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What to Expect at a Jewish Wedding Ceremony (orthodox)

©David Simons; all rights reserved

Many non-Jewish people (and in fact some Jewish people) are invited to a Jewish Wedding for the first time and feel a bit anxious about what to expect.

Here is a quick guide to make you feel more comfortable and help you look forward to the joyful experience that is a Jewish Wedding.

Jewish weddings are very welcoming, but it is easier to look forward to if you know what to expect.

What are the main differences at the ceremony between an orthodox Jewish Wedding and a Christian Wedding? Here is a simple guide.

  • In an orthodox Jewish Wedding men and women will sit separately
  • Men will wear need to cover their heads with a Kippur - don't worry they are normally handed out on entry to the synagogue
  • Weddings take place on a Sunday not a Saturday
  • Dress Code can often be black tie

The ceremony itself is a very joyful engaging experience.

A Jewish Wedding is an amazing experience. It echoes the importance of family in the Jewish religion - as many of the close family will stand under the chuppah - which is a canopy within the synagogue where the ceremony takes place. The chuppah will be decorated with flowers. This open-sided tent has several meanings, such as a nomadic tent, the symbolic home of the couple or a way to show God's presence.

There may often be a choir and a cantor who leads the choir and the music can really be beautiful. Please note you won't hear "Here comes the bride".

The ceremony is very different to a Church wedding. Obviously a Rabbi will take the service. The bride in many orthodox services will circle the groom seven times. This symbolically is making him the centre of her life (note that some say that it symbolizes her protective care of her husband). The mothers of the bride and groom follow, showing that the family will be an integral part of that life.

Additionally the groom will stamp on a glass - This act serves as an expression of sadness at the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. A Jew, even at the moment of greatest rejoicing, should be mindful of the Psalmist's injunction to set Jerusalem above their highest joy. Finally the happy couple will sign a Ketubah - a written contract of promises.

The one similarity is that the bride and groom will swap rings.

This article was written by David Simons. For further information including articles, resources, DIY/budget ideas and more please visit the Jewish Wedding Directory website.

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