A Jewish wedding is a tapestry woven from many threads: biblical, historical, mystical and legal. Threads forming a chain of Jewish continuity which goes back more than 3,800 years. Here’s a brief overview of the major components of the Jewish wedding.

Pre-Chupah Reception

The wedding begins with a reception—actually two receptions: one for the bride and one for the groom. (Traditionally, the two don’t see each other for a week prior to their wedding.)

After the reception, the groom goes and covers the bride’s face with a veil, emphasizing that he is not interested solely in her external beauty, but rather in her inner beauty which she will never lose.

The Chupah

She creates an invisible wall around the groom, into which she will step—to the exclusion of all others.The groom and then the bride are escorted to the chupah (wedding canopy) by a candle-bearing “honor guard,” usually the couple’s parents. In Ashkenazic communities, the bride circles the groom several times, creating an invisible wall, into which she will step—to the exclusion of all others.

The officiating rabbi recites the betrothal blessing. The groom then places the wedding band on the bride’s finger. “With this ring,” he says, “you are consecrated to me according to the law of Moses and Israel.”

The ketubah (marriage contract) is then read aloud. The ketubah details the husband’s principal obligations to provide for his wife.

The final step is the recitation of the “Seven Benedictions” over a cup of wine. The groom then stomps on and shatters a glass cup—a reminder of the destruction of the Holy Temple, lest we forget it in a moment of joy—as everyone shouts: Mazel Tov!”

The bride and groom then adjourn to a room, where they spend a few minutes alone.


Participating in a wedding and gladdening the hearts of the newlyweds is a great mitzvah. When the couple enters, they are greeted with music and dancing—the men with the groom, and the women with the bride. Everyone is encouraged to participate in the dancing and merrymaking.

Grace after Meals

The reception is followed by the Grace after Meals and the recitation of the same seven blessings recited earlier.

For more detailed Jewish wedding information, see The Jewish Wedding: Step-By-Step.