Today is Tu B’Av (the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Av, a date sometimes known as the “Jewish Valentine’s Day”)… and our 6-month wedding anniversary is coming up in just a couple days. So in honor of those two romantic observances, let me share with you one of my favorite wedding-related design projects.
In planning a Jewish (or, in our case, Jewish-style interfaith) wedding, one of the fun things to work on is the ketubah, or marriage contract. This traditional document is signed — usually by two witnesses, the couple, and the officiant — on the wedding day, often in a separate ritual before the actual ceremony, though our rabbi had us incorporate the signing right into the ceremony.
Now, anyone who knows Mr. Y at all knows that he is a huge Star Wars geek (you should see the collection in our upstairs hallway). But what is only slightly less well known is that he is also a longtime real-life astronomy buff, who worked for many years in the local community planetarium (WHICH WE TOTALLY HAVE, FYI, and which he has yet to take me to visit, but I digress).
So when I started thinking about what would make the most awesome motif for our ketubah, the answer was SPACE.
When I emailed a first set of drafts to Mr. Y, I couldn’t resist including this version, which I made on a lark (click to enlarge):
While this had precisely the desired effect (“That’s FANTASTIC! … I totally cracked up when I saw the Star Wars version. Freaking great! You are awesome.”), we concurred that it probably wasn’t seriously the best way to go, no matter how perfectly it would complement the set of movie posters in our living room.
But I’d also created a draft that we would eventually refine into this:
After editing together the final art assembly, I spent some time looking for just the right Biblical text to draw in the cosmic theme, and ended up with Psalm 19: “The heavens tell the glory of God… In them He has set a tent for the sun, which emerges like a bridegroom from his chuppah, like a hero rejoicing to run his course” (19:1, 4-5). How’s that for relevance? This passage is used as a decorative border all around the piece, mostly as white text, with corresponding key words accented in yellow in both the English and the Hebrew.
Note that since Mr. Y is not Jewish, this text is not the traditional ketubah text, but basically a completely unrelated text in English and modern Hebrew, one that I had received previously for a custom ketubah project. We liked the wording a lot, but just as importantly, I also trusted the Hebrew translation to be not only accurate, but idiomatically correct (this is often not the case with Hebrew translations of custom texts; I could do a whole post of horror stories on that topic).
And, since everyone asks, the final version was signed in silver Sharpie. (Just one more of their million uses. :-) It’s now happily framed in our front hallway: