Before you buy a ketubah, ask your Rabbi these 4 questions

Congratulations! You’ve gotten engaged to the love of your life, wedding plans are underway, and it’s time to start hunting for that perfect ketubah. But before you go too far down the rabbit hole of artists, designs, and text options, you might want to pick up the phone and give your Rabbi or Officiant a call. The ketubah is a critically important part of the Jewish wedding ceremony. Depending on the type of ceremony you’re having and the denomination of your Rabbi, there may be some requirements in place for your ketubah of which you may not be aware. It definitely pays to have a quick chat with your Officiant before you fall in love with a particular design. So, before your hunt begins in earnest, ask your Rabbi these four questions:

1. What are your requirements for our ketubah text?

Each Rabbi will have different requirements when it comes to selecting your ketubah text. An Orthodox Rabbi will typically require you to use the original Aramaic Orthodox ketubah text. A Conservative Rabbi will typically ask that you use the original Aramaic ketubah text with the addition of the Lieberman Clause. Other Rabbis may have additional requirements still. Most (but not all) established ketubah artists are experienced at accommodating any Rabbi’s requirements into their texts. But it pays to know ahead of time what you’re looking for. It will help you to get a more accurate quote from your ketubah artist, and will save you the trouble if a particular artist can’t offer the specific text you need.

2. How should we handle everyone’s names in our ketubah?

There are several ways to handle everyone’s names in a ketubah, so it helps to know your Rabbi’s stance before you finalize your text. Some Rabbis leave it up to you whether or not to include your parents’ names in your text, and others see it as a requirement. The trickiest situations are those where you’re getting an Orthodox or Conservative ketubah text, but you’re having an interfaith marriage, or one partner has converted to Judaism. In these instances, the converted partner’s parents are often listed as Abraham and Sarah in the Hebrew text, while their names are left unchanged in the English text. It get’s confusing, see? That’s why it helps to have a clear idea from your Rabbi how they would like this handled.

3. What should we put for the date of the ceremony?

You’d think that the date of your wedding should be pretty straight-forward, but unfortunately, that’s not always the case. That’s because, in the Hebrew calendar, the date changes at sunset and not at 12:00 am. It’s further complicated by the fact that, in Jewish law, you technically shouldn’t marry on Shabbat (or after sunset on Friday / before sunset on Saturday). So if you’re wedding ceremony happens just before sunset on Saturday, your Rabbi may ask that your ketubah list the Hebrew date as being after sunset. This is easy for the ketubah artist to do, but they just have to know ahead of time!

4. Who can sign our ketubah?

Again, depending on the type of ceremony and the type of Officiant you’ll have at your wedding, there may be strict or very loose requirements for selecting your ketubah witnesses. You can read a lot more about those requirements and my personal philosophy for selecting witnesses over here. But just a reminder that it’s a good idea to ask your Rabbi what their requirements are for who can sign and/or how many people can sign as witnesses. I’ve done ketubahs for couples who wanted to include up to 8 witnesses in the signing ceremony – and this was perfectly fine with their Rabbi. But it’s definitely a good idea to know where your Rabbi stands on the issue before asking your nearest and dearest to be witnesses for you.

Each Rabbi and Officiant will have a different set of requirements for your ketubah, so it pays to know ahead of time. A good ketubah artist will be able to accommodate anything your Rabbi asks of you, so don’t be shy about sharing your Rabbi’s requirements with artists you’d like to work with. That’s what we do!

Photo Credit: Carlberry


I'm Adriana Saipe, founder of Ink with Intent. I'm a full-time wedding illustrator who specializes in contemporary ketubahs and unique wedding certificates. Learn more.

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