Jewish weddings are a special kind of magic - the wonderful celebration of two families coming together combined with the faith-based and cultural traditions that make the day unique.
Hi! We're Olio, and we are a flexible indoor loft venue in a historic theater building in downtown Peabody, 25 minutes north of Boston, Massachusetts. We built our space as a blank slate New England venue specifically so that clients could have ultimate flexibility to create the wedding of their dreams. We have hosted many Jewish weddings and strive to create a welcoming space for all to celebrate love and community every day of the week.
Today we're highlighting Jewish weddings. They are a celebration of love, tradition, and community, and they are full of symbolism and significance. Here are a few traditions we've loved to welcome:
The chuppah, or wedding canopy, is a central symbol in Jewish weddings. It is a temporary structure that is erected under which the couple stands during the ceremony. The chuppah is typically made of four poles that are draped with a white cloth. It represents the home that the couple will build together, as well as the shelter and protection that they will provide for each other. It also symbolizes the Jewish people as a nation under God's protection.
We love seeing couples unique interpretations of the chuppah, including floral decorations and handmade or heirloom coverings.
Pro Tip: while you can create and build your own chuppah, most couples rent a chuppah from their florist who provides all of the onsite support to setup, decorate, and break down the chuppah structure.
The ketubah is a marriage contract that is signed by the couple and two witnesses. It outlines the couple's rights and responsibilities in the marriage, and it is a beautiful and meaningful document that the couple will cherish for years to come. Many couples choose to sign their ketubah in a private ceremony onsite and display it for guests to view.
Pro tip: be sure to have the ketubah framed without glass or with a removable back for signing. Use an archival pen and bring or rent a sturdy easel (nothing foldable) to display.
Breaking of the glass
At the end of the ceremony, the couple stomps on a glass wrapped in a cloth. This tradition is symbolic of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, and it is a reminder of the fragility of life and the importance of cherishing each moment. The ceremony ends on a high note with the stomping of the glass and the implied prayer over the newlyweds: “May your marriage last as long as it would take to repair this glass.”
Pro tip: use a Judaica kit made for stomping that can be turned into a mezuzah after the wedding. Or, consider using a light bulb in a blown up Ziploc bag for that satisfying POP sound and easy to break glass.
This is a traditional Jewish dance that is performed at weddings. The hora is typically danced in a circle, with the couple in the center. The guests hold hands and sway back and forth, lifting the bride(s) or groom (s) up in the air. The dance is accompanied by traditional Jewish music, and it is a very festive and celebratory occasion.
The hora has a number of symbolic meanings. It represents the couple's new journey together, as they are lifted up by their friends and family. It also symbolizes the couple's commitment to each other, as they are bound together in the circle of the dance.
The hora may also include lifting (as seen in the photos below) or shtick (silly plays, dances, and acrobatics performed for the couple).
Pro tip: always, always rent two "hora chairs" for lifting, which are sturdy, lightweight, non-folding, with arms. Trust us, you don't want to skip this tip! These can be repurposed to the sweetheart table after the hora dance.
The Tisch and Bedeken are two separate Jewish wedding traditions that are often performed together.
The Tisch is a pre-wedding celebration traditionally for a groom. The Tisch is typically a lively and boisterous event, with food, drink, and music.
In the Bedeken, a bride's face is veiled by her partner. The Tisch and Bedeken are often performed together, immediately before the wedding ceremony.
Pro Tip: Live music is a wonderful way to start of the wedding ceremony and the Tisch and Bedeken.
This is a period of time after the ceremony where the newlyweds are left alone together. It is a time for them to reflect on their new relationship and to begin their lives together. In the most traditional Jewish weddings, the Yichud is the moment where the rings are placed on the fingers of the newlyweds in a private ceremony.
Pro tip: ask your planner or caterer to provide some snacks and drinks during the Yichud. It's the perfect moment to be "just married" and celebrate together before going back out to entertain guests.
This is a series of seven blessings that are recited over the couple during the wedding ceremony and at the wedding meal. The blessings ask for God's blessing on the couple and their new marriage.
Pro tip: in the modern interpretation of the Sheva Brachot, consider appointing seven friends or family members to each come up during the ceremony and give a single blessing to the couple.
Jewish weddings can take place seven days a week, just like all other weddings. That said, observant officiants and Rabbis may decline to marry a couple during the Sabbath, which takes place sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. During the summer, when the sun sets at 7pm or 8pm, this can create a challenge for Jewish couples looking at a Saturday wedding. We encourage couples in this situation to look at Sunday options, especially on holiday weekends.
Pro tip: ask the officiant if they might make an exception to do a pre-sunset Shabbat ceremony if the Ketubah (marriage contract) is officially signed after sunset.
At our wedding venue, we are honored to host Jewish weddings of all sizes and styles. We welcome couples of all backgrounds and faiths, and we are committed to providing a space where couples can celebrate their love in a way that is meaningful to them.
If you are considering a Jewish wedding, we encourage you to contact us to learn more about our venue and our services. We would be honored to help you create a wedding day that you and your guests will cherish forever.
P.S. Did you know we're the perfect Bar and Bat Mitzvah venue as well?