Image by Parekh Cards
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about planning your traditional Jewish wedding?
• “Who do we invite to the Chuppah? Where do we even get a Chuppah? What the hell is a Chuppah?!”
• “We need to invite as many people, so let’s invite my cousin’s neighbor and his dog.”
• “Wait, why do we break a glass? Should I have a physician ready just in case?! So many Jewish rituals… Ahhh”
Wait, relax, breathe…
Having a traditional Jewish wedding doesn’t mean it has to be overwhelming…quite the opposite actually.
What are the Customs & Rituals in a Traditional Jewish Wedding?
Jewish tradition values simplicity & modesty.
In fact, modesty is considered one of the highest values in Judaism, and one of the key foundations of the Jewish faith.
Jewish weddings are no different, and it’s clear when you take a look at the Jewish wedding traditions & rituals…
Ketubah – The Jewish Marriage Contract
The Ketubah is a form of “marriage contract”, which outlines the bride’s rights in the marriage, and the husband’s responsibility to fulfill them. The Jewish tradition is very protective of the bride and therefore provides her with a legal document that requires the husband to take care of his wife’s needs.
The Ketubah has to be signed by two witnesses and acts as a legally binding agreement between the couple.
The Veiling of the Bride
The veiling of the Jewish bride, also known as Badeken, is where the groom approaches his future wife and places the veil over the bride’s face.
It symbolizes the groom’s interest in her inner beauty, not her physical looks. It also means that he’s willing to protect his wife for their entire life as a married couple.
The Wedding Reception
The wedding reception, also known as “Kabbalat Panim” in Hebrew, is pretty similar to any other wedding.
1. You greet your guests
2. Your guests give you their wedding gift
3. Your guests enjoy snacks & drinks before the Chuppah
After all the mingling, it’s time for the Chuppah & the Jewish wedding ceremony.
Chuppah & The Wedding Ceremony
The Chuppah is the bridal canopy under which the actual wedding ceremony takes place. It represents the couple’s future home they will build together as husband & wife.
Many Jewish couples fear they’ll have to spend a fortune on a Chuppah, but truth is there aren’t any strict requirements for the Chuppah… All you have to do is make sure It has four poles and a cover, that’s it. It’s a common tradition for the Chuppah to be held by four men during the wedding ceremony, with a tallit (Jewish prayer shawl) held over the couple’s head.
In fact, Judaism values simplicity so much, that the bride and groom usually don’t wear any Jewelry under the Chuppah, except for the wedding ring.
Even the wedding ring has to be made of plain gold (without any stones or ornamentations), which symbolizes the purity & simple beauty of the Jewish marriage. This special moment is all about the couple’s commitment to each other, not to any material possessions.
It is under the Chuppah where the rabbi performs the wedding ceremony, and finally, announces the couple as husband and wife for the very first time.
Breaking the Glass
If you’ve ever been to a Jewish wedding, then you’ve probably seen this happening: the groom smashes a glass with his foot, while the guests shout “Mazel Tov!”
There are many explanations for this tradition. The most common one is that breaking the glass represents the destruction of the ancient Jewish temple in Jerusalem, which is why the couple recites this famous Jewish prayer right before the smashing: “If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill.”
The Meal (Seudah)
That doesn’t mean you should hire Gordon Ramsay to cook for your wedding day.
The purpose of the festive meal, aka the Suedah, is to express the couple’s willingness to share their joy with their family & loved ones.
You know what that means, right? Yep, alcohol (wine in particular)!
Why wine? Wine is a symbol of happiness in Judaism, so it’s considered a blessing to drink lots of wine in Jewish weddings.
The yichud, which means “seclusion” in Hebrew, is where the couple finally get a few moments for themselves. The newlyweds seclude themselves in a private room, only them, to enjoy a few moments together as husband & wife for the very first time.
Remember – Keep it Simple
No need to go crazy with planning your Jewish wedding.
In Jewish tradition, simplicity is a virtue… and we definitely agree with that message.
Work hard on your marriage, not on your wedding. That’s what matters at the end of the day.
If you keep these Jewish wedding traditions in mind when you plan your Jewish wedding, and remember these 9 things, I promise – you’ll have a great time.
Guest post from Rafael Hope