When planning an interfaith wedding, it’s beautiful to find meaningful ways to intertwine each other’s traditions. For this Hindu and Jewish couple (who wish to remain anonymous), crafting two separate ceremonies with immediate family—a Hindu ceremony immediately followed by a Jewish one—was the right choice. The bride says, “In discussion with our rabbi, we realized it would be not only easier to coordinate, but we would be able to more effectively honor each tradition if we had separate ceremonies.” Here is how they made their wedding day twice as special.
There are numerous skilled individuals who can officiate weddings, so finding someone who feels like the right fit for you and your partner can feel daunting. According to the bride, the couple Googled “Rabbis in Milwaukee, WI” (where she and her partner live) in search of someone who was not only capable but also “excited about an interfaith wedding.”
After calling around to a few different people, the pair was connected with 18Doors Rukin Rabbinic Fellow Michal Woll, who was just as excited to perform their two ceremonies as they had hoped!
The choice to have separate Hindu and Jewish ceremonies was a multifaceted one. The bride noted that when it comes to Jewish and Hindu wedding rituals, “there are some traditions that are similar, such as walking in circles together, and the importance of flame/light. There are also fun interactive traditions in each, such as a ‘find the rings’ game in a Hindu wedding and breaking the wine glass in a Jewish wedding. I especially appreciate the importance that the Jewish wedding places on your family and friends by having members of the wedding party hold the chuppah (Jewish wedding canopy).”
By combining traditions, it’s possible to accidentally omit something that might be meaningful; by separating the wedding into two sections, each partner’s heritage was equally celebrated as they began married life.
The bride added that “we walked in circles around a flame for the Indian wedding, did the ring search game and threw rice onto each other. For the Jewish wedding, we signed a ketubah, our siblings held the chuppah, we exchanged rings and then my husband broke the glass. We both felt like we honored each of our backgrounds and families and were still able to have a fun, and had a relatively time efficient wedding (on Zoom, at that!).”
When asked about the wedding from her perspective, Rabbi Woll gushed: “[They] share so much in their life and work, have such beautiful personal balance and shared interests, and both come from rich, ritually unique traditions. Allowing each religious ceremony to stand on its own brought this richness to their special day.”
She went on to say, “It was amazing how the traditions felt similar, including symbolism of circles and taking place under a structure that helped signify home, yet also how well they complimented one another. They created a flow that formed a single ritual arc and personalized elements of the Jewish ceremony to make it even more their own. And the traditional Indian dress made for a visually stunning event!”
The couple’s biggest difficulties were not religious. “COVID-19 was the main challenge, and once we decided to pare down our wedding to be exclusively our nuclear families, in my husband’s family’s backyard, it was smooth sailing,” the bride explains.
COVID-19 or not, an intimate wedding can simplify certain obstacles and allow you to focus on your needs. The pandemic has led to smaller weddings, and we may see this trend continue for years to come.
“Talk to each of your respective parents!” says the bride. “I found that our parents had stronger feelings than either of us did, and it was helpful to get their perspectives.”
So how did they navigate those strong feelings? “We made them both happy by having the discussions with them, and by separately honoring both traditions in a way that didn’t elevate one above the other, and allowed everyone to enjoy all parts of the wedding.”
Though your wedding day is absolutely about you and your partner celebrating your union, sometimes those closest to you can offer perspectives that you may not have considered. Whether you choose a single wedding ceremony or two separate ones like this couple, involving loved ones in the wedding planning process can be a great way to get feedback and ensure that both you and your partner are having your needs met.