The celebration of marriage between two people is a cause for joy and festivity. A Jewish marriage ceremony includes many different components and is a demonstration of two people’s pledging their exclusivity to one another. The required parts of the ceremony are betrothal (Erusin) and marriage (Kiddushin and Nissu’in).
First, a Jewish couple must become betrothed to one another which is done by a betrothal blessing and a blessing over wine. To be married requires four things: an exchange of something of value, typically a ring, a contract, the Ketubah, recitation of the seven wedding blessings (Sheva Brachot), and time spent alone (Yichud). The couple will exchange rings (Required for the groom, but not required for the bride) The Ketubah is typically signed by witnesses before the wedding ceremony begins, it is read during the ceremony and is then given by the groom to the bride. After the seven wedding blessings are recited and the ceremony concluded, the couple spends a few minutes alone before joining their guests.
The Shabbat before the wedding is a traditional time for an Auf Ruf (pronounced oof-roof). Groom and Bride are called to the Torah and receive a blessing.
Tisch, which is Yiddish for table, is a custom where the groom gathers around a table with the male wedding guests before the ceremony to deliver a D’var Torah. Assuming that he is nervous, it is traditional to interrupt him with songs and toasts. Kabbalat Panim, which is Hebrew for welcoming guests, is a custom where the bride sits on a throne-like chair to welcome all the wedding guests who offer her blessings.
Bedeken, which comes from German meaning to adorn, is the first glance that a groom would have of his bride on their wedding day if they had been separate beforehand. At the Bedeken the Ketubah would be signed, the groom would offer his bride a blessing, and the groom would put the veil over his bride’s face.
A bride would circle her groom seven times before they enter the wedding canopy (Chuppah) as a way of showing his exclusivity to her.
Chuppah, which is Hebrew for wedding canopy, is the place where the marriage ceremony takes place. Often times the covering is a talit, but it can be covered by anything. Often it is adorned with flowers. The chuppah is representative of the Jewish home the couple will build together. Just as a chuppah is open on all four sides, so was the tent of Abraham open for hospitality. Thus, the chuppah represents hospitality to one's guests. This "home" initially lacks furniture as a reminder that the basis of a Jewish home is the people within it, not the possessions.
BREAKING A GLASS
After the ceremony under the Chuppah is complete, but before the couple spends a few minutes alone, the groom will break a glass. There are many different explanations for this custom from scaring away demons to reminding us of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.
Jewish weddings do not take place on Shabbat or the following Festivals: Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, First and Second Day of Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret, Simchat Torah, and Shavuot from sundown on Friday (or the eve of the Festival) through nightfall on Saturday (or the day of the Festival).
Jewish weddings also do not take place during these traditional times of communal mourning: from the second day of Passover through Lag B’Omer and from the 17th of Tammuz through the 9th of Av.
Under the Rabbinical Assembly Committee on Laws and Standards, SOJC allows, and welcomes, same sex marriages as long as both parties are Jewish.
SOJC members may have clergy officiate at local weddings free of charge. Please call the SOJC office to schedule a date. Our Rabbi will wish to meet with the couple before the planned date to discuss and plan the ceremony.