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Customs for Second Marriages

Customs for Second Marriages


The grandest wedding ever witnessed by mankind occurred when G‑d descended upon Mount Sinai to give the Torah. G‑d was the groom, and on that day He "married" His beloved nation. The Tablets engraved with the Ten Commandments served as the wedding contract. The Tablets given on that occasion were presented amidst a spectacular sound and light show and exciting pageantry. Forty days later they were shattered. The Second Tablets were presented unpretentiously and without fanfare, and withstood the test of time.

In our personal lives, we all hope and pray that our first marriage contract also be our last one. Sometimes, however, life's circumstances dictate otherwise. One of the lessons we can draw from the Sinai marriage is that in a situation where both spouses have experienced marriages which have been "broken," it is advisable to give subsequent attempts a more modest introduction.

The joy isn't any less the second time around; only more private and sereneThus, traditionally, the primary difference between first and subsequent weddings is the noticeable reduction in the pomp and festivities which accompany the marriage ceremony, as well as the reduced number of invited guests. This doesn't imply that the joy is any less the second time around; only that that the joy is more private and serene.

There are several other minor ritualistic differences between first and ensuing weddings. The following differences – some of which are law, others custom – only apply when both spouses had been previously married:

  • On the Shabbat before the wedding the groom receives an aliyah, but no sweets are thrown at him.
  • The bride doesn't wear a white gown.1
  • The badeken ceremony is omitted. A veil is placed over the bride's face before the chupah, but not by the groom.
  • The chupah is held indoors. The common custom is that children of the bride and groom do not attend the chupah ceremony (they may attend the reception following the ceremony)—possibly out of consideration for the emotional turmoil and conflict they may experience.2
  • The sheva brachot blessings are only recited beneath the chupah and after the wedding meal. The bride and groom, however, are required to rejoice and celebrate their marriage for the next three days.

This custom is not universal.


Exceptions to this custom can certainly be made if the children express a strong desire to attend.

Rabbi Naftali Silberberg is a writer, editor and director of the curriculum department at the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute. Rabbi Silberberg resides in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife, Chaya Mushka, and their three children.
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L July 17, 2017

What is the source for this:
"The common custom is that children of the bride and groom do not attend the chupah ceremony (they may attend the reception following the ceremony)—possibly out of consideration for the emotional turmoil and conflict they may experience." Reply

Yehuda Shurpin for August 7, 2017
in response to L:

This is a widely practiced custom which seems to be first mentioned in the sefer Minhagei Varmeiza (Worms) p. 51. This work contains many of the customs of the old Jewish community of Worms. Reply

Dov Bet Shemesh, Israel August 8, 2017
in response to L:

There are also many authorities nowadays that say not to worry about this, especially when the reasons that are given (emotions of the kids, emotions of the parents) are not relevant or when in fact there will be more emotional turmoil caused by being left out. Reply

Rabbi Yossi Grossbaum, for Folsom, CA March 1, 2017

Marriage post conversion If one was getting married for the second time but first time was pre-conversion it would mostly depend on the feelings of the couple whether they would like to consider it a first wedding or not. However, this would only be true regarding the aspects of the wedding that are based on custom. But for the blessings of Sheva Brachot, which involve invoking G-d's name, it would have to be considered a second wedding. Best to discuss the details with the Orthodox Rabbi who will be perform the wedding. Reply

Mindi Richmond February 27, 2017

What would be the minhag for a second marriage in which both partners are Jewish, but one by conversion, and that person's first marriage and divorce were pre-conversion. Would that count as the customs for a first marriage? Reply

Eliezer Zalmanov for May 28, 2015

To Anonymous in Milwaukee The custom not to cover the bride's face is based on the assumption that she will want to see the proceedings, especially the value of the ring being given to her.

The should still not see each or talk to each for the week preceding. Reply

Anonymous milwaukee May 28, 2015

How come the Chosson does not cover the kallah's face? Is there a week of no speaking or seeing each other? Reply

Janice Colorado January 5, 2015

Divorce Sorry for you and your sons past pain. Glad for recovery and new happiness. Janice never said, stay in the home with abusive ; there are many who agreed to separation for the purpose of counseling ; it provides opportunity for the whole family to be healed. This is the best; teshuva..Forgiveness not Catholic nor Christian, assumption; forgiven. Not every abuser is male; abuse knows no gender. Unfair? By who's definition? not totally wrong; I helped in adult and children's divorce recovery; I have seen and felt the pain of those divorced; we've seen some females had neglectful or abusive fathers; and unconscionably; those men who had signs of being abusive before the marriage; is called the butterfly and syndrome. When a nation is being destroyed for extremely frivolous reasons for divorce (which abuse is not) there's a need to swing back in divorce laws with children more strictly; otherwise we'll destroy ourselves. Very familiar with the goodness of Judaism. Reply

Michele Boynton Beach, FL January 1, 2015

Comments on customs for 2nd marriages The comment made by Janice is unfair and wrong. Judaism, unlike the Catholic Church, had made specific provisions for divorce, thereby acknowledging that there are times that decision must and should be made and staying in an abusive or harmful marriage is not good for either person, and especially not for the children. When I got my Get my son said I should have done it sooner. You build strong, responsible families and children by showing them that life and people aren't perfect and you make tough choices, but you go on. I didn't plan for a subsequent marriage, but I am so grateful that I did eventually find the right person. Counseling doesn't always work, especially with mentally ill people and you are stigmatized at times in the Jewish community for that too. My community, kid's yeshiva, friends and family (even his brother) were all behind me. It was a tough road, but my kids are better not seeing the strife and battles. My oldest is a wonderful father and husband. Reply

Michele Boynton Beach, FL January 1, 2015

not correct My husband and I were happily remarried by a frum Rav who brought his entire family. We had a badeken (he said nothing about skipping it). I wore blue as it is my favorite color. I wrote the ketubah in beautiful calligraphy (our Rav checked it). Our children were all present. They stayed farther back but they were all there, so you could say they weren't "there" as they were not up close. We got married on the beach and essentially invited the world-we sent e-vites and had enough food for an army. We think there were over a 100 people. People brought friends we didn't know who were so happy to witness a simcha. I danced on a table. We had music blaring from a boombox with a selection of songs we liked. We all roasted marshmallows over the grill. Do what you want and be happy. The best part was unscripted-the kids smiling and hugging us (we have pics) and my husband's surprise speech about how wonderful I am and how lucky he is. This article is wrong, off-point, & boring. Ignore it. Reply

Naomi New York April 25, 2017
in response to Michele:

your second wedding I don't know if the article is wrong for everyone, but I agree with you. It made me feel as if a second wedding is but a pale shadow of the first. A kind of, well, since you messed up the first time, you'd better not celebrate too much this time around. My first wedding was no big show, but I plan to celebrate exactly the way I want to the second time around. Why not? What a gift to find someone I love and someone who loves me--even though our childrearing days are behind us. Your wedding was filled with friends and joy--what could be better than that?
Mazel tov! Reply

Janice Colorado December 31, 2014

Customs for 2nd marriages??? This gives licence to 1st Divorce; no customs should be made; if you marry a divorced person who never when through conseling; you must realized, you can't heal them; so you marrry someone who doen't admit their wrongs; make effort to change; and the statiscs are pretty bad for 2nd marriage, so why plan for them? Stats are worse for 3rd marriages; who suffers the chidlren; ist not just counseling for initional pain; but at every major stage of new growth; the original pain returns; planning for 2nd and 3rd marriages is planning for nations destruction Strong families provide for strong nations; that's why we have youth being taught gender confusion in the policial schools. Have to stop saying it is ok; is not. Reply

B September 19, 2017
in response to Janice:

Second marriages can also be for people who's spouse passed away and, not only about divorce. Reply

Chaya Sarah Silberberg West Bloomfield, MI August 31, 2012

appropriate colors I contacted the author of the article, and he stated that not wearing white for a second marriage is a fairly localized custom and is far from universal. You might want to check with a local rabbi to see if there is a particular custom in your community. Otherwise, if you wish to wear white (or any other color), go ahead and do so... Reply

Anonymous Drexel Hill, PA August 28, 2012

appropriate 2nd marriage gown colors I know you do not wear white for a second marriage. Are there certain colors that are appropriate or not? Reply

Baruch S. Davidson for March 10, 2010

Re: What about Sheva Brachos Typically, if the women was never previously married, then the regular seven days of Sheva Brachos apply. Reply

Racheli Jerusalem, Israel March 7, 2010

What about Sheva Brochos What if the man was married before and the women wasn't? Are there 7 full days of sheva brachos? Reply

Dov Beit Shemesh, Israel January 3, 2010

Talk to a Rabbi, and don't worry! You need to talk to a Rabbi, and not worry about anything other than finding happiness and your true beshert.

Virtually all of the issues discussed here are Minhag (custom), not halacha (law). You're not obligated to have a smaller wedding, even if it is a common minhag. Many other issues also have various customs all of whom have a basis in sources (even if not Chabad sources).

This definitely includes kids at weddings, and wedding size, wearing a veil, and escorts down the isle.

A second marriage is a chance to put your life in the direction it should be. Don't look back, don't worry, just look forward.

While you do that, talking with a Rabbi should enable you to find meaning and pleasure in all the various customs and laws of second weddings. Reply

Anonymous Chicago January 3, 2010

Depressing I'm finding reading this very depressing. I converted with my husband, who only now after much counselling, I have separated from as I have accepted that he inflicted domestic violence upon me. We got married about a year ago in a simple ceremony, with only a minyan. We both had been married prior to this to non-jews, as non-jews. I have never had a proper wedding ceremony, with either marriages, my self-esteem so low, each marriage was not a big celebration because both husbands wanted quiet and simple. Now I am growing in self-esteem and realising how I was sold short, and now I read, that if I marry again then I have to have an even quieter marriage than the one I had with a minyan! I am 38 with 3 children, and the chances of finding a man who has never been married before seems slim. I am finding all that is written in this article very hard to digest. Reply

Baruch S. Davidson NYC November 22, 2009

Re: Bedeken The veil is placed by any of the women present. One of the sources for this is:
Shulchan Haezer vol. 2, p. 26

It should be noted that some have the custom that at a second marriage the bride doesn't wear a veil at all.

In the same source p. 31, he mentions the fact that even by a second marriage the bride and groom are accompanied by "unterfihrers" to the Chupa. Reply

Anonymous Manchester, OK November 21, 2009

Bedeken I didn't see an answer to Dina's question. If there is no bedeken, (is that a custom also sourced) who puts the veil on?

Also, where is the source for unterfuhrers? Reply

Baruch S. Davidson for NYC July 17, 2009

Re: Dov Excellent point. And that's exactly what gives it such acceptance and prominence.

Firstly, we don't do it because it's written in Minhagei Vermaiza. It's written in Minhagei Vermaiza because we do it. Minhagei Vermaiza is the earliest known documentation of this custom, but that doesn't mean it started with the writing of that Sefer.

More importantly, however, is that the fact that it has been carried on countless communities through the the hundreds of years since then is what makes it a custom and a very part of Jewish life, not the fact that it was written then.

For more on this topic, see: Why aren't customs reversible? Reply

Dov July 16, 2009

Thanks... ... I'll have to look at Shulchan HaEzer.

But the Minhagei Vermaiza is exactly what I meant - a single relatively obscure source, that we don't necessarily follow for other things, is the only source for a custom that everyone takes very seriously. Reply

Baruch S. Davidson for July 16, 2009

Re: Sources 1) The source for not throwing candies at the groom when getting his Aliyah before a second marriage is Shulchan Haezer vol. 2, p. 14.

2) The bride wearing a veil, though not placed by the groom: ibid, p. 26

3) Children not attending: brought as early as Minhagei Vermeiza (Worms) p. 51

4) The Sheva Brachos rules and the laws of rejoicing for three days are brought in Shulchan Aruch, Even Haezer, portions 62 and 64 respectively, and in the commentaries ad loc. Reply

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