Can You Have a Jewish Wedding on a Saturday?


Jewish couple getting married in Synagogue

There are certain factors to consider when planning a Jewish wedding, and anyone practicing Judaism would agree that the Jewish strictly adhere to their calendar. One implication of this is that Judaism may prohibit conducting certain ceremonies on certain days of the week like a Saturday or the Jewish calendar.

So, can you have a Jewish wedding on a Saturday? Customarily, Judaism strictly prohibits weddings on certain days of the Jewish calendar, where the believers refrain from work and travel. They believe that conducting a marriage on these restricted days is the same as working; hence, violating Jewish laws. Therefore, a wedding cannot occur on days such as the Shabbat (from Friday evening to Saturday nightfall) or other auspicious days set aside for certain Jewish rituals. However, while most rabbis strictly follow this rule, some contemporary celebrants are more flexible to marry a couple even when the wedding falls on these days.

At weddings, the concept of days and dates may be confusing given the various segments of Judaism (others are more liberal) and cases of intermarriages. While some religious fractions are more lenient with their laws to do away with certain traditions, Jewish laws remain the same.

We delve into the world of Judaism to highlight why dates are so crucial to the faith and also determine its impact on setting a date for your wedding. Can you still marry on the Shabbat? If not, can you find a way around it? Let’s have a more detailed look at these concerns.

Factors To Consider When Planning a Jewish Wedding

It may be confusing to set a Jewish wedding date, especially if it is an interreligious union since there is always a conflict of traditions and rituals. Two religions may clash, especially when one religion prohibits an activity while the other allows it.

A wedding is one of the most critical events in an individual’s life. It marks the beginning of a lifelong union between a man and a woman to become a husband and wife. Given how momentous the occasion is, you may want to have a grand celebration in the presence of family and friends. The primary concern is that the marriage should adhere to your religion’s laws to avoid any inconveniences on your special day.

So, what do you need to consider when planning your Jewish wedding?

The Celebrant

The wedding is only complete if a celebrant is available to marry the couple. Since most cantors and rabbis get busy serving the people, one needs to find a celebrant earlier (even months) before the wedding. The possibility of finding a celebrant also depends on the day you set aside for your wedding.

Most religious leaders will not officiate a ceremony on a Jewish holiday or the Shabbat (they may have their reservations about working on a day set aside for rest). Hence, some couples decide to go for more contemporary celebrants who don’t mind marrying them at any time of the week. Some rabbis in other denominations, such as The Reformists, are more liberal and can grant a marriage even on the Sabbath as long as it occurs later on Saturday. For more conservative rabbis, you may have to shelve your idea altogether of a wedding on the Shabbat unless it happens later on in the evening. 

The Timing

It is one of the most important decisions a couple can make about their wedding. It is essential to set the ceremony at the most convenient day and time so that all your guests can be part of it. Similarly, the time should be suitable for the celebrant, so you need to consult with the religious leaders on the best day to have the wedding to ensure that it does not coincide with any significant Jewish holidays.

Most celebrants may decline to offer their services on a Sabbath, even when they are members of more flexible groups such as the Reformists. However, some rabbis who officiate intermarriages may agree to a Saturday late afternoon wedding while others will only agree to have it later into the evening.

Similarly, selecting a day for your wedding depends on the guests. If most of your guests are middle-aged or older, you need to consider having the wedding at a time of their convenience. It may be difficult for them to attend a ceremony taking place on a late-night weekday. On the other hand, if most of the attendees are of the younger generation, they may be comfortable with a late-night wedding.

The Location

Conventionally, the couple would hold their wedding at the groom’s or bride’s home. After the wedding, it was common for them to stay in quarters built by the groom’s father. Nowadays, marriage can occur anywhere that the couple chooses, convenient for them, and their guests. Some may have it in the synagogue, courtyard, functional hall, or the outdoors. 

Most importantly, you may need to secure a venue for the wedding early enough to avoid any inconveniences. It may help pick a place that will accommodate all your guests, especially in the reception where there is a lot of dancing and merry-making. Lastly, you may need to consider when you are booking the venue since some owners may be skeptical about hiring out their premises on certain Jewish holidays or the Sabbath.  

Jewish Traditions

Judaism involves a lot of traditions, especially concerning the conduct of ceremonies such as weddings. Conservative Jews are more stringent with the rituals, while the contemporary Jews are more lenient. For a purely Jewish wedding, the couple may incorporate most/ all of the Jewish wedding traditions. The only issue arises during intermarriages where the partner’s rituals and traditions clash, and the couple has to compromise on certain aspects of their respective religions.

For instance, the Jewish law bars the wedding from taking place on certain days of the Jewish calendar, a situation that may be different in another religion. For such a case, the two have to settle for another date that does not contradict the Jewish rituals.

What is Shabbat?

The Jewish consider the Shabbat as one of the holiest days of the calendar. Since the Jewish day is from the previous sundown to sundown of the following day, the Sabbath day begins from Friday nightfall to Saturday nightfall. During this time, the Jewish observe total dedication to God by obeying his commandment of resting on the Sabbath day.

They derive this notion from the fact that God created the earth for six days and rested on the seventh. Therefore, a Jew should observe the same and refrain from any task that day; this includes all ceremonies, work, or travel. Most rabbis will also not officiate a wedding that takes place on this particular day. However, some cantors can marry the couple on Saturday late afternoon or later in the evening.

Since a wedding involves the guests’ traveling and general active participation, the Jewish traditions dictate that they are a form of work; hence, the believers should not participate. Similarly, the process involves the signing of the Khetubah, and since any form of writing is also work, it violates the Sabbath rule. Some couples may find their way around this and conduct the signing on the previous or the following day.

For other religions, a Saturday wedding is entirely acceptable, which causes an issue if the marriage is interreligious. However, the couple can still find common ground. They may find an officiant who accepts to marry them if the wedding takes place later in the evening or afternoon. This way, they can still have their Saturday wedding.

Typically, a Jewish wedding can start on Saturday night as soon as the Sabbath ends after conducting the Havdalah to mark the end of Shabbat. Often, they are held on Sunday in the afternoon or any other day of the week, as long as it does not coincide with a Jewish calendar’s major holiday. 

What’s in a date for a Jewish Wedding?

Setting the best day for the ceremony is paramount to determining whether it will be successful or not. A good day means that the celebrant and the guests will be comfortable, and there will be no worries about breaking any rules of the Torah. Let’s check the Jewish calendar to find the most meaningful, least favorite, and forbidden days to have a wedding.

 The Auspicious Days

Tuesday is one of the most favorite days to have your wedding. Being the third day, God declared that his creation was right; for heaven and earth (the Torah states that He said this twice). The Jewish interpret this as a sign that the Lord was twice as pleased on this specific day. Having your union on this day is symbolic of having it twice as blessed. Some Jewish people see this day as pleasing to the Lord; thus, a couples’ union will also be gladdening in His sight.

Secondly, there is the Rosh Chodesh, the first day of a Jewish month. A couple may wish to start a new life on the same day as the month’s start. Another significant time is during the lunar month, which is fifteen days. Metaphorically, this period signifies the unity of the Jewish nation and is a great time to have a wedding.

The couple may also decide to have their wedding between the Yom Kippur and the Sukkot period. These four days are holy in the Jewish calendar, mainly because they are equivalent to the Tetragrammaton letters. Another excellent period for a wedding is the Kislev month, which coincides with the Chanukah, celebrated on the last day. Having a wedding during this time will most likely bring you and your marriage happiness. Some couples even go the extra mile to conduct their wedding in the same theme as the Chanukah spirit.

Lastly, the month of Adar is also an auspicious time of the year. It is a lucky month that the Jewish believe will mark a new year for a couple’s marriage. Similarly, the Elul month can be a great time to celebrate a wedding given that the month is synonymous with God’s love and mercy.

The Least Favorable Days for a Jewish Wedding

Considering that the Shabbat starts on the night of Friday, this day is not a good day to have your wedding. There are so many restrictions involved in observing the Sabbath that would inconvenience you and your guests. First, most people will not be willing to participate in the wedding; rabbis, technical crew, chefs, and even some guests may not be comfortable attending a Shabbat wedding. Therefore, it is advisable to have the wedding later on in the week after the Sabbath. You can have it on Saturday night instead or on another day of the week.

Also, avoid a wedding date that lies in the periods of the days of repentance. The Jewish believe that the wedding’s joyous mood and the sad one of such days do not complement each other. The best way is to refrain from scheduling the celebration until the ten days are over. Another day to avoid is Purim, which involves a lot of family activities and festivities. The fun of having a wedding at this time may be taken away by the festivities surrounding the holiday.

The Religiously Forbidden Days

Judaism strongly forbids having a wedding on some particular days of the Jewish calendar. For these days, even the lenient Reformists do not conduct marriage ceremonies. These days include the day and the days preceding holidays such as the Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Passover, and Elul. These are major holidays that are biblically set aside days for rest. The religion discourages taking away from the significance of such remarkable days in Jewish life. 

The same case applies for other semi-festive days like the Chol Hamoed. Lastly, you may want to avoid the Tammuz Fast and the Av month’s three-week mourning period. The calendar sets aside these days for intense prayer and fasting; therefore, it isn’t a good idea to celebrate around this time.

Having a wedding on such days will deny both you and the guests the chance to indulge in the fullness of the holidays’ spirit. So the best way to go is to give each day the attention it deserves so that you can enjoy the mood that they both bring. You can consult with your leaders on the best way to go or confirm from the calendar if you are having trouble deciding on a wedding date.

Is It Okay To Have a Wedding on the Shabbat?

Most Jewish people entirely refrain from working on the Sabbath. This rule means that from Friday evening to Saturday sundown, they do not participate in any activity that would violate this rule. It means that there’s no traveling, no driving, and even no writing. In case there is a wedding, it has to start on Saturday night after the Sabbath.

However, given the contemporary and ever-changing religious beliefs, some people will go ahead and conduct or participate in a wedding even on the Shabbat. With more people embracing the idea, does it make it okay?

First, Judaism frowns upon the violation of the laid down rules that have governed the Jewish people over the centuries. Practices such as strict observation of the Sabbath have been present from time immemorial and going against them violates the Torah’s rules.

Even in mixed marriages, there are still some guiding principles that Jewish ceremonies must follow. While the religion does not condemn intermarriages, it always advocates for the Jewish rules to remain intact. Most Jewish leaders will advise the two to find common ground to settle their religious differences amicably.

Some rabbis from various segments, especially the more contemporary ones, may marry a couple in the late afternoons on a Saturday, which is still a Sabbath. Hence, most couples find it easier to ask them to officiate the ceremony if they want a Saturday wedding. However, we strongly advise that anyone wishing to marry on a Saturday can do so as long as it does not violate any Jewish law about the Sabbath.

Final Take

When planning a wedding, one of the most important factors to consider is what your religion dictates. Marriage is one of the best days of your life, so you may want to ensure that you conduct it most conveniently.

Set a date that your guests are most comfortable with to avoid some of them skipping your ceremony because it contravenes the Torah rules. If you or your fiancé wishes to have a Saturday wedding, the best win-win situation is to have it later in the evening after the Sabbath; hence you won’t break any rules.

Generally, the rabbis officiating intermarriages and those from more contemporary Jewish standings are more flexible than conventional ones. Hence, some may allow you to have a Saturday wedding. On the contrary, we still advise that observing the Jewish Sabbath rules is the best way to go. You can ensure that the wedding occurs any other day apart from the Sabbath and any Jewish holidays, especially the holidays of Jewish fasting and prayer.

Recent Posts