Jewish Weddings

The civil preliminaries apply; a synagogue is the usual venue for the ceremony but less traditional weddings take place at secular locations such as hotels.

The format of a Jewish wedding depends upon the branch of Judaism to which the bride and/or groom belong. Sundays and Tuesdays are the most popular days to marry; the Sabbath, Holy Days and fasting periods are not permitted.

It is customary for the bride and groom not to see each other for at least a day before the wedding.

The bride and groom fast on the day, from first light until the ceremony, in repentance for past sins.

Guests should dress modestly. Shoulders should be covered and also, traditionally, married women's heads. Male guests cover their heads with a Yarmulke (skullcap). Men and women are often seated separately.

Rabbinical law requires that a Jewish wedding ceremony be performed under a Chuppah (a wedding canopy).

The Orthodox ceremony follows a fixed liturgy and will last about 45 minutes. The Minyan, a group of at least ten adult Jewish males, must be present.

The groom arrives with his father, who escorts him to stand under the Chuppah (under which no jewellery may be worn).

The groom approves the two witnesses and accepts the terms of the Ketubah (marriage contract). The raising of a pen or handkerchief, and the signing the

Ketubah by the witnesses, indicates this acceptance. The act is known as making a Kinyan.

Upon entering the synagogue, the bride is taken to the Bedekken room, the groom confirms her identity and the couple is blessed by the rabbi.

The service continues in the main synagogue into which the bride is traditionally escorted by the two mothers; at some weddings she will walk around the groom seven times under the Chuppah.

There is then a Chant of Welcome and the rabbi recites the betrothal blessings over a cup of wine from which the bride and groom drink.

The groom puts a ring on the forefinger of the bride's right hand in the presence of the witnesses and the rabbi. It is later transferred onto the left hand.

The rabbi recites the Seven Marriage Benedictions over a second cup of wine from which the couple drink, before the groom crushes a glass object (wrapped in a napkin) with his foot. The civil registers are then signed.

A meal after the ceremony is customary, and at least one Minyan should be present.

Celebrations include circle dancing, where the bride and groom are lifted above the heads of the guests.

If either is the last child in their family to marry, a dance is performed for the parents to celebrate the successful marriage of all of their children.

Debrett's wedding guide

Debrett's wedding guide

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Debrett's Notebooks

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