Everything You Need To Know About Jewish Wedding Traditions

If you’re a Jewish bride-to-be who’s busy wedding planning, there are several Jewish wedding traditions to think about incorporating into your big day. As top wedding photographers here in NYC, we photograph many amazing Jewish weddings. So today we thought we’d walk you through some of the most popular traditions while sharing photos of our gorgeous couples.

Take a look…

Table of Contents

The Ketubah Signing

The Ketubah Signing is considered the most important part of the Jewish wedding ceremony and it takes place before any of the festivities start. It’s a symbolic marriage contract that’s part of Jewish civil (not religious) law. 

This contract outlines the responsibilities a groom has to his bride as well as the bride’s rights. Primarily, it establishes the groom’s financial obligations to her in the event of his death or if the couple should choose to divorce. Two witnesses are to be present while the couple signs the ketubah. Later during the ceremony, it’s read out loud to everyone present.

signing the Ketubah

The Tisch

The Tisch is a pre-wedding celebration that the groom hosts for his male friends, relatives, and the Rabbi. The word Tisch means “table”, and that’s just what this part of the wedding day is about. It’s a tradition where guests gather around a table to eat and drink, catch up on what’s been going on in their lives, and congratulate the groom. The atmosphere is usually very energetic, and there’s typically a lot of singing and dancing that goes on. Afterward, the groom will leave to see his bride for the first time on their wedding day!

Not all grooms choose to have a Tisch. Some opt to greet guests arriving for the wedding instead. The choice to have a Tisch or not really depends on the couple and their individual preferences.

tisch jewish wedding
jewish tisch
what is a tisch jewish weddings

Bedeken

The groom will veil the face of his bride during the ketubah signing. Bedeken means “to veil”, and it symbolizes that the groom loves the bride for who she is inside. This Jewish wedding tradition is from the Bible. There is a story of Jacob who was fooled into marrying his true love’s sister. She had been wearing a veil, and he mistook her for the woman that he wanted to marry. Tradition is that if the groom veils the bride, he can’t be fooled!

bedeken
bedeken tradition

The Chuppah

The Chuppah is a canopy that the couple exchanges vows beneath. It’s meant to symbolize a home and a life that the bride and groom will build together. 

The chuppah is sometimes made of a prayer shawl belonging to the bride, groom, or one of their family members. But it can really be designed any way – with flowers, greenery or other beautiful decorations.

The groom is often walked down the aisle by his parents. Once he is standing under the chuppah, the bride is walked down the aisle by her parents. Some couples choose to have both sets of parents stand alongside them during the ceremony.

chuppah ideas
chuppah

Circling

While standing under the chuppah, the bride will often circle around the groom several times. Many see this as a symbol of creating a new family.

circling in jewish wedding
jewish circling wedding

Exchanging Rings

Gold, silver, or platinum are traditionally used for Jewish wedding rings. Some couples choose not to use stones in their rings, as in ancient days the ring was considered the price of the bride. Its weight determined the price (and that could be less if there were stones inside the band)!

Seven Blessings

Sheva Brachot, or the Seven Blessings, are a series of blessings about love and joy recited at Jewish weddings. They start with a blessing over a cup of wine and are spoken by family and friends.

seven blessings jewish wedding

Breaking of the Glass & Mazel Tov

The breaking of the glass is one of the most well-known Jewish wedding traditions. Once the ceremony concludes, the groom will step on a glass that’s inside of a cloth bag.

Some people believe that this custom symbolizes the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in ancient times. Others believe that the idea behind this is that once wed, there are no more barriers between husband and wife. 

After the glass is broken, guests will cheer “Mazel tov!” as a way to congratulate the couple. 

jewish wedding traditions breaking glass

Yichud

Yichud means “seclusion”, and that’s exactly how the bride and groom spend their first few minutes together immediately after the ceremony. They will often go into a private room or area to sit, talk and take in all of the excitement of the day. This gives them a chance to celebrate privately before joining their guests at the reception. Some couples choose to share their first meal or a snack together during the yichud.

yichud

Hora

At the reception, guests will celebrate by dancing in a circle. This is called the hora, and it’s a Jewish folk dance. The word “hora” means circle. The hora has been danced for centuries and it is traditionally done during weddings, bar mitzvahs, and other celebratory occasions. 

The hora typically starts with the dancers forming a circle around the dance floor and holding hands to form a chain. They then rotate in one direction until they are all facing outwards again before starting to move counter-clockwise around the outside of the circle. There are many variations of how people choose to do this dance, however. 

During the dance, the bride and groom sit in chairs while holding cloth napkins. Then their guests lift them up into the air in celebration.

hora jewish dance

Booking us ensures your Jewish wedding memories will be captured with the best quality and care.

We hope this list of Jewish wedding traditions helps you plan a fabulous big day!

At Julian Ribinik Studios, we specialize in Jewish wedding photography. We’ve been in the business for a long time and we know how to capture those special moments that you’ll cherish forever! Contact us today to book your date with us!

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