This is the approved revision of this page, as well as being the most recent.
Circling the Chosson
- The ashkenaz custom is that the circle is that the kallah walks around the chosson seven times under the chuppa.This isn't the sephardic custom. 
Wearing a Tallit under the Chuppah
- Some Sephardim have the practice for the Chatan to put on a Tallit during the Kiddushin and then place it over the Chatan and Kallah during the Sheva Brachot.
Position of the Chattan, Kallah, and Mesader Kiddushin
- Among Ashkenazim, there is a Minhag for couple's backs facing the audience, while others have them facing Mizrach or specifically to the audience.
- While some have the practice for the Kallah to stand at the right of the Chattan, others, according to the Arizal, prefer the opposite, after the Churban, while others are not makpid at all.
- Some Ashkenazim have the minhag to place ashes on the forehead of the chatan at the time of the chupah. Sephardim don’t have this minhag today.
- There is an Ashkenazic minhag to have the chupah outdoors.  Sephardim have the minhag to do it inside.
- Sephardim recite the bracha of besamim under the chupa to complement the brachot we recite as a way of praising Hashem on this joyous occasion. Ashkenazim don’t have this minhag.
- Some Ashkenazim have the minhag to bring candles to the chupa. Sephardim don’t have this minhag.
- The Sephardic minhag is not to have a yichud room. Accordingly, the bride doesn’t need to cover her hair until they arrive home together that night.
- see Chupat Niddah
- Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 147:5. Nesuin K’halacha 6:5 writes that one source of the minhag for the kallah to walk around the chatan seven times is based on the Zohar’s inference from the pasuk in Yirmiyahu 31:21. He adds that this isn’t the Sephardic minhag. Shulchan Haezer 7:4 writes that some have the custom to circle around three times.
- Yalkut Yosef Sova Semachot vol. 1 6:footnote 5
- Yalkut Yosef (Sovah Semachot 1:8:1). Shiyarei Knesset Hagedola (Bet Yosef 8:5) records the Sephardic minhag in the 1600’s to cover the chatan and kallah with a tallit. He insists that the chatan should recite a bracha when putting on the tallit even though he admits the custom wasn’t to do so. The Kaf Hachaim 8:57 writes that the minhag of Yerushalayim was for the chatan to recite a bracha and put on the tallit normally and then to drape it over both the chatan and kallah. Yalkut Yosef (Sovah Semachot 1:6:10) adds that this is the minhag even if the ceremony is done under a canopy. See Ben Ish Chai (Shoftim no. 12) who writes that the minhag in Baghdad was not to use a tallit since they got married at night.
- One reason for this minhag is that, according to some rishonim, this is considered the chupah. The Orchot Chaim (Hilchot Ketubot no. 4, cited by Bet Yosef 61:1) quotes the Baal Haitur who cites such an opinion but disagrees. Rama 55:1 cites this opinion as well.
- The Kol Bo (no. 75) adds that the minhag of covering the chatan and kallah with a tallit was to encourage them to do mitzvot in their marriage. This is hinted to by the juxtaposition of the pesukim of marriage and tzitzit (Devarim 22:12-13).
- The Manhig (Hilchot Erusin VNesuin) explains that a tallit is placed over the chatan and kallah so that their marriage is done more privately, not in front of an entire audience. Similarly, the Lev Chaim 3:99 (cited by Nitai Gavriel v. 1:18:10 (pg. 134)) writes that the minhag is to place a tallit over the couple so that the tallit protects them from the ayin hara.
- HaRav Hershel Schachter, shalita, (Kiddushin 5777 Shiur #58) quotes the Yekkish Minhag to stand with the couple's backs facing the audience as a means of avoiding being considered Mekadesh beShuk. He notes how the Poskim, however, don't take this into consideration. For example, the Kenesset HeGedolah (Hagahot Beit Yosef Even HaEzer 61:4) lists a Minhag for each of the four directions but concludes that nowadays we are not concerned. In Nefesh HaRav (pg. 257), Rav Schachter writes that Rav Soloveitchik, was makpid that they should face Mizrach. He also said in shiur that Rav Hutner started a Minhag that the Chattan should face the audience and not the rabbi, so people should realize the Chattan is performing the marriage and the Mesader Kiddushin is just a spectator, unlike how a priest officiates at a Christian wedding. However, in MiPninei HaRav (pg. 274), he depicts how, at two different weddings in the same hall, within a month of each other, Rav Soloveitchik would have the couple stand facing Mizrach, while Rav Moshe Feinstein would have them stand facing the crowd. See also Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 147:5, Aruch Hashulchan 62:9, and Nitei Gavriel Nisuin 1 17:13:24, and Yalkut Yosef (Sova Semachot 1:6:footnote 5)
- The Kenesset HeGedolah (Hagahot Beit Yosef Even HaEzer 61:3) quotes and prefers the position of the Maharil for the Kallah to stand at the right of the Chattan and disagrees with those who propose the opposite. Yalkut Yosef (Sova Semachot 1:6:5) quotes the various opinions and sources for each of the opinions and paskens that it's proper for the Kallah to stand at the right of the Chattan, just as Rav Ovadia always practiced.
- The Shulchan Aruch OC 560:2 and EH 65:3 writes that there is a minhag to place ashes on the forehead of the chatan to actively demonstrate how we remember the destruction of the Bet Hamikdash even as we rejoice at a wedding. While the Biur Halacha 560:2 s.v. vechen asks why this isn’t the minhag today, the Nitai Gavriel (Nesuin v. 1 p. 117) writes that many have the minhag today.
- The Kaf Hachaim 560:21 writes that this isn’t the Sephardic minhag today. Nesuin Khalacha 6:19 and Yalkut Yosef (Sovah Semachot 1:6:6) agree. On the other hand, Chacham Ben Tzion Abba Shaul (Ohr Letzion vol. 3 pg. 277) also notes that the practice seems to be not to place ashes but he wonders how they can disregard this custom, which has sources in the Gemara and the Shulchan Aruch. He therefore rules that even sepharadim should participate in this custom.
- The Rama EH 61:1 records the minhag to do the chupah under the sky in order to receive the bracha of having descendants as many as the stars of the heaven.
- Yafeh Lelev EH 61:6 writes that the Sephardic minhag was always to do the chupah indoors because often it is cold to do it outdoors. Rav Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer EH 3:10:4) agrees that the Sephardic minhag is to do it indoors.
- The Rambam (Ishut 10:4) writes that some bring hadasim and make a bracha upon smelling them between hagefen and the next six brachot of sheva brachot. The Tur EH 62 quotes this. Shulchan Aruch Hamekutzar (EH v. 2 p. 269) writes that the Yemenite minhag is to follow the Rambam. However, Syrains (Siddur Kol Yakov p. 507, Rabbi Mansour) recite the bracha of besamim between hagefen and the bracha of eirusin. This follows the tradition of Rav Sadya Goan (4th Edition, Yerushalayim, 5701, p. 96).
- The Aruch Hashulchan EH 62:8 writes that the Ashkenazic minhag is specifically not to add besamim to the sheva brachot.
- One reason (Nesuin Khalacha 6:2 quoted from the Mateh Moshe) for the minhag of carrying candles to the chupah is because ner in gematria is 250 and two times that for the two candles is 500, which is the sum of the limbs of a man (248) and woman (252). Also, 500 is the gematria of pru urevu. Alternatively, the Tashbetz Katan 467 writes that the candles are to signify the fact that the chupa is reminiscent of matan torah at which there were awesome lights and sounds. Yalkut Yosef (Sovah Semachot 1:6:3) cites a Tosfot Sanhedrin 32b s.v. kol who, based on Yirmiyahu 25:10, infers that there was a very old custom to light candles at a wedding.
- Yalkut Yosef writes that Sephardim don’t have such a minhag albeit there is no concern for chukat hagoyim.
- Rav Ovadia Yosef in Yabia Omer 5:8 establishes the minhag of Sephardim for centuries was not to have yichud immediately after the chupah, but only later that night when the couple went home. He explains that reciting the sheva brachot in advance of the yichud is not an issue either because the brachot are birchot shevach and don’t need to be made right before the mitzvah, or because the primary method of Nesuin is the chupah even though it isn’t private. In defending the minhag he emphasizes that being more strict by having a yichud room is in fact disgracing the previous generations and shouldn’t be done. He also adds that the minhag of having the couple enter the yichud room immediately after the chupah before an entire audience is inappropriate since it is known why a couple has yichud. See there and in Yalkut Yosef (Sovah Semachot 1:12) at great length for more reasons and details. Rabbi Mansour writes that the Syrian minhag is to have a room for the couple to eat and exchange gifts, however, the room is not locked and there are no witnesses so that it isn’t actual yichud.