Finding the traditions to make your ceremony perfectly yours!
There’s a lot that goes into planning your wedding, and Jewish weddings have the added intrigue of the many rituals surrounding it. Different communities have different rituals, each contributing to the diverse tapestry that makes up Judaism. Some are pretty universal, while others might be specific to your community (or your grandparents’ community, for that matter).
It can be a bit tough to make sense of them all, but that’s what we’re here for! Here are a few well-known Jewish wedding ceremony traditions to help you plan out your wedding day.
A Ketubah is a Jewish marriage contract. It is considered an integral part of a traditional Jewish marriage, and would traditionally outline the rights and responsibilities of the groom in relation to the bride. In a Jewish wedding, the signing of the Ketubah in an important ritual. It takes place before the actual wedding, usually on the same day. The bridal couple, officiant, witnesses, and a few close family and friends gather in a room to witness the act.
As this tradition has evolved over time, couples will sometimes sign the contract under the Chuppah itself, in front of the entire wedding party. While it’s still most common for two Witnesses to sign, it’s also been known for many more to be included. If you’re interested in doing that, then discuss with your officiant to see how common/acceptable that would be in your community.
If you have ever attended a Moroccan Jewish wedding, chances are you are unlikely to forget it. A Henna is a party held before a major life event, like a wedding. During a pre-wedding celebration, the oldest member of the family smudges henna on the palms of the couple’s hands, and, according to tradition, this will provide the couple with good health and fertility. There are also delicious delicacies served and very traditional outfits worn.
In Jewish tradition, guests are tasked with bringing joy to a couple on their wedding date. There is no one “right” way to do schtick. some schtick is improvised in the moment. Other schtick is prepared in advance: some people brings signs or decorations that relate to inside jokes or shared experiences. Sometimes, guests perform feats of acrobatics or fun dances.
Breaking the Glass
Why do we break the glass under the chuppah? During a Jewish marriage ceremony, the couple crushes a glass. It’s meant to be a moment of remembrance for the destruction of the Jewish temples. The glass also has several symbolic meanings associated with the wedding. As soon as the glass is broken, there is a custom for the guests to say “Mazal Tov” and congratulate the couple on their wedding.
Circling the Groom
The bride circling the groom symbolizes the delineation of their own private world within the outer world, with her husband-to-be at its center. She continues to circle seven times, symbolizing that she, the “foundation of the home.” is founding a lasting edifice that will be complete until the end of time. Once she completed the seven circles, she stands beside her husband-to-be in the center of the circle. After the preparations for building the home are completed, both husband and the wife form its center, surrounded by the protective walls the wife created around their metaphysical home.
These are some of the most popular and well-known wedding traditions, but the wonderful thing about weddings is that each couple and community have their own unique way of making the tradition special to them. Whatever your customs may be, we’re sure that your traditions will brighten your celebration.