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14 Facts You (Probably) Did Not Know About Jewish Weddings

14 Facts You (Probably) Did Not Know About Jewish Weddings

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1. Mini–Yom Kippur

A person’s wedding day is comparable to his or her personal Yom Kippur, on which all sins are forgiven. In fact, many follow the custom of fasting on this day.

2. Under the Stars

Photo: Flash90
Photo: Flash90

The wedding takes place under an open sky, with just a flimsy canopy (chuppah) covering the bride and groom. Among other things, this signifies the open home they plan to build together.

3. The Ring Is Crucial

Photo: Chaim Perl Photography/Chaimperl.com
Photo: Chaim Perl Photography/Chaimperl.com

The simple gold wedding band that the groom gives the bride during the ceremony is more than just a sign of marriage. The moment the bride accepts the ring (or any other item of worth, for that matter) is the moment that the marriage is actually effected.

4. All Written Up

The marriage contract (ketubah) enumerates the husband’s obligations to his wife during the marriage (conjugal, material and emotional), as well as afterwards (she gets compensated in the event of divorce or the husband’s death).

5. A Couple

(c) Coby Engelhart
(c) Coby Engelhart

The marriage is finalized in an act known as nisuin, in which the wife demonstrates her new status as a bride. This is expressed by standing under the chuppah, being alone as a couple, and even the fact that the brides wears a veil.

6. Smash!

(c) Coby Engelhart
(c) Coby Engelhart

The wedding ceremony comes to an end with the groom smashing a glass with his foot, a reminder that our Holy Temple is in ruins and that our nation remains fractured. Even in our most joyous moments, we must remember that our world is far from perfect.

7. A Gift

The bride traditionally gifts the groom a new prayer shawl (tallit). In some communities he wears it under the chuppah, and sometimes it is draped over both him and the bride.

8. Dancing Before the Bride

(c) Coby Engelhart
(c) Coby Engelhart

Dancing before the bride is considered an especially meritorious act, even taking precedence over Torah study. The Talmud enumerates how various sages would dance before brides with myrtle branches, torches and other accessories. Today, wedding dancing includes burning hats, silly hats and entire genre of silly stuff known as “wedding schtick.”

9. Sing Her Praises

(c) Coby Engelhart
(c) Coby Engelhart

It is customary to praise the bride to the groom, telling him what a beautiful, graceful, capable and wonderful wife he has. What to do if she is lacking in certain qualities? The sages have an answer: Stress the qualities she does have.

10. A Joining of Souls

What exactly is everyone celebrating? The Kabbalists teach that the husband and wife are each two halves of one soul. At their weddings, the two finally join—and they are whole for the first time.

11. Put Out Extra Tables

(c) Coby Engelhart
(c) Coby Engelhart

It’s traditional to put out lots of extra food and settings, so that people in need will feel comfortable joining the celebration and partaking of the feast.

12. Big Bread

Photo: Chaim Perl Photography/Chaimperl.com
Photo: Chaim Perl Photography/Chaimperl.com

In many circles, the feast officially begins with the groom reciting the Hamotzi blessing over a giant braided challah bread.

13. Seven Days of Fun

The celebration continues for seven days. Any time the bride and groom break bread together with a quorum of 10 men, the Grace After Meals is followed by Sheva Brachot—seven blessings said over glasses of wine, which the bride and groom then drink.

14. Like Royalty

(c) Coby Engelhart
(c) Coby Engelhart

“The groom is akin to a king,” goes the saying of the sages, and the same goes for the bride. So think twice before asking the bride to pass you a piece of sushi. She’s a queen this week, and deserves to be treated as such.

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Tomas México November 15, 2017

I thank you for the wedding’s information .... it’s great and helps to understand my marriage life .... Reply

Anonymous Yerushalyim August 21, 2016

What is the source for number 10 What exactly is everyone celebrating? The Kabbalists teach that the husband and wife are each two halves of one soul. At their weddings, the two finally join—and they are whole for the first time. Reply

Juergen Friedrich Germany August 19, 2016

Thank you for this inspiring list of 14 facts of marriage in jewish tradition. I for myself add another fact on top. True marriage represents to me the Divine Unit, after which man & woman have been created. Therefore I prefer the thought, true marriage happens in private, not in public.That's only show . Reply

Simcha Asher Israel August 17, 2016

Ask Hashem When is the time for me!? ;) Reply

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