Jewish Wedding Traditions Explained: From the Ketubah Signing to the Breaking of the Glass

If you’re invited to a Jewish Wedding, you should expect some rituals of celebration. But if you really want to enjoy and understand these ceremonies, it’s best if you know their backstory and how they continue to be so important to the Jewish.

We will provide you with information, so that you know the system and how to attend to it.


In Jewish, “aufruf” means to “call up”. When doing this, the rabbi calls the couple to the Torah and gives them a blessing. The blessing is called Aaliyah and after this blessing, the rabbi continues with another one, during which the guests throw sweets to the grooms, implying they are wishing them a sweet marriage.


On the day of the wedding, the couple are to fast during the day. Considering the wedding day as a day of forgiveness, some couples choose to fast until their first meal together after the ceremony.

Ketubah Signing

The Ketubah signing ceremony is one of the most important parts of a Jewish wedding ceremony. It is not much of a ritual, and it is more similar to a marital contract, or prenuptial agreement. It has been a fundamental part of the Jewish wedding for thousands of years and the oldest Ketubah existing today is from 440 B.C.E, and it is written in Aramaic.

What is written in the ketubah?

The Ketubah includes the couple’s names, date of birth and other information. The information it features is very important to the groom and bride because it states the obligation the husband has to the wife. It includes a list of responsibilities, be that financial or conjugal. It also foresees the actions on a potential divorce or a sudden death. This ceremony is very similar to vows that Christian weddings include in their ceremonies.

The Ketubah can be signed in various timings, depending on what couples decide. That can happen during the wedding, but many couples choose to do it before the wedding in attendance of family and close friends.

Another interesting and important fact about the Ketubah is that it doesn’t get signed by the couple itself. It must be signed by the witnesses who traditionally must be male and not related to either of the to-be-weds. Lately this tradition has experienced a slight change meaning that it doesn’t require the witnesses to be only male anymore and they can be anyone the couple want.

The Ketubah is to be present at the chuppah and handed from the groom to the bride and it is also read out loud for the complete audience to hear.

While historically the Ketubah was an official document with the commitments written there being legally binding, today it is more of a tradition to show the couple’s commitment to each other. Also, the fact that it is signed in a more intimate environment with chosen attendees makes it more spiritually important.


Bedeken happens during the Ketubah signing when the groom approaches the bride and does the unveiling. This procedure represents that the groom loves the bride for her inner beauty and that even after the wedding they are still two separate beings.

The Walk to the Chuppah

In traditional Jewish Weddings both parents accompany the groom down the aisle to approach the chuppah where the couple will later exchange their vows. Then, the bride’s parents do the same with their daughter and they stay on the side of their respective children during the whole ceremony, along with the rabbi.

Vows under the Chuppah

The chuppah is a structure with four corners and a roof which symbolizes the home the bride and the groom are building together. Then they give their vows to each other under that structure, which is often held by their close friends or family to show their support for this new home the couple is building together.


In the Jewish Wedding ceremony, the bride circles around the groom three or seven times to symbolize some kind of magical protection against evil thoughts, deeds, or temptation from other women. Another meaning to it can be the family circle they are creating together.

Ring Exchange

Jewish traditions use rings of metal making with no stones to indicate the value of their bride. Often the ring is kept in the left-hand forefinger because the vein from that finger goes directly to the heart.

Seven Blessings or Sheva B’rachot

These blessings are directed to joy, happiness and love. They are usually read by important people to the groom and bride, and they are often read in Hebrew and English.

Breaking of the Glass

With the ceremony coming to an end, there’s another ritual to be done in a Jewish Wedding. The groom and sometimes the groom and the bride complete the “breaking the glass” tradition. This part is interpreted to mean that marriage comes with sorrow and happiness and shattering the glass means that the couple is committed to stay by each other even in hard times. The shattered glass parts are collected in a cloth and sometimes the couple takes it to save it as a memory of their wedding.

Mazel Tov

Traditionally, when the glass is broken, everyone shouts “Mazel Tov”, which means congratulations. More directly translated, the shout wishes prosperity, good luck and the best for the future.


The couple is required to spend at least eight minutes alone to rejoice and connect better with each other. The tradition also requires that they experience the first meal together as a married couple during the yichud.

Hora and Mezinke

Hora is the celebratory dance where guests dance in a circle and the males are usually separated from females during the dance. During Hora, the couple are seated in chairs and held in the air while holding a cloth napkin (or handkerchief).

These points and explanations, bring out the longevity of these traditions being active in the Jewish community with their importance being highly significant. They complete them with fanaticism till this day. Still, these traditions have gone through slight changes to make them more approachable for today’s other conditions. Nevertheless, they still represent a strong and valuable portion of the Jewish traditions, both spiritually and procedurally.

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