Modern Ketubahs are personalized works of art, including both the text of the symbolic Jewish marriage contract and artwork in the margins. The text of modern ketubahs (or ketubot, the plural in Hebrew) has been adapted to fit better the modern understanding of marriage as a partnership based in love and commitment, not legality. Some couples use the ketubah to detail how they will share responsibilities and resolve conflicts. In the modern liberal Jewish world, couples can consider a much wider range of ketubah options than in any previous era of Jewish history. There are interfaith ketubot, LGBT ketubot, secular humanist ketubot and more.
In most modern Jewish/interfaith weddings, the couple signs the Ketubah about a half hour before the wedding ceremony in the presence of two witnesses of their choosing, their immediate family and the wedding party.
Ketubahs are considered prized wedding mementoes and are typically framed and hung in a prominent place in the couple’s home after the wedding. Many people hire professional ketubah-makers to create a one-of-a-kind calligraphed work of art.
In ancient times, a Ketubah was a legally binding marriage contract, signed by two witnesses, that “verifie[d] that the groom has acquired the bride and agrees to provide for her, and includes a lien to be paid by the groom in case of divorce, according to Valerie S. Thaler. As you can imagine, in the liberal Jewish world, there aren’t too many couples, straight or gay, who want to sign a wedding contract in which one partner “acquires” another. But roughly 1900+ years ago, Middle Eastern norms regarding marriage and gender roles were quite different. One thing the original traditional ketubah did was guarantee the bride some financial security in the event that the groom divorced her (and of course, in that era traditional authorities did not recognize same-sex marriage, whereas in the liberal Jewish community we happily do today).