Jewish Weddings in Greece

Jewish Weddings in Greece

Recently I did realize that a number of the weddings I had captured since 2009, are Jewish ceremonies. Any wedding photographer in Greece who is lucky enough to capture a Jewish wedding ceremony can be assured of an unforgettable experience. This is because these types of weddings are spiritual and full of life. And therefore, such occasions are ideal for getting perfect shots and portraits of a couple tying the knot and their friends as well as families.


I have to admit that being a Jewish wedding photographer especially in Greece is a privilege. Being granted the opportunity to capture the fascinating culture of the Jewish community in the beautiful Greek islands is an experience like no other.


It doesn’t matter whether the wedding is entirely traditional or a blend of both new and old cultures. Focusing on the unique story behind every couple while circling back to the set of customs is very fun for photographers.


Over the years, I have been tasked to shoot a good number of Jewish weddings. And every time, I find myself lost behind the lenses on how happy and interesting these events are. My favorite part is how these weddings end with a bang. For instance, when the newlyweds are asked to step on a glass inside some napkins, as a sign of commitment even when things get tough. These shots make the best portraits.


Everything ranging from the dress code to the food and joyful dancing makes me love photographing Jewish weddings even more. I always ensure I don’t miss important moments such as the Bedeken when the groom veils the bride. And if possible, through my photojournalism skills, I can narrate your wedding journey through pictures from the beginning to the end.


If you are looking for a professional Jewish wedding photographer, to shoot your celebration on Rhodes, Hydra, Corfu, Sifnos, Crete, or any Greek islands, feel free to get in touch.


Jewish Wedding


In the past, and in present ultra-orthodox Jewish communities, the rituals and protocol of the Jewish weddings were strict, in order to cling to the tradition and preserve the culture. The structure of the holy ceremony was always performed religiously and guided by an honored local community leader or a Rabbi.
Because the jews have been living all over the world they have different customs and different levels of religious orientation. Those who live in western & central Europe or immigrated to Israel from there (where most of the Jewish people reside now) are called Ashkenazi Jews, and the customary rituals and their names differ in part from the “Sephardic” jews, that used to live mostly in Spain, France, the Balkans, and the Arab countries. That’s the reason why the wedding rituals of the different Diasporas are different and diverse. They are named differently and conducted differently, so there are a large number of options to choose from while planning the ceremony- almost everything is Kosher!
Since the beginning of the 20th-century Jewish weddings have become different and various in shape and character for many reasons, including secularity that became dominant among the Jewish people.
Most of the jews today are non-religious, or somewhat religious and arrive from different congregations and social backgrounds. For instance, A secular Israeli guy with Morrocan roots with a young lady that emigrated to Israel from Russia. So in their ceremony, they would not act according to the traditional rituals of each congregation and “protocols” strictly like orthodox or ultra-orthodox jews do. It’s too complicated. Instead, they would prefer to conduct the basic common rituals and add to the other traditional and new customs that derive from their family or community heritage.
What will always be present in a Jewish ceremony are the Rabbi that conducts it, the Ketubah (contract), the chuppah (a cloth canopy), the blessing, the wine, the rings, and the broken glass….and the photographer of course. The wedding can easily become a multicultural event, that’s one of the reasons Jewish weddings are always vivid, surprising, and unique.

Traditions and Rituals You Need to Know


Wondering what else you need to know before attending a Jewish wedding? Here are some frequently asked questions, according to a rabbi:


  • What should I wear to a Jewish wedding? For the ceremony, women traditionally wear attire that covers their shoulders and men wear Kippahs or Yarmulkas to cover their heads.
  • Do men and women sit separately? At Orthodox Jewish weddings, it is customary for men and women to sit on either side of the ceremony. At an ultra-Orthodox wedding, men and women will also celebrate separately with a partition in between.
  • How long is a Jewish wedding ceremony? A Jewish wedding ceremony typically ranges from 25-45 minutes depending on how much the couple seeks to embellish it with readings, rituals, and music.
  • Are Jewish weddings performed on Shabbat? Traditionally, Jewish weddings are not performed on Shabbat or the High Holy Days.
  • Should I bring a gift? It is customary to give a gift in the form of a Jewish ritual object or money in increments of $18, symbolizing the Hebrew word Chai, which means “life.”



Some of the traditions at a Jewish wedding.


Aufruf is a Yiddish term that means “to call up.” Prior to the wedding ceremony, the bride and groom are called to the Torah for a blessing called an aliyah. After the aliyah, the rabbi will offer a blessing called misheberach, and at that time it is customary for members of the congregation to throw candies at the couple to wish them a sweet life together.


During the ketubah signing, the groom approaches the bride for the bedeken, or veiling. He looks at her and then veils her face. This signifies that his love for her is for her inner beauty, and also that the two are distinct individuals even after marriage. It also is a tradition stemming from the Bible wherein Jacob was tricked into marrying the sister of the woman he loved because the sister was veiled. If the groom does the veiling himself, such trickery can never happen.




In the Ashkenazi tradition, the bride traditionally circles around her groom either three or seven times under the chuppah. Some people believe this is to create a magical wall of protection from evil spirits, temptation, and the glances of other women. Others believe the bride is symbolically creating a new family circle.



Sheva B’rachot: Seven Blessings

The seven blessings, called the Sheva B’rachot, come from ancient teachings. They are often read in both Hebrew and English, and shared by a variety of family members or friends, just as friends and family are invited to perform readings in other types of ceremonies. The blessings focus on joy, celebration, and the power of love. They begin with the blessing over a cup wine, then progress to more grand and celebratory statements, ending with a blessing of joy, peace, companionship, and the opportunity for the bride and groom to rejoice together.



Breaking of the Glass

As the ceremony comes to an end, the groom (or in some instances the bride and groom) is invited to step on a glass inside a cloth bag to shatter it. The breaking of the glass holds multiple meanings. Some say it represents the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. Others say it demonstrates that marriage holds sorrow as well as joy and is a representation of the commitment to stand by one another even in hard times. The cloth holding the shards of glass is collected after the ceremony, and many couples choose to have it incorporated into some sort of memento of their wedding day.



and Mazel Tov!

Shouting “Mazel tov!” is one of the most well-known Jewish wedding rituals. Once the ceremony is over and the glass is broken, you will hear guests cheer “Mazel tov!” Mazel tov has a similar meaning “good luck” or “congratulations.” The direct translation is actually closer to wishing the best for the future, a great destiny, or a pronouncement that the person or people have just experienced great fortune. There’s no better time to say “mazel tov” than at a wedding!

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