As I write this, it is the fifth night of my last Passover as a Friedman (which is pretty much how I’ve been thinking of every event this year), so what better topic to write about than intertwining Jewish traditions and symbolism with our more modern, American wedding? (Disclaimer: This blog is more general than usual. Now that we’re less than 3 months away from the wedding, I’ve become more interested in the element of surprise!)
When it comes to having a meaningfully Jewish wedding, it all starts with the Rabbi! With Harley’s childhood Rabbi living in Canada and my family being a part of multiple synagogues growing up, we really didn’t have a “family Rabbi” we wanted to marry us.
Luckily, my friend Chelsea’s dad is a fabulous Rabbi who performs the most beautiful wedding ceremonies I’ve ever seen. Admittedly, I’ve only seen Rabbi Kaplan perform Chelsea’s wedding, but I’m sure it will come close! He is such a popular Rabbi in South Florida who is known for beautiful life events, so we were absolutely thrilled when we were about to book him over a year out.
We met in his home office and spent hours talking about our vision for the ceremony, Panthers hockey, and playing with his tallit-adorned puppy. Needless to say, Harley was sold after the hockey conversation!
Some Jewish aspects of the wedding come in material form and others through ceremonies and experiences. We will be purchasing yarmulkes (AKA kippot / cupples) for all of the men in attendance from skullcap.com, and of course will be getting some extras because who doesn’t love to save personalized items from their wedding?! Our Ketubah, the Jewish marriage contract, was ordered from ketubah.com and is absolutely GORGEOUS!
Kippot image by Lara Hotz Photography taken from Gena & Tony’s Jewish wedding
Speaking of Ketubahs, I should probably mention that many Jewish wedding traditions actually happen prior to the wedding. The Aufruf is a centuries-old tradition that initiates the wedding festivities. We are in the works of planning this portion, but it typically occurs the Shabbat before the wedding and consists of the groom (or bride and groom depending on your synagogue) being called to recite the blessings over the Torah.
Just prior to the wedding ceremony, the Rabbi will conduct the Ketubah Signing Ceremony and Badeken for an intimate group of family and friends. The signing of the Ketubah (Jewish Marriage Contract) symbolizes that marriage is not only a physical-spiritual connection, but it is also a legal and moral commitment.
During the Badeken, the groom covers the bride’s face with her veil, which has several historical and spiritual meanings. The Rabbi will later read and further explain the Ketubah and its importance in the actual wedding ceremony for all our guests, and Jewish symbols that have been in both of our families for years will be used to bring even more meaning to the blessings and traditions of a Jewish wedding.
Chuppah image by Andrew James taken from Jade & Adam’s Jewish wedding
The wedding ceremony will be performed under a beautiful Chuppah, which symbolizes the Jewish home, and let me tell you…I AM OBSESSED! Our Chuppah, along with all of our other flowers and decor, is being done by Julie Gyoerkoe with Polished Petals. With flowers and decorations being our most time-consuming and stressful find, it felt like a miracle when we met her! She was so calming and really understood the vision for our wedding. Unlike other florists we had met with, she was extremely receptive to our ideas and very detailed in her proposal, which is perfect for a Type A bride!
During the reception, more Jewish traditions will take place in the form of DANCING! Dancing the Hora is the pinnacle of any Jewish wedding reception. I was too scared to be lifted in the chair for my Bat Mitzvah, so I think I’ll have to make up for it at our wedding with an extra long Hora dance. I also may have been recruiting the strongest men attending our wedding for about a year now to lift my chair, including one of my friend’s husband’s who has been practicing at Bar Mitzvahs.
Getting closer and closer to the wedding, I have been loving getting feedback from other brides-past and present. What do you think is the most special part of a Jewish wedding??