The following is a Jewish Wedding, as understood from our experience and research. While there are variations, these are the basic aspects that any photographer should understand before photographing a Jewish Wedding. First and foremost, it is important to know that, in general, Jewish Wedding ceremonies are traditionally held outside as a sign of the blessings given by God to Abraham. This factor makes it important to check the weather for the day and make sure you’re properly equipt for the event.
A general note to first-time-photographers shooting Orthodox Jewish Weddings, don’t touch those of the opposite sex. While some Jewish Orthodox weddings may not be as traditional as others, it is a safe rule to just avoid making any physical contact with any person of the opposite sex at the wedding, this includes shaking their hands. The best way to know whether or not it is appropriate with your client, is to ask, or simply watch what others are doing.
Signing the Ketubah (or Ketuvah) – The marriage contract outlining the chatan’s (groom’s) various responsibilities is signed by the groom and witnessed by two people. Traditionally, this document was one of the first legal documents giving financial and legal rights to women. Today, the signing of this document is more symbolic as it represents the couple’s commitment to love, honor and respect one another.
Bedekin – Prior to the ceremony under the Chuppah (the wedding canopy, pronounced “hup – pah”), the groom, escorted by his father or father-in-law, enters the room where the bride is receiving guests and brings a veil over the bride’s face, symbolizing the bride’s new duties as a married woman.
Chuppah – The Chuppah, or wedding canopy, symbolizes the home to be built together by the bride and groom. After the bride arrives at the chuppah, the bride, her mother, and her mother-in-law circle the groom seven times.
Kiddushin – According to Torah law, there are three ways to betroth a woman:1. A transaction of money or value: The man gives to the woman money or any object of value. 2. A binding document: The groom places a ring on the bride. The common custom is to betroth by means of a money transaction, using the traditional wedding band to effect the kiddushin.
Sheva Brachos – “Seven Blessings” also known as “birkot Nesuim” are recited by either the rabbi or various family and friends over a cup of wine.
Breaking the Glass – After the blessings, the couple shares the cup of wine and the groom steps on a glass to the gleeful shouts of “Mazel tov!”
Cheder Yichud – The married couple is then escorted by two witneswses to the cheder yichud, “the room of privacy” where they share an intimate moment before proceeding to the reception (if there is one).