“Mazel Tov!” One of the most popular Hebrew sayings in the Jewish religion. For those who don’t know, it means “Congratulations!” and can also encourage good luck. It’s a saying that you’ll hear time and time again at bar/bat mitzvahs, ceremonies, Jewish engagement parties, and the sought after Jewish Wedding Ceremony. It’s one of the many Jewish Wedding Traditions that exist within the Jewish Religion.
Now when we say “many Jewish Wedding Traditions” we truly mean MANY. Every religion, especially more conservative sects, instill a multitude of traditions. Each tradition represents a specific element, biblical story, or specific event that took place in that religion’s past. Some traditions bring forth good luck, some prevent bad luck, and others preserve memories from the past. There can be many reasons to why a tradition is invented and sometimes there are zero. We honor these traditions because we want to honor our friends, family, and religious higher powers.
I can’t even begin to tell you how many Jewish Weddings I’ve shot over the course of my thirteen years in the business. I’d like to consider myself a Jewish Wedding Photographer. Especially with the amount of Jewish Wedding Traditions and Elements of which have been the focus of my photography. Jewish Weddings are special. There is an abundance of family value that is manifested during these weddings. This family value translates to happiness and love, which are both emotions that I love capturing.
SmashingTheGlass Showcases Jewish Wedding Traditions
Recently, Susan Shek Photography and one of my couples were featured on Smashingtheglass.com As one of the number one Jewish Wedding Blogs on the internet, this is the website you should go to when you want to learn about Jewish Wedding Traditions.
You’ll get the chance to explore a variety of Jewish Weddings from all around the world, including NYC Jewish Weddings, LA Jewish Weddings, Israeli Jewish Weddings and Destination Jewish Weddings. The weddings range anywhere from super luxurious to intimate weddings. You’ll even get the chance to explore different types of Jewish Weddings. They showcase reformed, conservative, orthodox, and Hassidic weddings. They showcase multi-cultural weddings such as Jewish-Muslim weddings, Jewish-Hindu Weddings, Jewish-Christian Weddings, and LGBT-Jewish Weddings. You’ll literally find everything on this amazing blog.
So here we go! Below are a variety of popular Jewish Wedding Traditions. The first four are traditions that you’ll typically find at all Jewish Weddings. The more conservative and strict someone is about their Jewish Religion, the more traditions you’ll find practiced. The fifth section below focuses on those traditions.
Happy Jewish Wedding Planning!
The Ketubah is a Jewish Prenuptial Agreement that showcases the promises a groom will make to his bride. It outlines the values and fundamentals that will be held within the marriage, but it also outlines what will happen if a divorce comes about. As a Jewish Wedding Photographer, I find this moment to be an important one to photograph. It represents the first time a couple is making a legal promise of love to each other. This can manifest both fear and happiness, which when combined, make for a lovely photographable moment.
As a Jewish Wedding Photographer, I love photographing The Chuppah. Why do I love photographing this Jewish Wedding Element? Because most Chuppahs are original pieces of art that family, friends, or a special Chuppah Designer will create. So, what is a Chuppah?
A Chuppah is a canopy that a Jewish couple will marry each other under. It contains four posts and a covered roof, to represent the new home that a Jewish couple will begin building. Sometimes the canopy covering the roof will be made of Tallit (a prayer shawl). This belongs to family and friends. On some occasions, you’ll see the entire chuppah being held up by family and friends. This represents the support you should receive from these loved ones.
There are many Jewish Wedding Traditions that take place underneath the Chuppah. The first involves the walk to the Chuppah. Typically, the groom’s parents will walk their son down the aisle to the Chuppah. Then the bride follows behind with her parents. The second involves the vows underneath the Chuppah. This is where the vows will be read and the ceremony will be held, which is led by the Rabbi. The third tradition is called Circling (not everybody practices this). This involves the Jewish Bride circling her Jewish Groom 3 or 7 times. This represents the protection against evil spirits and “glances from other women.”
Chuppahs can come in many shapes and sizes. So, the next time you go to a Jewish Wedding, look for the Chuppah and embrace the originality of its design.
Smashing The Glass
The Smashing of The Glass is a classic Jewish Wedding Tradition that you’ll pretty much see at all weddings. Some people say it represents the destruction of the Temple in Israel, while others say it represents the fact that marriage is supposed to have both happy and sad moments. Because of these happy and sad moments, a Jewish Couple should stick together no matter what.
The Smashing of the Glass happens at the end of a Jewish Wedding Ceremony. This is usually everyone’s favorite part because it means the wedding party will soon begin.
Who doesn’t love dancing the hora?! This is my absolute favorite tradition at Jewish Weddings. Even as a Jewish Wedding Photographer, I jump in to dance the hora with my couples (only when I have a second shooter, to make sure this upbeat and exciting tradition is on camera).
The Hora is a Jewish Wedding Tradition that takes place at any Jewish Celebratory Event. It’s a traditional dance that involves linking hands and dancing in a circle. The circles become bigger and bigger as more participants join in. There is also a traditional song that plays during the Hora called the Hava Nagila. During the Hora, family and friends bring chairs to the center of the circle. They then lift the bride and groom up into the air. You’ll typically see the strongest men in the room holding up these chairs. They will bounce the chairs up and down, which is nothing short of extreme joy.
Other Traditions (Fasting, Bedeken, Seven Blessings, Yichud)
There are so many Jewish Wedding Traditions, that we won’t be able to name them all. Many of the other traditions only take place in stricter and more conservative sects of Judaism such as Ultra-Orthodox, Orthodox, and Hasidic Judaism.
Fasting is a tradition that involves the bride and groom not eating on their wedding day until the ceremony first meal.
The Bedeken is a tradition where the groom will partake in veiling his bride before the ceremony. This is a tradition that roots from the Old Testament when the love of Jacob tricks him into marrying her sister. You cannot fool a groom with the act of this tradition.
During the Jewish Wedding Ceremony, friends and family address The Seven Blessings which are a sequence of important prayers. The Sheva B’rachot is the combination of these blessings. A variety of loved ones read these out loud. Each blessing represents the future of love, happiness, and joy.
The Yichud is a Jewish Wedding Tradition where a bride and groom will spend exactly eighteen minutes together in privacy after their ceremony, to reflect on their new marriage. This is an opportunity to relax and embrace the sanctity of their marriage.
The Tisch is a part of the many Jewish Wedding Traditions that take place before the Wedding Ceremony. Before the wedding, the bride and groom will typically separate into their own rooms. The bride will typically have a lively reception with her loved ones, while she sits on a throne. The Tisch is the ceremony that takes place for the groom. Typically a groom will sit at a table across from his father and the bride’s father. Surrounding the table are all of the groom’s male friends and close family members (modernists will invite women to this ceremony too). It is customary for a groom to give a scholarly speech about love and life, but it is usually interrupted by the men in the room with joyous songs and laughter.