Jewish Wedding Traditions

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The Jewish faith is one that is deeply rooted in tradition. A traditional Jewish wedding follows a number of beautiful traditions that date back for thousands of years. The traditions include the signing of the Ketubah, the use of the chuppah as well as traditional dances that are performed at the wedding. The rings exchanged during a Jewish wedding also have traditional connotations.

The signing of the Ketubah is the traditional start to a Jewish wedding ceremony. The Ketubah is a written agreement that not only asserts that the bride is not already married but also outlines the expectations that the couple hold for each other in the marriage. This ornate document can later be framed and prominently displayed in the couple’s home as a reminder of their commitment. After the bride and groom have signed the Ketubah, the groom takes one final look at his bride before lowering her veil and beginning the wedding procession. This tradition has biblical roots and recalls the story of Jacob who married the wrong woman because she was veiled and he did not realize his mistake in time.

The wedding party traditionally precedes the couple in the wedding procession. The bride and groom then proceed down the aisle together accompanied by both of their parents to symbolize that their union includes the union of both families and not just the bride and the groom. The couple ends their procession under a traditional canopy called a chuppah. This canopy symbolizes that God is present and that he is sheltering and protecting the couple.

After the couple exchanges their wedding vows, a Rabbi reads 7 traditional blessings. After the blessings the groom steps on a wine glass to break the glass in a symbol of human frailty and the suffering that members of the Jewish faith have endured and this with a final blessing from the rabbi concludes the ceremony. Unlike other traditional weddings, there is usually not a receiving line at the conclusion of a Jewish wedding. Tradition holds that the couple spends a few minutes alone immediately following the wedding so many members of the Jewish faith honour this tradition by leaving the ceremony immediately and waiting until the reception to offer their well wishes to the couple. This togetherness time was traditionally an opportunity for the couple to consummate the marriage but in modern times it is more of chance for the couple to reflect on their wedding ceremony and the start of their life together before the chaos of the wedding.

Even the rings that a couple exchanges during a Jewish wedding have traditional values. Tradition holds that the couple exchange very simple rings that are devoid of gems, engravings or other distinguishing marks. With nothing to distinguish the beginning or the end of the ring, it is a beautiful symbol of a love that endures forever with no clear beginning or end. This symbolizes both the couples love for each other as well as Godís love for his people.

A traditional Jewish wedding reception features many dances. An energetic dance called the Hora is performed at many traditional Jewish weddings. In this dance the bride and groom hold a handkerchief between them while they are seated in chairs and hoisted into the air by their guests. This dance is a celebration of the bride and groom and recognizes the significance of their union.  If this wedding represents the last son or daughter of one of the parents to be married there are a few more traditional dances that may take place. If the bride was the last in her family to be married, she and her sisters may honour their mother in a tradition known as Krenzi. The mother is crowned with flowers and her daughters honour her in the form of dance. Also, if either the bride or groom was the youngest to be married both of the parents will be honoured through the Mizinke dance. In this tradition all of the guests circle the parents and shower them with flowers and praise.

The Jewish faith is a faith that is full of history and tradition. Many couples and their guests choose to honour these traditions by incorporating them into their wedding ceremony and reception. Many of these traditions are the defining moments of the celebration and they lend an atmosphere of historical significance to the wedding.

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Walking Down The Aisle

Walking down the aisle

Another dilemma that often comes up when planning a wedding is who will walk who down the aisle. Although traditionally it is the father that does this, the plethora of step-families has made it a more difficult decision. This is especially true when the step parents have been in the children’s lives for a long time.

Breaking tradition

A bride that has both a step father and a biological father may opt still to have her biological father walk her down the aisle. This can be a way to show her family bond as well as stick with tradition. In the case of a bride that hasn’t been close to her father, she may opt to have her step father walk her down the aisle. This is a newly emerging sight at weddings, and quite touching.

Of course, if the bride loves both of the men and wants to include them, there’s nothing wrong with having both walk her down the aisle. It honours her relationship with both men and lets them have the chance to hold her arm.

This also holds true for the groom. He can choose to escort both a step mother and his biological mother down the aisle at the beginning is she should choose to. Or the best man can do so, as is tradition.

If the father has passed on, the bride may opt to have an older brother or an uncle walk her down the aisle. Likewise, if the mother of the groom has passed, then a sister or an aunt may want to walk with him.

Dealing with difficulties

While this all seems like a loving and simple solution to include everyone in the wedding, some parents may still have issues with their ex-spouses. And this can lead to bitter feelings about your choice in who walks who down the aisle.

Should you fight for what you want? That’s entirely up to you. If walking with both fathers makes you happy, then you should do that even if the opposite partners are not pleased for whatever reason.

If you feel that it may cause more trouble than it is worth, then you may opt to stick with tradition. Just be sure to include your step parent in some other part of the wedding so they don’t feel left out because of biological status.

In the end, remember that it’s your day and your decision.

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