You’re getting married? Great! Mazal Tov!
Here are some guidelines to help you if you’re thinking of asking me to officiate your wedding:
What does a wedding with me look like?
I understand a Jewish wedding to be the beautiful weaving together of:
- Ancient rituals
- Modern expressions of your love for one another
- The involvement of your families and friends (to the extent that you want)
- Elements that are personally meaningful to you as a couple
- Several components that make a wedding valid according to Jewish law
That last part is important to understand – a Jewish wedding is both a personal expression of your love for one another, and a communal ritual with Jewishly legal significance.
If that sounds like really heavy legal language, here are two quick things to consider:
1. It should be! Getting married is probably the most significant legal decision (civil and religious) you’ll ever make in your life. But also…
2. Take a breath. Look into your beloved’s eyes. Smile. And don’t worry – as part of our meeting together, we’ll learn what all this means, how it will enrich your celebration, and how you can make choices to plan and customize the wedding to your desires.
Where do we start?
1. The first step is for you to read through this entire page. If, after reading this, you feel like our visions of a Jewish wedding might match each other, the next step is for the three of us to meet face-to-face, and establish a real connection. Please know that I can only make a decision about officiating after talking with you as a couple, so that I can appreciate what kind of wedding ceremony you are planning, why you’re asking a rabbi to officiate, the kind of Jewish home you envision, and some of your thinking about your future children, if you choose to and are blessed to have any.
2. Planning a wedding together takes at least four in person meetings, where we will learn about the wedding rituals, envision the ceremony together, and plan logistical elements. I will also hear about your relationship, create space for you to openly discuss your wishes for each other, and will offer spiritual direction as you take this next step on your journey toward married life.
3. If you are thinking of asking me to officiate your wedding, please speak with me before setting a wedding date! There are many dates when I am unavailable, due to the Jewish holiday calendar and my own personal scheduling.
The following are days when I am always unable to officiate. You can find details of these holidays, including their dates, here:
- Any Shabbat. This means that I will not officiate at a Friday Evening/Saturday wedding until well after sunset on Saturday. Consult your local times for when Shabbat ends, and be sure to consider any travel time it would take for me to get to your desired location.
- The High Holy Days: Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and the Ten Days of Repentance in between.
- The eight days of Sukkot, including Atzeret/Simchat Torah
- The eight days of Pesach (Passover)
- The two days of Shavuot
- The 49 days in between Pesach and Shavuot (with the exception of Lag b’Omer)
- Purim, and the day before Purim (Ta’anit Esther)
- The Three Weeks leading up to, and including Tisha b’Av
- Yom HaShoah
4. What does having a Jewish wedding according to halakhah (Jewish law) practically mean?
Judaism is an ancient tradition that offers many spiritual teachings on love, sex, and relationships, and I believe in a general stance of honouring our elders and the wisdom which they have passed down for generations. (By the way – they also got a lot wrong in this area, too, and it’s ok and important to acknowledge that!) When it comes to weddings, for me, this perspective means performing a ceremony that is modern and relevant for you and your guests, and also follows many of the spiritual and legal traditions which have been at the core of Jewish life for thousands of years (see the bullet points below for what this entails).
I understand that not everyone is looking for a Jewish wedding that leans into these kind of religious components. And that’s okay! If that sounds like you, I recommend taking a look at Unorthodox Celebrations, a great way to connect with a rabbi who could be a good fit for you. I’m also happy to have a first conversation together if you have more questions or want to learn more.
By the way, while my weddings are built around Jewish ritual and law, I understand that many of the friends and family who will be at your wedding might not be familiar with these practices, or might not be Jewish themselves. That’s ok! As part of our meetings together, you’ll help me understand who’s coming to your wedding, and I always create a ceremony that explains what’s taking place using inclusive language. Together, we’ll bring your guests into the celebration as much as you’d like.
Still with me? Ok! Here are the nitty-gritty Jewish details when it comes to me officiating a wedding:
- I only officiate at Jewish wedding ceremonies that include the following traditional elements: the traditional wedding blessings, ritual vows, chuppah, ketubah (please talk to me before ordering a ketubah – there are many different kinds), and rings (at least for a bride, and preferably, for both bride and groom).
- My weddings are both egalitarian and halakhic (that means performed according to Jewish law) – so both the bride and groom, bride and bride, or groom and groom have equal status and responsibilities in the eyes of Jewish law and tradition.
- I do not officiate at secular weddings, or co-officiate with non-Jewish clergy.
- I ask that all couples whose wedding I officiate take part in pre-marital counselling. I find this to be a really beautiful opportunity to think about your shared values as a couple, and to lay the groundwork for what will, God willing, be a lifelong partnership. This is one of the best gifts you can give yourself as a couple. It can be counselling facilitated by me (in addition to and as part of our wedding preparations), or can be done with a different rabbi, or a counsellor/therapist.
Hey, you made it to the bottom! If, after looking over these guidelines, you think we may be a good match for your wedding, be in touch, and let’s talk about your special day!