The blessing over the wine is a standard element of almost all Jewish life cycle ceremonies. It represents our joy in the day that this celebration is occurring. For those who do not drink wine, grape juice is an acceptable substitute. The traditional Hebrew blessing is:
Blessed are You, Eternal One our God, Ruler of the Universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine.
Phonetic Hebrew transliteration:
Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha-Olam, boreh p’ri ha-gafen.
This cup of wine is symbolic of the cup of life. As you share this cup of wine, you undertake to share all the future may bring. May you find life’s joys doubly gladdened, its bitterness sweetened, and all things hallowed by true companionship and love.
Two cups are before you. By your choice, only one of the cups is reserved for the two of you alone. You decided to share the first cup with those who have been partners in your lives thus far, the ones who have helped to make you the individuals you are.
This cup of wine symbolizes the gratitude [name] and [name] have for the loving care and teaching of parents, the ties of heart and mind and memory that link brothers and sisters, and for the friendships that fill this cup to overflowing.
Although you are two distinct persons, both respecting the dignity of the other, you have chosen to unite your lives and to seek your happiness together. Your individual joy will be all the greater because it is shared. Your individual fulfillment will be all the stronger because it rests in the fulfillment of the other.
We have come to the moment of the service when you will share a cup of wine–not just once, but twice, to honor both of your heritages.
In the culture of the Jewish people, wine is the symbol of happiness. Take this goblet and drink the wine as an affirmation of your hope for the future, a future that welcomes your dreams and makes them real.
Ashray hehatan v’hakalla sheyimtzoo ahava b’nee-soo-een.
Happy are the groom and bride who find love in marriage.
Ashray hehatan v’hehatan sheyimtzoo ahava b’nee-soo-een.
Happy are the groom and groom who find love in marriage.
Ashray hakalla v’hakalla sheyimtzooahava b’nee-soo-een.
Happy are the bride and bride who find love in marriage.
[Drink from the cup.]
We also honor the ancient Chinese wedding tradition of tuan yuan [twen yu-wen] or “completing the circle.” The wine cups are tied together with a red string. Reminiscent of the weddings of the Sung dynasty, the partners sip the wine, then cross arms to exchange the cups and drink again. The sharing and mingling of the wine symbolizes a harmonious married life.
[Drink from the cup, cross arms and drink again.]
This cup of wine is symbolic of the cup of life. As you share the cup of wine, you undertake to share all that the future may bring. All the sweetness life’s cup may hold for you should be sweeter because you drink it together; whatever drops of bitterness it may contain should be less bitter because you share them.
Two thoughts are suggested by this cup of wine. The first is that wine is a symbol of the sweetness we wish for your life. There will be times when you drink from other cups, from bitter ones; but life offers the opportunity to savor the sweetness. The awareness of the possibility of a life filled with true meaning is what we toast: the good that is life. The second is that wine is a symbol of sharing. You have shared many years together, and out of this time has grown the love which brought you to this day. As you continue to share in each other’s life, you will, as a symbol of this enduring cooperation, share this cup of wine. As you share this cup of wine, you share all that the future may bring.
Weddings are a time for hope and rejoicing. Let us fill the cups that clear today of past regrets and future fears. _____ (name), would you pour some wine into _____’s (name’s) goblet. [Do so.] ____ (name) would you pour some wine into _____’s (name’s) goblet [do so]. When regrets and fears can be put aside, our lives can be filled with hope and renewal.
____ and ____, your parents, through hard work and dedication and with a great deal of love, partially filled your cups of life with ingredients required to make you strong, wise and decent. They have reason to be proud and you have a great deal for which to be grateful.
It is traditional to express our joy, hopes and blessings for the bride and groom by reciting seven blessings. When I call your name would you please come up, raise a goblet and honor ____ and _____ by reciting a blessing.
[Officiant calls up each reader. As they come up, officiant gives them the goblet. Using the microphone, they will read the blessing from my binder, then return the cup to officiant and go back to their spots/seats.]
[Say Seven Blessings here.]
[Officiant hands goblet to groom and bride]
____ and _____, raise your cup in a toast to life and your continued freedom and autonomy, and say “to life/l’chaim/(other language)” [Raise cup, say “to life/l’chaim/____”]
Now take a sip of wine from your own cup to savor the richness of your life. [drink]
Although you are two separate individuals and will continue to be so after your wedding, you have willingly chosen to seek and build happiness together. Raise the goblets, in a toast to a lasting and fulfilling marriage–and say: “to love and to unity.”
Now offer each other a sip from your cup, to symbolize the sharing of your lives. [Hang onto your cups, place it to the lip of your partner and they will tip it and sip from it. Drink from cup consecutively to avoid spillage.]
As you have just sipped from the goblets of wine, so may you, in enduring union and devotion, draw sustenance, comfort, and joy, from the cup of life. May you find the balance between individuality and togetherness, uniqueness and unity.
To show appreciation to your parents [or other specific people of your choosing] would you give them a sip of wine from your cup? [Do so, then goblets replaced on table].
-by Eva Goldfinger
A cup of white wine is passed up the bride’s side, a cup of red wine is passed up the groom’s side [for weddings that don’t involve a bride and groom, adjust language accordingly]. The bride and groom pour the two cups together. The facilitator points out that once the wine has mingled it cannot be separated. It can be poured back into separate containers, but it will always be mixed. A blessing is said and the couple sip from the cup.
-by Marcia Spiegel
The Jewish Wedding Guide for Interfaith Couples is also available in PDF.