Jewish Wedding Cheat Sheet
We created this one-page guide to Jewish wedding traditions and customs as a resource for you. A Jewish Wedding Cheatsheet is a great way to quickly educate your wedding guests about the beauty and meanings of the traditions you will be performing! To help you create your own cheat sheet, or add Jewish wedding ceremony traditions to your wedding programs, we bring you…
Jewish weddings have many ritual objects, each of which has deep meaning and history. The beauty of each object is literally endless as you incorporate you and your fiancé’s personal beliefs and style!
Download Mazelmoments Jewish Wedding Planning Timeline & Checklist
JEWISH WEDDING RITUAL OBJECTS
Meaning: The Ketubah is the Jewish marriage contract that is signed before the wedding ceremony, and literally means “writing” or “written”.
Origin: The Ketubah was created to protect the wife financially if the marriage ended, and during the marriage by spelling out the husband’s obligations to his wife.
Personalize It: Ketubahs are a form of art, so enjoy the process of finding a ketubah design that reflects you and your fiancé’s personal style. Whether it be traditional, modern, 3D, Watercolor, Papercut, or include a special or meaningful photo, the possibilities are nearly endless. You can also choose ketubah texts such as Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, Egalitarian, Gender Neutral, Humanistic, Interfaith, or write your own ketubah text. View Ketubah Artists & Designs.
Chuppah / Huppah
Meaning: The Chuppah (or huppah) is the bridal canopy the couple stands under during the Jewish wedding ceremony. It literally means “that which covers or floats above,” and is said to be a spiritual place with a direct gateway to G-d. As long as a Jewish marriage is performed under a chuppah, the wedding can take place in any location, from a synagogue to a beach to your own backyard.
Origin: The Chuppah is a symbol of the home (tent) of our biblical ancestors Sarah and Abraham, open on all sides so guests would know they were always welcome.
Personalize It: Chuppahs can be designed or decorated to reflect your personal taste, match your wedding theme or color palette, or honor loved ones. You can have your wedding guests contribute to a patchwork collage chuppah, or use a tallis or huppah that belongs to a beloved family member. View Traditional, Modern & Unique Chuppah Designs.
Yarmulke / Kippot
Kippot (or Yarmulkes) are worn at Jewish weddings as a symbol of humility and respect for G-d. Many couples order kippahs for wedding guests (in black, or their wedding colors) and personalize each kippah with the couple’s names and wedding date.
Kiddush cups have a special place under the chuppah for a beloved part of the ceremony – the wine! It’s popular to honor a loved one (for example, your grandparents) by using their kiddush cups. You can also personalize the kiddush cups by engraving them with your names and wedding date.
JEWISH WEDDING PRE-CEREMONY RITUALS
Kabbalat Panim – Jewish tradition treats the bride and groom as king and queen for their wedding day. This begins with the guests visiting the bride and groom in separate rooms before the wedding. For the bride’s reception, it’s an old tradition for the bride to sit on an attractive throne-like chair. The groom’s reception is called a tish.
Ketubah Signing – The ketubah is signed by the bride and groom, in front of their witnesses, before the wedding ceremony begins. This may be when the bride and groom see each other for the first time! Some couples invite all of their wedding guests to witness them sign the ketubah, while others prefer a more intimate ketubah signing ceremony.
Bedecken (Veiling the Bride) – The Jewish wedding custom of veiling the bride symbolizes modesty and ensures the groom is marrying the right woman (unlike biblical Jacob who was tricked into marrying the wrong bride). Some couples have chosen to make this ritual more egalitarian by having the groom wear a kittel (groom’s robe) or a special yarmulke.
Hakafot (Circling) – Jewish wedding ceremonies traditionally begin with the bride circling the groom seven times. Circling, in many cultures, symbolizes creating an invisible wall to ward off evil spirits. To make this ritual more egalitarian, some couples choose to hold hands and walk the seven circles together. It’s also popular for the bride and groom do do 3 circles each, and the 7th circle together.
Sheva Brachot (Seven Blessings) – The seven blessings for the bride and groom can be recited by the Rabbi or Cantor, or a selection of honored guests. The number 7 has special significance in the Jewish religion. Read all 49 (7×7) ways here.
Breaking of the Glass – This is the final ritual of the Jewish wedding ceremony. Breaking the glass is said to represent the destruction of the Temple. It can also symbolize warding off evil spirits. Traditionally, the groom steps on a glass while the wedding guests yell “Mazel Tov!” Some couples have two glasses so both can break glass at the same time.
Personalize It – Save your shards! Companies such as Mazel Tov Glass can incorporate the shards into a beautiful, customized work of glass art. Imagine displaying a decorative bowl or vase with the breaking glass adding texture and meaning to the piece. Or make the holidays even more special by using the shards in your new candlesticks, menorah or Passover seder plate. Mazel Tov Glass offers a large variety of beautiful glass art options.
Yihud – It is a Jewish tradition for the bride and groom to have some alone time immediately following their wedding. Some couples stay in yihud for 18 minutes, the numerical equivalent of the “Chai”, meaning life, and considered good luck.
Hora Dance – Usually danced to the Hava Nagila, this traditional Jewish celebration dance is sure to get everyone up on the dance floor and get the party started!
Mezinke – This fun Jewish tradition is reserved for families that are marrying their last son or daughter. Typically performed to the Yiddish song Die Mezinke Oysgegeben (The Youngest Daughter is Given), this is one of the last dances where the mother, and commonly the father, wear head wreaths and are greeted and congratulated by the wedding guests. In a Double Mezinke, both sets of parents are sending their last child down the aisle!
- Table(s) and tablecloths (for the ketubah signing and under the Chuppah)
- Ketubah and pen
- Huppah and poles
- Kiddish cups and wine
- Glass for breaking (in a napkin or pouch)
- Candles and matches
- Wedding programs
- Kippot (yarmulkes) for guests