The Role of Ring Holder At The Chuppah

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“How are you holding up?” – This is the recurrent text I’ve learned to expect in the days following a close friend’s wedding.
I’ve become accustomed to staying back after the bedeken.

I have become quite used to the Kallah’s sister, aunt, married friend, or another “woman of status” at the wedding seeking me out to hand me the Kallah’s diamond ring to hold during chuppah.

I have to be honest- this exchange always appears to bring a conflicting sense of discomfort and excitement for the one delivering the ring to me on the bride’s behalf.

If I could name the look on this woman’s face, it would be as follows:

I’m-sorry-I-have-to-be-the-one-to-remind-you-that-you’re-single-but-wow-the-bride-feels-you-are-so-close-and-wants-to-honor-you-and-your-friendship-with-this-role.

Now, I’m not going to lie, I actually like holding my friends’ rings.

I’m not sure how I intellectualize the belief that holding my friend’s ring during this auspicious time of prayer will encourage G-d that my time has indeed come.

To me, it symbolizes the discussion that I long to have with my married and engaged friend. The one that’s uncomfortable to have.

These moments acknowledge that my friend has something I don’t, something I want, something that will change our dynamic moving forward. But what it also acknowledges is that she sees me and the dichotomy of my feelings at that moment; that I’m thrilled for her and also waiting.

While my friends’ relationships, engagements, and marriages create a sort of social imbalance between us. I feel with my whole heart that for me, there are few simchas in life greater than witnessing a friend find their partner and begin a new journey together.

I have been lucky to have had many opportunities to spend the morning of my friends’ weddings together with the bride, for those rare, intimate moments of sweet nerves and excitement.

On numerous occasions, I’ve felt a fraction of a parent’s experience: that I have carried this young bride to this day. Whether that be through late-night venting-sessions after bad dates, picking out outfits for the day they think they are getting engaged (while knowing she was incorrect), setting up the proposal, or holding the bride’s dress while she used the restroom during the wedding. I’ve been a support all the way from the beginning.

I have stayed late as part of the “cleaning crew,” past the time the band has packed up to go, and have spoken to the manager of the arches gemach in the week leading up to the wedding more than my friends have spoken to their respective grooms.

I protect the Kallah’s time to daven, help her rehearse blessings to bestow upon guests, and at times have had to advocate for the bride to make the wedding is what she wanted it to be.

I hold my role as a friend on the wedding day as one of the greatest merits I can be a part of and truly enjoy every minute of the wedding day hustle-and-bustle (pun intended).

At the same time, I use the moments holding my friends’ rings as my moment to cry, to feel lonely, to express bitterness about my own lonely experience of waiting.

Recently, I’ve preferred to sit alone during the chuppah in the back near the band.

Often guests will come over to me, offering me a closer seat, but on many occasions, my face says it all – I want to be left alone.

During the time of the chuppah, I lean into my experience of pain during singlehood, of few promising shidduch prospects, and the changes my friendship is about to endure. It makes me feel left behind.

I look down at my friend’s ring and think about her groom’s excitement when picking it out for her, the relationship it represents while on my friend’s finger.

I, on the other hand, hold this ring in a bag, symbolizing that while I may feel that I have held many pieces of this bride’s story, I am external to this new important relationship.

But that’s the way it should be.

The chuppah is a time that the bride cannot possibly need me, so I take these moments, and her ring, as the one time that day that she can help me.

I hold it and feel seen.

I hold it while I daven and cry.

For the pain of letting go of the way things were, for the friendship we have shared, for her new relationship, and for hopes for my own future.  

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