As wedding planners we are routinely asked to develop themes, make important décor and food selections and direct the nuptial activities before, during and after a wedding ceremony for brides and grooms of all faiths.
But before you make any irreversible decisions or call up your preferred partners and vendors, you must first ask your Jewish or Interfaith Brides these three important questions. Because at the end of the day, you want to avoid any rough waters and instead enjoy smooth sailing all the way down the aisle…and throughout the weekend!
Tell me what Kosher means to you?
The dictionary definition of “Kosher” means a person who observes Jewish food laws. The problem is that “observing Jewish food laws,” can mean different levels of observation to different people. For example, Glatt Kosher means food prepared under observation with the strictest guidelines of Kashrut, and that differs from Kosher style. Before you assume what type or style of food your bride (or her family) plans to serve, ask for her (and her family’s) definition of Kosher!
What time is sunset to YOUR Clergy? (i.e. has she asked her clergy what time the wedding can start)?
Jewish weddings cannot be held on Shabbat (from sundown Friday to sundown on Saturday). If your bride is getting married on a Saturday night it is crucial to find out what time her officiant is willing to start the ceremony. And by ceremony I mean the Ketubah signing. This can vary widely according to a clergy’s comfort level. One clergy I know was willing to do a 3:00 p.m. Chuppah Ceremony on a Saturday afternoon but did the Ketubah signing after sunset. While another clergy refused to get in his car to drive to the wedding venue until 1 hour after sunset. Before invitations are ordered make sure she has dotted her I’s and crossed her T’s with her rabbi or cantor!
How long do you want to do Yihud?
Notice the question isn’t, “Are you planning to do Yihud?” Yihud is Hebrew for the word seclusion. In Jewish wedding tradition the bride and groom leave the chuppah and go directly into Yihud for a few moments of private time. Historically unmarried males and females were never alone together without supervision; therefore Yihud was a public act symbolizing the new status of the relationship. Today, Yihud provides a few minutes of tranquility for the couple to enjoy together in total solitude, before entering a reception full of revelry, photographers and everyone wanting a peek at the newest piece of jewelry. Convincing your bride and groom to take 15 minutes of time alone together will be the part of their wedding reception they will remember (and enjoy) the most.
Austin, Texas native Michele Schwartz is the creator and editor-in-chief of The Modern Jewish Wedding, the popular website for Jewish/interfaith couples and wedding planners. She is a professional event planner, specializing in Jewish life cycle events. A well-known speaker at national conferences, Michele inspires event planners, caterers and hospitality professionals to blend Jewish customs with modern trends.