Mazel Tov! You’re engaged and now it’s time to pick your wedding party. Choosing your wedding party often presents the challenge of honoring those close to you without offending other friends and family that may be left out. Once you’ve selected your bridesmaids and groomsmen, you may realize that there are people who you would like to include but you just don’t know how to fit them into the wedding. No need to stress. The Jewish wedding provides a variety of wedding roles so that you can include all of the special people in your life.
Expand the Party: Don’t feel constrained by traditional notions that there should be one usher for every 50 guests or there should be an equal number of bridesmaids and groomsmen. These are merely guidelines. One of my favorite wedding moments was when I saw a groomsman wink because he had two bridesmaids on his arm as the wedding party walked back down the aisle at the end of the ceremony. The audience laughed and loved it, and that small but memorable moment only happened because there was an uneven number in the wedding party. So consider simply expanding your wedding party without worrying about the proper numbers.
Get with the Program: If your wedding party is at maximum capacity, you can include more people in your wedding day as program attendants and guestbook attendants. Program attendants hand out programs as guests enter the ceremony. Guestbook attendants greet guests and encourage everyone to sign the guestbook. Both are excellent jobs for your gregarious friends or family members.
Show us the Way: If there are married couples that you are close to, you can include them in the processional as unterfirers. The unterfirers are two married couples who escort the bride and groom to the Chuppah. In the processional, an unterfirer couple comes after the maid of honor and before the bride with her parents and after the best man but before the groom with his parents. Traditionally, each unterfirer carries a lit candle. Having unterfirers in your wedding is a wonderful way to show your admiration for their marriage.
Witness This: Before a Jewish wedding ceremony, the couple will sign a Jewish marriage contract called the Ketubah. While the content of the Ketubah has changed over the years, Jewish law still requires that two witnesses sign the document. For the Ketubah to be recognized in Israel, the witnesses must be Jewish males that are not related to the bride and groom. However, conservative and reform rabbis may allow women and relatives to sign. Serving as a witness and signing a document that will hang in the home of the couple is a great honor to bestow upon a loved one on wedding day.
Raise your Voices: Today you can often customize your ceremony to reflect your personality and style. In addition to the ceremony’s traditional blessings and vows, ask a friend or family member to do a reading or perform a song that is meaningful to you. Those who aren’t in the wedding party can certainly share in the action at the pre-wedding dinner or wedding reception by giving a toast or blessing. These speaking roles are another way to show your friends and family how special they are to you.
Don’t let choosing your wedding party cause strained relationships with your loved ones. There are plenty of additional wedding roles so that those very important people in your life will feel included on your big day.