Jewish Weddings

Customs And Traditions

It is customary for the bride to wear white and a headdress & veil. Jews from oriental countries wear elaborate costumes richly embroidered. The groom may wear a “kitel” (a white garment) along with a tallit.

Before the ceremony, the groom, in the presence of witnesses, undertakes an act of “kinyan” (the obligations of the Ketubah). This is done by taking a handkerchief or some other object by the Rabbi, lifting it and returning it. The groom and witnesses then sign the Ketubah. The groom is then led to the “Chuppah” by two male relatives facing Jerusalem.

The bride is led in by the Mothers usually to the accompaniment of a blessing of welcome chanted by the Rabbi. Sometimes the bride is led in 7 circles around the groom to ward off evil spirits. The bride stands to the right of the groom and the Rabbi recites the marriage blessings over a goblet of wine. Both the bride & groom then drink from the glass.

The groom places the wedding ring on the forefinger of the bride’s right hand and recites the marriage formula. The “ketubah” (marriage contract) is then read and the 7 marriage benedictions are recited. In most ceremonies, the groom then crushes the glass under his right foot and the Rabbi invokes the “priestly blessings”. The couple is then escorted away.

African American Wedding Traditions

Jumping Over The Broom

Jumping the broom originated during the time of slavery in the United States. Slaves, not having rights as citizens, were denied the legal or religious rite of marriage. The tradition of jumping the broom was the slaves way to recognize the commitment of two people to one another. It was commonly accepted by both the slaves and the salve owners, who would sometimes participate in this celebration. Jumping the broom signified leaving single life and the transition into a new life together. Jumping over the broom together has been part of weddings for Black couples who want to honor that tradition. At the conclusion of the ceremony, after the kiss and the presentation of the couple to their guests, one of the attendants or a special person brings the broom from the audience and places it in the path of the wedding couple. They then jump over the broom on their way out. An alternative would be for the couple to jump over the broom just prior to the pronouncement that they are husband and wife. The kiss would follow; then the recessional. The broom used in the wedding ceremony is often beautifully handmade and kept by the couple as a wedding memento.

Tips for Adding Cultural Touches to Your Wedding

1. Coordinate your entire wedding with African inspired accessories from wedding brooms to Kente cloth garters, pillows and guest books and wedding stationery.
2. Walk down the aisle with your hair braided instead of wearing a separate headpiece.
3. Place a basket of ribbons at the entrance of your ceremony site and invite guests to tie a ribbon to the broom before the ceremony. As you jump the broom you will have each guest’s good wishes attached.
4. Select a favorite hymn for guests to sing as you jump the broom after the ceremony.
5. You may also cross sticks. Slaves used to cross sticks as a symbol of marriage

Symbols Of Life

In recognition of African culture, during the wedding ceremony the officiant may administer the twelve symbols of life, each representing the love and strength that brings two families together

Wine – The mixing of the blood of the two families
Wheat – Fertility, and the giving of life and land
Pepper – Heated times the families will have
Salt – Healing and preservation of marriage
Bitter Herbs – Growing pains of married life
Water – Purity, dissolution of bitterness
Spoon, Pot – Healthy food that builds strong families
Broom – Cleanliness of health and well-being
Honey – Sweet love between a black man and woman
Spear – Protection of the sanctity of home and community
Shield – Honor and pride of the home
Bible or Koran – Symbol of Gods truth and power

Italian Wedding Traditions

On the day of the wedding, the bride is not supposed to wear any gold, until after her wedding ring is slipped out. Wearing gold during or before the wedding is thought to bring bad luck.
Old Church traditions forbade marriage during Lent and Advent. Marriage was also avoided in the months of May and August. May was to be reserved for the veneration of the Virgin Mary, and August was thought to invite bad luck and sickness.

Sunday marriages (with the exception of the months mentioned above) are believed to be luckiest. In the Veneto region of Italy, the groom walks to the bride’s house and, together, he walks with the bride and the whole wedding party to church. On the way, town residents would watch the group walk by and present the bride with many challenges. For example, they put a broom on the ground and if she bride noticed it and picked it up to put it away she was considered a good housekeeper. Then, she might come across a crying child, the couple is supposed to quiet him and make him smile; this would mean that they will be good parents. Coming across a beggar, means giving generously and is equaled to having a good heart.

The bride arrives to the wedding mass last. In the meantime, the groom waits in front of the church as his best men tease him about the bride, “Did you tell her that you’re getting married today?” and “I don’t think she’ll come”! Her lateness, depending on the number of minutes, would have a different meaning to the groom.

In Northern Italy, the groom brings the bouquet of flowers to the wedding. In fact the color and style of the bouquet is supposed to be a surprise to the bride. This signifies a present from the grooms.

The Reception The best man greets everyone coming to the reception with a tray of liquor. Sweet liquors are served to the women and strong drinks served to the men before any food. The purpose of this is to give everyone an opportunity to toast the bride and groom. A common toast would be “Per cent’anni” (for a hundred years).

All the men at the reception kiss the bride for good luck — and to make the groom jealous.

The bride carried a satin bag (la borsa) in which guests placed envelopes containing money. The money helped toward the expenses of the wedding which was financed by the bride’s family. During the reception, this purse was usually guarded by the brides grandmother (nonna) or mother (the holder of the bag can vary).In some weddings the bride hangs on to the satin bag and all the men who dance with the bride put money in the sack. At some weddings, primarily in Northern Italy, the best man would cuts the groom’s tie into little pieces. The pieces are then put onto a tray and sold to the guests. The proceeds are given to the couple to help pay for the band. It’s a good idea for the groom to bring a cheap tie in anticipation of this custom. Italian weddings have always emphasized food. Strongly linked with family life, food is the focal point of the festivities. The elaborate wedding of the bride and groom brings together the friends and relatives of both families in a celebration of their new relationship.

In ancient Rome, a loaf of wheat bread was broken over the heads of the bride and grooms to ensure a fertile and fulfilling life. Guests would eat the crumbs for good luck.

A multi-course dinner follows often as many as 14 different courses (sometimes even more)!

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The Wedding Favour Tradition

Wedding favors are thank you gifts to each guest or family for sharing that special wedding day. It is the bride’s way of giving each guest a share of her good fortune, sending it home with them for their own enjoyment. Suitable wedding favors vary from culture to culture and with the means of the bride and her family. Commonly accepted favors are small frames, sugar-coated almonds, candies, specially made cookies, porcelain boxes or tulle bags with small keepsakes.

The Bouquet

~ The Bride’s Wedding Bouquet ~

The first wedding bouquets carried were not of blossoms but of herbs. The aroma of the herbs were thought to ward off evil spirits. Later meanings became associated with the meanings of the different herbs. Rosemary signified remembrance. Other herbs such as dill were included to evoke lust and were meant to be eaten by the bride. Flowers were added. Like the herbs each flower had a special meaning or significance. Here are a few flowers and their general meanings. Today a bride will often choose the flowers for her bouquet based on the traditional meaning of the flower.


~ Tossing The Wedding Bouquet ~

Originally the bouquet was given by the bride to one of her friends for good luck or protection. It has come to signify the transfer of luck in marriage or luck in being the next to marry. It is tossed on the departure of the bride and groom at the end of the wedding celebration. It marks the transition from being a single woman to being part of couple. The woman who catches the bouquet will be the next to marry.

The Loud Sendoff

Shoes, Honking Horns and the Loud Send Off
Shoes represented the transfer of property from the Father to the Groom. The honking of horns of the tying of cans had it’s roots in the notion that loud noises would scare off evil spirits. Originally it was to protect the innocent young maiden when traveling. Ringing of bells or setting off firecrackers are still other ways of this tradition is still being carried out. The ringing of bells however is done more often as an announcement of the marriage than is a superstitious act to ward off evil spirits.

Throwing Rice

Rice symbolizes, wealth and fertility.

Tossing rice, birdseed or confetti is used to wish the newly married couple a large harvest, abundance in life or many children.

Today many churches do not allow the throwing of these materials for safety or environmental reasons, as a result, a new tradition has emerged; blowing bubbles.

Although many see no harm in the bubbles, their are churches and reception facilities who do not allow this gesture as well. Please check to be sure beforehand.

The First Kiss

The kiss was used to bind a legal agreement.
It originated with the Romans and was adopted much later by Christians.
It symbolizes a couples union and signifies the commitment they have made to one another.

The Unity Candle

The lighting of the unity candle symbolizes the merging of two lives into one. In some ceremonies the lighting of the unity candle will also incorporate the families of the bride and groom. There it symbolizes the joining together of two families, as well as the union of the couple, in a marriage. It marks the transfer of commitment from their families to the new commitment in establishing their own family in their life together.

The Ring Finger

For centuries the wedding or engagement ring has graced the second finger of the left hand. This traditional goes all the way back to the time of the Egyptians. They believed that a vein ran directly from the 2nd finger to the heart.