Chuppah: Wedding Canopy
The chuppah that you will be married under is a canopy which represents the home that you and your beloved will build together. Part of a Jewish wedding ceremony is accomplished by literally entering under one roof together. This roof is the chuppah. Though it represents the home that you will build together, it does not have any walls. The chuppah is a mirror of the original Jewish home, the tent of the first Jewish couple, Abraham and Sara. The Torah tells us that their tent was open on the sides in order to welcome guests in. Abraham and Sara would go out of their way to welcome people into their home, even strangers and desert travelers they did not know.
Inside this first Jewish home, the Midrash tells us, several miraculous things happened in the merit of our foremother Sara. One of these was a divine light, a godly aura that was constantly present. It is the hope of the Jewish people that couples aim to build the type of home Abraham and Sara built, one that is open to others, thus fulfilling the mitzvah of hachnasat orchim, of welcoming guests. Such a home is considered one that also is a dwelling place for the divine presence through its holy atmosphere.
Your chuppah canopy can be made out of any material. Some couples choose to use a talit held up by four friends or relatives or tied onto four poles that are supported by people. If you are using your talit as a chuppah, use care when tying the tzitzit on each corner onto the poles. If the tzitzit tear off, it is no longer considered a kosher and fitting talit.
Some Judaica stores and artists sell more elaborate chuppahs designed by hand and made of cloth that has been handwoven or painted. If you do not want to use a talit or buy a chuppah, you can ask the rabbi who is performing your wedding if his synagogue has a chuppah. A caterer or florist that does many Jewish weddings will sometimes have a chuppah on hand.