Jewish Wedding Customs (Part 1)

As I previously mentioned, Judaism has played a major role in our wedding planning. When Mr. Wellies and I discussed our ceremony, we knew without a doubt that we would have a religious Jewish ceremony. We’re both very excited to incorporate so many different aspects of Judaism into our wedding; since everything is rich with meaning and history, it will give our day an even deeper resonance.

Chuppah ”“ The ceremony takes place under the chuppah, a canopy that represents the home Mr. Wellies and I will build together. It is open on all sides, symbolizing that friends and family are always welcome. I really love the imagery (both literal and metaphorical) of the chuppah. Although there are several vendors in the area who would be able to create a chuppah for us, we’re going to build it ourselves, to make it even more personal.

chuppah

Image via Ruffled / Photo by Jodi Miller Photography

Hakafot (Circling) ”“ Jewish weddings traditionally begin with the bride circling the groom seven times. There are various interpretations of this ritual: Seven is the number of days of creation, and the wedding ceremony is the creation of a new household; there are seven wedding blessings; and seven is the number of times the phrase “when a man takes a wife” occurs in the Torah (the first five books of the Hebrew Bible). By circling Mr. Wellies seven times, I will intertwine our lives and form a new family circle.

hakafot

Image via Sandor Welsh Photography

Kiddush (Blessing over Wine) ”“ Wine is often associated with celebrations, festivals, and simcha (joy). Kiddush is part of virtually all Jewish observance as a prayer of sanctification. During the ceremony, Mr. Wellies and I will drink from a Kiddush cup that once belonged to my dad, sanctifying the joy and abundance of our marriage.

kiddush

Image via The Wedding Yentas / Photo by Next Exit Photography

Ketubah ”“ The ketubah, or marriage contract, is one of the oldest elements of Jewish weddings. Our ketubah consists of the traditional Aramaic text, which has bound Jewish brides and grooms since ancient times, as well as an English interpretation, which specifies our commitment to one another. We’ve already selected our ketubah design and can’t wait to display it in our home!

ketubah

Image via A Practical Wedding / Photo by Joseph Milton

What religious or cultural customs are you including in your wedding day?

BLOGGER

Miss Wellies

Location:
Philadelphia
Wedding Date:
February 2014

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  1. Member
    pocketfox 677 posts, Busy bee @ 9:36 am

    I’ve actually been curious about something. I know we were told we need 2 Jewish witnesses not related to us to sign our ketubah. If you don’t mind me asking, how are you handling this while eloping?

  2. Guest Icon Guest
    LK, Guest @ 9:40 am

    For the seven circles, we did 3 each around one another and then one together to make it more egalitarian. As a feminist, are you definitely sticking to circling your groom all 7 times? Just curious.

  3. Member
    missgoldfish 454 posts, Helper bee @ 10:49 am

    We will be doing all of the customs you’ve mentioned here at our wedding! I’m really looking forward to picking out a ketubah design with my FI.

  4. Member
    ladyamalthea 1400 posts, Bumble bee @ 11:23 am

    I have the same question about the seven-circles-versus-feminism thing. And considering you’re small number of attendees, are you having people hold up the chuppah or getting a free standing one? And are you and/or Mr. Wellies breaking a glass? My FI and I aren’t religious, but he was raised with reformed Judaism, and we’re just doing a free-standing chuppah and we’re both breaking a glass :)

  5. Member
    cosmo_gmr 946 posts, Busy bee @ 12:02 pm

    Interesting and such meaningful customs!

    We’re both catholic so we had a full mass for our wedding. I don’t like the church weddings that are over in 15 minutes, I feel is not as serious and besides why would the most important part of getting married be over so soon?.

    Anyway, something we did in our wedding and I haven’t seen that many times were the 13 arras (13 coins that simbolize our monthly earning plus one to share with the poor).

  6. Member
    mswallaby 2066 posts, Buzzing bee @ 1:25 pm

    I’ve always wanted to go to a Jewish wedding – thanks for sharing! I love the cultural and religious customs from different weddings, it’s so interesting and beautiful.

  7. Member
    wellies 1425 posts, Bumble bee @ 4:30 pm

    @pocketfox: Very good question! :) We still need to discuss this with our rabbi.
    @LK: Yes. We don’t consider the bride circling the groom seven times to be an egalitarian issue. We each contribute a special moment in the ceremony: I circle him, while he breaks the glass. :)
    @MissGoldFish: Awesome! :D There are so many gorgeous ketubah designs to choose from. Have fun!

  8. Member
    wellies 1425 posts, Bumble bee @ 4:44 pm

    @ladyamalthea: As I mentioned in my previous comment, we don’t consider circling to be an egalitarian issue. Our chuppah will be free-standing; we’re going to try making it ourselves, though, so it might not stand up for long! ;) Breaking the glass is in my next post. :)
    @cosmo_gmr: I think it’s great that you had a full mass! I hadn’t heard of the 13 arras until Mrs. Waterfall’s post (although she used them to represent Jesus and the 12 apostles). Regardless of the meaning, I love the symbolism! :)
    @Mrs. Wallaby: You’re welcome! I loved reading about Persian customs in your posts. :)

  9. Member
    mstreasure 1655 posts, Bumble bee @ 4:46 pm

    I really love the symbolism of the chuppah. I knew it stood for the bride and groom’s new home, but never knew about the sides being open for family and friends. That’s such a beautiful custom.

  10. Member
    mswaterfall 1403 posts, Bumble bee @ 7:46 pm

    I love learning more about the Jewish customs! My grandpa’s side of the family is actually Jewish, but I’ve never attended a Jewish wedding. BM Green eyes just completed her conversion into Judaism, so her wedding will probably be my first Jewish ceremony.
    @cosmo_gmr: we did las arras too, I actually just wrote a post about it, but I had never heard about the 12 months salary thing. Interesting

  11. Member
    traumaqueen 108 posts, Blushing bee @ 9:44 pm

    I can’t wait for your tutorial on making the chuppah (I’m assuming you will do a tutorial on it!). My fiance and I are currently trying to figure out the best way to make ours (or to instruct my super handy father to make it.).

  12. Member
    cosmo_gmr 946 posts, Busy bee @ 6:21 am

    @Mrs. Waterfall: I read your post and it was very interesting about the arras! I guess the meaning changes from one country to the other?

  13. Member
    wellies 1425 posts, Bumble bee @ 7:13 am

    @Mrs. Treasure: I love it, too! :)
    @Mrs. Waterfall: Congrats to BM Green Eyes! That’s awesome! :D
    @TraumaQueen: If we actually succeed in making one, I will try to write a comprehensible tutorial, ha ha! ;)

  14. Member
    andyisgreat 242 posts, Helper bee @ 1:33 pm

    I spot my venue in the Hakafot (Circling) picture!!! How exciting. I love all of these traditions I see at Jewish weddings.

  15. Guest Icon Guest
    HighStyleEvents, Guest @ 1:35 pm

    Great insight on Jewish wedding planning! We couldn’t have said it better on our blog!

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