Custom furniture maker Jesse Shaw thought his first wedding canopy would be his last. “I was living in Atlanta, and my sister was in DC when she asked me to build a chuppah for her wedding,” the Brookline
native recalls. “I knew I needed to design one that would pack down flat and could be shipped and reassembled quickly.”
With those restrictions in mind, he created a walnut chuppah that broke down into pieces, carved the initials of his sister and her fiance into the wood, sent the parts to DC, and put it all back together for the outdoor ceremony. “I thought that was the end of it,” he says. A year later, however, his cousin was getting married and wanted the same chuppah. After Shaw carved his cousin’s and her fiance’s initials into the wood, the chuppah was shipped to Connecticut.
And a tradition was born. “Everybody in the family is going to use it,” says Shaw. “It is like a family tree.” His sister now has a young son and Shaw is excited that “eventually he too will be married under the same chuppah.”
Once the Shaw family tradition began, the 35-year-old furniture maker nurtured a hope that others might like a family chuppah as well. So now he builds them for customers in both walnut and poplar and ships them in a reusable wooden box so that families can send them to different members as needed. “People love the warmth of the wood,” says Shaw, “as well as sharing the chuppahs with each other.” The
standard size is six-feet by sixfeet square and eight-feet tall, but custom sizes are available for larger wedding parties. And not only are they used for Jewish weddings. “Some people use them for Indian weddings,” he notes.
His clients are both individuals and corporations from New York to Boston. After growing up on Thorndike Street in “an old Jewish neighborhood of Brookline near Kupel’s bakery and Kolbo [Judaica Gallery],” he studied at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Rockport, Maine and then earned a Master’s degree in furniture design from the Savannah College of Art and Design.
To see more of his work, visit www.jshawfurniture.com.