Jewish Wedding Traditions and Rituals 101
Marriages are made in heaven, by all means! Weddings are full of fun, excitement, anxiety, and anticipations. Filled with religious fervor and astonishing, meaningful customs, a Jewish wedding is indeed a feast – in all respects! Let’s take a look at some of the more popular customs at Jewish weddings.
1. Kabbalat Panim: The beginning of a Jewish wedding witnesses the bride sitting on a throne-like chair while friends and family greet and bless her.
2. Badeken: This ceremony involves the veiling of the bride by the groom. The veil is symbolic of the fact that beauty lies within. However beautiful the bride is, it is her character and soul that are most important in a marriage. Some also attribute the veil to the shine on the face of Moses which had to be covered and this shine can be seen on the face of every bride.
3. Chuppah: This is the marriage canopy which represents the home the couple will be building together. Many people use a tallit to construct it. The couple often choose the colour, size, and designs, often representing who they are. Many a times, the couple stand under the Chuppah while the corners are held up by friends and relatives.
4. Circling the Groom: This Jewish tradition symbolises the creation of a new home as the bride goes around the groom seven times. Seven is the kabbalistic number denoting completion and means that the couple has completed the soul’s search for its mate.
5. Kiddushin: The betrothal ceremony during which the groom presents the bride a ring, a gold band of circular shape that symbolizes everlasting marriage. It also includes the groom’s recitation of the phrase, “Behold, by this ring you are consecrated to me as my wife according to the laws of Moses and Israel.” A Jewish wedding ring is traditionally placed on the right index finger of the bride. After the ceremony, she can move it to the ring finger. A Jewish wedding band may be a simple metal circlet without any gemstones or other decorations. The bridegroom need not buy a very expensive one. It is said that a ‘single perutah’ or the smallest denomination of ancient coinage is sufficient to buy a Jewish wedding band. However, modern day couples like to give this piece of jewelry special meaning by adding personalized messages, engraving their love vows etc on their Jewish wedding bands.
View our collection of Jewish Wedding Rings here.
6. Ketubah: This denotes the responsibilities and commitments of the groom to the bride. It is read out and signed by two witnesses, and again read under the Chuppah.
7. Nissu’in: The Nissuin ceremony is the recitation of seven blessings, called the Sheva Berakhot, describing the themes of Jewish marriage. The ceremony concludes when the groom (or sometimes both of them) shatters a glass in memory of the Temple’s destruction. The 7 blessings are recited to mark the end of the wedding ceremony. A cup of wine is seen during the seven blessings, when the rabbi is reciting the same. Then the couple drinks from the Kiddush cup. It is said that one should never recite two prayers over one cup. So, two wine glasses are preferred for using and refilling. The glasses are an essential part of any Jewish wedding. It is better to consult the officiant or rabbit about the number of wine glasses needed for purchasing.
8. Seudah: This is the part most guests are waiting for! What is a wedding without a grand feast following the ceremonies! The couple enjoys the festive meal with their families and friends.
Wine Fountains – A NEW Addition!
A Kiddush Cup fountain is of late found in the Jewish weddings. It is said to represent a Jewish ideal reimagined for modernity. It occupies a large table with friends and family expressing their faith in tradition. It goes to show the Jewish people’s ability to adapt and continue to follow and pass on their tradition with such objects which denote the past and future. Several modern-day Jewish weddings have a special corner for wine fountains!