Despite being in Israel more times than I can count, I had never been to an Israeli wedding until this past week when my boyfriend’s best friend was married.
There isn’t one typical kind of wedding in Israel—every wedding reflects the couple’s religious values and familial influences. And this one was different than any of the 53 (I’m serious) other weddings that I have been to.
Let’s first start with the similarities. The bride looked incredible. Her dress was beautiful and was custom-made and not poofy. Ok, now you see why I don’t write for Vogue. All I know is that when I saw her, I immediately started to well up in tears. The wedding was held at a venue that mostly caters to weddings. It was beautifully decorated featuring great food, an open bar and a rocking DJ.
The differences were aplenty. Here were the top 10 + 1 for good luck.
1. The wedding was held on a Thursday night, because for many Israelis, that’s when the weekend starts.
2. The rabbi was not a major part of the ceremony (although you can’t have a wedding without him). He said the blessings and then was out of there, just as the bride (kallah) and groom (chatan) wanted it.
3. There is no wedding certificate because there is no civil marriage in Israel. The ketubah is the legally binding document.
4. When you enter there is a safe where you drop your cards with money (Israelis don’t really give gifts). To know how much money you are supposed to give, “there is an App for that.” The criteria includes:
a. How many are you? (single, couple, family)
b. What is your relationship to the bride or groom?
c. What is your profession?
d. Where was the wedding held?
e. What month was the wedding held?
f. What day was the wedding?
Then it provides you with the amount.
5. The bridal party is really just family, and they are the ones who stand under and by the chuppah.
6. It is normal for the guests to talk through the entire ceremony.
7. After the breaking of the glass, the crowd rushes the bride and groom with hugs and kisses.
8. Because this was a Mizrahi wedding (most of their family is from North Africa originally) there was the chair dance, but it wasn’t to the “Horah.” Instead of the mayim step, there is a Mizrahi step, more similar to “My Fat Greek Wedding” than “Fiddler on the Roof.”
9. While the women were wearing everything from jeans to formal wear, most of the guys were wearing jeans or khakis.
10. When you come with a date, it is normal to say, “B’karov etzlechem” which means “Your wedding will be soon.” It’s also normal for your neighbor and the guy at the gas station to say it when they see you walking out in fancy attire.
11. The bride and groom are going somewhere awesome like Thailand rather than relaxing (Hawaii).
Overall, my first Israeli wedding was tremendously fun and I wouldn’t mind going to 53 more!