Under the chuppah, the Ashkenazi custom is that the kallah circles the chatan seven times.
Just as the world was built in seven days, the kallah is figuratively building the walls of the couple's new world together.
This signals the groom's commitment to clothe and protect his wife.
The wedding ceremony takes place under the chuppah (canopy), a symbol of the home that the new couple will build together.
The dawning wedding day heralds the happiest and holiest day of one's life.
This day is considered a personal Yom Kippur for the chatan (Hebrew for groom) and kallah (bride), for on this day all their past mistakes are forgiven as they merge into a new, complete soul.
The kallah will be seated on a "throne" to receive her guests, while the chatan is surrounded by guests who sing and toast him.
At this time there is an Ashkenazi tradition for the mother of the bride and the mother of the groom to stand together and break a plate.
This increases the anticipation and excitement of the event.
[At this point, the Sefardic custom is that the chatan says the blessing She'hecheyanu over a new tallit, and has in mind that the blessing also goes on the marriage.
The tallit is then held by four young men over the head of the chatan and kallah.] Two cups of wine are used in the wedding ceremony.
Now comes the reading of the ketubah (marriage contract) in the original Aramaic text.
The ketubah outlines the chatan's various responsibilities ― to provide his wife with food, shelter and clothing, and to be attentive to her emotional needs.