What You Need to Know About Planning Your Jewish-American Wedding
If you’re like most of our clients, you have a beautiful background of varying cultures. You identify in some shape or form as American and ‘insert your culture here.’ But you’re not just dealing with your own heritage now, you have to consider your partner’s cultural background as well. With our cross cultural clients of the Jewish community we’re finding that they are facing challenges when it comes to figuring out how to tie in their American life with their Jewish background while still considering their partners heritage.
In this post I’m going to walk you through a Jewish marriage ceremony infused with Indian culture that we planned. I’m going to show you what a modern Jewish wedding looks like and give you an example of how we help our multifaceted couples plan their big day. This wedding example in particular was more Jewish centric because the bride’s family was planning their Indian inspired wedding in India set to be a few months after their American wedding. Saying they’ve been on a wild wedding planning journey is an understatement!
The Jewish-American Ceremonial Contents Checklist
There are a few major physical components you need to keep in mind to perform the main parts of a Jewish marriage ceremony:
Two cups of wine
How to plan your Jewish Marriage Wedding
When planning a modern Jewish wedding there are many traditions to consider. I’ve helped many Jewish-American couples in my years of planning so I’ve listed the main parts of a traditional Jewish marriage ceremony that I see most commonly incorporated. These elements are also the most fluid in terms of infusing Jewish heritage into the traditional American wedding composition. Here is what you can plan for to host a modern Jewish wedding.
Ketubah - The Ketubah was traditionally a binding and legal Jewish agreement outlining the Groom’s relationship and responsibilities to his Bride. For my clients, Ketubahs hold no legal legitimacy as they were traditionally intended to be, this is mostly symbolic. Most Ketubahs are written in Hebrew or a combination of your preferred language and your partner's language, typically English for American weddings. Ketubahs vary in style but their historical size is normally 16x24 and are beautiful works of art. Check out my Ketubah board for a few of my favorite finds. The signing of the Ketubah happens right before the ceremony.
Chuppah - A 4-peg religious structure where all the main events of the traditional Jewish ceremony take place. The chuppah represents a home or secutiry symbolizing a safe space to recite your vows in front of your community. It’s meant to signify that now you will be forming your own space and life together. The chuppah typically has a prayer shawl known as the Tallit, a four-corner garment, that in this particular wedding was used as the chuppah cover.
Breaking glass - Traditionally a glass is wrapped in a cloth, which the groom places on the floor and stomps on the glass.
Mazel Tov - The stomping of the glass triggers the audience to say Mazel Tov in unison, which expresses congratulations and is universally known as “It’s time to celebrate!”
Yichud - A private moment after the ceremony. While this is found in a traditional Jewish ceremony, this is something we as planners implement for our clients no matter the culture. After the timelines, visiting with friends, hours of being seperated, it’s very important that you take a moment to privately internalize the moment that just took place.
Hora - The mandatory chair ritual. This is that fun scene you see in wedding pictures where the bride and groom are put on a chair and raised up by the crowd. It’s a phenomenal ritual to experience in real life.
Indian Jewish Wedding
As I mentioned, this wedding was mainly to honor their American friends and family because they were planning their full blow Indian wedding in India later in the year. A few unique ways our bride infused her culture was a bold yet sophisticated color palette we designed for her that drove the overall wedding design. She also had her mother walk her down in a saree, which completely transformed the traditional American processional. We also took into consideration that Indian culture and Jewish culture have rich palettes and managed to incorporate a cuisine appeasing to all cultures.
Jewish-American weddings vary by couple and family. You’ll need to determine what is important to the family while still honoring your partner who may or may not be Jewish but respects the Jewish faith and heritage. I always say, “everyone gets married but no one does it the way you do.” I encourage you to explore what is important to you and your partner. Some deep soul searching may be required. It’s important to understand why you’re doing certain things and make sure that they are authentic representations of what you believe in and hold near to your heart.
We’ve made it our mission to guide our cross-cultural couples through their vast and varying options. We spend out days figuring out ways to help you blend and infuse your cultures into your wedding. Wedding planning is complicated as it is so we’re here to not only help you plan your wedding but to do it in a way that feels true and authentic to who you are. If you’re in search of this type of support, we encourage you to fill out the form below to see how we can support you.