“Rabbi, we’re both Jewish but want a Jew-ish ceremony. You know…sort of ‘inspired by’ but flexible.”
“Rabbi, I’m Jewish. They’re not. We want to incorporate Jewish elements into our ceremony, but maybe among other things; we’re not sure. All we know for certain is that there has to be a huppah, a ketuba, and breaking the glass.”
So, what makes a Jew-“ish” ceremony? It depends! The traditional ceremony has both a structure and flow. For instance, the breaking of the glass at the very end of the ceremony is a well-known custom, and regularly anticipated by non-Jewish guests (not to mention the photog/video team!). In its traditional setting, it is a powerful reminder of keeping the celebratory focus on the newly-wed couple. And yet, it can be more than that. It can be a statement of a past that is complete, and a new and unformed future ahead. It is for those very reasons that one interfaith couple stood up and started their wedding ceremony with intention by breaking the glass. Moving this act to the front of the ceremony was certainly an identifiably traditional element of the wedding, but in a completely non-traditional placement.
Another Jew-“ish” feature to the ceremony that can be beautiful is a take on the Sheva Brachot/Seven Blessings that conclude the ceremony before breaking the glass. One couple felt some strong challenges with God language, which posed a special challenge for the Seven Blessings. They in turn crafted a list of seven values they wished to infuse their marriage, and a brief expansion on each of those hopes.
The couple in the photo were “inspired by” the idea of a huppah. The greenery and roses over their heads suggested the larger, traditional canopy. There are of course lots of ways to draw from the various Jewish wedding traditions. Be sure to check back for more on that topic!
4 Ways to Learn More About Jewish and “Jew-ish” Weddings
My Jewish Learning https://www.myjewishlearning.com/category/live/weddings-and-marriage/
The first two links are books that are simply the best available out there for most modern, Jewish and Jewish-adjacent wedding couples. Anita Diamant pioneered the conversation in 1986, and keeps up to date in discussing what a Jewish wedding might mean for couples today. The second two links are two website offering a wide array of short articles, model ceremonies, and other alternative texts and translations for use in a Jewish or “Jew-ish” wedding today. Please note we receive no financial incentive for these recommendations.