Thursday, June 26, 2008

Wedding points to consider

I finally finished "The New Jewish Wedding," by Anita Diamant, the book my colleague lent me. Diamant made quite a few interesting points, some of which pertain only to Jewish weddings. I am going to start with the nondenominational stuff first. (Yes, there are a lot of points, and it would be better if I had a summary on the main page and then a link to another page with the rest of the information, but I haven't figured out how to do that.) I hope this information is helpful.

1. Give your parents a list of nonnegotiable items and of ones that are negotiable.

2. Instruct the caterer and a friend to prepare a tray with a sampling of hors d'oeuvres for you and your groom.

3. Appoint an ambassador to the bandleader to let your wishes be known.

4. Ask to see the photographer’s portfolios – printed pictures and contact sheets, to see their overall approach.

5. Ask the photographer not to miss the day's spirit -- take action shots not just posed, and do a more editorial, candid approach to the event to portray a nearly complete record of the day.

6. Speak to the photographer in advance to tell him/her shots and events not to miss.

7. Ask the photographer if other people can take photos.

8. Ask your friend who also takes pics to take shots of the three-year-old relative with salad all over her dress. 

9. Ask venue references about quantity of food not just the quality. 

10. Assign a trusted relative or friend, who is not part of the processional, to be in charge of it. Introduce him/her to everyone and write the order of the processional on a card. This person collects and arranges the members of the party before their entrances, and on cue from the officiant, sends them out in order, and on time.  

11. The processional can carry candles instead of flowers. Clarify the fire laws at the venue. Use drip-less tapers and some sort of candle holders. 

12. To avoid the need for and strain of a rehearsal, do something the night before so all the family members can meet. 

13. Ask friends to bring the cut flowers from the wedding to a hospital or nursing home after the event. 

14. For the vows, the bride and groom can compose lists of promises they read to each other or you can ask the officiant to read a series of questions you've written, like "Do you, Jamie, promise to be patient with Lauren, to laugh at her jokes and comfort her tears, to live together as companions and lovers?" Then: "Do you, Lauren, promise to be patient with Jamie, to learn alongside him what it means to be a human, what it means to love another person for a while lifetime?" 

15. Before you meet with the officiant, ask yourself what you want from a rite of passage. What is your preferred style of celebration like for birthdays? Think about weddings you’ve been to, read about or seen in movies. What did you like and dislike? Tell her what you are looking for in the ceremony. Do you care if God is referred to as a male? 

16. Ask the officiant questions, when you meet with her, like describing the most beautiful wedding she ever conducted and what made it special. What do you normally do as a wedding liturgy? How much of the ceremony will you be translating into English? 

17. Ask the officiant not to feign closeness. 

18. It is customary to send the rabbi and her spouse an invitation to the party following the ceremony. Ask if she keeps Kosher. 

19. You can make your ketubah, the Jewish wedding contract, egalitarian, and can have it spell out in Hebrew and English the mutual commitment and obligations. 

20. The Jewish checklist on the day of the wedding should be entrusted to a reliable person who will make sure that everything is ready and in place: table and tablecloth for ketubah signing and under the huppah; ketubah and pen with correct color of ink; huppah and poles; kiddush cup and wine/grape juice; glass for breaking in a napkin or pouch; rings; candles and matches; wedding booklets; yarmulkes for guests. 

21. When the bride and groom are under the canopy, two attendants might light one candle each while someone reads this story from the Baal Shem Tov: "From every human being there raises a light that reaches straight to heaven. And when two souls that are destined for each other find one another, their streams of light flow together and a single brighter light goes forth from their united being." 

22. Sadly, 1/3 to 1/2 of Jewish weddings end in divorce, and this book was only published in 1985. Boo hoo.


Daniel Sroka said...

I have another suggestion for your list, regarding ketubahs. There are a lot of options available for your ketubah, especially for interfaith and non-denominational couples. But I always recommend that you check with your rabbi or officiant before finalizing your text. There may be some language that your type of ceremony requires, or they may simply have some good suggestions for how to word things. Since they sign your ketubah as well, they appreciate being consulted.

Miss. Scoop said...

I see that you make ketubahs for a living...

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