15 Jewish Wedding Rituals, Traditions and Customs
A Jewish wedding does follow Jewish rules and traditions, which intricately blend together centuries' worth of historical, religious, and cultural elements. It is a happy celebration that honors the Jewish people's rich history.
Each stage of a Jewish wedding is deeply significant, symbolizing love, commitment, and community, from the signing of the Ketubah to the breaking of the glass. The 15 Jewish wedding rituals and traditions that make this day a really remarkable celebration of religion and love are covered in this article.
Aufruf is a pre-wedding Jewish custom where a groom is called up in the Torah for a blessing called an aliyah. Typically, the aufruf ceremony is held on the Saturday.
Traditionally, only the groom would recite the blessings but nowadays the couple is called to the Torah together. After the Torah reading, they both receive blessings from the rabbi and congregants. At certain Jewish weddings, candy is thrown at the couple to symbolize a sweet life together. Following the ceremony, there may be a small reception to celebrate.
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Like in many religions, fasting is an important part of Jewish tradition. Some people choose to fast the day of their wedding most notably on Yom Kippur.
Based on the belief that God will forgive all their sins from the past year, Jews fast on their marriage ceremony. So, the bride and groom may also choose to fast on their special day. Thankfully, the fast is only from sunrise to the end of the ceremony, so the couple can feast on their favorite food at the reception.
In a traditional Jewish wedding, the celebration begins with the Tish ceremony which means table in Yiddish. During the Tish ceremony, the groom sits at a table and tries to give a talk on the Torah portion of the week.
Meanwhile, his male friends and family playfully interrupt and tease him. While the groom engages in the Tish ceremony, the bride is entertained in a separate room by her female friends and family. In conservative and reform traditions, the couple may even lead the Tish together.
4. Ketubah Signing
After the Tish, the Ketubah which is a Jewish marriage contract is signed by the groom with the rabbi and two male witnesses. This is also when the groom approaches the bride for the bedeken, where he veils her.
When the groom veils the bride during the bedeken it symbolizes his love for her inner beauty and that they remain, unique individuals even after getting married. Even though the ketubah says the groom "acquires" the bride, it's really about the bride's rights and consent. The ketubah belongs to the bride as proof of her rights and the groom's responsibilities.
Bedeken is one of the beautiful traditions where for the first time bride and groom see each other at the wedding. It is inspired by a Bible story where Jacob got tricked into marrying the wrong sister because he couldn't see her face before.
During the ceremony, the fathers and all the men bring the groom to the bride's room, while the moms and ladies gather around her. The groom then puts the veil on her face to show that he values her inner beauty. Thus, it is a meaningful and emotional part of the wedding ceremony.
6. The Walk To The Chuppah
This is such an exciting part of a Jewish wedding. The Chuppah is like a special ceiling under which the couple stands during the ceremony.
During the walk to the Chuppah the bride and groom followed by their parents, walk down the aisle collectively toward the Chuppah. It symbolizes the beginning of their journey together as a married couple. It's a beautiful and joyful moment filled with love and anticipation.
7. Vows Under The Chuppah
This is the moment in a wedding ceremony when the couple makes their promises and commitments to one another while standing under the Chuppah. It is the ceremony's most important and intimate component.
The pair discusses their goals, aspirations, and intentions for their future together. Among these promises are frequently declarations of love, loyalty, and support. It is a lovely custom that represents the couple's resolve to start a life together as they embark on their marital journey.
In the Jewish tradition, circling is a symbolic ritual performed during a wedding ceremony. The bride traditionally circles the groom three or seven times before entering the huppah representing the start of their new life.
This ritual symbolizes the bride's commitment to encircle and support her husband throughout every situation whether it is good or bad. It is a beautiful and meaningful tradition that adds deepness and symbolism to the wedding ceremony.
Kiddushin is an important part of Jewish tradition as it refers to the formal act of betrothal or engagement between a Jewish couple. This ceremony takes place under the chuppah.
It typically starts with greetings, followed by a blessing over the wine, and a sip taken by the pair. Then, the groom presents the bride with a symbolic item, such as a ring while expressing his intent to marry her. This act establishes a sacred bond between them and signifies the start of their marital journey.
10. Ring Exchange
Wedding rings play a vital role in the Jewish wedding ceremony as the ring symbolizes the groom's commitment and love for his bride. As per tradition, only the bride received a ring at the ceremony.
Traditionally, Jewish brides get married in a wedding band that is made of metal with no stones. Meanwhile, in modern ceremonies, both the bride and the groom exchange a wedding ring as a symbol of true partnership, mutual love, and respect. In this culture, the ring is placed on the index finger of the right hand.
11. Seva Brachot: Seven Blessings
The Seva Brachot also known as the Seven Blessings, is a central part of the Jewish wedding ceremony. These seven different blessings are recited by a designated person, often a rabbi or close family member.
These blessings are repeated at the wedding reception and then once a day for the next seven nights. Each blessing is a special prayer that expresses hopes for happiness, love, and prosperity in the couple's married life. Moreover, these blessings touch on different aspects of life, like the creation of the world, the joy of love, the rebuilding of Jerusalem, and the happiness of the couple.
12. Breaking The Glass
Breaking the glass in Jewish tradition is a symbolic moment at the end of the wedding ceremony. The groom traditionally breaks a glass with his foot by stepping on it.
This tradition holds several meanings such as the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, a representation of weak human relationships, and a reminder that marriage changes the life of the person forever. Plus, it is also a reminder to cherish and protect the marriage.
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13. Mazel Tov
Jewish tradition uses the Hebrew term Mazel Tov to convey congratulations and best wishes. Its precise meaning is "good fortune" or "good luck."
When the glass is broken following the ceremony, you can hear the audience applauding and saying Mazel tov. It is a means of expressing congratulations, sharing joy, giving blessings, and distributing well wishes for the event. It is a charming expression that enhances the joy and warmth of memorable occasions in Jewish culture.
Yichud is a Jewish tradition that takes place after the wedding ceremony. It involves the newly married couple spending a few moments alone together in a private room.
During the yichud, it is indeed a tradition for the bride and groom to share their first meal together as husband and wife. It adds an extra special touch to their private time and allows them to begin their journey as a married couple with a shared meal.
15. Hora And Mezinke
Hora and Mezinke both are types of dances that are performed during the Jewish wedding ceremony. These are both entertaining and joyful parts of the Jewish wedding rituals.
Hora is a lively circle dance that is performed at the reception of Jewish celebrations. It involves everyone joining hands and dancing in a circle while moving in a joyful and energetic manner. As for the Mezinke, is a celebration that honors parents who have married off their last child. It is a way of recognizing and appreciating the parents' role in raising their children and reaching this milestone.