For those of discerning taste, not just any wedding will do. There is a rapidly expanding market for customized weddings, and certainly Jewish weddings are no exception to this trend. The range of products and services fits any budget and preference, from hand crafted ketubahs (Jewish marriage contracts) to creative play lists on the dance floor. Wedding planners and vendors will do what it takes to make every bride and groom feel unique on their special day.
The centrepiece of the Jewish wedding ceremony is the chuppah, or Jewish wedding canopy. Open on all four sides, it represents the Jewish value of hospitality in the home to be established by the bride and groom. Chuppahs come in a variety of styles and materials, from ornate wooden carvings to an artistic draping of material. The main event of the Jewish wedding takes place under the chuppah, so it’s the ideal location for the bride and groom to demonstrate their creativity and unique vision for the journey they are beginning on their wedding day.
To customize a chuppah, one can start by consulting with a florist who has experience adorning wedding canopies. Florists will work with you to ensure a beautiful chuppah that is both colour-coordinated and on budget. Before the couple decides on a theme or colour pattern, it is important to consult with a florist to make sure that flowers in those colours will be available at that time of the year. Weddings often take on a seasonal theme, and it’s no coincidence. Flowers grow seasonally and a florist can guide you through the most cost-effective and appropriate floral choices for the occasion.
Often, the chuppah is used to highlight the central theme or colour pattern of a wedding, matching the decorations in the aisles, the bridesmaids’ dress colour or by using different patterns and hues to achieve an overall look for a themed wedding. Working with experienced wedding planners and designers can prove to be a valuable source of information to create a chuppah that fits a couple’s individual style.
All Toronto synagogues, such as the BAYT and Shaarei Shomayim, offer the use of their chuppah for couples using their venue to get married. Popular wedding halls, such as Paradise Banquet Halls and the Terrace Banquet Hall, both located in Vaughan and under COR kosher supervision, also offer the use of a chuppah. There is also the option, however, of renting a chuppah for the evening, and a number of local Toronto businesses rent out chuppahs, both simple and elaborate, for reasonable rental fees, and will also construct and take them down on the day of the wedding in order to minimize the hassle for the wedding planner and care-taking staff at the wedding venue.
One such Toronto-based company is chuppah.ca. It offers both free-standing and hand-held chuppahs to meet many budgets and preferences, and, once booked, these chuppahs can be further customized with flowers and other decorations. Many couples prefer hand-held chuppahs, where each corner of the chuppah is supported by a member of the wedding party or close friends in order to include more people in the wedding ceremony. The most traditional type of hand-held chuppah is to use a large tallit, prayer shawl, held up at the four corners by people close to the bride and groom. Often the prayer shawl is a family heirloom, creating a sense of sentimental value and nostalgia while the couple exchange their vows.
Searching local online classifieds, such as Kijiji, can also prove to be a valuable source for customized wedding pieces, and interested buyers can often find one of a kind creations at steep discounts as people try to re-sell chuppahs and other wedding related items from their own weddings. Buyer beware, though, since items bought and sold through online listings are not guaranteed to be free of defects and other issues. As with so many things, there are some great deals to be had by those people who don’t mind doing some of the “schlepping” themselves.
The highest end option for couples who want a truly unique chuppah, one they will keep as a memento of their special day, is to the commission the design and creation of a completely new chuppah. There are many designers in Toronto who, with enough lead time, can create unparalleled and personalized works of art that truly represent the tastes and ideas of the bride and groom. The Canopy Company, based in Toronto, Montreal and New York, creates custom chuppahs in a variety of materials and styles for their discerning customers. One of the most popular types of customized chuppah is made from paper, with elaborate designs cut into layers of delicate paper to create an incredible effect for those standing under the chuppah and those watching the ceremony.
One of the most important resources for ideas and designers for any couple with a creative wedding on their mind is the website Etsy, a marketplace for artisans of all kinds to sell their products and share ideas with one another. Many of the items for sale on Etsy are one of a kind, and the artists work collaboratively with the customers to create pieces with a genuine artistic process and a story that the happy couple will be able to share with their friends and family at their wedding and beyond.
As the backdrop for so many pictures and the centre of the action at the wedding ceremony, the chuppah provides a canvas for many brides and grooms to flex their creative muscle and create customized and memorable chuppahs for their weddings. The possibilities for the chuppah are limitless, and there are many vendors and designers in Toronto who can help create unique and meaningful chuppahs for couples of all traditions and religious backgrounds, as well as personal tastes. From the most simple prayer shawl to the most delicate paper cut out, the chuppah is the centrepiece of the wedding, and is certainly deserving of the couple’s attention and creativity, so think outside the box and find what you love!