First of all, Mazal Tov! Very little is as joyous as the moment of celebrating the marriage of two people who are beginning their lives together by meeting under the Chuppah (the wedding canopy). Marriage is a truly sacred experience, a holy commitment beloveds make to one another, and it is our hope that we, at PSJC, can be here to help support you and your family in that commitment. Please contact email@example.com to discuss celebrating your wedding in our sanctuary. For more information on finding an officiant, preparation, and elements of a wedding, see below. Go to the Conversion page if that is a factor in your marriage.
Finding an officiant
We understand that a wedding is a first and important step toward creating a Jewish home together, and we are committed to supporting you on this journey and to helping you find the right person to guide you through this process. Rabbi Carter is dedicated to helping you create a ceremony that fits your needs and desires. She works at length with couples to craft the wedding that is appropriate for them and is honored to officiate at the weddings of both heterosexual and same-sex Jewish couples. If you would like to speak with Rabbi Carter about the possibility of her officiating at your marriage ceremony, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A part of rabbinic officiating at PSJC includes spiritual counseling. This takes place over the course of a series of meetings with the rabbi in the months prior to the wedding. We are committed to helping you start your marriage, not just celebrate your wedding. As such, Rabbi Carter is available to help you think through ideas and issues that will help you grow together as you build a home together.
Prior to the wedding
Aufruf: Couples often choose to mark the Shabbat prior to their wedding (or a week close to it), with a special aliyah (being called up) to the Torah. This aliyah, known as an aufruf, provides a wonderful opportunity for the couple, family, and friends to celebrate with the community at large. It is customary, but not required, for the couple or their families to sponsor a special Kiddush in honor of the couple’s upcoming wedding following services. Please be in touch with Rabbi Carter (email@example.com) to begin scheduling this celebration.
Mikvah: Another powerful way to prepare for a wedding is to immerse in the waters of the mikvah. It can be an extremely meaningful opportunity to symbolically begin anew and to take this next step in your shared life’s journey. Feel free to speak with the Rabbi to discuss this more.
The Wedding Day
Prior to standing beneath the Chuppah (the Wedding Canopy), there are three brief ceremonies that occur at weddings:
Tisch: "Tisch" literally means "table", and traditionally it refers to the groom’s table. It is a time of singing and celebrating and fun that occurs on the day of the wedding. Often the groom tries to offer a few words of Torah learning, but the custom is to interrupt with humor and song. Very often now, brides also lead a “tisch." Another popular contemporary custom is for the couple to host this celebratory pre-wedding moment together.
Bedeken: The bedeken is a final moment together for the couple prior to joining beneath the Chuppah. Traditionally, the groom is danced by friends over to the bride, where a blessing is offered, and he then places a veil over the bride's face. This is a reference to the biblical wedding of Jacob and Leah where, due to a heavy veil over the bride’s face, Jacob thought he was marrying Rachel but instead married her older sister, Leah. There are now many different ways in which a bedeken takes place, sometimes involving a veil, sometimes not. The important thing about the bedeken is that it offers the couple a moment of looking closely at one another and confirming that they are indeed prepared to marry the person standing before them.
Ketubah: Prior to the Chuppah, a Ketubah is signed. A Ketubah is a binding legal contract that spells out the terms and ideals of the couple’s marriage. There are many forms of ketubot. We recommend speaking to the Rabbi to discuss what is needed/desired in your Ketubah. According to Jewish Law, the Ketubah must be signed by two Jewish witnesses, unrelated to the couple.
Chuppah: The wedding ceremony takes place beneath the Chuppah, the Wedding Canopy, often supported on four sides by family and friends. Traditionally this part of the ceremony begins with the couple walking to the Chuppah individually, then circling around one another, symbolizing the intertwining of their souls as they stand beneath their Chuppah, itself a symbol of the home they will build together.
Eirusin: The first formal part of the wedding ceremony is known as Eirusin ("betrothal"). This is the engagement ceremony and involves the sharing of a cup of wine, the exchange of rings, and the statement of a few words by the couple to one another.
Sheva Brachot: The second part of a wedding ceremony, Nissuin ("marriage"), begins with Sheva Berachot ("Seven Blessings"). These are offered to the couple to celebrate the joy and possibilities that exist when two who have found each other in love celebrate and build on that relationship.
Breaking the Glass: The final act of a Jewish wedding is, famously, the Breaking of the Glass. There are many interpretations for this act, including that it is a reminder of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, symbolic of the fact that our world is filled with sadness as well as with great joy. It is a moment of exclamation, a return for the couple from the powerful sanctity of the wedding canopy into the world as a whole. Wedding guests shout a hearty "mazal tov" upon the glass breaking, to let the couple know how happy you are for them as they leave the Chuppah!
Yichud: Before celebrating with all who are waiting for them, the couple traditionally takes a few minutes of private time together (Yichud). It is a wonderful time to just connect with one another after the official marriage. For couples who have fasted before the wedding (a tradition that some observe), it is also an opportunity to have a small nosh! It is customary to have a “guard” at the door to make sure the couple does get some privacy at this moment as family and friends are eager to celebrate with them.
Useful Wedding Resources
New Jewish Wedding by Anita Diamanté
Beyond Breaking the Glass by Nancy Wiener