How to Arrange a Jewish Wedding CeremonyFavorite
The marriage in Jewish literature is referred to as the kiddushin. This means sanctification or dedication, meaning that the wedding is not just a social or legal contract, but a spiritual bonding where the couple dedicates themselves to each other in an exclusive relationship. The Kabbalists say that this means that they become "one soul in two bodies." Read on to find out more about the ceremony traditions of a Jewish wedding.
How to Arrange a Jewish Wedding Ceremony
Every Jewish wedding starts with this event. The groom and all of his male friends and family gather around a table, which in Yiddish is known as tish. The groom tries to give a presentation on the Torah portion for the week while his male friends and family interrupt and heckle him. Elsewhere the bride is entertained by her female family and friends. In Conservative and Reform congregations, the bride and groom may lead the tish together.
The Ketubah Signing
In the Orthodox tradition, next the Ketubah (which is Jewish marriage contract) is signed. Traditionally the groom is the one to sign this along with male witnesses and the rabbi. In Conservative and Reform congregations, the bride might sign as well along with female witnesses. While it testifies that the groom has "acquired" the bride, it is the sole property of the wife and discusses her rights and willingness to enter the marriage. So actually, this is a proof of the groom's responsibilities and the bride's rights.
The veiling of the bride or the b'deken refers to the first time the couple meet each other in Orthodox weddings. The groom, the fathers, and all the men take the groom to where the bride is and where the mothers and all the women are around her. The groom veils her, telling everyone he is only interested in the bride's inner beauty. This is based on the biblical story where Jacob didn't see the bride's face until after the wedding, which led him to be tricked into marrying the wrong sister. Some couples like to make the tradition more even by having the bride place a yarmulke on the groom as he lowers the veil. Very interesting Jewish wedding ceremony tradition, right?
The wedding canopy or huppah is a tradition dating back to the days of the nomadic Jews. The huppah was used to create a sanctified and intimate space when weddings were traditionally held outdoors. There are no special requirements for what the huppah looks like, so feel free to create your own.
After entering the huppah, the bride walks around the groom seven times to represent the seven blessings as well as the days of creation. This also demonstrates that the groom is the middle of her world. In a more modern Jewish wedding, couples may circle around each other instead.
Blessing of Betrothal
There are two cups of wine used during the wedding ceremony. The first is part of the betrothal blessing that is recited by the rabbi. After the recitation, couple drinks from the cup. The blessing discusses the resolve of the bride and groom to make a Jewish home which is dedicated to God and the well-being of humanity.
Giving of the Ring
According to Jewish law, a marriage is official when the groom gives the bride an object of value. This is traditionally a ring. The ring must be completely plain, without marks or stones as it is hoped that the marriage will have a simple beauty. The couple exchange rings and say their vows to each other. This is very crucial during a Jewish wedding ceremony."By this ring you are consecrated to me according to the law of Moses and Israel" is the main portion of the vows. The endless nature of the ring symbolizes the eternity of the marriage covenant.
Reading of the Ketubah
The Ketubah is now read in the original Aramaic. It is then given to the groom who in turn gives it to his bride for her to hold their entire marriage. It is a legal binding agreement and is the sole property of the bride.
The Seven Blessings
Also called the Sheva Brachot, these blessings are recited by the rabbi and other honored guests over the second cup of wine. These are ancient blessings and help to place the ceremony in a larger social and religious context. They are as follows:
A blessing over the wine as a symbol of joy
A blessing praising God whom all creation praises
A blessing praising God for being the Creator of humanity
A blessing praising God for making man in His image
A blessing praising for the messianic future
A blessing for the happiness of the couple
Individual hopes for the happiness of the couple along with a prayer for joy in the future.
After the blessings the bride and groom drink the second cup of wine.
Breaking of the Glass
A Jewish wedding ends with the groom smashing a glass under foot. This is the official end of the ceremony and the signal for the guests to cheer, wish the couple well, and dance. There are a number of explanations as to the meaning of the breaking of the glass. For example, it represents the fragileness of relationships and to remind the couple that marriage will change their life forever; it is a superstition that the loud noise drives away evil spirits; the marriage will last as long as the glass is broken, in other words, forever; or it is a symbol that hopes happiness will be as bountiful as the shards of glass or that the couple will have as many children as shards of glass.
After the couple has left the area of the ceremony, the final part of the wedding takes place. This is the most intimate and private part of a Jewish wedding ceremony. The bride and groom are given time alone and away from the family to reflect on their wedding ceremony. Historically, this is when the marriage would be consummated, but now serves as a brief moment of reflection for the newlywed couple.