If a bride is niddah at her wedding, a situation known as a chuppat niddah, the marriage is considered valid. A chuppat niddah has practical implications for the marriage ceremony and for the wedding night.
At the ceremony, the need to observe harchakot leads to some minor changes, which can be worked out with the mesader kiddushin (the officiating rabbi) and handled discreetly. A husband is not allowed to hand anything to his wife while she is niddah. Still, many halachic authorities permit the groom to place the ring on the bride’s finger in the normal fashion, as long as he is careful not to touch her when he does so, because at this point in the ceremony they are not yet husband and wife. Alternatively, he can place the ring inside her hand.
Once the chatan has handed the kallah the ring, they are married and the harchakot apply. Therefore, the ketubah should be passed to the bride via another person, and the groom cannot give the cup of wine directly to the bride. Additionally, the bride and groom cannot drink from the same cup of wine unless someone else drinks between them.
After the Wedding
The newlyweds in this scenario may not consummate the marriage and may not be secluded together. Although ordinarily a husband and wife are permitted to be alone together when relations are prohibited, this is not the case when they have not yet had relations, because it is harder then to withstand temptation. This applies to yichud following the chuppah as well, and remains in effect until the bride has immersed in the mikveh.
There are a number of ways to handle this situation, such as their having a child between the ages of six and nine remain with them, or staying in a building along with other adults and sleeping in separate rooms or leaving the door to their room unlocked. Here, too, specific details and requirements should be discussed with a halachic authority. (For yichud, this should be the mesader kiddushin.) To create a more celebratory tone, the couple might arrange for some champagne where they are staying, to toast to their future and commitment to halacha and each other.
Following a chuppat niddah, the bride performs the usual process of becoming tehorah, but can make a hefsek taharah as soon as bleeding ceases, without minimum days of waiting. Typically, the couple will need to separate again after first relations for dam betulim, but at that point they will be able to be alone together and know that that experience is shared by most newlywed couples.
Avoiding Chuppat Niddah
A couple can try to avoid a chuppat niddah through careful scheduling or with the help of hormonal treatments (see Setting the Wedding Date).
Even with the best of planning, however, a chuppat niddah may be unavoidable. A couple in these circumstances should remember that marriage is meant to last forever, and a few challenging weeks in the beginning will not overshadow a lifetime of happiness. They can think of their marriage ceremony as their public celebration, and their time together after mikveh as a private one.