Wedding Photography Blog

Jewish Wedding Reception Traditions

The things that makes Jewish wedding receptions unique

Congratulations! You have finally tied the knot with the love of your life! However, the best things are yet to come. After signing the ketubah, raising the huppah, exchanging rings and stomping on the glass during your Jewish marriage ceremony, more rituals await you and your other half following your wedding photography session that will turn this special celebration to a more joyous one!

The Challah

The wedding reception meal officially starts with the blessing of the challah, or the intricately braided bread. The parents of the couple or other honored guests can give the blessing or hamatzi.

S’eudah Mitzvah

It is basically what makes up your reception as it is all about food, including fish and chicken which serve as fertility symbols and are always present in all Jewish weddings. The first course at a Sephardic wedding is known as the Sutlach. This is a sweet rice pudding made with honey, almonds and coconut milk which all symbolize a prosperous and sweet life.

If you are still undecided if you should serve kosher meal during your wedding, remember that kosher dishes are delicious – just minus a few things. Your options are not limited to lead latkes and dry brisket alone. There are in fact tons of delicious kosher treats guaranteed to make your guests satisfied!

Think of artichoke penne, sundried tomato or seared salmon. You can even go for roasted veggie couscous or rosemary chicken. Spicy tuna sushi or garlic marinated Romanian tenderloin are also wonderful. You can choose between a dairy meal and a meat one. Take note that eggs and fish are parve so these can go both ways. Look for a glatt-kosher caterer. If you find it hard core, request your caterer to come up with a kosher style menu which follows kosher rules but is not necessarily cooked within a kosher kitchen.

The Hora

Any Jewish wedding will not be complete if the famous Hora or chair dance is not included. In this ritual, some brave and strong guests will hoist the groom and bride high above the wedding crowd on chairs while the infectious Hava Nagila sounds are played. Family and friends dance around in ecstatic circle as the elevated couples tries not to look down…or fall!  Wedding photographers love this part of the evening as it offers some lively photos, often shot from a very different angle when compared to the rest of the day.

Mitzvah Dances

It is not just mere mitzvah or good deed to entertain the couple on their big day as this is also an obligation. During traditional Jewish weddings, the bride and groom sits on chairs while guests dance in front of them wearing silly costumes, masks and props.

Krenzel or Mezinke Tanz

The Mezinke Tanz is among the concluding dances on the night which honors parents who married off their last offspring. This is also called Krenzel or the Yiddish for crown, referring to the crown of flowers usually placed on the hair of the mother during the dance. Proud parents sit on chairs at the center of the dance floor while family and friends dance around and kiss them as they pass.

Birkat Hamazon

The birkat hamazon is the traditional way of ending the festive meal. These are the blessings following the meal. Benchers or booklets of prayers are given to guests. After the prayers, seven wedding blessings will be repeated to give friends another chance to participate. Lastly, the blessing over the wine will be recited while two wine glasses are being poured together to a third glass which symbolizes the creation of a brand new life together with the new marriage.

The wedding venue in Melbourne that probably hosts the most Jewish wedding receptions is Quat Quatta in Ripponlea.  It’s no coincidence that they have a huge dancefloor that is perfect for the Hora!

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