Planning Your Jewish Wedding
Seven simple steps.
Mazel Tov! If you or someone close to you is planning a Jewish wedding, you are in the midst of an exciting--and at times stress-inducing--experience. Besides the many wedding details that all couples need to plan, Jewish brides and grooms have several other important factors connected to their ceremony to consider. Whether you are Jewishly knowledgeable or relatively new to Judaism, you may want to review the following list before you make your plans to create a meaningful Jewish wedding:
1. Choosing a Date
Jewish weddings are generally prohibited on Shabbat and festivals--including Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot--and the fast days Tisha B'Av, the 10th of Tevet, the 17th of Tammuz, the Fast of Gedaliah, and the Fast of Esther. Traditionally, Jewish weddings are not held during the counting of the omer between Passover and Shavuot, although customs differ as to whether that entire seven-week stretch or just part of it is a problem. Marrying during the three weeks between the 17th of Tammuz and Tisha B'Av is also prohibited in traditional Jewish practice. Because many of these dates fall during prime wedding season (spring-summer), it's important to check an accurate Jewish calendar (such as www.hebcal.com) before you select a date.
And although Shabbat weddings are out, many couples choose to wed on Saturday at sundown, so that they can begin their ceremony with havdalah, marking both the end of Shabbat and the end of the time that came before their public commitment to one another. Some couples choose to wed on Tuesdays, believing it to be an especially blessed day, since in the Biblical story of creation, the phrase "God saw that it was good" appears twice on the third day.
2. Selecting a Rabbi
For some couples, this step is an easy one. They may be active members of a congregation or have a childhood or Hillel rabbi that they are still close to. But for many engaged couples who are not affiliated with a Jewish community in a formal way, finding a rabbi to lead their wedding ceremony is a daunting task. Parents may suggest using the rabbi from their congregation, whether or not the couple knows them.
First off, it's important to know that a rabbi is not the only person who can lead a Jewish wedding. A cantor can officiate, as can another educated professional serving the Jewish community. However, to meet most states' requirements, the officiant does need to be a recognized member of the clergy; be sure to ask this question of any clergy you speak with.