Friday, May 27, 2011

Yichud


In many ways, our wedding day wasn't ours. And while that was something I sometimes resented during the planning process, the act of sharing and opening our wedding was ultimately the richest part of the experience. Non-elopement weddings are inherently about the public act of sharing your commitment and our wedding was so much bigger than something shared between me and Jason. Even, and perhaps especially, the ceremony. Regardless of how fully I was present inside our ceremony joy, it was something that we shared with (and was therefore expanded by) everyone in attendance.

In Jewish tradition, immediately following the ceremony, the couple goes into seclusion in a private room or space. In biblical times, this yichud was when the physical consummation of the marriage took place. In modern times, it's when the emotional consummation takes place, providing a few completely private moments to reflect on the ceremony and bask in each others' glow.

For us, our yichud ended up being one of only two private moments we had on our wedding day, both of which were infused with a deeply personal magic. Our quiet breakfast overlooking the Topanga hills was the first. Our fifteen minute yichud was the second.  It was the only time during the wedding itself that was gloriously, selfishly, ours, making it more personal and intimate than any other experience during the day, including our ceremony. 

For us, that yichud time was imperative. Our yichud was the pause, tearing space in our day for the gaping raw emotions to rush in. It left me physically shaking. I needed those fifteen minutes. In that time we created the emotional space necessary to start making sense of what had just happened. During the ceremony, I was almost too present, too immersed in the joy, for the hugeness of the shift to hit. Because make no mistake, a wedding is a huge thing. In our day to day life, I don't feel like much has changed. But when I pause and think about it, there has been a nearly-imperceptible-yet-vital shift. Our foundations were shaken that day and have never been quite the same. The resulting geography is familiar, but something happened to change things as we lurched forward during the upheaval of it all.

If I learned one thing from our wedding day experience, it's that everyone, Jewish or not, needs fifteen minutes of post-ceremony alone time with their new husband or wife. Maybe the hugeness will strike you during your ceremony, and the fifteen minutes will allow you to recover from it all. Maybe, like me, it won't hit until you're in the space itself. And maybe it won't ever hit during your wedding day, or the realizations will subtly dawn over time. But making space to experience your just-born marriage together is worth every moment stolen from the cocktail hour, portraits, or receiving line. Weddings and the sudden transition into brand-new marriage are powerful things, and the yichud gave me space to honor that.

13 comments:

  1. We're having a yichud not to be more Jewish, but to be more sane on our wedding day. The jokes about the traditional reason for a yichud are just gravy.

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  2. We had ours, but without planning it. We stepped into the area in the back of the chapel and I broke down in happy-tears. My sneaky and awesome ninja-like photographer actually got some shots of us in this private moment. I do think the yichud is a beautiful tradition that can be followed by any and all faiths.
    Your post here is beautiful and it choked me up something awful. :)

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  3. I agree. We took fifteen minutes after the photos, sitting on a terrace, watching the sun set over the desert. We could hear music and laughter from our loved ones at the cocktail hour. It was my favorite part of the wedding.

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  4. We are DEFINITELY doing this.

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  5. Having read wedding blogs by sane and intelligent people like you, I told my recently married brother and sister-in-law that they should take this time. I remember for my sister's Jewish wedding, how wonderful I thought the concept when their rabbi described it.

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  6. I love this. My fiancé has Jewish roots and he wanted to do this, and I think that it's such a beautiful tradition. Thank you for sharing your experience!

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  7. I love this tradition. It's so interesting to me that the gravity of the wedding hit you during the yichud.

    We are planning on taking some time together too after the ceremony. It won't be immediately following, cause the family pictures must be taken. But instead of going straight to our reception with the rest of the guests, we are going to steal away to the spot in the city where the Beagle proposed and spend a little time there before joining everyone.

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  8. i love this concept...i didnt do it my wedding, but when my children get married i'll let them know about this and hope they incorporate it.

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  9. We have a 15 - 20 minute post ceremony break scheduled in for ourselves. We're going to multi-task (aka eat tacos) but it's mostly to give ourselves a chance to breathe, to let it sink in.

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  10. Oh, interesting. Our emotional reactions to the Yichud and the ceremony were perfectly flipped. Our Yichud was about total relief and explosive joy.

    But yes, everyone should do it.

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  11. This is extremely important. So much so that we planned alone time after the ceremony. But once we were there, we only ended up spending maybe a minute by ourselves. We were too eager to get to the party -- we felt like we were missing out. Isn't that weird? I feel like that's a totally inappropriate response to have. Instead of being like, WOW, we did this thing together, and drawing strength from each other, we just kind of glanced at each other, looked around, and said, okay, let's go hang out with everyone.

    Things I learned from having a wedding, #4,529: There is no way I can predict how I will actually respond to things; and #4,530: There's probably something gravely wrong with us.

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  12. sounds beautiful. what a lovely tradition + I'm glad it gave you two a quiet chance to be alone!

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  13. My favorite moments with Tony are the quiet ones where we manage to sneak somewhere to just sit and enjoy each other's company and observe our family, so I know that I want to build time for this into our wedding day. Whether it happens before or after the ceremony (or, ideally, both) doesn't matter so much to us, but I do love the Yicchud concept. I'm also continuing to love your use of Kelly Prizel's photos to illustrate your recap posts. Thank you, again, for sharing.

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