Moses Isserles (1520–1572) notes that the portable marriage canopy was widely adopted by Ashkenazi Jews (as a symbol of the chamber within which marriages originally took place) in the generation before he composed his commentary to the Shulchan Aruch.There is however a reference of a wedding canopy in the Babylonian Talmud, Gittin 57a: "It was the custom when a boy was born to plant a cedar tree and when a girl was born to plant a pine tree, and when they married, the tree was cut down and a canopy made of the branches".
A chuppah symbolizes the home that the couple will build together.
In a more general sense, chupah refers to the method by which nesuin, the second stage of a Jewish marriage, is accomplished.
In Sephardic communities, this custom is not practiced.
Instead, underneath the chuppah, the couple is wrapped together underneath a tallit.
The groom enters the chuppah first to represent his ownership of the home on behalf of the couple.