The beautiful tradition and act of marriage is promising and committing to love your spouse. This act of commitment and vows, also known as a betrothal ceremony, Kiddushin, begins under the Huppah with the following acts: a greeting, blessing over the wine and the couple sipping from the wine cup. A Jewish wedding ceremony is the start of Kiddushin, the sanctification that happens between a husband and wife in their marriage. Read below to learn more about the Jewish ceremony elements and their historical meanings!
ST. LOUIS JEWISH WEDDING TRADITIONS: CEREMONY: PART 2
Bridal Canopy: The Huppah
Today many couples choose to have a canopy structure as a focal point of where their ceremony will take place. The history of this altar structure dates back to the Jewish ancestry when they were dwelling in tents. Jewish wedding ceremonies were typically held outside under these canopies called Huppah’s. Huppah’s symbolized a sanctified space and the new home the bride and groom were creating. A beautiful picture is described in the Old Testament when Abraham and Sarah are getting married and their first “Huppah” was in their tent. To symbolize the start of their marriage home being a hospitable place the couple opened all their tent’s sides.
The Jewish altar correlates to the European church during the medieval time when the groom would place a prayer shawl or veil over his bride to symbolize their consummation. In the 16th century, the European church adopted the ceremony canopy to represent the idea of covering the bride.
Circling: Creating a New Home
Ever held another person’s hands and spun around real fast? Well, in Jewish tradition the bride and groom do a similar act but slower. The couple enters the Huppah and then traditionally the bride would circle her beloved groom seven times. The count of seven represents the seven blessings, which are performed later in the ceremony and the seven days of creation. Historically the circling also represented that the groom was the center of her world. Today, many couples choose to circle each other to also symbolize that the two are creating a sacred space between the two of them…becoming one.
Seven Blessings: Sheva B’rachot
One of the big highlights in the Jewish ceremony is the reciting of the seven blessings. Wine holds a beautiful symbol in the Jewish faith, joy and the sanctification that happens between a husband and wife in their marriage. The first cup of wine is when the Rabbi prays a betrothal blessing over the couple. The second cup follows with the other blessings. These blessings can be led by the Rabbi or special wedding guests. Sometimes, some talented individuals go up to the microphone and share a blessing a song or from a reading. The seven blessings consist of the following ideas being covered: praising God, praying for Peace in Jerusalem and blessings for the couple’s marriage. In some Jewish weddings, the parents choose to also wrap the wedding couple in a “tallis” to symbolize them becoming one.
Giving of the Ring
Similar to many ceremony traditions a Jewish wedding has the exchanging of rings. In the Jewish law a marriage becomes official when the couple gives each other rings. To symbolize beauty, purity and a lifetime of marriage the ring traditionally was a smooth plain gold ring. Laid out by the Torah in Jewish ceremonies only one ring is exchanged under the Chuppah. Traditionally, the groom gives the ring to the bride and recites the marriage formula in Hebrew. Today some Jewish couples are choosing to have a two ring exchange, where both exchange a ring and some of those rings include diamonds. In Jewish tradition the ring is placed on the right index finger instead of the left because this finger is believed to be closest bloodline to the heart.
Breaking of the Glass
When many people think of the picture that describes a Jewish wedding they think of the groom breaking the glass. The reason this practice is done traditionally in the Jewish ceremony is because it symbolizes that their new marriage will change both of their lives forever, that human life is fragile and that the Tempe of Jerusalem is destroyed. After the glass is broken and to signal the start of the wedding celebration, everyone shouts “Mazel Tov!” To remember their vows, Jewish couples have their wedding planner or coordinator collect the glass shards to be placed in their mezuzah,” a Jewish symbol that is placed on the doorframe in a Jewish home.”
St. Louis Wedding Traditions is a three part mini series on the traditions that occur in the Jewish faith on a wedding day. To catch up on the series read here:
Thank you for stopping by and learning about the Jewish ceremony traditions and the meaning behind each of the elements! Stay tuned for St. Louis Jewish Wedding Tradition, Post Ceremony: Part 3 coming soon to the blog!
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Many thanks to the wedding creative team who helped in the celebration of two souls committing the promise of forever:
Venue: Saguaro Lake Guest Ranch | Venue at the Grove | Whispering Tree Ranch | Desert Foothills Events | Inspiration for these St. Louis Wedding Locations: FOUR SEASONS HOTEL ST LOUIS | THE CHASE PARK PLAZA | MISSOURI BOTANICAL GARDEN | BUSCH FAMILY ESTATE AT GRANT’S FARM | SILVER OAKS CHATEAU | PEABODY OPERA HOUSE | THE CARAMEL ROOM AT BISSINGER | Chandler Hill Vineyards | Photographer: APRIL MAURA PHOTOGRAPHY