Jewish Weddings

Conservative Jewish wedding questions from a newbie

Hi, I'm new to this board but I have a few questions.

First, a little background...I converted to conservative judaism about four years ago and my FI has been a conservative Jew his whole life. The problem is that neither of us have ever been to a Jewish wedding, as my family is not Jewish, and my FI is the oldest of his cousins and the first to marry. Our religion is important to us and it is important we have a traditional Jewish wedding.

We have a great rabbi so he will help to make sure the ceremony is just right, but I have a few questions and/or concerns.

First, what are some good websites for ordering wedding judaica? I've looked into and we have registered there cause we liked the selection, but what about places for ketubahs and kippot? Also how in advance should I order these items?

2. What are some ideas for ceremony music? My best friend since high school has a masters in trumpet so he will be playing and will learn any song I want, but what are some good suggestions?

3. Our rabbi is going to do the ceremony in English and Hebrew for our guests since the majority of our guests will not be Jewish. I also am thinking about explaining elements of the ceremony in the program so people understand the significance, any examples of this?

4. I have concerns that because most of our guests are not Jewish, I am worried not enough people will be able to dance the hora to make it fun, or not enough people will shout mazel tov at the end, or sing Siman tov. Are these legitimate worries, is there a way to make it so people who are unfamiliar still feel comfortable enough to partake and know how to participate?

I'm sorry I have so many questions, I just want to make sure things are right and that our guests feel included and can participate.

Re: Conservative Jewish wedding questions from a newbie

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    artikaurartikaur member
    First Anniversary First Comment
    edited February 2013
    1. I have no idea about good Judaica websites, but your Rabbi might be able to point you in the right direction. Depending on where you're ordering the items from, make sure you give ample time for shipping and processing (overseas orders take longer). I've heard some other poster's talk about this website for yarmulkes: (I've no experience using them myself; just posting it to give you an idea of what's out there). Etsy is also a great website for handmade goods, and they have several sellers that do Judaica items.

    2. A good way to get an idea for ceremony music is to go on youtube and search "Jewish wedding." You'll get to see and hear what other Jewish people are using at their weddings. Sunrise Sunset from the movie Fiddler on the Roof might be nice. Here's some other info I found: and

    3.  I think it is thoughtful and considerate to put simple explanations about the main parts of the ceremony, and what they mean, so that all guests can understand what is going on.

    4. Many non-Jews know what the horah is, and a simple explanation from the DJ is enough to get most people interested (e.g. "Attention guests, the bride and groom are now going to do the Horah, which is a traditional Jewish celebratory chair dance. We'd like everyone to get in the swing of things and have fun! Please join us on the dance for as Mr. and Mrs. Sea Otter dance the horah for the first time as husband and wife"). You can also include an explanation in your reception program, if you're having one. As for the Mazal Tov at the glass breaking, you can include instructions for this in the ceremony program. Also, you can ask your rabbi to explain to the guests that after your husband steps on the glass, everyone can shout out "Mazal tov."
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    First of all, I highly recommend that you get a copy of Anita Diamant's "The New Jewish Wedding."  It's a great book and will be super helpful for you in planning.  

    We got our kippot from  I would order them as soon as you have all the details down, so it's one less thing to worry about.  I don't remember how long it took to receive them, but I figured why wait until the last minute and have to rush shipping.  

    We got our ketubah from a family friend who is a Judaica artist.  I know plenty of couples get them from Etsy, other websites, or Judaica shops (check local synagogues and stores).  You should check with your rabbi about the text.  Our officiant went back and forth with our ketbuah artist several times to get the lanugage that he preferred.  

    We had a friend play the harp for our ceremony music.  I think we used Dodi Li and Erev Shel Shoshanim.  I know that Anita Diamant has music ideas in her book, as well as some songs that it is traditional not to play at Jewish weddings.  You could look on youtube for Hebrew songs on the trumpet to see what might work.  

    We had a lot of non-Jewish guests at our wedding as well and put together a program with basic descriptions of the main elements.  

    You could also include a description of the hora in the program, if you want.  Do you have people who will know what to do?  If you're worried about it, you might just want to let them know ahead of time that you would appreciate if they helped lead people--I would if you asked, but I wouldn't otherwise lead dancing at someone else's wedding.  My family is Jewish and most of DH's family is not, and we had a nice hora set.  Make sure you have non-folding chairs available (preferably with arms, IMO) if you want to get lifted.  
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    I do have that book and I've read it, I just had further questions. I remember the part about what not to play for music, but not what to play instead. I'll go back and look though. As for the ketubah, we have to use the traditional orthodox text according to our rabbi, he won't use another text. So there won't be anything new or different to it, but I do already plan to have him check it. I was just wanting different places to look for more options other than what he told me. Anyway, thanks for all the suggestions. Hopefully people can participate and aren't too lost or confused! My family is much much larger than my FI so the ratio of Jewish people to non jewish people is way off, but my family is open to learning things so hopefully they are fast learners!
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    As silly as it sounds, the worry about there not being enough Jewish people to sing the songs and everything else is a worry of mine also!
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    Lol, yeah...maybe I'll give some lessons to my family beforehand on singing and dancing! When is your wedding?
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