A traditional Jewish wedding service is held under a chuppah, which is a canopy that is open on all sides; symbolic of the open tent of Abraham and Sarah during biblical times. The bride (kallah) and the groom (chatan) are usually accompanied by their parents to the chuppah. The groom will stand to the left of his bride for all of the ceremony.
After the rabbi recites the blessings of betrothal (kiddushin), he drinks from the first cup of wine. Wine symbolizes joy, and drinking out of the cup represents the sanctification of the couple's commitment to one another.
The ring ceremony
According to the law of the Torah, only the groom gives a gold ring. It should be plain, without gemstones or other ornamentation, to symbolize the simple beauty of marriage. The groom places the ring on the bride's right forefinger while reciting the kallah (Jewish wedding vow) in front of two witnesses. While giving the ring takes place before reading the marriage contract, this is the defining moment of the Jewish wedding where the couple is actually married.
If the bride wants to give a ring to the groom, this takes place later.
After the exchange of rings, the rabbi reads the marriage contract (ketubah) in the traditional Aramaic language. The contract protects the rights of the bride and lists the groom's responsibilities. These include supplying his wife with emotional support, shelter, food, and clothing.
The ketubah is signed by two witnesses and is a legally binding document. It is the property of the Jewish wife and access to it cannot be denied. She will often display it in the home in a prominent location.
After the reading of the marriage contract, the rabbi recites the seven blessings (sheva brachot) over a cup of wine (not the cup from the kiddushin ceremony). These link the bride and groom to the communal faith in God as creator of the universe, the bestower of love, and the redeemer of the Jewish people.
Breaking the glass
At the end of the ceremony, a glass is positioned on the ground (or floor) and the groom crushes it with his foot. This gesture represents the devastation of the Temple of Jerusalem and connects the wedding to the destiny of the Jewish people as a whole.