Wedding traditions are one of the things I love about photographing weddings. There are many beautiful traditions and symbols in today’s wedding ceremonies. Jewish Wedding Ceremonies in particular are filled with deep symbolism and meaning. The traditions go back centuries, but are still very relevant today.
At a Jewish Wedding, the Ceremony takes place under a Chuppah. The Chuppah is a canopy which symbolizes the new home that the Bride and Groom will create together from this day forward. The Bride is leaving her family’s home and entering her husband’s home. The Chuppah is left open on all four sides, just as Abraham and Sarah had their tent open on all sides to welcome guests.
The Ketubah is the traditional Jewish marriage contract. It outlines the responsibilities of the Groom towards the Bride–to provide food, shelter and emotional support. Today’s Ketubot are more egalitarian and represent a more modern rendition of marriage vows. The Ketubah is often written with fine calligraphy on beautiful paper amidst very detailed artwork. Very close friends and relatives are traditionally invited to watch the signing of the Ketubah. It is signed by the Bride, the Groom and two witnesses. After the wedding, the Ketubah is usually framed and hung in a prominent place in the couple’s home to serve as a reminder of their vows.
Wine is a symbol of joy in the Jewish faith. The Bride and Groom share two cups of wine in a Jewish Ceremony. The Betrothal Blessings are said before the first cup, which the couple then shares. Later on in the ceremony, the Bride and Groom share more wine after they have been blessed. At the end of the ceremony, an empty wine glass which has been wrapped up is placed on the floor, and the Groom shatters it with his foot. The breaking of the glass symbolizes several things. It is a reminder of the destruction of the Temples in Jerusalem and that even in times of great happiness, the Bride and Groom should always be aware that life also brings sorrow and sadness. It also serves to remind them that love is fragile like glass.
Rings are an important part of most Wedding Ceremonies. In the Jewish faith, the marriage becomes “official” once the Groom has given the Bride something of value–a ring. The wedding band is usually left as plain gold because it is hoped that the marriage will be one of simple beauty.
In some Jewish ceremonies, the Bride and Groom are wrapped in a tallit, or prayer shawl, symbolizing both their union and their religious faith. Prayer shawls belonging to different family members can also be incorporated in the Chuppah symbolizing both a link to the past and the support of family and friends.
Did you enjoy this article on Weddings? You might also enjoy this post on Wedding Planning and Trends. You might also like to see our Wedding Photography Portfolio.
Susan Blackburn is a Wedding Photographer located in beautiful Saratoga Springs NY. She provides Wedding Photography and Portrait Photograhy to clients in Saratoga Springs, Lake George, the Adirondacks and destinations worldwide. Please call 518.584.4237 to schedule a consultation to discuss your Wedding Photography needs.