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Entertaining the Bride and Groom

posted by Arielle Angel on April 23, 2012

Recently, we profiled one of our favorite wedding bands, The Prenups, but we know that one New York wedding band can’t be everywhere at once. And anyway, don’t Jewish and multi-ethnic weddings have special concerns? That’s why this week, we’ve got Marta Segal Block, the mastermind behind, a one-stop-shop for all your event entertainment needs, to drop a little knowledge. Remember, at Jewish weddings, there is a commandment to entertain the bride and groom at their wedding. This means that in addition to a band or DJ, clowns, magicians, dancers, fire breathers– they’re all fair game! Take it away, Marta.

The Entertainment: They may be in the background, but they can make or break a party!

Unlike non-Jewish weddings, a Jewish wedding reception is considered part of the wedding itself. There’s actually a commandment that you should celebrate and have fun after a wedding!

A traditional, religious Jewish wedding starts before the ceremony with a Tish. During the Tish the groom attempts to teach a bible passage, while his friends drink and try to distract him. Many modern couples are turning the Tish in to a co-ed event. This is a great time to bring in some entertainment. Clowns, magicians, or singers can all add a festive and modern feel to this tradition.

The Tish is followed by the unveiling of the bride (Beddekin) and the signing of the Ketubah. It’s perfectly appropriate to have a harp or other soft music in the background during this smaller, more intimate ceremony.

If you’re not having a Tish, you can still make the most of your entertainment options. Most Jewish weddings happen on a Sunday, which may open up a variety of options financially since performers will be more likely to agree to shorter performance times or even special deals on a day when they aren’t likely to get other bookings.

This can be a real boon to interfaith couples, as it leaves extra money for a special dance or musical performance that honors one of the partners’ cultures, in addition to their band or DJ. Jewish families are often full family affairs and hiring a magician or clown to entertain the children is a great way to keep the day civilized.

When it comes to hiring a band or DJ, most bands and DJs are familiar with the Hora. If you simply wish to nod to Jewish tradition adding this dance to your normal playlist will be fun and exciting for all guests. But, if you’re having a completely Jewish wedding we recommend asking the DJ or bandleader about his or experience with Jewish weddings. The rhythm of a Jewish wedding reception is slightly different than that of a Christian wedding and having some experience is helpful. If you fall in love with a band that hasn’t worked a Jewish wedding before, consider a wedding planner or day-of coordinator with Jewish wedding experience.

No matter how much experience your planner or band has, make sure that both you and your vendors are clear about any rules of modesty or kashrut that you, your rabbi, synagogue, venue, or family have. There are many levels of observance and what seems obvious to one person may be a new concept to someone else.

Looking for more wedding advice? Check out GigMasters’s Wedding Blog.

Artists Do It Better: Stereo Waltz Films, Wedding Videography

posted by Arielle Angel on December 5, 2011

I was introduced to Andrew Bowser and Stereo Waltz Films several years ago, when a friend sent me this video of what feels like a clandestine documentation of a proposal (a very creative one, involving several little boxes). Everything about it– the intimate, yet unobtrusive camera work, the crisp editing (which gives you an impressionistic, yet full experience of the event), and the soundtrack (Explosions in the Sky, yes!)– impressed me. At that time, of course, I had no intention of joining the wedding market, but still, I never forgot the video, or the filmmaker.

Bowser, an SVA dropout who also makes non-wedding films (, and whose 2nd feature, “Jimmy Tupper VS. The Goatman of Bowie”, premiered at the 2010 SXSW Film Festival, is proof of something that we at Ketuv feel passionately about: artists do it better. Heck, we’ve built a business on this premise! We’d even go so far as to say that when you’re looking for wedding vendors, there should be bonus points for any vendor who has a personal website with his/her own artwork. It means their wedding work is probably that. much. better.

Don’t take my word for it. Check out some videos. Advance warning: you could get stuck watching these videos for a long time. They’re like movies that way. Focus on the details makes you really feel like you’re there, and the candid nature makes you feel like you’re getting to know the characters pretty intimately.


Roni and Alex from Stereo Waltz Films on Vimeo.

I love this video of a picnic wedding, particularly the prep: the setting for the bridal party prep (a dance studio) and the pre-wedding groomsmen card game.

Check out this Jewish wedding (the bride even has my last name!) complete with ketubah signing, a simultaneous bride and groom glass-breaking, the hora, etc.


Sarah and Dan from Stereo Waltz Films on Vimeo.

Here’s Andrew, explaining how it works. Though I LOVE the music choices (Andrew clearly knows his stuff), I was relieved to know that you also get all the original sound too!


Stereo Waltz Films – FALL 2011 from Stereo Waltz Films on Vimeo.

The only problem with Stereo Waltz Films is that we wish there were more than one! Luckily, though SWF is L.A. based, they are 100% willing to travel. In fact, when I spoke to him yesterday, he told me he had just finished shooting weddings in Florida and D.C. Book him!

When the Bride is an Artist

posted by ketuv_admin on October 11, 2011

On the one year anniversary of her wedding, as she and her husband prepare for a long awaited Ireland honeymoon, Ketuv artist Aliza Lelah shares all of the lovely handmade, personal details of her Colorado wedding.

The Chuppah: My mom made the chuppah. It’s made out of her great grandmother’s table cloth, with pictures of my family ancestry printed on fabric and sewn on, their names and dates of their marriage embroidered underneath. My older brother got married in 2009 and used this chuppah, and then their photo was added to it. Justin and I used it in 2010, and now our photo will be sewn on, in anticipation of my younger siblings’ weddings. The chuppah was hung over Aspen trees that me, Justin, and two of our friends cut down here in Colorado.

The Ketubah: Our ketubah was something completely different than any ketubah I have ever made. The text was silk-screened onto an old piece of wood. The wood has clearly withstood the test of time, and is a symbol of our future. The image of Robin Hood and Maid Marion are painted on, and that image represents a special memory for me and Justin, dating all the way back to when we met in 2003.

The Centerpieces: The centerpieces were made by sculptor and friend Andrea Moon, and were inspired by Yoko Ono’s Wish Tree installations. The ceramic tree trunks were on every table, with wire as the branches. At each place setting was a note about Yoko Ono’s installations, a pen and a white tag, asking people to make a wish for us. After they wrote their wish, they hung it on the centerpiece. The place seem to sparkle after people began adding their wishes!

The Place Cards: The place cards were hanging on a few ceramic trees when the guests walked in. We had a small, intimate wedding of 60 people. Each place setting had an old photo on one side of either Justin or me with that person, and on the other side, there was a recent photo of Justin and me with them. There were no names– only photos.

What I Wore: Almost everything I wore came from our grandmothers. I wore Justin’s grandmother’s dress. I changed it only a little, by shortening the sleeves and removing the fabric that went up to the neck. My engagement ring was my maternal grandmother’s: a lovely opal. I wore my paternal grandmother’s pearls, and the earrings I wore were her mother’s. The earrings had even more significance, as they are the only thing my grandmother managed to save of her mother’s before she died in Iraq, just before they were kicked out for being Jewish. All three grandmothers were at the wedding, and it was so special.

Justin’s grandmother in her wedding dress

Me in the slightly modified dress

The Bouquet: I made my bouquet out of vintage buttons.

Breaking the Glass: Both Justin and I broke the glass. Justin is half-Jewish, and we sort of cherry picked the traditions that were important to us and who we are.

The Giveaways: These took literally all of last year to make. Justin and I compiled a list of lyrics by different artists that were meaningful to us. I hand and machine stitched those words onto fabric, stretched them, and built stained-wood frames. During cocktail hour, they were displayed in shelves I made, with a note on the highboy tables asking everyone to remember which frame spoke to them, and to take that one home at the end of the night. That way, each household got to take a piece of the wedding home with them. It’s been so magical this year, learning who took what and seeing them in the homes of our family and friends.

Happily: We got married outside at a venue in boulder called Chautauqua, at the base of the Flatiron mountains. Our reception was called the Community House. We were not allowed to take anything off the walls at the Community House because of its protected historic status, except for in one spot: above the fireplace. Justin and I decided on the one thing I would make to go there– the word “happily.”

Chuppahs We Heart: The Confetti System

posted by ketuv_admin on September 22, 2011

We found this fun and modern chuppah from Sarah and Mike’s Connecticut wedding on photographers The Image Is Found’s cialis hypotension blog. It was made by the Confetti System, a creative duo that has crafted sets and installations for everyone from J. Crew to the Gagosian Gallery, to musicians Beach House and the Yeah Yeah tadalafil online Yeahs (they clearly also have good taste in music). The Confetti System describes their process as one that “transforms simple materials such as tissue paper, cardboard, and silk into interactive objects that create a point of focus, where memories are canada pharmacy online made and a spontaneous collaboration with the viewer is sparked. Confetti System’s creations occupy the space between the ephemeral and the permanent, evoking a sense of nostalgia and lighthearted fun.” And check this out: the bride was the one to break the glass! We’re new cialis research chemicals to the world of wedding blogs, but one thing has become clear: not all wedding photography was created equal. For some superior shots, visit The Image Is Found’s wedding photos. It’s downright inspiring. BONUS: The Confetti System charges $130 per 12-foot garland, and you can choose custom colors. But if that’s not really in your budget,

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we found this tutorial over at The Knotty Bride to make your own Confetti System. If you’ve got the time and the patience, looks like you’ve got yourself a DIY chuppah!

Jewish Wedding Remix: Crowd-Sourcing the Seven Blessings

posted by ketuv_admin on September 16, 2011

Steve Kaell and Erica Chapman at their New York wedding

The traditional seven blessings, or sheva brachot, are a beautiful part of the Jewish tradition as they are often recited by seven different honored guests. Steve and Erica didn’t feel particularly connected to the traditional sheva brachot, but wanted to keep the opportunity to hear the blessings in the voices of close friends. Steve explains:

“Instead of doing the traditional seven blessings during our ceremony, our rabbi, Laurie Phillips, suggested that we come up with seven concepts/characteristics/hopes that we’d like to be the anchors of our marriage. Erica and I spent some time together deciding what we would hope to serve as the glue of our relationship – seven shared values that we will strive to live up to as a couple. We came up with Laughter and Fun, Connectedness, Curiosity, Celebrating Individual Differences, Generosity of Spirit, Food, and Commitment to Family and Friends. We asked seven of our friends to write personalized blessings that incorporate those characteristics. Our friends recited their blessings during the ceremony, which was the first time we had heard what they had written. We loved the element of surprise!  Their beautiful words made our ceremony particularly meaningful, personal, and memorable.”

Steve and Erica listening to one of their seven blessings

Here’s a selection of a few of those blessings:

Connectedness (blessing by Zaid and Noelle)

Our wish for you is that you will remain connected, mind, body, and soul, for all the days of your marriage.

May you feel each other’s love when you lock eyes in a crowded room.

May you always love the sound of each other’s voice.

And may the best part of each day be the time you share with one another.

Curiosity (blessing by Maxine)

May you both be blessed with curiosity and opening your mind to new people, ideas, worlds, and possibilities.

Erica – Curiosity about people gave your mom and dad and us, you.

Steve – Curiosity gave Miles “In a Silent Way,” Coltrane “Ascension,” and Zappa “Grand Wazoo.”

Curious people could close their eyes and touch a map to decide where to live next.  If you both stay curious like Galileo, Spinoza, Jefferson and Einstein, you could change the world and hear someone ask, “Surely You’re Joking.”

Maxine offers her blessing on the topic of “Curiosity”

Celebrating Individual Differences (blessing by David)

The differences that lie between two people coming together in marriage are the basis for extraordinary dynamism.  They supercharge intimacy; they stoke illuminating dialogue; they conjure up a space you can fill together.

Pay special attention to the irreconcilable differences.  They frequently demand the most attention, and they always reward constant engagement (often with great hilarity).  Commonalities lead to answers.  Differences lead to questions.  Live the questions, and the answers will surprise the both of you in enchanting ways.

Food (blessing by Josh)

Food is not only a source of sustenance, but also of life’s possibilities and meanings – sweet, sour, savory, bitter and rich.

May your home be always filled not just with delicious food, but with everything it represents: family and heritage, community and connectedness, adventure and celebration.

May your partnership be nourishing and memorable; captivating and gratifying; nurturing, healing and full of love.

And may you always find reasons to celebrate.

Jewish Wedding Remix: The Bridal Mikvah

posted by ketuv_admin on September 7, 2011

In the Jewish tradition, both the bride and groom will go separately to the mikvah (a ritual bath that looks kind of like a mini-swimming pool) before their wedding day in order to “purify” themselves before their new union.

Ryan Selzer focused in on this tradition before her sister Casey’s wedding, with intentions of re-imagining what a modern mikvah ceremony could look like. Ryan focused on the literal meaning of the word “mikvah”– a collection. Generally, it referred to the collection of water, but Ryan also brought meaning to her ceremony in thinking about the mikvah as an opportunity to create a collection of women– in essence, a community. It became important to Ryan that rather than the mikvah being a solitary experience, that this be an experience shared between a group of women– witnesses and supporters of Casey’s new partnership as well as her ever-evolving independence.

She explains:

“The mikvah is a ritual of living waters that creates the time and space to acknowledge and embrace a new stage of life. In its eternal flow, water is a symbol of birth and renewal, but also of mystery, depth, and reflection. This was especially true in our contemporary ceremony. It was nice to think of the word ‘collection’ as we each looked around the circle. Each one of us had traveled from a different place to sit in this circle, literally and metaphorically. Each one of us has our own story, but it is Casey’s role in each of our stories that created our particular collection of women.”

Walking along the river where the women would dip their feet to fulfill the mikvah ritual

The space prepared for the ritual

Ryan also found that the word “mikvah” shares the root letters with the Hebrew word for “hope.” She felt that this was a particularly important feeling when celebrating a new union, and decided that each woman should be able to offer “blessings” to Casey in whatever form they saw fit (poems, stories, songs, life lessons, etc).

Below is the final form the ritual took:

Ryan’s Mikvah Ritual, In Honor of Casey

Greeting: Each of the women introduced themselves, and shared where they traveled from to be present, how they know Casey and for how long.

Opening thoughts: One of the women read a poem to bring them all into the space of the ritual.

Chuppah Ceremony: The women held the cloth that was to be used as the chuppah at Casey’s wedding over Casey’s head. They each had a chance to offer a blessing, and Casey sat in the middle of the circle and faced each woman individually as she was imparting the blessing.

Casey receiving blessings under the chuppah

Mikvah: The women dipped their feet in the river along with Casey, in order to “immerse her in love and support, cleanse her of inhibitions, and infuse her with the life and fertility of the river.”

Kiddush/Feast: After exiting the water, the women made a kiddush (over mimosas!), in honor of Casey.

So what’s this blog all about?

posted by ketuv_admin on August 25, 2011

Glad you asked! Well, we launched on August 10th and since then we’ve just been getting our bearings, peering into the blinding expanse of social media marketing like little deer in headlights, bringing new meaning to the words “learning curve.” For one thing, if you’ve sent us an email through our contact form in the last two weeks—yeah, we didn’t get it. But now that’s fixed so feel free to reach out again or email us at So what’s next… Blogging! We wanted to give you an idea of what to expect from the Ketuv blog. Of course, this brief list is by no means the extent of it—we plan to cover a range of different topics relating to Jews and art and weddings (and sometimes all three simultaneously). Here are some themes we’ve outlined in our first editorial meetings: Ketubahs 101: Ketubahs are what we’re all about, and on this blog you’ll find valuable information on the history (and future) of ketubahs, as well as how to choose the right ketubah for you. As early as next week, we’ll have guest blogger Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer, author of the Creative Jewish Wedding Book, to check in and drop some knowledge! Remixing the Jewish Wedding: What keeps Judaism relevant is the little ways that Jewish people make the tradition their own. That’s why we plan to feature ways that people are updating/personalizing/remixing Jewish traditions in their own wedding ceremonies. Whether it be a homemade, handmade chuppah, or a rewritten sheva brachot (seven blessings), we want to be a resource for inspiring ways that real people use the Jewish tradition to connect to their identities. Every so often, we’ll throw in remixed Jewish traditions from other holidays and ceremonies, for good measure. And, of course, if you’ve got a suggestion, or want your “remixed Jewish wedding” featured, send us an email at Artist Wishlist: We’ve always got one eye on the art world, since that’s where we’re from! When we see work we love, and especially work that would translate well to a ketubah—whether it be famed artists, or someone’s little sister, living working artists, or old deceased dudes and dudettes—we’ll post it here. Artist Features: Spotlight on our artists, including studio visits, exhibitions, interviews, new work and, of course, new ketubahs. The Biz: We’re figuring out this “small business” thing as we go along, and we’re eager to share what we learn. Maya, who is 1/2 of Ketuv, starts an MBA program this fall, so look out for the fruits of her edumacation. Puppies: Ok, no puppies. But wouldn’t it be nice if that were part of the job? In the meantime, send us suggestions by email at, or on Twitter @KetuvTweets. Enjoy!