If you and your partner are engaged and in the stages of planning your Jewish wedding, it’s normal to feel stressed and anxious, as making sure that everything goes right will be your number one priority. However, when compared with the many wedding details that every couple needs to organise, Jewish brides and grooms have other important factors to consider.
Whether you are strict followers of the faith, or you’re relatively new to Judaism, here is a guide on how to plan a meaningful and memorable Jewish wedding.
Choose the Right Date
Jewish weddings are traditionally forbidden on holidays such as Passover. There are also fast days that your wedding cannot take place on, such as the 10th of Tevet and Tisha B’Av. Before picking a date for your wedding, it’s crucial that you check a Jewish calendar so you can be certain that your special day doesn’t fall on a traditional occasion.
Picking an Officiant
For many Jewish couples, this step is a straightforward one. If you are affiliated with a Jewish community, you may find an officiant who is an active member of a congregation, or you may have a childhood rabbi that you are still close to. For engaged couples who arenew to Judaism, finding the right cantor or rabbi to lead your wedding ceremony can be challenging. Your parents may advise you to pick a rabbi from their congregation, even if you don’t know them.
It’s important to note that a rabbi is not the only person who is allowed to lead your Jewish wedding. A cantor can also be an officiant, as well as educated professionals who help and serve the Jewish community. If you would like a rabbi to lead your ceremony, it’s best to begin researching by visiting local congregations.
Plan the Ceremony
Even if you or your partner have grown up in a Jewish home, you may still be surprised to learn about traditional rituals that are commonly associated with a Jewish wedding. For instance, in a traditional Jewish wedding, the bride is not allowed to give the ring to the groom.
Many contemporary Jewish couples find this ritual to be outdated and prefer to do a double-ring ceremony instead. There may be some Orthodox rabbis that will permit you to lead your ceremony like this. While planning your wedding alongside a rabbi can help you learn more about wedding rituals, it’s best to do your own bit of research so you can bring your own thoughts and ideas to the table.
Pick the Right Entertainment
Whether you pick bottle dancers, fireworks, a formidable fire dancer, or a photo booth, there are tons of entertainment options to choose from to suit your Jewish wedding. Live music is an entertainment staple, so you may want to consider a Jewish wedding band for hire. The linked example, Jam Hot, is a Jewish wedding band who can be the perfect choice for your special day. When looking for a Jewish wedding band for hire, they can cover your elegant chuppah, all the way through to energetic Simcha dancing.
Once you establish how many people will be attending your ceremony, you can narrow down your entertainment options to find a theme and style that suits you and your partner’s needs.
Select a Ketubah
Like with our government issuing marriage licenses, a Ketubah is used historically to sanction marriages under Jewish law. Meaning ‘written’ or ‘writing’, a Ketubah describes the document which is signed by witnesses prior and often read throughout a Jewish wedding. By tradition, the purpose of a Ketubah is to serve as a premarital contract that outlines the bride’s ongoing rights, such as food and clothing.
Many contemporary Jewish couples decide to steer away from the traditional Ketubah text and instead focus on texts that express their commitments and hopes for the future and their marriage. While some couples choose to write their own text, others decide on an existing text that matches their vision and beliefs.
Choose a Chuppah
The chuppah is a canopy that covers the bride and groom throughout a wedding ceremony, helping to create a sacred area that is both private and intimate for the couple, as well as open for all attendees to see. A chuppah symbolises their new home together, so when planning your Jewish wedding, you will need to decide on what type of chuppah is right for your special day.
There are some chuppahs that are covered in flowers, while others are created from fabric squares that your loved ones can decorate for your wedding. Four poles are attached to the chuppah which can be either held by four people or stand on its own. It’s considered to be a huge honour to hold a chuppah pole, so this role should only be given to those very close to you and your partner.
Include Ritual Objects
If you have been to a Jewish wedding before, you will know that there are some ritual objects which can be used to create a special meaning. For instance, a Kippot is provided for guests at most Jewish weddings. No memorable Jewish wedding is finished without glasses that can be used for breaking once the ceremony has ended.
Make Pre-wedding Choices
One of the best things about a Jewish wedding is that the commemoration is spread over many hours, meaning there is lots of time to honour the bride and groom. Before your big day arrives, you and your partner should discuss whether you would like traditional pre-wedding rituals to proceed with the ceremony, such as going to the mikvah, or being away from each other during the week before your special day. Some Jewish couples also decide to fast on their wedding day. The choice is entirely up to you, so make sure that you keep communication lines open with both your partner and rabbi.
Getting married to the person you love should be a memory that you hold onto for a lifetime, so whether you practice Judaism, or you want to learn more about your faith, all the tips listed above can help you plan the perfect Jewish wedding.