Wedding vows are a rich and complex subject for any Jewish couple planning their wedding. On the one hand, there's great meaning in Jewish wedding vows, ensuring your ceremony will be beautiful no matter what route you take. On the other, variations in tradition are found between synagogues and among individual Rabbis, which can make the selection of your ceremony rituals a bit of a challenge.
Fortunately, all these options mean greater room for creativity for today's Jewish couples. And you may be surprised how your search for the perfect vows leads you and your spouse-to-be toward a deeper connection with your faith -- and each other. Let's take a look at a few possibilities when it comes to planning the perfect Jewish wedding vows.
Traditions, Old and New
Each major branch of the Jewish faith -- orthodox, reform or conservative -- has a long and detailed history available to guide a Jewish couple. By researching the meaning and origins of traditional rituals and symbols, a couple will gain a better understanding of their faith and will be able to find those parts of a Jewish wedding which hold the most meaning for them. Jewish American History on the Web
offers a detailed guide to the Jewish wedding ceremony. Look here for copies of the traditional blessings and explanations for many of the meaningful rituals of a Jewish wedding to get your thought process started on customizing your own unique vows.
Also check out World Wedding Traditions
to learn about the various parts of a Jewish wedding. By understanding where the symbolism lies, you can better incorporate the elements into your ceremony -- with far more meaning for yourself and your groom.
Jewish Wedding Wording
In their earliest historic days, Jewish weddings did not necessarily contain vows by today's at least not the way we think of them today. In place of vows, a wedding contract was either read by the Rabbi or recited by the groom. The performance of the wedding ceremony was the couple's promise to one another.
Many Jewish couples today are kicking things a notch (and giving them a more modern spin) by including ring ceremonies and other elements, such as special scriptural readings by (gasp!) the bride. They are also incorporating vows as part of their ceremony to convey the commitment of marriage in a way that guests can share in and enjoy.
Sites like Dallas Fort Worth Wedding Exchange
offer transcriptions of Jewish wedding services to give couples a jumping-off point in what they may or may not want to include in their ceremony.
Of course, the best sounding board you can find is your wedding officiator. Tell the officiator or Rabbi how you envision your ceremony and ask what he or she thinks of it. The officiator will probably be happy to give you pointers and let you know what other couples have done to make their vows, and the ceremony, gorgeous.
Finding a Jewish Wedding Officiate
One major factor in creating a meaningful ceremony is the selection of your officiator. Rabbis are highly trained members of the clergy with vast knowledge and experience to share with you. Find a Rabbi who makes you feel comfortable and with whom you can have an open and frank discussion of your plans for your ceremony. A Rabbi can explain the meaning behind the traditional words and the connection those phrases have to the Jewish faith as a whole.
The bottom line: including certain wedding vows or reciting the marriage contract are entirely up to the couple and the Rabbi who will be guiding the ceremony. Navigating the different paths the Jewish faith offers to a bridal couple can be a rewarding task. By exploring the different options and traditions, couples will find a deeper connection to their faith and a better understanding of themselves as they prepare to take the first steps into married life -- and a joyful future.
You may also be interested in reading our article about Jewish Wedding Traditions