Part 4 of 7
Jewish Wedding Ceremony Order
The Jewish wedding vows and ring ceremony is part of the Jewish ceremony called Kiddushin. The bride and groom are welcomed into the Chuppah, with blessings recited by the Rabbi. The bride and groom approach the Chuppah separately, accompanied by their respective parents.
- The groom is escorted to and stands with them under the Chuppah.
- The bride is escorted down the aisle and stops in the middle.
- The parents or honored relatives walk ahead and take their place under the Chuppah on the right side.
- The groom standing under the Chuppah leaves to greet and escort his bride to the Chuppah.The rabbi recites two blessings over the wine that is held in a vessel called the Kiddush Cup.
For guests, they will notice the bride stands on the right side of her groom under the Chuppah, both facing the rabbi.
Why does the bride stand on the groom’s right side under the Chuppah for their Jewish Ceremony? The position of the bride on the right side of the groom is based on an interpretation of a verse in Psalms (45:10) “The queen stands on your right hand in fine gold of Ophir.” In Jewish tradition the bride is a queen, and the groom a king.
The Ring Ceremony is part of the Kiddushin. The exchange of rings is the central act of the marriage ceremony. In Jewish law, a verbal declaration of marriage is not legally binding. There must be an act of formal physical acquisition of some object of known value. This answers the every popular question, “why does the groom place the ring on the bride’s index finger?” It symbolizes the acceptance of the object from the groom to his bride and honoring Jewish law.
Traditionally there was no exchange of vows as we know it. The vows were implied when the groom placed the ring on the bride’s finger. Over 2,000 years, since our ancient texts, the Haray At (the groom recites) and the Haray Atah (the bride recites) are spoken to each other with the exchange of rings included in their ceremonies. Those spoken Jewish wedding vows are always part of ceremonies.
Please notice that Rabbi Andrea Frank does not write out the vows English translation, for it is tradition to not recite those vows to each other until you stand under the Chuppah. There are spiritual powers to those vows and when you choose to have a Jewish wedding ceremony, being a contemporary couple of today is irrelevant. Not to worry, this is something a couple will discuss with the rabbi when they meet to discuss their wedding.
During the ring ceremony, the groom places a plain gold ring onto the bride’s index finger of her right hand. Judaism states it is the index finger of the bride that is closest to the heart. The use of plain gold rings, owned by family members of the groom, without gems reflect the unbroken circle that represents a pure and eternal union. It would not be a blessing to use rings of a couple that have divorced.
Optional by the Jewish Wedding Rabbi:
The bride and groom can place a ring on the ring finger of each others left hand. This is honoring contemporary life and equality with couples today joining in marriage. There is no historical resource on where this tradition became part of American culture. Some Rabbis will be include this in your ceremonies and some will not. It is advisable for this to be part of the discussions when meeting the Rabbi that will officiate your Jewish wedding ceremony