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  • Writer's pictureRabbi Lev Herrnson

Who Gets an Honor at My Wedding?

Witnesses at the Ketubah Signing Ceremony

A major lifecycle event like a wedding gets everyone’s attention; everyone wants to feel special at such an important event, and sometimes, family members and other guests will want a “piece of the action.” Who actually gets to participate in the wedding is up to you, the bride and groom. Still, knowing what honors are available can be helpful when making your considerations. Here’s a list of honors that can be assigned, some familiar and still others that perhaps you didn’t know about. I’ll then go on to explain the less familiar honors.

  1. Maid of Honor

  2. Bridesmaids

  3. Best Man

  4. Groomsmen

  5. Ring Bearer(s)

  6. Custodian of Rings--holds them until time of ceremony

  7. Witnesses (two people) to sign the Ketubah (Jewish wedding agreement)

  8. Witnesses (one or two people) to sign the civil wedding contract

  9. Chuppah Holders (four people)

  10. The Seven Blessings (up to seven people)

  11. Reader of the English translation of the Ketubah

  12. Shomrei Yichud (guards, two people)

  13. Yichud DJ to create a playlist of background music for your yichud room

  14. Names to be remembered

  15. Motzi--someone to say the blessing over the bread at your festive meal

  16. Ushers to distribute your wedding program, one to each guest, at the door as guests enter the room where the ceremony will take place

  17. Tallit bearer

The chuppah (wedding canopy) need not be a stationary object over your heads. Often times the chuppah is introduced at the very beginning of the processional, suspended by poles carried by four close friends. Your friends support the poles during the ceremony and, at the conclusion of the service, they follow carrying the chuppah out at the end of the recessional. Alternatively, your chuppah holders insert the poles into metal stands and then take their seats. (Discuss the latter with your florist.)

The Seven Blessings (Sheva Brachot) are recited under the chuppah. They constitute the second half of the wedding ceremony and are an essential part of the service. While your rabbi may recite all seven blessings, you may also allocate the blessings among your closest relatives and most beloved friends. Consult with your rabbi to organize this and help your loved ones prepare for the big day.

Shomrei Yichud are “guards” that block entry to your private suite immediately after the ceremony. The guards (“shomrim”), good friends of yours, ensure that no one interrupts as you enjoy a few private moments in “yichud” (seclusion) before you return to being the center of attention. The ten minutes of privacy the guards can afford you may be your only private moments until the celebration is over, including your only opportunity to eat something. They’ve got an important job!

You might also ask your rabbi to include the names of deceased loved ones. While they are no longer with you, they are with you in spirit. It's always lovely to remember a dear relative at the beginning of your ceremony. The surviving spouse or children of those remembered will also appreciate your kindness and sensitivity.

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