The custom of “something borrowed” is not a Jewish one. Its origins lie in a 19th-century Old English poem: Something Olde, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue, A Sixpence in your Shoe.
However, Jewish brides and grooms adapted this tradition and melded it with the value of l’dor va dor
— from generation to generation — when carefully selecting the most meaningful objects to use in their ceremonies. From heirloom veils and handkerchiefs and chuppot sewn from lace tablecloths that adorned Shabbat tables from generations past to Kiddush cups used to bless the wine by fathers and grandfathers, memories of the past are reflected in these borrowed objects as the couple look to their own future of carrying on Jewish customs.
Another popular borrowed item is using the same gold ring worn by other close relatives, if only for the ceremony. Though brides can later wear a wedding band that is engraved or jeweled, the ceremonial band according to Kabbalah and Jewish tradition should be an uninterrupted and unadorned gold band.
Julie Bass Sidder of West Bloomfield wears a jeweled eternity wedding band; but for her wedding ceremony, she wore her grandfather’s band.
“At the last minute, my grandfather, who is now 102, offered me his own ring for the ceremony because I could not use my eternity band,” Sidder said. She also wrapped her grandmother’s monogrammed handkerchief around her bouquet and wore her mother’s veil — made by the same lace designer who created the lace on the bodice of her own dress. Though the veil was somewhat discolored, it matched the off-white lace on her dress perfectly.
“We found out the lace on both were handmade by the same man. He had been making lace for the company for 75 years. And using my grandmother’s handkerchief to hold my bouquet — it makes my mom cry every time she thinks about it.”
Though the custom of borrowing items is not a Jewish tradition, one of the highest mitzvot a
community can do is to lavish upon a bride and groom on their wedding day and provide for a feast and a joyous day if the couple and their family cannot provide for themselves.
“In the Talmud, it is written that even the most studious scholars would leave their study halls to go to
a wedding reception to increase the joy of the bride and the groom,” said Rabbi Levi Dubvov of Bloomfield Hills. “It is also customary for brides and bridegrooms to make a donation to provide for other couples on their wedding day.”
When Dubvov and his wife, Mushky, married almost three years ago, they had the honor of borrowing a siddur used by the late Rebbe Menachem Schneerson for their ceremony.
“It was a privilege to use that siddur,” Dubov said. “The wedding day marks a new phase of your life, to reflect on which values you are going to use to build your new home, so my wife and I were honored to pray from a siddur used by the Rebbe on our special day.”
Marla and Vince Sallan of Berkley wished to use elements from their Jewish and Chaldean cultures when they wed a year ago. Though they did not marry in a house of worship, Marla wanted to be married underneath a chuppah, according to her mother, Amy Saidman Sternberg of West Bloomfield.
The family created a chuppah from the tablecloths from the bride’s great-great-great-grandmother, monogrammed handkerchiefs from all her grandmothers, as well as lace from Sternberg’s own wedding dress.
“It meant a great deal to our family to remember our loved ones who had passed away and were not
able to be with us on Marla’s wedding day,” Sternberg said. “By using little pieces of fabric from their tablecloths, in some way it was a little bit of them being there, intertwined in that beautiful chuppah.”
When Sara and Andrew Craig of Beverly Hills wed last March, the couple used her late father’s tallit and draped it over both their shoulders as Rabbi Dan Syme of Temple Beth El sang the Shevah Brachot (Seven Blessings). They also drank wine from the same Kiddush cup he used on Friday nights.
“From my childhood, I have so many memories of my dad singing Kiddush while holding that cup,” Craig said. “It was a
weekly tradition to have Shabbat dinner at home growing up. When Andy proposed to me, my father was already ill and we knew he would not physically be there on our wedding day. But using his cup [and tallit] was a nod to my dad and his presence in our life and on our wedding day.”
To also preserve the memories of her loved ones on her wedding day, Sharon Minkin of Bloomfield Hills incorporated into her bouquet her grandmother’s favorite necklace and her biological father’s dog tags that he wore in Vietnam. She wore an heirloom watch from her other grandmother.
Sharon and her husband, Alex, were wed under a chuppah sewn with their grandfathers’ tallitot and they blessed and drank the wine from Alex’s grandfather’s Kiddush cup.
“We tried to sprinkle in as much as we could,” she says, “so we felt like they were a part of the celebration.”