Jewish wedding is full of meaningful Jewing wedding vows,
rituals, symbolizing the beauty of the relationship of husband
and wife, as well as their obligations to each other and to the
guide explains the beauty and joy of these the Jewish wedding
traditions and Jewing wedding vows.
wedding day heralds the happiest and holiest day of one's life.
This day is considered a personal Yom Kippur for the chatan
(Hebrew for groom) and kallah (bride), for on this day all
their past mistakes are forgiven as they merge into a new,
complete soul. In a sense the entire series of events present
the Jewish wedding vows.
As on Yom
Kippur, both the chatan and kallah fast (in this case, from
dawn until after the completion of the marriage ceremony). And
at the ceremony, the chatan wears a kittel, the traditional
white robe worn on Yom Kippur. Here the Jewish wedding vows are
used to convey a long heritage of Jewish life.
not have the custom to fast and wear a kittel.]
customary for the chatan and kallah not to see each other for
one week preceding the wedding. This increases the anticipation
and excitement of the event. Therefore, prior to the wedding
ceremony, the chatan and kallah greet guests separately. This
is called "Kabbalat Panim."
tradition likens the couple to a queen and king. The kallah
will be seated on a "throne" to receive her guests, while the
chatan is surrounded by guests who sing and toast him. Jewish
wedding vows are the culmination of the whole series of
At this time
there is an Ashkenazi tradition for the mother of the bride and
the mother of the groom to stand together and break a plate.
The reason is to show the seriousness of the commitment -- just
as a plate can never be fully repaired, so too a broken
relationship can never be fully repaired. Jewish wedding vows
relate both to the past and commit to the future.
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Next comes the
badeken, the veiling of the kallah by the chatan. The veil
symbolizes the idea of modesty and conveys the lesson that
however attractive physical appearances may be, the soul and
character are paramount. It is reminiscent of Rebecca covering
her face before marrying Isaac (Genesis ch. 29). The essense of
the Jewish wedding vows emerge as much from the ritual actions
as well as the Jewish wedding vows words of
custom is that the chatan, accompanied by family and friends,
proceeds to where the kallah is seated and places the veil over
her face. This signals the groom's commitment to clothe and
protect his wife.
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ceremony takes place under the chuppah (canopy), a symbol of
the home that the new couple will build together. It is open on
all sides, just as Abraham and Sarah had their tent open all
sides to welcome people in unconditional
custom is to have the chuppah ceremony outside under the stars,
as a sign of the blessing given by God to the patriarch
Abraham, that his children shall be "as the stars of the
heavens"(Genesis 15:5). Sefardim generally have the chuppah
custom is that the chatan and kallah wear no jewelry under the
chuppah (marriage canopy). Their mutual commitment is based on
who they are as people, not on any material
followed by the kallah, are usually escorted to the chuppah by
their respective sets of parents.
chuppah, the Ashkenazi custom is that the kallah circles the
chatan seven times. Just as the world was built in seven days,
the kallah is figuratively building the walls of the couple's
new world together. The number seven also symbolizes the
wholeness and completeness that they cannot attain
then settles at the chatan's right-hand side.
point, the Sefardic custom is that the chatan says the blessing
She'hecheyanu over a new tallit, and has in mind that the
blessing also goes on the marriage. The tallit is then held by
four young men over the head of the chatan and
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Blessings of Betrothal
Two cups of
wine are used in the wedding ceremony. The first cup
accompanies the betrothal blessings, recited by the rabbi.
After these are recited, the couple drinks from the
Wine, a symbol
of joy in Jewish tradition, is associated with Kiddush, the
sanctification prayer recited on Shabbat and festivals.
Marriage, called Kiddushin, is the sanctification of a man and
woman to each other.
Leading up to
the Jewish wedding vows is a major part of the whole
Giving of the
In Jewish law,
a marriage becomes official when the chatan gives an object of
value to the kallah. This is traditionally done with a ring.
The ring should be made of plain gold, without blemishes or
ornamentation (e.g. stones) -- just as it is hoped that the
marriage will be one of simple beauty.
The chatan now
takes the wedding ring in his hand, and in clear view of two
witnesses, declares to the kallah, "Behold, you are betrothed
unto me with this ring, according to the law of Moses and
Israel." He then places the ring on the forefinger of the
bride's right hand. According to Jewish law, this is the
central moment of the wedding ceremony, and at this point the
couple is fully married.
If the kallah
also wants to give a ring to the chatan, this is only done
afterwards, not under the chuppah. This is to prevent confusion
as to what constitutes the actual marriage, as prescribed by
To many the
giving of the ring is the focal point of the Jewish wedding
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Now comes the
reading of the ketubah (marriage contract) in the original
Aramaic text. The ketubah outlines the chatan's various
responsibilities -- to provide his wife with food, shelter and
clothing, and to be attentive to her emotional needs.
Protecting the rights of a Jewish wife is so important that the
marriage may not be solemnized until the contract has been
is signed by two witnesses, and has the standing of a legally
binding agreement. The ketubah is the property of the kallah
and she must have access to it throughout their marriage. It is
often written amidst beautiful artwork, to be framed and
displayed in the home.
The reading of
the ketubah acts as a break between the first part of the
ceremony -- Kiddushin ("betrothal"), and the latter part --
As you can
see, Jewish wedding vows take several steps to
Blessings (Sheva Brachot) are now recited over the second cup
of wine. The theme of these blessings links the chatan and
kallah to our faith in God as Creator of the world, Bestower of
joy and love, and the ultimate Redeemer of our
blessings are recited by the rabbi or other people that the
families wish to honor.
conclusion of the seven blessings, the chatan and kallah again
drink some of the wine.
Click here for
audio versions of the Sheva Brachot, as well as a printable PDF
of the text in Hebrew, English, and transliteration.
A glass is now
placed on the floor, and the chatan shatters it with his foot.
This serves as an expression of sadness at the destruction of
the Temple in Jerusalem, and identifies the couple with the
spiritual and national destiny of the Jewish people. A Jew,
even at the moment of greatest rejoicing, is mindful of the
Psalmist's injunction to "set Jerusalem above my highest
In jest, some
explain that this is the last time the groom gets to "put his
the Ashkenazi custom is that the glass is broken earlier, prior
to the reading of the ketubah. Sefardim always break the glass
at the end of the ceremony, even in Israel.)
This marks the
conclusion of the ceremony. With shouts of "Mazel Tov," the
chatan and kallah are then given an enthusiastic reception from
the guests as they leave the chuppah together.
The couple is
then escorted to a private "yichud room" and left alone for a
few minutes. These moments of seclusion signify their new
status of living together as husband and wife.
Here is the
basis for Jewish wedding vows.
couple has been fasting since the morning, at this point they
will also have something to eat.
not have the custom of the yichud room; the chatan and kallah
immediately proceed to the wedding hall after the chuppah
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The Festive Meal
It is a
mitzvah for guests to bring simcha (joy) to the chatan and the
kallah on their wedding day. There is much music and dancing as
the guests celebrate with the new couple; some guests entertain
with feats of juggling and acrobatics.
meal, Birkat Hamazon (Grace After Meals) is recited, and the
Sheva Brachot are repeated.
week following the wedding, it is customary for friends and
relatives to host festive meals in honor of the chatan and
kallah. This is called the week of Sheva Brachot, in reference
to the blessings said at the conclusion of each of these
If both the
bride and groom are marrying for the second time, sheva brachot
are recited only on the night of the wedding. The last bracha,
Asher Bara, can be recited for three days.
the process of Jewish wedding vows.
to www.AISH.com for their excellent article adapted
here. See their site for more information on Jewish wedding
vows and ceremonies.