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Traditional Jewish Wedding

We wanted to provide our friends with a detailed description of what elements a Jewish wedding is comprised of. Each of these elements will be part of Elisa and Avi's Wedding day.

Here is a general overview of the events of the day:

The wedding will begin with Avi hosting a tisch in an adjoining room. The bedeken, or veiling ceremony, will take place at the end of the tisch. After the bedeken, the guests will assemble for the ceremony while Avi and Elisa sign the ketubah. The wedding ceremony is to take place under the chuppah. The ceremony consists of two parts—kiddushin (betrothal) and nissuin (marriage)—separated by the reading of the ketubah. At the end of the ceremony, Avi will break a glass and the couple will be led by dancing and singing guests to the yichud room. While Elisa and Avi enjoy a few moments of privacy, the guests will enjoy the cocktail hour. Avi and Elisa will rejoin their guests for the duration of the reception.

Tisch is Yiddish for "table." During the tisch the men are gathered in a separate room with the groom. The are all seated around the table. Avi will be fasting so he will not be able to partake in any of the drinking or eating in the tisch room. The Tisch will be held in Nostalgia Hall, to the left of the main entrance.

The bedeken, literally meaning "covering," happens at the same time as the tisch. Elisa will be seated in a specially decorated chair—a symbolic throne for the bride, who is treated as a queen. Guests will greet the bride and close friends will receive special blessings from her. At the end of the tisch, Avi will be escorted by singing and dancing male friends to Elisa's "throne" in the cocktail room. He will take a moment to ensure that the bride is, in fact, the woman he wants to marry, thereby avoiding the Biblical situation where Jacob married Leah when he intended to marry her younger sister Rachel. Avi will then place one layer of the veil over Elisa's face.

The ketubah is the Jewish marriage contract. The marriage is not complete until the bride, groom, and witnesses sign the contract. Many Jewish couples choose to get a beautifully decorated ketubah which they later display in their home. Avi and Elisa will sign the ketubah as their guests are being seated for the ceremony.

The Chupah
The chupah, or marriage canopy, symbolizes the home that Avi and Elisa will build together as a married couple. Avi will arrive at the chupah first in order to welcome Elisa into their home. He provides the roof of their home, but the home is still without walls. Elisa will join Avi at the end of the processional and walk seven circles around him, symbolically building the walls of their new home. Just as the roof Avi provides will offer shelter to his bride, Elisa promises protection and support for her groom by these walls. The seven circles recall the rotations of the earth during the seven days of Creation, reminding us that marriage was the final act of that Creation. The circles are also said to represent the bride and groom's entrance into the seven levels of each other's souls.

The Ceremony
The ceremony consists of two parts—kiddushin (betrothal) and nissuin (marriage). The kiddushin begins with a blessing over a cup of wine from which both bride and groom partake. During the kiddushin is also the ring ceremony. Avi will place the ring on Elisa's right index finger. Her right hand receives the ring so that the witnesses have a clear view that the ring is actually being placed on her finger. Furthermore, the index finger is commonly used for pointing and indicates the bride's active participation in the betrothal ceremony. Later, Elisa will transfer the wedding band to her left ring finger. The ketubah will then be read to divide the two parts of the ceremony. The nissuin is when the seven wedding blessings or "sheva brachot" are recited. Afterwards a second cup of wine will be blessed, of which the bride and groom will also partake. The groom will then stomp on a glass to break it. We do this because we are commanded, even in times of extreme joy, to remember the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. The bride and groom are the greeted with shouts of "Mazel Tov."

Yichud Room
After the ceremony, Avi and Elisa will spend their first moments as a married couple in complete privacy. Escorted by their dancing attendants and guests, they will walk from the chupah to the yichud room. ("Yichud" literally means "togetherness.") Two witnesses will first ensure that there is no one in the room. Elisa will step in and then turn to welcome Avi into this symbolic bridal chamber. The witnesses will close the door and stand guard outside the room, emphasizing that a married couple's privacy must be respected. Here Avi and Elisa will share their first meal as a married couple.