Jewish Wedding Ceremony – the elements

Jewish religious wedding ceremonies are actually quite simple in structure and content, and this page sets out the main elements.

However, simplicity should not be confused with superficiality. A religious wedding ceremony should not be hastily planned, rushed through on the day, or be a process of just ‘going through the motions’ – that would be a mark of disrespect to all the people involved (including the couple), the ritual and traditions, and God, and would not augur well for the future of the couple’s relationship. A wedding is – or should be – a profound moment in the lives of the couple, and those around them. A deeply prepared ceremony, sincerely entered into, is an important part of making the ensuing marriage a success. It is a sanctification / hallowing – ‘holy-ing’ – of the union (hence its name, kidushin), and the weaving together of two life paths, two souls, two families, and many communities.

It is worth spending much time on the each detail of the ceremony, as well as considering the points made in Preparing for Marriage, the Jewish Wedding Ceremony Checklist, and Jewish Wedding Music Choices.

The two suggested service orders here are draft templates only, and are not set in stone. The beauty and meaning of the services emerge when a wedding ceremony is individually shaped and adapted to incorporate what is most meaningful to the couple and the people closest to them. Start with this and my other articles, and then talk with me about what you would like.

Ketubah

NB All this can be done during nissuin, bearing in mind that it would significantly lengthen the duration of the ceremony.

  • Immediate family and celebrant, in the presence of witnesses
  • Blessing, setting intention of the ketubah signing
  • Signed and witnessed
  • Blessing to complete the signing

NB In the blessings in the wedding ceremony, for interfaith weddings, blessings specifically about the people of Israel need to be adapted.

SERVICE 1

Erusin (the betrothal)
  1. Baruch Haba / Habaim (music?) + Mi Adir (music?)
  2. Avdu Adonai b’shimchah (music?)
  3. Welcome couple + prayer
  4. Shehecheyanu blessing
  5. Prayer for union of couple
  6. Option for short remarks by Celebrant (or before Sheva Brachot)
  7. Birkat Erusin – Blessing for erusin, sung over first cup of wine [not the second part, if an interfaith wedding] – couple drink from the kiddush cup
  8. Exchange of vows, and then rings (then music?)
Nissuin (the marriage ceremony)
  1. Option to explain and read ketubah
  2. Option for celebrant’s address
  3. Sheva brachot (seven blessings) – sung over the second cup of wine – couple drinks from the cup – Celebrant prayer for couple
  4. Option to explain and read ketubah
  5. Celebrant announces couple as husband and wife
  6. Priestly Blessing – Y’varech’cha adonai
  7. Silent prayer
  8. Break glass

SERVICE 2

  1. Baruch Haba / Habaim (music?) + Mi Adir (music?)
  2. Avdu Adonai b’shimchah (music?)
  3. Welcome couple + prayer
  4. Shehecheyanu blessing
  5. Prayer for union of couple
  6. Sheva brachot (seven blessings) – sung over the second cup of wine – couple drinks from the cup – Celebrant prayer for couple
  7. Exchange of vows, and then rings (then music?)
  8. Option for short remarks by Celebrant (or before Sheva Brachot)
  9. Option to explain and read ketubah
  10. Priestly Blessing – Y’varech’cha adonai
  11. Silent prayer
  12. Break glass

Yichud (togetherness)

The couple goes to a room, sometimes guarded by two friends, for a short time of privacy together, their first since they have become husband and wife. If the couple has been fasting, this is a time to break the fast together with snacks and drink provided for them in the secluded room.

As part of your preparation, you might also like to read:

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