Rows of amphorae filled with wine lined the walls as platters filled with olives and dates waited nearby. The family of the young couple scurried about ensuring every last detail of the greatest social event of their foreseeable future was in place. Guests filled the home, chatting in anticipation of the arrival of the bridal party. The terms of the ketubah had been settled. The long betrothal period was over. All had gone well and now it was time for the wedding feast.
Faintly, in the distance, the sound of singing began to drift to them through the night air.
The joyful singing grew louder and the guests rushed into the courtyard to meet the party. Moments later, they arrived with the groom, in his best robe and a ceremonial crown upon his head, leading the procession. Behind him came his groomsmen. The held a sedan chair on their shoulders, carrying the bride. She too was wearing her best, and veiled with gold bangles jingling on her wrists. Gently, they lowered her to the ground and her betrothed led her into the center of the crowd. A hushed silence fell over the gathering as he lifted one corner of his robe and draped it symbolically around her shoulders signifying his commitment to and protection of her.
“This is my wife,” he announced to his family and friends, “and I am her husband forever!”
And with that the young lovers were dismissed to be alone and consummate their marriage. There was no rush for them to get back to the feast. The party would last for a full seven days.
The purity of the bride was so important, that her parents would keep the sheets from the first night to prove she was a virgin when the marriage was consummated.