• Days of Mourning
• Sfirat Ha'Omer
• Seventeenth of Tamuz
• Yamim Noraim - Solemn Days
• Auspicious Days of the Week
• Tu B'Av, the Fifteenth day of Av
• Menstrual Cycle and Scheduling
• 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. 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.
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."
Periods of mourning during these weeks vary according to family and/or community custom. Some Jews
refrain from celebrating weddings or other joyous ceremonies during the entire seven
week period, with the exception of the 33rd day of the Omer, that is Lag B’Omer. Others begin
Sfirat Ha'Omer restrictions once the month of Iyar arrives, about 17 days into the Omer period. Another custom puts the restrictions from the first day of the Omer until Lag B’Omer.
And yet other Jews suspend their Sfirat Ha'Omer observance on Rosh Chodesh Iyar and Rosh Chodesh Sivan, the mini-holidays heralding the new month; on Israeli Independence Day (the 5th of Iyar); and during the three days before the holiday of Shavuout, when the Jewish people were commanded to prepare for the giving of the Torah.
Seventeenth of Tamuz
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 generally not held during these three weeks and especially not during the nine days leading up to the ninth of Av. To start a new life during these days of sorrow is not considered a good omen for the marriage.
Solemn Days -
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, but Jews have traditionally opted to schedule weddings for other times.
Minor fast days are sprinkled throughout the Jewish calendar. They recall difficult times throughout Jewish history and are days when weddings are not held. Minor fast days are observed on Tzom Gedalia, the third of Tishrei; the 10th of Tevet, which commemorates the date when Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian troops laid siege to the first Holy Temple in Jerusalem; the Fast of Esther, the 13th of Adar.
Auspicious Days of the Week
What’s a good day for a 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. Adam and Eve were married on the first Friday of the world’s existence, adding a special glow to Friday afternoon weddings. However, such weddings were more practical in the shtetl when all wedding guests lived nearby the wedding hall or automatically made plans to stay over for the festivities. Unless the wedding couple plans to host their guests for the entire Shabbat, celebrating a wedding just hours before Shabbat travel restrictions set in is not practical.
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.
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
Menstrual Cycle and time of Wedding
Wedding night intimacy can take place if a bride has immersed in the mikvah before the ceremony. The immersion takes place seven days after a bride’s period has ended. Brides who keep a record of their period’s arrival and duration before their engagement will have a better sense of which dates will allow them to use the mikva before the ceremony.
Some brides regulate their periods before the wedding by taking birth control pills for several months before the wedding. This is not a fool proof method because some women bleed irregularly while on birth control pills, which defeats their purpose. (Bleeding may halachically prevent a woman from going to the mikva.) Consult your rabbi before proceeding with this method.
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.