Jewish Wedding Traditions: Part 2

Posted by mallen on Nov 04, 2009

Whether cultural or familial or religious, incorporating wedding traditions into your ceremony and reception can be a sentimental feature of your wedding planning.   It’s also an opportunity to create a unique ceremony that incorporates the most important aspects of your life together and the worlds the bride and groom are bringing together.

Check out Part 1 from yesterday for the Pre-Ceremony overview of Jewish Wedding Traditions. Today, I will focus on the Ceremony.


Part 2: The Ceremony

The Jewish wedding ceremony is full of traditional elements incorporating advice and symbolism.  Both the bride and the groom are escorted in the processional by their parents, representing both families coming together.  The parents stop at the Chuppah, the wedding canopy that represents the bride and groom’s new home together.   The canopy is traditionally constructed to be open on all sides – indicating a hospitable home that is open to guests, with the covering being a tallit (prayer shall) of significance to the family.

When the bride reaches the chuppah, she encircles the groom (called Hakafot) seven times.  This is indicative of the seven days God created the earth as well as the symbolical building of their world together.

The number seven is represented again in the Seven Blessings (Sheva Brachot).  These blessings speak of the creation of man and woman, Jerusalem, the joy of children, love, friendship and commitment before the community.  This is often an opportunity to invite loved ones to participate in the wedding ceremony by having each blessing read by different people.

The Betrothal (Erusin) has a blessing over wine – traditionally a symbol or joy and abundance – with the bride and groom both sipping from the same cup (kiddush).  Also the rings are exchanged.  The signed ketubah is then presented.

The breaking of the glass is probably the most familiar part of a Jewish wedding.   This tradition is seen as a reminder that even on the happiest occasions, life also brings sadness and sorrow.  The shattering of the glass symbolizes the fragility of relationships and to remember that marriage is delicate and should be nurtured and cherished.  It also symbolizes the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem.  At the sound of the breaking glass, guests shout “mazel tov!” and clap, and the recessional begins.

“Mazel Tov!”


Special thanks for Next Exit Photography for their gorgeous images!