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Jewish Weddings

Traditional Jewish weddings are usually very elegant, expensive catered affairs.  They look at the wedding as “A celebration of life”.  Due to religious restrictions, you cannot be married during the Sabbath, Friday sundown until Saturday sundown and weddings are also banned on the high holy days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and the festivals of Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot. 

While in the past, Jewish marriages were often arranged by the parents through a Yenta or matchmaker, today’s Jewish families would seldom agree to that with the exception of some orthodox sects such as the Hasidic.  Even with arranged marriages, the groom asks permission from the brides’ father. A dowry is paid by the groom after he is allowed to marry the daughter.

You can choose either a Rabbi or a Cantor (the person who leads the congregation in prayer.) to officiate at your ceremony. To cleanse herself spiritually and become pure, the bride will visit the Mikveh for a ritual bath a few days before the actual wedding.  The woman removes everything including jewelry and even make-up before entering the bath.  She is fully immersed in the water while reciting a special prayer.

The tradition is for the bride and grooms not to see each other in the week prior the wedding.  As with many traditions, this is not often followed. Similar to our government issuing a marriage license, Jewish law requires a ketubah to signify the religious marriage.  The Ketubah (writing) refers to the document that is signed between the bride and groom and usually witnessed by the best man and the maid of honor.   The signing takes place right before the wedding ceremony in private and describes the responsibilities of the bride and groom along with their rights.

The bride's family and friends sit on the right side of the sanctuary and the groom's family and friends sit on the left side of the aisle.  The bride and groom are walk down the aisle accompanied by their parents.

The ring must belong to the groom, it cannot be borrowed.  The ring is a circle (without any breaks) which symbolizes a harmonious marriage. It must be plain, no stones or decorations.

The coupled is married under the Chupa which is a special canopy that symbolizes the home the couple will share for the rest of their lives.  The bride and groom drink the first cup of wine, and several prayers are said binding the couple together. Certain family and friends receive an aliyah which is a great honor.  They read some of the prayers during the wedding ceremony.  It is customary for the bride to circle the groom under the chuppah for either seven or three times (depending on your family’s traditions). The groom break breaks a glass with his foot which symbolizes the destruction of the temples in Jerusalem.  Jews pay their respects to those who have suffered even in the midst of a happy celebration.

The affair after the ceremony is usually a big party with lots of food and drinks.  Hopefully, the bride and groom will be relaxed with the ceremony over and be able to enjoy their party.

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