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 Home > Jewish Wedding Guide > Conservative > Setting the Date

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Setting the Date for a Jewish Wedding
A Conservative Perspective by Rivka C. Berman

 • Days of Mourning
 • Sfirat Ha'Omer
 • Seventeenth of Tamuz and Tisha b'Av
 • Yamim Noraim - Solemn Days
 • Auspicious Days of the Week

 • Tu b'Av, the Fifteenth day of Av
 • Early in the Jewish Month
 • Time of Day
 • Postponing a Wedding

Despite the long list below, most days are right for a Jewish wedding.

Jewish weddings are not held on Shabbat or major Jewish holidays like Rosh Hashannah, Yom Kippur, Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot, nor on Chol Hamoed, the holiday’s intermediate days. Asking guests to a wedding on the afternoon just before a major holiday is impractical and has fallen out of favor. Weddings may be celebrated on minor holidays like Channukah, Purim, Rosh Chodesh or Tu B’Shvat.

Days of Mourning
Joy is out of place on days of national mourning.  Weddings are not held on Yom Hashoah, the Holocaust remembrance day, the 27th of the Jewish month of Nissan, which is twelve day s after the first day of Passover. Tisha B’Av, the 9th of the Jewish month of Av, is when the ancient Holy Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed and a time of recurring tragedies in Jewish history. (In 1492, Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand signed the decree expelling Jews from Spain on the 9th of Av.)  Tisha B’Av falls out sometime in July or August.

There is no denying the tragedy that has shaped Jewish history.  During two spans of time each year, the rabbis of the Talmud instructed the Jewish People to step back from joy. 

In 1949, the Committee on Law and Standards of the Rabbinical Assembly set out the following standards.  Weddings are not held from the second day of Passover through the 27th day of Nissan, which is Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Sfirat Ha'Omer
Between Passover and Shavuout are seven weeks when the new grain offerings, the Omer, were brought. A ritual counting of each day the grain was offered is continued to this day and is called  Sfirat Ha'Omer (Counting the Omer). Around the year 135 C.E., a plague struck the students of the great Mishnaic sage, Rabbi Akiva. In the few weeks between the first and 33rd day of the Omer, 24,000 of them died. To celebrate the plague’s conclusion, the Omer mourning period is suspended or ended on this 33rd day of the Omer, known as Lag B’Omer. The word "Lag" is actually the combination of the two letters, "lamed" and "gimmel," which correspond to the numerical values of "thirty" and "three."

Seventeenth of Tamuz and Tisha B'Av
Intense days of sorrow haunt the three weeks between the 17th day of Tammuz and the 9th of Av. These disastrous days frame the period when the first and second Holy Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed. On the 17th of Tammuz in 586 B.C.E, the Babylonians broke the protective walls around the first Temple. They destroyed it on the 9th of Av. Later, in 70 C.E., the Romans invaded and destroyed the second Temple during the same time of the year. (In 1492, Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand signed the decree expelling Jews from Spain on the 9th of Av.) These dates fall out sometime in July or August.

Weddings are not held on the 17th of Tammuz or the 9th of Av.  The nine days leading up to the 9th of Av are a period of restraint and mourning.  Weddings may be held then – without music.

To start a new life during these days of sorrow is not considered a good omen for the marriage.

Solemn Days - Yamim Noraim
Between Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is a serious season of looking back and evaluating the year that just passed. Weddings are not forbidden, thus it is all about personal preference, however, traditionally Jews have opted to refrain from scheduling their marriage celebration during days.

Auspicious Days of the Week
What’s a good day for a Jewish wedding?

Jewish traditions has both lofty and practical answers. First, the lofty. On the third day of creation, the Torah reports “and God saw it was good” twice (Genesis 1:10, 12). All other days have a single Godly “good” attached to them. Jewish time begins in the evening, so a Monday night wedding or a wedding whose ceremony was held on Tuesday before sunset became a customary way to tap into this good omen.

In the Talmudic era, virgin brides wed on Wednesday, widows on Thursday. Later on, Fridays became wedding days. This way poor Jews did not have the expense of paying for a wedding feast and a separate Shabbat dinner. Ceremonies were held by day and a Shabbat dinner celebrated the marriage at night.

Moroccan Jews had a custom to marry on the fifth day of the week (Wednesday night through Thursday before sunset), because being called up for the fifth aliyah, Torah reading honor, was supremely prestigious.

Tu B'Av
On Tu B'Av (Hebrew: ט"ו באב,) which is the fifteenth of the month Av), according to the Talmud (Ta'anit, 30b-31a), a joyous holiday in the days of the Temple in Jerusalem, as unmarried girls would dress in simple white clothing (so that rich could not be distinguished from poor) and go out to sing and dance in the vineyards surrounding Jerusalem.

Although the day has no specific observances in modern times, it is considered an auspicious day for marriage.

Special Times of the Month
Just as the moon waxes and wanes, Jews have fared the ups and downs of history. Each Jewish month begins when the new slivered moon appears in the sky and waxes to a full moon by the fifteenth of the Jewish month. With the hope a new couple would see their happiness and good fortune increase throughout their married life, weddings are customarily held toward the beginning of the Jewish month, as the moon gains in size. Never adopted as a hard and fast rule, this tradition does not apply to the generally blessed months of Elul, Tishrei and Adar.

Syrian Jews put special emphasis on weddings in the month of Elul. This month’s name can be interpreted as an acronym standing for the verse “Ani L’Dodi, V’Dodi Li,” “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” (Song of Songs 7:11, 2:16)

Times of the Day
Being certain of the wedding’s true date is important from the standpoint of Jewish law. Since the Jewish date changes at sunset, holding the ceremony at twilight may result in an ambiguous wedding date.

Postponing a Wedding
Marriages are treasured and every effort is made to keep them the ceremony on schedule. Postponements because of a death in the family should be done in consultation with a rabbi who can guide you through the ins and outs of Jewish mourning customs.



 

READ MORE:
Dating Jewish
The Dowry (Nedunia)
Matchmaker, Matchmaker Make me a Match!
Forbidden Marriages
Engagement: Announcement and more
Marriage: A Jewish Perspective
Setting a Date for the Celebration of a Jewish Wedding
Double Wedding, Double the Fun?
Wedding Guests: Who and How Many to Invite

Jewish Wedding Music Beyond Hava Nagila
Jewish Wedding Attire Customs: From Wedding Gown to Kittel
Jewish Wedding A Second Time Around
Mikvah:The Ritual Bath
Aufruf – A Torah Honor for the Groom
Wedding Day Customs
The Ketubah: The Jewish Marriage Contract
The Conservative Ketubah Text and Translation

Ketubah Designs and Designation
The Bedeking Ceremony: Veiling of the Bride
The Chuppah - the Wedding Canopy

Chuppah: The Inner Meaning
The Processional and the Chuppah Ceremony
Jewish Wedding Ceremony Part I: The "Erusin" - the Engagement
Jewish Wedding Ceremony Part II: The Ring and Its Significance
Jewish Wedding Ceremony Part III: The Ketubah Reading
Jewish Wedding Ceremony Part IV: Nesuin, the Marriage Ceremony
Jewish Wedding Ceremony Part V: Breaking the Glass
The Recessional at end of Wedding Ceremony
Yichud: Bride and Groom Retreat from Crowd for Alone-Time
Jewish Wedding Reception Customs and Traditions

Shana Rishona: The First Year of Marriage
Practical Tips: List of things to bring to your wedding
Jewish Wedding: Proper Etiquette and Gift Ideas




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