7 Unique Traditions of Jewish Wedding Receptions


You’ve done everything from signing the ketubah to raising a huppah. You’ve exchanged rings and done the glass breaking. But the ritual doesn’t end there. There are a few more to complete for a true Jewish wedding reception. Read on to find out all about the rituals involved in a truly Jewish reception of wedding.

Unique Traditions of Jewish Wedding Receptions

You may know all about the traditions of a wedding reception from the receiving line to the last dance and everything that happens in between, but if you are planning a Jewish wedding, there are some different traditions you shouldn't miss.

Blessing of the Challach

The blessing of the challah begins the wedding meal! The challah is a kind of intricately braided bread. Usually the couple’s parents or an honored guest makes the blessing, called the hamotzi.

The Meal

Chicken and fish are essential dishes at a Jewish wedding reception. They both symbolize fertility. At a Sephardic wedding, the first course is Sutlach. This consists of a rice pudding made with honey, almonds, and coconut milk, symbolizing a sweet and prosperous life for the couple.

If you’re hesitant about serving a kosher meal because you think that kosher means bland, think again. You can serve something like salmon with penne, seasoned with sundries tomatoes and artichoke, or rosemary seasoned chicken with a veggie couscous.

Just find a glatt-kosher caterer to take care of the meal and you won’t have to worry about satisfying the taste buds while adhering to a kosher menu. If you’re not as worried about sticking to strictly kosher foods, have your caterer help you come up with a kosher style meal so that you still hit all the important dishes but with your own personal flair.

Chair Dance

It’s not truly a Jewish wedding reception without the Hora. This traditional dance requires a few brave souls to lift the bride and groom in their chairs high above the crowd as family and friends dance to the sound of "Hava Nagila." The couple is supposed to try not to look down during this dance.

Entertaining the Bride and Groom

It is traditional at a Jewish wedding to keep the bride and groom entertained during the reception. Guests will dance for the couple using props, outrageous costumes, and masks. These dances are called Mitzvah dances because they are considered a good deed to keep the couple entertained during their wedding reception.

Mezinke Tanz or Krenzel

This refers to last dance which is to honor parents who are marrying off their last child. The parents are seated in the middle of the dance floor as guests dance around them, often kissing them as they pass in front of them. A crown of flowers is often placed on the mother’s head which is where the name Krenzel comes from.


The traditional end of a Jewish wedding reception is the birkat hamazon, which is a blessing after the meal is finished. Booklets of prayers, or benchers, may be given to the guests to follow along. After these have been said, there are seven wedding blessings that are repeated. Friends are given another opportunity to participate in this. Lastly, there is a blessing over two wine glasses as they are poured into a third glass. This symbolizes a new life being created by being together from now on.

Reception Before the Ceremony

All of the above traditions are from the reception after the wedding ceremony. But, there is also a tradition of having separate receptions for the bride and groom before the wedding ceremony. These two celebrations are quite different from each other.

  • The bride's reception is usually the livelier one. In a tradition referred to the Talmud, the bride sits on a special throne. She is surrounded by attendants, close family, and friends as she accepts well wishes from guests. Her friends dance for her as music is played.

The groom's reception takes place as a table full of food and drink. Seated by the groom are his father and the bride’s father along with the rabbis. All around are the male guests, friends, and family members of the groom. They sing and toast the groom. The room it takes place in is often the one where the Minchah prayer service happens. For more information about the Tisch tradition, refer to Jewish wedding ceremony.