The wedding is arguably the most joyous occasion in a person’s life.
The delights of formally starting your new chapter together with your spouse, surrounded by all those closest to you, enjoying great music and food, are just wonderful to experience on every level.
So the marriage contract seems to be slightly out of place, a legality that’s completed just to cover your bases. Right?
Truthfully, while in secular weddings, couples may sign their marriage contract any time before, during, or after the actual wedding day, the Jewish wedding cannot be complete without it. The Jewish marriage contract, known as the Ketubah, must be signed before the Chuppah takes place, and is an essential element to the Jewish wedding.
But what’s in the Jewish marriage contract?
The contents of the Jewish marriage contract, specifically when using the text of the traditional Ketubah, lay out the three basic responsibilities the groom is vowing to provide the bride for the rest of their lives together: clothing, shelter, and intimacy. It also uses the classic format of documents made according to Jewish law, or Halacha, stating the Hebrew date, day of the week in relation to the Jewish Sabbath, and the location.
However, there are less-traditional options out there for customizing the text, and having a translated version, as well, for couples that want a marriage contract they can better relate to. Marriage contract texts also vary slightly according to religious affiliation. It’s safe to say that for every Jewish couple, there’s a Jewish marriage contract they can relate to and cherish.
Who signs the Jewish marriage contract?
In a traditional Orthodox Jewish wedding, the marriage contract is signed by the groom, the officiating Rabbi, and two Jewish, male, Sabbath-observant witnesses. Couples that wish to have a more contemporary spin on their marriage contract will also provide a space for the bride to sign, and the witnesses can be men or women.
How to couples store their Jewish marriage contract?
To put it lightly, the marriage contract is extremely important to store well and keep track of at all times. In fact, Jewish law states that a couple cannot engage in physical intimacy if they don’t know the whereabouts of their marriage contract. They have to refrain from intimacy until the document is found or rewritten.
So what do a lot of Jewish couples do to keep track of their marriage contract? They hang it on the wall!
Thankfully, talented Ketubah artists like Danny Azoulay create Ketubahs that are masterful works of art. Azoulay’s laser papercut Ketubahs feature breathtaking scenes of nature or the land of Israel, along with a stunning mix of color and gold- and silver-leafing to make something that’s more than a marriage contract—it’s a meaningful work of art, and a family heirloom, that you can enjoy for the rest of your lives together.