What makes a wedding “Jewish”?
Like all weddings, Jewish wedding celebrate the sacred commitment that two human beings are making to one another. In the Jewish tradition, there are a number of special rituals and ritual objects that are used in a wedding.
For example, the chuppah–a canopy held up by four poles that symbolizes the couples’ home together. A chuppah can be set up to stand alone or the poles of the chuppah can be held by friends or family members. Another important part of a Jewish wedding is the ketubah—a contract that states the promises and commitments that the couple are making to each other. In Orthodox communities, the ketubah is similar to a marriage license—it serves as a legal document. In progressive Jewish communities, the ketubah is now more of a spiritual document and also a work of art that the couple can hang in a prominent place in their home.
A Jewish wedding can include other important rituals, such as blessing and drinking wine, exchange of rings, the recitation of Seven Blessings and the most well-known ritual—the breaking of a glass at the end of the ceremony.
There are many ways for contemporary couples to bring creativity to Jewish wedding rituals—from making a chuppah out of quilt squares created by family and friend to writing their own ketubah text.
If young children are invited to attend a wedding, you may want to talk with the couple about expectations for children as weddings can vary in terms of their formality.