Jeremy Golan
Registered wedding officiant, chaplain, and educator.

Jewish Weddings in Toronto

A Comprehensive Guide to Planning a Jewish Wedding in Toronto

Navigating the Beauty of a Jewish Wedding

Planning a wedding is an exhilarating journey filled with love, joy, and excitement. When it comes to a Jewish wedding, this experience is elevated even further, as it holds a significant place in tradition and culture. While some rituals like smashing the glass and shouting “Mazel Tov!” are well-known, many aspects of a Jewish wedding remain unfamiliar to those outside the community. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the essential steps of planning a Jewish wedding in Toronto, from choosing an officiant to signing the marriage licenses.

1. Selecting the Officiant: Navigating Tradition and Choice

The first step on your Jewish wedding journey is choosing an officiant. Whether you opt for a rabbi, cantor, or a wedding officiant, each has their own set of rules and guidelines. For orthodox ceremonies, proof of both partners’ Jewish heritage is required, often backed by documentation such as genealogy records, ketubahs, or conversion certificates (ger tzedek) if applicable. These measures are rooted in Jewish law, aimed at preserving the unity of the community. On the other hand, reform and conservative sects offer more flexibility, with potentially shorter conversion times. However, keep in mind that not all venues or communities may recognize this flexibility. Some couples choose a Jewish wedding officiant to conduct the service in alternative locations like banquet halls, cottages, or even destination weddings in places like Jamaica or the Dominican Republic.

2. Preparing the Ketubah and Marriage License

The ketubah is a beautiful tradition in Jewish weddings – a marriage contract outlining the couple’s commitment to each other. It can be created by hand or through a printing system. Make sure to arrange the ketubah well in advance, at least two weeks before the ceremony. Simultaneously, secure the Ontario marriage license, obtainable at city halls, for less than $200. The civic license is valid for 90 days from issuance, giving you ample time for the wedding.

3. The Ceremony: A Tapestry of Traditions

On the day of your Jewish wedding, you’ll weave together a tapestry of traditions that have stood the test of time. When it comes to seating, the bride’s grandparents sit on the right, while the groom’s are on the left. Both sets of parents stand under the chuppah – a canopy symbolizing the new home being built. The ceremony includes wine blessings, prayers, and the recitation of the sheva brachot by the officiant. These are seven blessings that celebrate love, joy, and companionship. And who can forget the heartwarming chorus of “kol sasson, kol calah” as everyone joins in song?

4. The Finale: Rings, Smashed Glass, and Signatures

As the ceremony progresses, the couple exchange rings, a universal symbol of commitment. And then comes the moment everyone anticipates – the smashing of the glass, representing the fragility of human relationships and the hope that love will endure life’s challenges. But before you celebrate, don’t forget the official witnesses. Choose two individuals to sign both the Ontario marriage license and the religious marriage document, solidifying your union in both legal and spiritual realms.

Embrace the Journey with a Resounding “Mazel Tov!”

And there you have it – a comprehensive breakdown of how to plan a Jewish wedding in Toronto. From selecting your officiant to exchanging rings and smashing the glass, each step is a cherished tradition that has been passed down through generations. Whether you’re deeply rooted in Jewish culture or are stepping into this rich tapestry for the first time, embrace the journey with open hearts and a resounding “Mazel Tov!” May your wedding day be a celebration of love, unity, and the beauty of tradition.


About the Author
Jeremy Golan is a registered officiant, school chaplain, and teacher living in Toronto Canada. A staunch supporter of the Jewish State, he is interested in creating peace through dialogue.
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