When, Where and Whom
Found In: Weddings & Commitment Ceremonies
For a person trying to plan a wedding, it can seem that there are as many days on which weddings are not performed in the Jewish calendar as there are days on which there are. What follows is a list of all days on which weddings are generally not performed. That said, many Reform rabbis will perform weddings on some of these days so you should double-check your plans with your rabbi.
Days on Which Weddings are not Performed
• Shabbat (Friday at sundown until Saturday after night falls or even later if the rabbi or others have to travel on Saturday night to the wedding.) – It is usually impossible to have a wedding on a Saturday night in the summer months when Shabbat can end as late as 9 pm.
• Most Jewish Holidays and the Intermediate Days – to wit, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and the five festival days which follow the two days of the holiday, Shemini Atzeret, Simchat Torah, Passover (the 2 days of the holiday at the beginning, the 4 intermediate days, and 2 days of holiday at the end), Shavuot).
• The Days of the Omer – from Passover to Shavuot with some exceptions – Rosh Chodesh and Lag B’Omer (the 33rd day of the Omer). Some rabbis will perform weddings after Passover but before Rosh Chodesh Iyar. Some will perform weddings after Lag B’Omer, and some will perform weddings during the first five days of Sivan leading up to Shavuot.
• The Three Weeks – The days from the 17th of Tamuz until and including Tisha B’Av (both being days of fasting).
Consult a website like www.hebcal.com to determine when these holidays fall out in any given year.
When Should You Get Married?
Many Jewish weddings take place on Sunday during the day. Monday night is also viewed as an auspicious time on which to get married because, in the story of Creation, God twice said that the third day (which begins on Monday evening) was good. Many Orthodox couples opt for Monday night. Rosh Chodesh is also considered an auspicious time to wed. Couples wishing to have a night wedding on a weekend in the warmer months often opt for a Sunday-night wedding. This can, however, be very inconvenient for guests who need to travel and return to work Monday morning unless, of course, there is a Monday holiday. If you want a particular rabbi to perform your wedding, be sure to consult with her before you set the date. Rabbis’ calendars fill up quickly, especially in the warmer months.
There is no special location at which a wedding should take place. Many Jewish weddings take place in synagogues but catering halls, restaurants, beautiful outdoor sites, and backyards are all suitable. A backyard wedding often has a certain intimacy which cannot be found in a more institutional setting. In choosing a spot, there are a few considerations to keep in mind. Do you need kosher catering and can you have kosher catering at that location? If it is a synagogue, what rules do they impose about weddings? For an outdoor location, think about weather and also older guests – will they be able to get there? Sit comfortably? Have a restroom nearby? What kind of rentals will you have to provide? Do you need a tent? Some couples choose to hold the ceremony in one place and the party in another. The downside of this arrangement is that guests will usually have to drive from one location to the other, interrupting the flow of events, and taking what can be considerable time away from wedding festivities.
Whom to Invite?
Weddings come in all sizes. Jewish law, however, requires a minyan, a minimum of ten Jews, for a wedding to be kosher. In deciding whom to invite, you should think about what kind of events you like and about your budget. Some people invite additional guests to the ceremony but not to the meal to cut down on costs but nevertheless include these people. Some families also hold parties before or after the wedding in other cities so that friends who cannot travel can nevertheless celebrate with the bride and groom.