I will be getting married in a few months and we want to make sure that the ceremony is "religiously correct." What do we need to know?
The Aish Rabbi Replies:
In Jewish law, a marriage becomes official when the groom (chatan) gives an object of value to the bride (kallah). This is traditionally done with a ring. The ring should be made of plain gold, without blemishes or ornamentation (e.g. stones) - just as it is hoped that the marriage will be one of simple beauty.
The groom takes the wedding ring in his hand, and in clear view of two witnesses, declares to the bride, "Behold, you are betrothed unto me with this ring, according to the law of Moses and Israel." He then places the ring on the forefinger of the bride's right hand.
According to Jewish law, this is the central moment of the wedding ceremony, and at this point the couple is fully married.
This is more central to the wedding than the photographer, the bridesmaid’s dresses, the flowers, and even the smorgasbord.
If the bride also wants to give a ring to the chatan, this should be only done afterwards, not under the chuppah. This is to prevent confusion as to what constitutes the actual marriage, as prescribed by the Torah.
The Talmud says that for a wedding to be valid, there must be two "kosher" witnesses - i.e. men over the age of 13 who are Shabbat observant, and are related neither to the bride or groom, nor to each other. (Note that this is a requirement for all parts of the ceremony which require witnesses – such as the signing of the ketubah.)
For more, see our "Guide to the Jewish Wedding.”