Timing is Everything: When To Hire a Rabbi For Your Wedding

This article was written by Rabbi Adina Lewittes

Once the initial cries of “Mazal Tov!” and “Congratulations!” have quieted down, the newly engaged couple has a long list of calls to make to settle the many moving pieces of planning a wedding.  These include a caterer, a photographer, a band, an invitation specialist, a florist, a dressmaker – just to name a few. Oh, and a rabbi.

Jewish Wedding Planning - Finding a Rabbi Advice

Rabbi Dini with Bride & Groom

Photo courtesy of Rabbi Adina Lewittes

Choosing the right place for the wedding, and deciding on food, music, clothes and pictures are crucial tasks, for sure, and exciting ones too.  Another exciting decision involves finding an officiant to set the spiritual and emotional tone of the moment when two people become bound to one another in love and faith.  This is the turning point that launches the couple into a lifetime of sacred partnership, and hopefully sustains them throughout their lives together. It is a point in time that they return to in their hearts and souls over and over again.

Long after the centerpieces and playlists fade from memory, what remains are the feelings generated by the ceremony, as well as the insights shared by the rabbi, the rituals the rabbi led, and the blessings recited by family and friends.

THE WEDDING DATE  AND THE RABBI – NOT ALWAYS A SLAM DUNK

Far too often, however, the rabbi is the last call made on the list. Dates, times and venues have been set — often without consultation with a Jewish calendar or a Jewish leader leaving people to find they’ve booked their wedding on Shabbat or on a holiday. Many couples are unable, or unwilling, to change their plans – and the result is that many rabbis won’t officiate under the circumstances.

IMPORTANCE OF BOOKING A RABBI EARLY IN THE PLANNING PROCESS

There are other benefits of prioritizing the call to a rabbi. Selecting a rabbi at least nine months before the wedding is recommended.  This leaves enough time to find one who is the right fit spiritually and personally, and not just one who’s available.  This also allows the rabbi and the couple the opportunity to get to know one another, explore the meaning of the wedding rituals, and craft a ceremony that reflects the couples own values and interests.  This makes for the most meaningful and transformative wedding. If you choose a rabbi to parachute into the ceremony at the last minute, it will yield a cookie-cutter experience, formalistic, impersonal, and forgettable.

COUPLES FROM DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS or INTERFAITH

For couples who come from different religious backgrounds, having enough time with the right rabbi who can support the process of bringing two families and two cultures into the wedding process is invaluable. Given the added sensitivities of an intermarriage, working with the rabbi to compassionately educate and mentor the families through complicated, emotional decisions is key to creating the most warm and welcoming start to a lifetime of respect and affection.

 Jewish & Interfaith Wedding Planning Tips - When To Hire a Rabbi

Photo courtesy of Rabbi Adina Lewittes

Remember, you wouldn’t choose the venue for your wedding at the last minute, or even leave the menu to chance. Seek and engage your rabbi with the same excitement and forethought. The memories from under the chuppah are sweeter than dessert, and I love dessert

Special thanks to Rabbi Adina Lewittes for sharing your expert advice!

Have questions or would like to talk to her?  Click here for more information.

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