Every bride and groom experiences stress when planning a wedding. In fact, the majority of couples report experiencing symptoms of severe stress, such as headaches, difficulty sleeping, even hair loss.
To make matters worse, planning a Jewish wedding means adding even more boxes to your checklist!
But don’t start pulling your hair out yet – we’ve got you covered. To help you plan your dream wedding, we’ve put together the ultimate Jewish wedding checklist, including everything from the basics to the little details.
12 Months or More Before
Congratulations! You just got engaged. Now it’s time to start envisioning your perfect wedding. Do you want your ceremony to be long or short? Does your wedding include all of the Jewish rituals, or just a few?
Decide what time of year you want to have your wedding and pencil in a few possible dates. Venues book up fast, so it’s a good idea to have several options in mind in case your first choice is taken.
That said, you might be in luck! Because many Jewish weddings take place on Sunday to honor the Sabbath, you’ll have a broader choice of dates and even lower prices on the venue and vendors.
Start scouting out synagogues in your chosen city as well if you want to have your ceremony in a house of worship. At this point, it’s also wise to begin casual research into vendors and officiants.
6 to 12 Months Before
Once you’ve nailed down your date, you can begin nailing down the finer details. The first step is to choose your officiant, you’ll need to discuss the structure of your ceremony and your marriage requirements.
If you have one you’re close with, great! If not, don’t be afraid to have a few meetings with your officiant ahead of the big day, whether in person or over the phone. The better they know you and your partner, the more personalized and meaningful your ceremony will be.
Next, you need to print and mail (or e-mail) your save the dates. It’s important to give your guests as much notice as possible to maximize the number of loved ones that are able to be there to celebrate with you.
4 to 6 Months Before
Now’s the time to check with your officiant or synagogue to ask if there are any dress requirements, both for you and your partner and your guests. For example, your chosen synagogue might require that the bride cover her shoulders, or that the groom wear a kittel for the ceremony.
If you plan to have an aufruf, a pre-wedding blessing for the bride and groom, you’ll need to discuss that with your synagogue as well.
During this period, you need to start thinking about your ketubah, or marriage contract. Those wishing for a custom made ketubah will need to begin contacting artists to discuss rates and time frames. Don’t worry, if you need help writing your ketubah, your officiant can help you with different ketubah texts!
3 to 4 Months Before
With a few months left before your wedding, it’s important to allocate any special performances you’ll be having. Who is going to sign the ketubah? Hold the huppah? Bless the challah? Read the seven wedding blessings?
Talk to the person you’d like to perform each of these rituals and ensure that they’re willing and comfortable with doing so.
It’s also time to go shopping for your wedding bands. Remember, they should be simple – no precious stones or piercings. Plan your huppah next. All of the details should be worked out before moving on.
Last, take one final look at your guest list. Once you’re happy with it, book your prewedding dinner site. You shouldn’t have to worry about a rehearsal, as most rabbis are against entering the huppah more than once.
2 Months Before
Your wedding day is fast approaching, which means the first thing you need to do is a few stress-relief exercises. Okay, now that you’re back, let’s talk about invitations. It’s best to send your invites out six to eight weeks before the wedding day to give your guests time to make their final travel and clothing arrangements.
You’ll also need to order your yarmulkes. To take it up a notch, have your last name and your Hebrew wedding date printed on them to give out as wedding favors. Be sure to learn your Hebrew blessings as well if you’re having an aufruf.
This is also the time to order any additional paper materials you’ll need: ceremony programs, seating labels, prayer booklets, etc.
1 Month Before
This is the time to begin finalizing your plans. The only new item on your list at this point is to work on your tish, or informal speech before the ceremony.
Other than that, all that’s left to do is to check with your officiant and other vendors to make sure that everyone’s on the same page. Finalize your vows, as well as any readings and other ceremony details specific to your wedding.
Even though you aren’t having a rehearsal, you should still check with everyone taking part in the ceremony. Ensure that everyone knows where to be, when to be there, and what their job is.
If you need to practice signing your Hebrew name for the ketubah, now is the time to do so.
The Day Before
You made it! Your top priority should be enjoying your time with friends and family and, most importantly, getting a good night’s sleep.
Before you turn in for the night, however, entrust your ritual elements to a trustworthy loved one. Give them your ketubah and the pen for signing it, your huppah and poles, the rings and yarmulkes, the kiddush cup, and your stomping glass.
Last but not least, if you’re planning to fast on your wedding day, be sure to drink plenty of water and eat a good meal the night before. You want to feel your best on your big day, after all!
Use This Jewish Wedding Checklist to Tackle Planning Like a Pro
Regardless of the type of event you’re planning, whether it’s a Catholic, secular, or Jewish wedding, there’s no question that it can be stressful. But with this checklist, you’ll find that planning your wedding isn’t nearly as difficult as you might have thought.
Interested in learning more about planning the ultimate wedding? Take a look at our blog!