I designed my Smart Start series to take the worry out of planning your wedding. Smart Start will be delivered to your inbox every week filled with tips on the business and the art sides of planning a wedding. It will break up your tasks into easy-to-accomplish segments so you can enjoy the planning process.
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Week Eight: Jewish Wedding Ideas
Jewish weddings are filled with many beautiful symbolic rituals. Since forty-six percent of Jews marry non-Jews (Pew Research Survey, October, 2013), we decided to do a guide of things to expect at a Jewish wedding. Even if you aren’t a non-Jew marrying into a Jewish family, you will find this guide helpful if you attend a Jewish wedding. Thank you to my wonderful associate (and Jewish wedding expert), Faye Novick for contributing to this article.
• Ketubah (Jewish wedding contract)
For the Ketubah signing, you will need an acid-free pen and two Jewish witnesses who are not related to the bride or groom and can write their name in Hebrew.
• Chuppah (Wedding Canopy)
This is the canopy under which the wedding ceremony takes place. It symbolizes a home and hospitality. Traditional Chuppahs use a family prayer shawl (Tallis) as the top. Less religious couples may use fabric.
This is a custom typically observed in very religious Jewish weddings. The groom is toasted by his male friends and family. The Ketubah is signed. There is lots of food and lots of alcohol, music, and a glass plate for the mothers of the bride and groom to break.
This is also a custom observed in very religious Jewish weddings. It is a veiling ritual where the groom places the veil over the bride’s face and recites a blessing. The parents typically say a prayer, and the groom and groomsmen take their place under the Chuppah. Sometimes the veiling ritual will just be for the women. Food and drinks are served.
• Glass wrapped in fabric or tucked in a pouch
At the end of a Jewish ceremony, the groom stomps on a glass and the guests yell Mazel Tov (Congratulations). The symbolism behind this tradition is explained several ways. One: It symbolizes the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem (a very significant event in Jewish history). Two, some Jews believe that husband and wife were soul mates prior to birth. When the couple was born, their souls were shattered, leaving them alone in the world until they found each other again. The glass is a reminder of what they lost when their souls were shattered and what joy the couple should have being reunited. Three, the couple will stay together as long as it takes to put the shattered glass back together again.
• Kiddush Cup with kosher wine
The couple share wine throughout the ceremony. Some rabbis have a preference for red wine. Many brides prefer white wine in case some is spilled.
• Table under the Chuppah for the wine, Kiddush cup, and glass
• Rabbi and/or Cantor
The rabbi performs the ceremony. The Cantor sings some of the blessings. Sometimes a rabbi can do both.
• Yarmulkes for guests
Yarmulkes (also known as Kippot and Skull Caps) are the traditional head covering for Jewish men. Many Jewish weddings have baskets with yarmulkes for guests who do not have their own. (Tip: If have your names and wedding date printed on the inside, they make a great favor.)
The time set aside for the bride and groom to be alone after the ceremony.
A Jewish processional and arrangement at the altar is different from a Christian ceremony.
• The Rabbi always walks down first, even before grandparents.
• Bride’s side is to the right of the groom as he faces the rabbi; therefore, bridesmaids are on the right and groomsmen are on the left as guests face the Chuppah.
• It is customary for the groom to walk down the aisle with both parents.
• It is customary for the bride to walk down the aisle with both parents.
• It is customary for the parents of the bride and groom to stand on either side of the Chuppah.
I’ll be back next week with information on Jewish wedding reception traditions.