Russian Jewish Weddings

The Russian Jewish faith, as well as sharing many similarities with the traditional Jewish wedding customs, contains a series of intricate components which define it as a unique tradition. Serendipity have had the immense privilege of attending and capturing a variety of Russian Jewish wedding celebrations, we continue to be inspired by the harmonious combination of elegant and unique visual settings, warm atmosphere and respect for family. Russian Jewish weddings are very festive with many beautiful traditions, huge amounts of dancing, drinking and very significant speeches.

The Ceremony 

1. Greeting the couple (Kabbalat Panim)

Before the wedding begins, bride and groom receive guests in two separate rooms. This could take place in their subsequent homes or in the chosen reception centre. The bride sits on a symbolic throne, surrounded by her mother, future mother-in-law, bridesmaids, friends and relatives.

In the groom’s area the legal marriage documents — ketuba — are prepared and signed. This marriage contract describes the wedding date and place, the couple’s names, and the groom’s responsibilities to support his future wife and to make their future life happy. The groom and two legally valid witnesses sign the ketuba.

2. Veiling of the bride (Badeken)

The separation of the couple (which may have lasted up to a week!) ends when the groom proceeds to the bride’s quarters, accompanied by his groomsman and family. He then meets his bride and gently covers her face with the veil, as she is a blessed by grandfathers, fathers and her groom.

3. Chuppah

Chuppah (the bridal canopy) is symbolic of the couple’s new home. Traditionally the groom enters the Chuppah first, here he prepares to welcome his future wife into the home. As the bride enters, she follows the sacred custom of Russian Jewish brides by circling her groom 7 times, which symbolically encloses the couple’s home; protecting it from outside harm and illuminating it with warmth and love.

The conclusion of ritual formalities is marked by the newlyweds taking a drink from a cup of wine before the groom breaks a glass by stamping on it ( a reminder of Jerusalem and Israel). Celebration fills the air as the guests then surround the newlyweds and wish them “Mazel Tov!”

Reception Celebrations

A real highlight of many Russian Jewish celebrations is the focus and deep consideration placed upon speech giving. As they are considered perhaps the most important event during the reception celebrations; the speeches are received with deep respect and complete attention. Yet as is a beautiful demonstration of the warmth of the Russian Jewish culture, the speech giving is also a time for generousity; an opportunity to express love and affection, and above all else an example of the importance of family.

As well as containing many serious moments, Russian Jewish weddings are festive and joyous occasions, the visual simplicity of the Chuppah is often the perfect complement for unique settings such as outdoor gardens, before heading indoors to partake in the rich and festive customs including traditional dances and beautiful food. Follow the links to our accompanying pages on Jewish Traditions and Jewish Dancing for more inspiration!





One Response to “Russian Jewish Weddings”
  1. Gila Shirinov 3 May 2012 at 2:24 pm #

    We had our ceremony at Kimberley Gardens. We chose to have the ceremony outside underneath the Chuppah because I like to have that freedom and open feeling. The weather was really fine with blue skies. We were lucky!

    I liked the atmosphere and warmth of the experience, being surrounded by all the people close to us.
    The ceremony was not too long and at the same time was so meaningful.

    The Chuppah was very special to me as it is a good part of the tradition where we commit to each other.
    The dancing was wonderful, crazy, energetic and fun. We didn’t stop!!!

    Thank you Serendipity for taking such beautiful photos of our day.


Leave a Reply