Our daughter, Elana, has chosen to be married in our backyard in a “simple” wedding. Her father and I were, admittedly, not enthralled with the idea. Images of monsoon-like rain, lightning, tenting, catering logistics, and porta-potties danced in our heads, and the word “simple” just didn’t jibe. But, a backyard wedding is what she wanted, and she asks for so little that we could hardly say “no.”
On reflection, our backyard really is the perfect place for this marriage ceremony and celebration to take place. Elana came to this house when she was two days old and she played in its backyard virtually every day of her childhood. On our lawn she played soccer and softball, badminton and volleyball, sandbox and tea parties, and, doing so, she learned valuable social skills such as teamwork and cooperation in playing with her brothers, the neighborhood kids, and her friends.
Elana and her Adam are a unique couple. While their marital website shows a humorous photo of her hugging him as he hugs a tree, they are truly huggers of people. Their chosen career paths, as well as their leisure activities, mirror their love of humankind and nature.
Elana and Adam will be married under a huppah, or wedding canopy. Over the past few years, I have been working on making one that will, I am hopeful, serve our family for generations. I began painting the silk for brother Seth’s marriage to Elena, but decided that for this marriage, the addition of a few more fruits and flowers would add needed color. Perhaps for every additional wedding in our family I will add another feature, as long as I am able. This huppah is not by any means a work of art (Elana told me after Seth’s wedding “From 15 feet away it looked good, Mummy.”). It is one of love.
The huppah represents a shelter open on all sides. It is a tribute to our ancestors’ Abraham and Sarah, whose tent was always open to visitors, both planned and unplanned. Elana and Adam’s wedding will be welcoming people from all walks of life, as well. Witnessing the marriage vows will be guests representing not only every branch of Judaism but also friends of the Muslim, Hindu, Bahai, and Christian faiths, including Mormon, Quaker, and Eastern Orthodox.
The huppah holds no furniture, but teaches a lesson that the basis of home and family is the people within it, not its possessions. Another thing learned in our backyard: sharing. Elana and Adam represent the polar opposite of consumerism and, in fact, didn’t register for wedding gifts for themselves. Rather, they have asked their guests wishing to make gifts to register with Heifer Project International, so that less fortunate people a world away can have the opportunity to make a life for themselves and their families.
Yes, I think the backyard is exactly the place in which this wedding should take place. “Simple” it is not. Perfect it will be – even with a monsoon.