Day of Atonement

The Talmud teaches that bride and groom on their wedding day are forgiven for all their prior sins. Consequently, the day of their wedding is considered a "minor Yom Kippur" and it is customary for them to fast on this day.

Sins result from a person's preoccupation with one's self and one's own desires, rather than selflessly being committed to an ideal which transcends one's own urges and impulses. On the day when a man and woman enter the greatest commitment of their lifetime, selflessly resolving to making their own interests secondary to the welfare of their spouse and the needs of their marriage, they are worthy of being forgiven for all "selfish" sins committed in their past.

Abstaining from food and drink on this day focuses the bride and groom on the needs of the soul, rather than their bodily needs. This is an appropriate preparation for the wedding, whose crux is the spiritual union of souls.

Abstaining from food on this day focuses the bride and groom on the needs of the soulThe fast begins at dawn and concludes when the bride and groom sip from the cup of wine beneath the chupah. Thus, in the event of a morning or afternoon chupah, the fast is actually quite short. Even if the chupah is scheduled to take place after nightfall, it is preferable for the bride and groom to abstain from eating or drinking until the chupah.

There are certain festive days on the Jewish calendar when the bride and groom do not fast: Rosh Chodesh (except Rosh Chodesh Nissan); Chanukah; Tu B'Shevat; the 15th of Av; the day following Passover, Shavuot, Sukkot and Yom Kippur; Shushan Purim; and Purim Kattan and Shushan Purim Kattan (the 14th and 15th of Adar I). (Click here for a calendar which will tell you whether the date you chose for your wedding is a non-fasting date.)

If the wedding is on a day when the Torah is read in the synagogue, the groom receives an aliyah, and he takes precedence over all others - even a bar mitzvah boy or someone who is observing a yahrtzeit on that day.

The afternoon prayer preceding the wedding is recited by the bride and groom with great intensity and concentration. It is common custom that the groom prays this mincha privately – not with a minyan – in order to heighten his ability to focus and concentrate. If the bride and groom are fasting (even if they will be breaking their fast at an afternoon chupah) the aneinu prayer is inserted in the amidah. Before stepping backwards at the conclusion of the amidah, the bride and groom recite the viduy (confession) which is normally recited on Yom Kippur (even if they are not fasting). If the chupah will be held in the morning, the viduy can be recited after the morning prayer amidah.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe would personally give his very own prayer-book to grooms who wished to use this holy siddur for this special prayer. This prayer-book is still available today for all interested grooms who are willing to make the trip to New York to avail themselves of this special and holy opportunity. (If necessary, this can be done several days before the wedding.) Your local Chabad rabbi should be able to make the necessary arrangements on your behalf.

It is recommended for the bride and groom to recite the Book of Psalms on the day of the wedding. Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak of Lubavitch instructed that "every empty moment of the day should be used for reciting Psalms."

It a proper for the groom to immerse himself in a mikvah on the day of the wedding.