Jewish weddings are rich in history, tradition, and beautiful symbolism. They have been a core part of Jewish culture for generations upon generations. In addition to having photographed over a hundred Jewish weddings and taken tens of thousands of Jewish wedding photos, I also had a fusion one of my own! There is much to learn about the traditions that surround them, but here are some basic facts you need to know:
BOSTON JEWISH WEDDING TRADITIONS
- Ketubah Signing- The marriage contract is signed by the couple and the two witnesses. The Ketubah outlines the groom’s responsibilities to his future wife.The signing of the Ketubah is typically an hour and happens before the wedding ceremony. The Ketubah is often read to the guests during the ceremony and one of my favorite Jewish wedding photos to capture.
- Bedeken – The Bedeken means “the veiling”. The groom veils her face during the ketubah signing and shows that his love for her is not surface deep. There is a story in the Bible where Jacob was tricked into marrying someone else (his love’s sister) because the sister was veiled.
- Chuppah or Huppah – The wedding canopy that has four corners and a covered fabric called a “tallit” or prayer shawl. The four posts are held up by friends or family members during the ceremony, which symbolizes them supporting the life the couple is building together.
- Walk to the Chuppah – Tradition holds it that the groom and his parents walk down the aisle and then the bride and her parents follow. Both sets of parents stand under the chuppah during the ceremony.
- Aufruf – It means “To Call Up” in Yiddish. The couple is called up to the Torah for a blessing, an “aliyah”. Then, family and friends throw candies and other sweats at the couple to wish them a sweet life.
- Ring – A groom’s ring is given to the bride underneath the Chubbah
- Sheva B’rachot – The Seven Blessings are read in both Hebrew and English by family members and friends. The blessings start with a cup of wine and are about joy, love, and celebration.
- Breaking of a glass – The groom steps on a glass inside a cloth bag to shatter it. This has multiple meanings. The most popular is that it represents the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. Another is that it shows the commitment to be with one another in difficult times. This is one of my favorite Jewish wedding photos to photograph!
- Mazel Tov! – This means “Congratulations”!
- Yichud – Immediately following the ceremony, the couples spend time together in seclusion. This allows the coupes to reflect on their relationship, to bond, and celebrate together. They can share their first meal together.
- Hora and Mezinke – This Jewish Wedding Tradition is a dance typically opens up the reception. The dance happens in a circle, and then the bride and groom are lifted into the air while sitting on chairs. They hold a cloth napkin together. Nicole’s tip: Use chairs with arms for the Hora!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT BOSTON JEWISH WEDDINGS
- What should I wear to a Jewish wedding? For women, cover your shoulders. For men, wear a kippah or a yarmulke to cover their heads. Many weddings will provide kippahs to guests.
- Are Jewish weddings performed on Shabbat? Traditionally, no. Jewish weddings are not conducted on High Holy Days.
- What should I bring as a gift? It is traditional to bring a gift in increments of $18, which symbolizes the Hebrew word “Chai” meaning life.
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