Thursday, October 01, 2009
Oh, what to wear? (No, seriously)
So, at the end of the month, I'm privileged and more than pleased to be co-officiant at the Interfaith Wedding of the daughter of an old and dear friend.
I've known this child since she was nine years old and I am deeply honored to have been asked to do their premarital counseling and act as co-officiant at her wedding to a very fine Jewish boy. Well, Peruvian Jew. It's a long, fascinating story.
Both prospective bride and groom are nominally religious. The wedding is taking place in a very 'swankified' club the next town over. This is a Very Expensive Wedding. No joke. We're talking Big Bucks.
Both prospective bride and groom are very clear that they are having a 'religious' ceremony for their parents.
The prospective bride was adamant that I be part of her wedding day - did I mention that I've known her since she was nine years old (Impossible!!) - but that my involvement is more about our relationship than any religious preference or denominational affiliation.
Oh, they both believe in God, and think Jesus was a pretty cool Rabbi, but . . . . religion? . . . .Well, they just aren't too sure.
"Christians can be so mean," she said.
"Religious Jews can be so impossible," he said.
I appreciate their honesty.
So, after a Very Long, Hard Search for a Rabbi, they finally found a "Rent-A-Rabbi" online. He's of the Reform Tradition. He charges a whole whack of money - almost triple the usual and customary fee for Christian clergy.
He knows a market share when he sees one. Apparently, not only do most Rabbis discourage interfaith marriage - especially when the boy is Jew and the girl is Christian - they scowl at the ones who do officiate at such events. Assimilation is a Very Hot Issue here in the North East Corridor.
I get it. I do. I also suspect that the high fees are also meant to be discouraging. Ya gotta Really, Really want to make your girlfriend a shiksa, ya know?
The Rabbi is a real character. When they FINALLY met with him (he gave them exactly 45 minutes of his time), he handed them a bunch of Xeroxed papers with some Jewish prayers and an outline of how he runs an Interfaith Wedding.
The Service Outline ran down the middle of the paper. On the top of the page there is a column with "Rabbi" on the left and "Priest/Pastor/Minister" on the right. As he reviewed the outline of the service, he made check marks as to who was doing what.
He asked, "The priest is not going to do a homily, is she?" "Yes," said the prospective bride. "Oye," said the Rabbi. "What?" said the prospective groom. "Are you having lamb chops?" asked the Rabbi. "Well, yes," said the startled prospective groom, "Why?" "Well," said the Rabbi, "I love lamb chops and the longer she talks, the longer I have to wait for the lamb chops."
Like I said, a real character.
Oh, we're doing a Chuppah and a Ketubah, blessing the wine and breaking the glass. The bride absolutely refused to do the Sheva Brachot with her going around in a circle seven time.
I think the prayers are lovely, so I've adapted them so we're both doing them. The Rabbi and me. It's very cool. Even he says so himself. But, no body is moving anywhere when we say the blessing prayers.
The one reading in the service is from I Corinthians 13:1-13. A cousin of the bride is reading that. The couple also absolutely refuses to do the "Unity Candle". "Tacky," said the groom. A man of very good taste. His mother is very upset. He also nixed the playing of "Sunrise Sunset" during the wedding ceremony.
His mother cried. "But she can have the Ave Maria." He stood firm. "The Rabbi said the ceremony can only take 30 minutes. If we add music, we can't do the other blessings. "Oh," she said, "If the Rabbi said . . . ."
The Ketubah says this: "Ani L'Dodi V'Dodi Li" which translates: "I am my beloved and my beloved is mine. No man without woman and no woman without man, and neither without their faith."
"Faith," the couple emphasized to me, "Not religion."
Everything seems to be in place. We've agreed on an order of service that is different from the original order first proposed by the Rabbi. There's more sharing of the service between us. Less "Now the Rabbi speaks, then the Priest speaks."
It's going to be lovely, I think.
So, this is where you come in. Here's my question: What to wear?
No. Seriously. Very, very seriously.
The Rabbi is going to wear a business suit, his Kippah and his Tallit.
It's different not only because I'm Christian and he's Jew but because he's man and I'm woman. He automatically has cache because he's a man. I don't have that automatic cache.
I'm torn. Do I just wear a suit, clergy shirt and stole, or do I wear a cassock, surplice, tippit and academic hood - and then change, of course, after the ceremony?
Is the suit, clergy shirt and stole too understated or is the cassock, surplice, tippit and hood too much?
Remember: We're going to be standing under the Chuppah, doing almost all the prayers in Hebrew (him) and English (me), signing the Ketubah, blessing the wine and smashing the glass. It's mostly a Jewish service in which the Rabbi is graciously allowing me to participate.
There are, of course, no crosses allowed - not even during the benediction - and I'm not allowed to say "Jesus."
When I told them that during the Sheva Brachot, I'll be wrapping their hands together in my tippit, the prospective groom jokingly asked, "I won't go up in flames, will I?"
So, I'm feeling a need to go a bit more "official," but maybe that's just my needs.
The prospective bride and groom have left the decision to me. So, I'm asking you: What to wear?
Thanks for your help. Seriously. It means a lot to me. Thanks in advance.
Oh, and by the way, just so you know: I won't be wearing what the woman is wearing in the picture above. It's just not me.