Over the years, I’ve officiated many secular (non-religious) weddings that incorporated Jewish wedding traditions. It’s worked out really well because I happened to have done the same thing in my own wedding in 2006. We had a birch tree huppah with a covering hand-embroidered by my mother, it was beautiful. We also conducted a simple wine ceremony during the proceedings and then concluded our wedding ceremony with a few quiet moments alone. All of these elements happen to come from the Jewish tradition.Read More
The breaking of the glass at a wedding is one of my all-time favorite traditions. I just love the symbolism of this tradition. There are many interpretations of the meaning of this Jewish tradition, but the one I like this best, and the one I use in many of my ceremonies, is this:
The breaking of the glass at a wedding is a symbolic hope that you will spend as many years together in happiness as it would take to collect all the pieces of the glass and reassemble it.
It's simple, secular and so meaningful! You don't have to even be Jewish to use this and appreciate its intent.
Others may say that the glass represents the fragility of life, relationship and/or marriage or that the sound of the breaking glass frightens away unwanted spirits. The many tiny shards of glass can also represent the abundance of life that the couple will enjoy from this day forward. Or, as in many of the other Jewish traditions, the breaking of the glass can represent that you are acknowledging the bitterness or hardships inevitable in any life (you've already recognized the sweetness and happiness of life in the wedding ceremony itself). Either way you interpret it, it's a lovely element to add into your ceremony whether you're Jewish or not.
When to Break the glass
Traditionally the breaking of the glass happens at the end of the wedding ceremony and, if the couple getting married is opposite-sex, the groom does the breaking. But we can do whatever we want in weddings nowadays so you can both break a glass.
How to Break the Glass
I suggest using a incandescent lightbulb wrapped in a tea towel. Get a cheap towel from Home Goods or TJMaxx as it will be ruined and you'll throw it away afterwards. Do not use a compact fluorescent lightbulb since it contains mercury which is dangerous. Some people use a wine glass and even others buy special glass made to break easily (but that's totally not necessary since a light bulb does the trick and has a nice loud POP!).
Immediately upon the breaking of the glass the crowd shouts "Mazel tov!" which means “Good luck!” in Hebrew. If you're not Jewish and you don't want to use the Hebrew, just have your guests shout "Congratulations!" It's such a fun and festive way to end your ceremony and leaves everyone feeling happy and energized!
I've written a couple other posts about Jewish traditions to incorporate into you wedding ceremony.
I loved this wedding! Ben and Kalyn brought Jewish wedding traditions into their secular ceremony. Their fathers read the Seven Blessings; Kalyn's dad read them in Hebrew (well done, Peter!) and Ben's father read the English translation. Such a creative way to include the fathers in the ceremony. The bride and groom used local Maine beer for their "wine ceremony" and drank to the past, the present and the future of their love. They even included the breaking of the glass, a favorite tradition of mine.
One of the best parts of this ceremony was that it was unplugged. Ben and Kalyn asked their guests to turn off all devices during the ceremony, which meant when we looked out at the guests all we saw were smiling faces and attentive, happy, people who were totally present. It changed the entire mood of the ceremony making it feel like everyone was truly there as witnesses and not just as observers. If I wasn't already convinced of the benefit of this concept (and I was) I am 100% on board with the trend of turning off phones and putting down cameras for the ceremony!
All photos by A Sweet Start.
Officiant: A Sweet Start
Photographer: Greta Tucker Photography
Flowers: Marianmade Farm
Ceremony and Cocktail Hour Music: Opus Trio
Caterer: Fishin' Ships + Pizza by Fire
Ceremony + Reception Venue: Marianmade Farm
Planning and Design: Emily Elizabeth Events
Reception Music: DJ Jon
Custom Mason Jar Favors: LiveME
When I was planning my wedding, way before I became a professional wedding officiant, I read tons of books (yes, I got married so long ago that there were no wedding blogs yet <gasp>) about different traditional elements to a wedding. I was particularly drawn to many of the Jewish traditions. My grandmother was Jewish and that makes my father Jewish. However, they never went to synagogue or really practiced any of the tenets of the faith, so technically I'm not jewish at all. But as I said, I was drawn to some of the Jewish wedding traditions.
What is the Yichud?
One tradition in particular that I thought sounded appealing, was the Yichud. the Jewish Book of Why describes it like this:
This word means “seclusion,” and it’s a totally private affair. Immediately after the [wedding] ceremony, the couple retreats to a private room for 15 minutes of staring into each other’s eyes. in the past, bride and groom would head to a nearby tent to consummate the marriage! This isn’t done much these days, but it is customary for newlyweds to seize a Yichud moment and feed each other a bite of something.
The idea of having a few private moments with my husband before joining the party seemed like such a romantic idea. So this is what we did. We had someone set up two chairs and a small bistro table with a chilled 1/2 bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne on it. This was all set up on a small Point jutting into the river. From the Point we could look back at the party, which allowed us to have a moment of reflection.
Immediately after the ceremony, I took off my (fabulous, gorgeous) wedding shoes and put on some sneakers so we could walk down the path through the woods to "Wedding Point." (We got married at my parents' house so we all refer to it as Wedding Point now.)
You know what? It was romantic! Nick popped the cork on the champagne and we watched our guests enjoying the cocktail hour. Our photographer followed us out there and took a few photos, and then we all went back and joined the party.
I would highly recommend finding a way to incorporate a moment for just the two of your right after your wedding ceremony, especially if you've invited 100+ guests. It's all going to zoom by so quickly you might look back with regret that you didn't take a deep breath and look into your sweetheart's eyes and acknowledge the significant moment you just shared.
All photos by Amy Wilton Photography