Previously (see here) we explained that the Jewish wedding consists of two steps: Kiddushin and Chupa, which today are integrated into one single ceremony.
Now, we will begin to describing the Kiddushin.
There could be many Rabbis invited to participate of the wedding, but the bride and groom must appoint one Rabbi to be the mesadder kiddushin, which means, the Rabbi who presides the ceremony. This Rabbi will be the ultimate responsible for all the legal aspects of the wedding. Among other things: 1. Verifying previous to the marriage the Jewishness of the bride and the groom. 2. Preparing and writing the Ketubah. 3. Appointing or approving the witnesses (this will be explained later on). 4. Filling out the State marriage license, etc.
The Rabbi Mesadder Kiddushin normally recites the first two blessings, known as "birkat irusin".
Holding a cup of wine in his hand he would say first: Bore Peri haGefen (Blessed are You, HaShem, the creator of the product of the vineyard). It is important to remember that the main Mitzva of the wedding ceremony is "happiness", i.e., to make the groom and his bride happy. Wine represents happiness, as it says in Tehilim (Psalms 104) "and wine (a little bit!) will make man's heart happy" (see video below for another original explanation).
The second berakha says: meqadesh amo Israel al yede chupa vekiddushin. Blessed are You HaShem, our God, Who consecrate us with His commandments ... and allowed us to be married by Chupa and Kiddushin. Which is a praise to HaShem that He established the institution of marriage, for the sake of preserving our morality and the sanctity of the family.
In our community the tradition is that after reciting these two blessings the Rabbi (who does not necessarily drink from the wine) gives the cup of wine to the groom, and after he tastes the wine, the cup is given to the bride's mother and she gives it to her daughter. One of the reasons that the mother, and not the groom, brings the cup to the bride is that at this moment (betrothal) the bride is still the daughter of her parents, and not yet the wife of her husband.
(To be continued....)