Ketubah_from_Russia

Jewish Wedding Traditions

Jewish Wedding Traditions vary depending on the branch of Judaism. In general, Jewish wedding will have several required elements as dictated by the Jewish faith and the rabbi presiding over the ceremony. These elements are steeped in the history of the Jewish people and the couple’s responsibility to God. Below are just a few of the traditional elements found in the Jewish wedding ceremony.

Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who hath created joy and sadness, bridegroom and bride, mirth, exultation, pleasure and delight, love and brotherhood, and peace and friendship. O Lord our God, may there soon be heard in the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the jubilant voice of the bridegrooms from their canopies and of youths from their feasts of song. Blessed are Thou, O Lord, who maketh the bridegroom to rejoice with the bride. 

Jewish Prayer

The Ketubah (Marriage Contract) 

The Ketubah is a traditional Jewish marriage contract. This written document outlines the groom’s responsibilities to his wife. It was originally developed (more than a thousand years ago!) to protect the wife’s marriage rights. Some modern versions have become more egalitarian- illustrating both the groom and bride’s responsibilities. The Ketubah is mandatory for Orthodox and Conservative Jews. It is read by the rabbi and signed by two witnesses. The Ketubah is often decoratively written, illustrated and framed and can be a beautiful reminder of the commitment of marriage. 

The Huppah (canopy) 

The Huppah is a beautiful, often elaborately decorated, silk or velvet canopy under which the traditional Jewish wedding ceremony takes place. It is usually located outside- symbolizing G-d’s blessing to Abraham, that his children shall be as bountiful as the stars. Additionally, the intimacy created by the Huppah symbolizes the new home the bride and groom are building together. 

Breaking of glass 

One of the most well-known Jewish wedding traditions is the breaking of the glass at the end of the ceremony. It is broken as a reminder of the destruction of the holy temple of Jerusalem . It is a very visceral reminder that even during joyous times it is important to remember hardships faced by the Jewish people. In a broader sense, it also reminds the couple of the delicate nature of life and of their marriage. These precious things are not to be taken fore granted. 

The Yichud (union) After the ceremony the bride and groom retreat to a private room for fifteen minutes of privacy. The origins of this seclusion stem from ancient times when the groom would take the bride to his tent to consummate their union. Today it symbolizes the right of the bride and groom to privacy as husband and wife. It also provides the newlyweds a moment to connect intimately with each other before being swept into the celebratory festivities!