By Oscar Collins
Getting married in the Jewish tradition often involves a chuppah or huppah. This bridal canopy symbolizes several things — a home, warm clothing and a bed covering.
It should be uniquely personal, which is why a little DIY can make your big day even more special. Here’s your 4-step guide to building your own chuppah.
The beauty of a DIY chuppah — instead of renting one from your venue — is making it as traditional as you like. According to the lore, families would plant a cedar tree upon the birth of their daughter and use the wood for this purpose. One benefit to sticking with this material is that it serves as a natural insect repellent, making your job easier when it’s time to store your creation.
However, you don’t have to fell a tree if you’re concerned about the environmental impact. You could bind together sustainable bamboo to make your supports. You could also get crafty by repurposing old canopy bed posts — it’s sometimes amazing what you can do with objects you find at the dump.
Although your chuppah might be lightweight enough to carry, you still need sturdy poles to secure it to the ground for the ceremony. Therefore, you should dust off your safety handbook if it’s been a while since your 7th-grade woodshop class.
You’ll need a filtration mask to keep flying wood dust out of your airways. An RZ version can filter out particulate matter as small as 0.1 microns — several times tinier than the diameter of a single human hair.
You’ll also want properly fitting safety goggles to protect your peepers. A flying piece of wood or metal can blind you. The right gloves — or at least a thumb guard — can keep you from cuts when carving designs.
You should keep all four sides of your chuppah open. Doing so symbolizes that your home will always welcome visitors. Traditionally, families used a prayer shawl to create the cover. It’s considered a talisman against evil spirits.
However, if one of you isn’t of the Jewish faith, you can use an alternative cover. One family used a hand-knit tablecloth their grandmother brought from Europe when they fled the Holocaust. A plain white cloth also works to symbolize the purity of your love.
Your chuppah can be as ornate as you like, so feel free to go crazy with flowers. Some brides opt for an all-white theme, using pale roses and daisies to adorn their chuppah. Others incorporate the colors worn by members of the bridal party or a combination of the two. You can also add ribbons and garlands to your heart’s delight to complete the festive appearance.
Building your own chuppah need not be hard. Follow this 4-step guide to create a marriage canopy as unique as your love.