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Can Anyone Officiate at a Jewish Wedding?

Can Anyone Officiate at a Jewish Wedding?

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Question:

My fiancé and I were reading a book entitled —— that discusses Jewish weddings. It said that any Jewish person, not necessarily a rabbi, can perform the wedding ceremony. Is this true? Because if so, my fiancé and I would like very much to ask a dear relative of ours to conduct the service at our wedding.

Answer:

Mazel Tov on your engagement! May you spend a long lifetime of peace and harmony with one another, and build a beautiful home of love and cute Jewish kids!

I’m not familiar with the book you mention. I know that the Shulchan Aruch (that’s the standard code of Jewish law) states that a person must have permission from the rabbinical authorities of the town before performing a marriage. The Talmud states clearly that the laws of marriage are complex and an error can be very serious, and therefore “one who is not intimately familiar with these laws should not deal with them.”

On the other hand, once you have an orthodox rabbi who is expert and experienced with these laws present, you can ask your relative to officiate as an MC. He can make the speeches, direct the traffic and do all the other high-profile matters. The rabbi needs only to be there to ensure everything is done right. He will also be the signatory to your marriage certificate, so that it will be universally accepted.

I have personally done several weddings this way, and everyone was happy.

Visit our Marriage Section for more about the Jewish perspective on marriage, as well as its associated laws and traditions.

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman for Chabad.org

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at Chabad.org, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman's writing, visit Freeman Files subscription. FaceBook @RabbiTzviFreeman Periscope @Tzvi_Freeman .
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AJ Midwest June 18, 2014

Is a rabbi forbidden from officiating some weddings? On a similar note, is there any law that would prevent a rabbi from officiating at a wedding between two non-Jews? Reply

Anonymous Long Island, NY May 20, 2014

Any person performing a marriage must have the authority to do so by the municipality that issues the marriage license. Reply

steve abraham New York May 19, 2014

marriage In New York City, many people take courses and become Marriage Officiants. These are not Rabbis, but they have studied and have knowledge of the laws of marriage. Can one of these "marriage officiants" perform a marriage according to hallacha without a Rabbi present? Reply

Lisa Providence, RI April 30, 2013

Who Officiates at Jewish Weddings? My best recommendation is the rabbi or cantor Reply

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