6 Ways to Rejuvenate Jewish Wedding Traditions

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Give the yentas something to really talk about! (In a good way.)

Just because traditions have been followed for hundreds of years doesn’t mean they have to be boring! Here are six fun, unique and charming ways to personalize even the most basic Jewish wedding traditions while still keeping the faith.

1. Personalize Your Wedding Programs With A Punch

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Some guests may not know what the heck is going on during your wedding ceremony. It’s handy to print out explanations but make it personal by including how you, as a couple, connect to each tradition or how you put your twist on it, for instance if you used a family heirloom for the chuppah.

Expert Tip: Go through the next 5 Jewish wedding traditions and include how you connect with them!

2. Double-Check Your Bride

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The Jewish wedding ceremony dedicates an entire ceremony to the groom covering the bride with her veil before the party gets started which might have you and your guests wondering; why? The tradition across multiple cultures of brides wearing a veil is a sign of purity.

In Genesis Jacob works seven years to finally marry the love of his life, Rachel. But after they got married he lifted her veil only to find that he had been tricked into marrying Rachel’s older sister, Leah. Since then, Jewish grooms have been double-checking their brides in this special Jewish wedding ceremony called the bedekin. Many brides will also get blessed by their father, father-in-law, and the rabbi before the groom is swept away to the chuppah.

For more information on wedding veils, Style Me Pretty breaks it down.

3. Jazz Up Your Chuppah with Some Chutzpah

Now, we don’t mean that your chuppah should be rude or anything, but chutzpah can be adding some edge to chuppah decor and style. All chuppahs need to have four poles and open on all sides but there are a multitude of ways to set yours apart.

One way to personalize the chuppah is with family heirlooms, tallitot (the prayer shawl), religious quotations, and cascading floral decor. Some couples honor special guests to hold the poles of the chuppah, to include them in the ceremony. For more beautiful and creative ways to decorate your chuppah check out Martha Stewart Weddings’ to get your ideas blossoming. Other couples find ways to incorporate hobbies like this couple from Smashing the Glass.

4. Reclaiming the Ketubah

The Ketubah, the Jewish marital document, has come a long way since B.C.E. Couples today have found beautiful ways to continue the tradition of a ketubah into their modern Jewish weddings. While Orthodox couples still use the traditional Aramaic ketubah text, many Reform, Interfaith, and even Same-Sex couples, make the ketubah tradition their own in a variety of ways.

Some have a signing ceremony and use the opportunity to ask family and friends to sign their ketubah as witnesses to their marriage. The Orthodox Jewish wedding tradition is to have a rabbi read the ketubah out loud under the chuppah, afterwards the groom hands it to the bride so that she can accept the marriage. Many couples display the ketubah under the chuppah or at the reception for everyone to see.

Expert Tip: We highly recommend you speak with your officiant or rabbi about which ketubah text and ceremony is right for your wedding.

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From The Modern Jewish Wedding featuring Double Happiness Ketubah

See how this Interfaith couple found the perfect ketubah for their Jewish wedding on The Modern Jewish Wedding.

5. Beautiful Broken Glass

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If you’re in a restaurant and a glass breaks it might be your instinct to shout, “opa!” But after centuries of Jewish weddings it’s our reflex to yell, “mazel tov!”

Before we get down and dance the night away, this Jewish wedding tradition reminds us for a moment, of destruction of the Temples. Grooms or couples stomp has hard as they can to smash the glass. Like the tiles of Gaudi, couples have been finding ways to turn the pieces of broken glass into beautiful keepsakes to make mezuzahs for their new home. Gary Rosenthal offers a variety of designs. Check them out here

6. Hip Hip Hora!

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While some wedding parties do a flashmob, Jews still do the hora. Guests gather their strength to raise the roof and raise the couple in chairs.

Once the party has started there is an iconic moment in every Jewish celebration; the Hora. Just like at your Bar/Bat Mitzvah, your wedding is the next time you’ll be airborne in a chair. Historically, at Orthodox weddings men and women danced separately so the only way the couple could see one another was to lift them in chairs above the crowd.

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