How to Mark Your Wedding Date When You’ve Had to Postpone

May 4, 2020Rabbi Miriam Wajnberg

Around the world, stay-at-home orders and the need for extreme physical distancing has led engaged couples to cancel and postpone their wedding plans – an emotional decision for those who have been anticipating joyous celebrations of their love.

Right now, you may be feeling grateful for the health of loved ones, frustrated or resentful of the situation you find yourself in, disappointed to have to postpone your celebration, and/or worried about the resulting consequences of doing so. Whatever you and your partner are feeling, just know: It’s OK to feel that way.

There is some small comfort in the fact that Jewish ritual offers many ways to mark life’s significant moments and to acknowledge the complicated mix of feelings that may accompany them. You may want to reach out to your rabbi or cantor to see if they have any ideas about how to navigate this time and to mark your original wedding date. Here are some ideas to get you thinking:

1. Embrace this pre-wedding custom that declares your marriage intentions.

One idea from Jewish tradition is the custom of tenaimtenaimתְּנַאִיםLit. "conditions." Refers to an engagement and betrothal document signed by both families stipulating terms and the date of the wedding. , which literally means “conditions.” Tenaim refers to a betrothal ceremony and document that establishes the conditions under which a future wedding will take place.

Reimagining this custom for the current situation, you and your partner could write your own version of a tenaim document – one that affirms your commitment to each other and acknowledges the conditions that will be necessary for your wedding to place (i.e. an end to social distancing or an ability to safely travel).

Consider sharing this document with each other privately or in a creative ritual with your loved ones online as witnesses.

2. Have a special Shabbat at home together.

If you’ve already received wedding gifts such as special dishes or Judaica objects like candlesticks, a kiddush cup, or other items for a Shabbat dinner, perhaps you can have a special meal together on your intended wedding date or the Shabbat closest to it.

You might find it special to dance to your planned first-dance song during this time – or you might want to save that for another time!

3. Share a l’chayim with friends and family – online, of course.

In Jewish tradition, we toast with the word l’chayim – to life! Consider gathering with your wedding party, your families, and other loved ones online to offer toasts to you, the life you and your partner are building together, and to your future. You could even record the session and include it in your wedding video, or watch it at your future wedding celebration.

However you choose to mark your planned wedding date, allow yourselves space to hold whatever feelings you and your partner are feeling, and don’t hesitate to reach out to those who have supported you on your journey as a couple so far – your loved ones, your community, and your clergy.

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