So, you’ve found your ketubah artist, placed your order, chosen your text, and the beautiful document has arrived at your doorstep. Time to cross “ketubah” off your wedding to do list? Not quite.
While purchasing and customizing your ketubah is definitely the most time consuming part of the process, there’s still one thing left to coordinate – the ketubah signing ceremony. If you’re working with a wedding coordinator who’s familiar with Jewish weddings (lucky you!) he or she will probably handle a lot of these logistics for you. But if not, it’s important to run through this checklist before the big day so that you don’t find yourself rushing to sign your ketubah in a dark hallway with a smudgy pen 2 minutes before the ceremony.
Here’s a list of what needs to get done before your wedding day arrives:
1. Plan ahead for how your ketubah will get to and from the ceremony.
You’ll be coordinating the movement of lots of little things (hello table numbers, bouquets, and favors!) in the days leading up to your wedding, so make sure that the ketubah makes that list. You should leave it protected in a tube or frame during transfer so that it doesn’t get damaged. Make sure that someone you trust is in charge of getting it to the venue and seeing it safely home after the reception. As someone who was recently married herself, I highly recommend that you give this job to someone else and not try to handle it yourself. You’ll be way too wrapped up in the day itself to think about lugging around your ketubah.
2. Have the right pen.
While most pens will work just fine for signing your paper ketubah, I do have a couple of suggestions. Personally, I recommend that you use a uni-ball GEL pen, as these are least likely to scratch the surface of your fine art paper ketubah. These pens are available in a wide variety of colors, and the metallic and white colors work wonderfully on the ketubahs with dark backgrounds. Make sure to have an extra piece of paper with you for the signing ceremony, so that each person can practice their signature before signing on the real thing! And again, make a plan for how those pens are going to get to the ceremony.
3. Find the right space.
Ideally, your venue will have a quiet room with a table that can comfortably fit the Rabbi, the couple, the witnesses, and any other honored guests you’ve asked to attend the signing. Check with your venue ahead of time about what space would best fit your needs, and have your ketubah and pens set up there so they’re ready to go!
4. Know who your witnesses will be.
It’s easy to remember to select your witnesses ahead of time. After all, it’s a lot of fun to ask someone to fill an honored role in your wedding ceremony. (Psst, here are my tips on how to pick your witnesses.) But the step people often forget is to make sure that their ketubah witnesses know when and where to meet for the signing ceremony. The last thing you want to do is make the groom run around the venue 5 minutes before your wedding is supposed to start trying to track down your errant witness. Make sure the witnesses have all the information they need, and the signing ceremony will go smoothly!
5. Have a plan for displaying your ketubah.
Many couples choose to display their signed ketubah during the wedding ceremony and reception. If that’s your plan, be sure to have an easel ready to go and an inexpensive frame on hand to protect your ketubah from spilled wine, weepy guests, and small grubby hands 🙂 I specifically recommend a cheap frame because I’ve heard one too many stories about people bumping into the ketubah during the ceremony and knocking it to the floor. The cheap frame will protect your ketubah in the case of disaster, but will probably be broken itself if it’s knocked to the floor. So you don’t want to invest in an expensive professional frame until that ketubah is ready to live safely on your wall at home.
A quick note about the ketubah signing ceremony itself
Now that all the logistics are locked down, here’s a brief rundown of how the actual signing ceremony usually goes. Of course, the specifics will always depend on your Rabbi, the type of ceremony you’re having (Orthodox, Secular, Interfaith, etc.) and the preferences of the bride and groom. But typically, the group will assemble in the predetermined space 20-30 minutes before the wedding ceremony is set to begin. The Rabbi will perhaps briefly explain to the assembled the significance of the ketubah. Then he or she will read the document in full. Often, the Rabbi will ask the two witnesses to sign the document first, since historically theirs were the only signatures that mattered in the legal sense. After each person has signed, the ketubah will be placed back in its frame, and returned to its easel in the wedding ceremony or reception space.
If you do just a few things to prepare for your ketubah signing ceremony, it’s destined to go smoothly. And if you have any questions, be sure to ask your Rabbi how they typically handle this part of a Jewish wedding!