Isn’t that one of the reasons you write a blog? To connect with others and hear their views of the world? You say in your comment policy that you write your blog for the comments, after all. And the word “offend” is not an unkind or inarticulate word. It is a word that directly expressed Kim’s feelings. Why did her comment upset you so much? Is there something else going on?

          P.S. I think a chuppah is an exquisite symbol for a marriage. Isn’t it nice that there are so many other cultures and religions that have something similar? With a little research, love, and creativity, anyone who wants to express a similar sentiment in their wedding, can. And they can give it a new name and acknowledge where the inspiration for it came from.

        • Katherine

          Um, this did not seem like a personal attack on you simply because Kim felt “offended.” Similarly, the fact that you feel “offended” by non-Jews using a chuppah is not a personal attack on me as a non-Jew. It is just how you feel. If you dislike people disagreeing with your point of view (especially on a topic that you concede is controversial), perhaps you should disable comments on these touchy subjects or make it clear in your “comment policy” section that disagreement is not, in fact, allowed.

  • Oh these are so lovely! I tried to convince my beau to have a huppah but he felt odd not being jewish (i disagree!) but it’s all about compromise, right?

    Meg-check out this place and also the flower market. one or both should have simple branches:

  • I’ve heard of couples making a quilted huppah from the fabric of friends and family. Since we’re not Jewish, my partner and I asked our family and friends to send a scrap of fabric to us before the wedding (we simply included the request on our wedding website). We then quilted it into a blanket that we were wrapped in during the ceremony. It was an adaptation of a Native American tradition, combined with the huppah element. P.S. Thanks for the beautiful photos! Good luck with yours…

  • I stumbled across your blog by complete accident and fell in love with it. We’re having a practical wedding in October. We’re aren’t about the bells or whistles. Love this blog for telling people about how practical is better than illogical.
    Oh and my ring is small and wonderful. We’ll spend the money we saved not gettng bigger ring on a dog or home improvements.

  • What a beautiful tradition, I love the meaning behind it!

    Is there any way you could have a huppah that is carried down the isle with you then attaches to it’s supports when you get to the end?

  • my close friend laura made her own huppah for her wedding in Georgia last month. It was beautiful and crafty and totally HER. She used bamboo for the poles and decorated it with scraps from our brightly colored bridesmaids dresses. we should be getting the pictures back soon and i will be sure to send your way.

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