HomeJanuary 2014Modern Jewish Wedding

Modern Jewish Wedding

The “breaking of the glass” is a familiar and favorite tradition in Jewish weddings.  After the ceremony and before the reception begins, the groom stomps a shrouded glass with a satisfying crunch for the room to hear.  Many beautiful traditions from our Jewish heritage give deeper meaning to our ceremonies and celebrations.  Here are my favorite Jewish wedding traditions with a few ideas for modern couples.
Kabbalt Panim (Greeting Faces) – Every bride wants to be Queen for A Day.  Did you know that the concept is a Jewish one?  In ancient ceremonies, the bride sat upon a throne-like chair, and friends and family of the bride came and greeted her.  A modern update is a little pre-wedding celebration and beautification (mani-pedi? updo’s?) for the bride and her gals.  Toast the bride with a little bubbly to make it special.
Hakafah – A little like “Ring Around the Rosy.”  This tradition symbolizes the creation of a new sacred family circuit.  The bride circles her groom seven times as she enters the chuppah.  In modern weddings, the bride and groom circle one another, creating a sacred space around each another in front of the symbolism of their new home, the chuppah.
Chuppah, which means covering in Hebrew, is the most recognizable symbol of a Jewish wedding.  Designing a chuppah with your fiance is a special way to create something symbolic and beautiful together.  Unlike many other Jewish ritual objects, there are no legal requirements for the chuppah.  It can be, symbolic or fun, adorned or simple.  It can represent who you are, or aspire to be, as a couple.  You can make your chuppah just wide enough to hold the two of you and your officiant, or you can make it roomy and invite your entire wedding party to join you underneath the canopy.  You can have a freestanding chuppah or invite honored family and friends to hold it over you.
Yihud means seclusion.  Traditionally, it was inappropriate for unmarried men and women to be alone together; so, as soon as the bride and groom exited the chuppah, they would go immediately into a room of seclusion, symbolizing their new status as a married couple.  No photographers, videographers or mothers allowed! Look into one another’s eyes, take a deep breath and pause, reveling in the moment.  Also consider enjoying some of the food and drinks you won’t have time to enjoy once you join your reception, which will already be in full swing when you walk through the doors.
Create a Mezzuzah. After the glass is broken, don’t throw away those shards.  Instead, have your trusted wedding planner collect them and use them to create a Mezzuzah for your new home or bedroom door.  There are a number of beautiful, modern Mezzuzahs that will compliment your style or décor.
Finally, an important part of the wedding ceremony is the recitation of the Shevra Brachot (the seven blessings). In very traditional families the wedding reception is ended with the same recitation of the seven blessings before the departure of the bride and groom.  Rather than chant the traditional seven blessings for a second time, have guests give their own verbal blessings to the wedding couple.  The blessing I remember the most from this tradition at my wedding: “May you always be happier than you are right now!”
Michele Schwartz is founder and editor of The Modern Jewish Wedding and event planner in Austin, Texas. She was a 2013 ESPRIT Award Finalist-Best Social Event.


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