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Rituals and Practices of the Jewish Wedding

  • The Weeks Before the Wedding:
    • Aufruf - On the Shabbat before the wedding, the bride and/or groom may choose to be called up for a blessing in synagogue. This often includes the bride and/or groom being called up for an aliyah with the families sponsoring kiddush. This is often a nice way to bring some of the wedding joy to the greater community to include those who are not attending the wedding. This traditional is optional.
    • Mikvah - It is traditional for the bride to immerse herself in a Mikvah before the wedding. This is an opportunity for a private spiritual moment and a chance to sanctify one’s self before entering the marital relationship. This is usually done on the Thursday or Friday before a Saturday night or Sunday wedding. The bride may choose to bring an attendant to assist. Grooms are invited to assist or participate as well. This traditional is optional. Visit http://atlantamikvah.org/ to schedule your appointment to visit the Mikvah.
  •  Preliminary Events on the Day of the Wedding:
    • Tisch - This is an opportunity for the groom and/or bride to gather with close friends before the ceremony. This traditional is optional.
    • Bedekin - Veiling of the bride. In the Torah, we learn that Jacob's father-in-law, Laban, tricked him into marrying the wrong daughter. Since then, it has been tradition for the groom to lower the veil on his bride before the main ceremony. This ceremony may be performed publicly or privately in the moments before the procession. It is also an opportunity for the parents of the bride and groom to offer blessings.
    • Signing the Ketubah - In ancient times, the ketubah, or traditional marriage contract, specified the financial obligations of the couple. Modern versions may reflect other hopes and commitments that the couple has for each other, but certain legal forms must still be included so that it remains valid. The ketubah is usually signed before the the main ceremony, and this may be done in private, or as part of the tisch or the bedekin. In some circumstances, the ketubah may be signed during the ceremony itself. Some people choose an elegantly decorated ketubah which becomes an art piece in their home, while others choose a plainer version. Two witnesses, not closely related to you or to each other, sign the ketubah. 
    • Signing the Civil License - Several days before the wedding, you will need to get a Civil Marriage License that you and the rabbi will sign on the day of the wedding. After you meet with the rabbis, they will provide you with a Proof of Premarital Counseling Certificate which will reduce the cost of the Georgia license.
  • The Wedding Ceremony
    • Processional - The groomsmen, bridesmaids, chuppah holders (if applicable), families, groom and bride walk into the ceremony. At the end of the processional, the custom is for the bride to circle the groom seven times. There are many symbolic and mystical explanations for this practice including the idea that it is the way that the bride plays an active role in creating the boundaries of the relationship.
    • Kiddushin - "The Betrothal" - This is the original engagement ceremony, now carried out as part of the wedding itself. A blessing is said over a cup of wine, and the groom gives the bride a ring according to the age old formula. The custom of the bride giving the groom a ring is a newer one in the Jewish tradition, and one of several different texts may be used. The bride, groom and two witnesses (usually the signators of the ketubah) observe the ceremony  to make it legally binding.
Sun, October 17 2021 11 Cheshvan 5782