A wedding is a tradition in and of itself, but within a wedding there are many opportunities for a couple to connect to their history, heritage, family, and values. We’re excited about our new series, Wedding Traditions, where real brides and grooms share the traditions they included in their big day, and what the tradition means to them.
Photo: Kat Braman
Says Bride, Erin: Most of the things we incorporated into our ceremony are traditional for a Jewish wedding. Alex and I felt it was very important to maintain traditional values seeing that we were both raised in a Jewish household and plan on maintaining a Jewish family. During our ceremony, we received our seven blessings under Alex’s grandfather’s tallis. It was the same tallis that he wore at his Bar Mitzvah.
The wedding ceremony concluded with breaking the glass. There are many explanations for this tradition. The broken glass reminds us of the destruction of the temple and often trudges have befallen the Jewish people; even times of great joy we remember times of sorrow. Also, a broken glass cannot be mended; likewise marriage is irrevocable. The fragility of glass also suggest the fragility of human relationships. The glass is broken to protect the marriage with the silent prayer. “As Glass shatters, so may our marriage never break/” After the groom has broken the glass, it is traditional to shout “Mzazel Tov” which means good luck.
Erin and Alex also included these Jewish traditions in their ceremony:
Before the bride and groom enter the chuppah, the bride circles around the groom seven times. Circling is a magical means of protection. By walking around the groom, the tide creates an invisible wall to protect him from evil spirits. The number seven is also symbolic just as the world was built in seven days. The bride builds the walls of the couples new life.
The wedding ceremony takes place under a chuppah, symbolizing the home the couple will create together. The Chuppah is open on all four sides to remind us of Abraham and Sarah whose tent was always open on all the sides to welcome travelers from all directions into their home. The chuppah symbolizes the desire of the bride and groom to build a home as loving and open to friends and family as was Abraham’s.
Two cups of wine are used in the ceremony. The first cup accompanies the betrothal blessings. After these are received the couple fdrinks from the same cup, symbolizing their new life together as a family. Wine is associated with Kiddush, the sanctification prayer recited on Shabbat and festivals. Marriage, which is called Kiddushin, is the sanctification of a man and woman to each other.
Kinyan (giving the rings)
In Jewish law, a marriage becomes official when the groom gives an object of value to the bride. This traditionally is done with a ring which is made of plain gold without blemishes or stones. The ring has no beginning and no end, just as the devotion and love that we have for each other should have no end. the reading of our Ketubah (marriage license) acts as a break between the first part of the ceremony.
The second part of the ceremony consists of the Sheva Brachot, the seven blessings. The blessings sanctify and celebrate the union of the bride and groom. In Judaism, the number 7 is believe to have magical properties- the world was created in seven days, the bride circles the groom seven times, and there are seven blessings.