Monthly Archives: June 2010

From The Expert: Ketubah Shopping

Since The Wedding Yentas launched about two months ago, many brides have asked us to do a post devoted to the process of selecting a ketubah. After much research and info gathering, we decided it would be best to hear it from the talented ketubah artist’s mouth! She’s so talented, that she was Yenta Alison’s ketubah artist! We love her work and we are so excited to present a guest blogger this week who is the expert in all things ketubah! Thanks, Rachel Deitsch of New World Wedding, for sharing your expertise:

One of the things that dawned on me when I started making ketubot was that pretty much everyone who needs a ketubah is a first-time customer! There are many many variables, which can be dizzying, but fortunately there are people (like me) who do this every day who can help guide you through the process. I’ve broken this guide into chewable chunks for easier digestion; please wait an hour before swimming…

How do you find the right ketubah design for you?
Deciding on the right ketubah design an extremely personal process- it’s the one factor that will depend solely on your own taste and gut. Traditionally the ketubah belongs to the bride, but of course today both parties decide together what speaks to them. There are so many styles of ketubah- from formal and florid to minimal and modern- that is something you as a couple will have to choose.

I’ve found that couples look for something in the design that speaks to their story. That is a very exciting part of the ketubah business- when something I’ve made has an entirely new meaning for the person choosing it.

There is a traditional visual vocabulary in ketubah art that you will become familiar with as you explore different artists’ work. They are generally fairly easily interpreted- plants, trees, fruit and flowers for growth and fertility; birds are blessings, as is water. I also use a few non-traditional motifs- ladders speak of aspirations, cottages of the home you build together. As you poke around you’ll find the style and image you really connect to.

Custom Artwork
Commissioning a custom ketubah can be a very expensive proposition. Some artists specialize in custom ketubot, but most sell prints of existing work. Keep in mind that commissioning a ketubah is like commissioning any other artwork- it’s expensive and you are not 100% in control of the end product. Of course, that can be very exciting and gratifying- knowing you have the only one of its kind in the world, but be prepared to give up some control and to trust the artist.

If you like an artist’s style, one option to consider is asking if an existing design can be modified. I don’t generally accept commissions for custom work, but I always try and figure out a solution to a clients’ request. We creative types can be surprisingly, well, creative- so ask!

Where to Buy?
You can find pretty much every ketubah artist and style imaginable online of course, and I think that’s how many ketubahs today are sold. Most ketubah artists will sell both through a ketubah reseller — a site that carries many artists — and their own personal site. There are good reasons to go either way. With a reseller you have a variety of artists right in front of you. An artist’s site will get you in touch with the person actually making your ketubah, so if you have a special request, it can be more easily accommodated. Most web sites will offer to send a free paper-print sample so you can feel the weight of the paper and see the true color before you buy- if you don’t see that offer — just ask.

There are still many people who prefer to buy at a brick and mortar store, either to support local businesses or because they want to see the print before purchasing. Many customers will research online then go to their local store to make the purchase. Even if the store carries the artist you like, they probably don’t have every design sample on hand, but they can usually get any design by an artist they carry. It’s a bit trickier if they don’t carry the artist at all. Some artists will sell a la carte to a store that contacts them, but many will prefer the customer buy directly through them if there is no prior relationship with the store.

The Text
This is where it can get tricky for a lot of people. The design you choose of course says a lot about you as a couple, but the text literally spells it out, doesn’t it? It can be daunting to choose the right words to express what you are thinking and feeling.

Traditional Texts
If you are Orthodox or Conservative and/or are being married by an Orthodox or Conservative rabbi, you will have pretty firm instructions on what the rabbi will accept on the ketubah.

I am often asked about including an English translation of the traditional Aramaic text… until I show the bride and groom the translation. It’s a pretty dry legal document and I’ve yet to have any couple wish to print it on their ketubah. What many couples using the Orthodox/Conservative texts will do instead is add a paragraph either of their own or, since those text are pretty lengthy, one that simply states the basic facts of the wedding: names, date, place.

Orthodox, Conservative: What’s the Difference?
I’m often asked about this. The difference between those two texts is an additional paragraph (in Hebrew, not Aramaic) called the Lieberman Clause, which was added by the Conservative movement in the 1950s.

Other Texts

Here’s where it gets wild and woolly. If you are not going to opt for a traditional text, the world is your matzoh ball. Most modern ketubah texts are written or commissioned by the ketubah artists and reflect the sentiments of a contemporary couple, emphasizing mutual understanding and support. There are a great deal of interfaith and non-denominational texts as well, which are respectful of both parties’ traditions. As you read through them, you’ll likely be inspired to discussions about what your expectations and hopes are for your marriage. It’s a wonderful exercise!

To me, that’s really the point of these texts; to make those conversations happen. The beauty of the ketubah is that it’s there every day to remind you of your intentions in your marriage. It’s the same as having a mezuzah on your door, which reminds you that your home is a place of your particular values.

It can be tough to set these ideals down on paper and most couples are very happy to have something the can choose out of the box.

There are lots of really beautifully written texts that absolutely fit the bill, but here’s something to keep in mind: you might like the design of one artist and the text of another. Most artists, especially when asked nicely, will readily allow their texts to be used in another’s artwork for one-time use. Some might ask for a small license fee. Also, if you are working directly with the artist, he or she will generally be open to tweaking their text. For instance, one of my popular texts refers to future children. Some couples know that this is not their plan and I’m happy to remove the sentence — no worries.

If you are blessed with a way with words and want to write your own, it’s a great way to go. Ask the ketubah seller or artist about the parameters for custom texts. There’s generally a word count limit. I offer a translation service as do most other ketubah sellers, if you want your text in both Hebrew and English. I’ve done Spanish, Norwegian and Chinese as well, so always ask if you have a special circumstance!


Personalizing Your Ketubah

When you order your ketubah you’ll have the option of personalizing, filling it in. That means your personal information — the wedding date, your and your parents’ names, the place of the ceremony — will be incorporated into the text. Some artists who are also calligraphers do this by hand on a pre-printed ketubah. I don’t calligraph (is that a word?) so I lay out the texts to order, then print everything — text and artwork — together. I like this approach because the whole text is laid out to fit perfectly in the space.

If you are personalizing, every ketubah seller has a form to fill out. It’s simply the names, date, and place of the wedding. You are asked for your full name, Jewish name, if you have one, and your parents’ first names.

Here are some issues that come up regarding the personalization info:

If you do not have a Jewish (Hebrew) name, what do you fill in?
If there’s no Hebrew name, I will transliterate the English name. I never make up a Hebrew name for someone; there is really no standard parallel between English and Hebrew names, although some, like David or Rachel, would seem obvious. I never assume or presume.

Do you need your parents’ FULL Hebrew name (including THEIR parents’ names, i.e. Rachel ‘bat’ Sara)?
No, that is only for the couple. The parents are just called by first names in Hebrew, and in English generally first and last.

What if for personal reasons I do not wish to include my parents in the ketubah?
Like everything else here, it’s your choice. You may want to consult with your rabbi for Orthodox and Conservative, but I’ve seen omissions there as well.

Why am I being asked if this is my first marriage or if I am a convert?
This is only applicable to the Orthodox and Conservative text (and only applicable to the bride). It has to do with the way the wording changes with the bride’s “status.”

Why am I being asked about my “tribe?”
If either of the couple’s fathers is a Levite or Cohen — something your rabbi would most likely know — then it is mentioned in the ketubah as part of their Hebrew names.

You don’t have to know the Hebrew spelling for place names or the Jewish calendar date of your wedding — that is all part of the fill-in service.


The Rest of the Process

Here’s where I can’t really speak for anyone but myself, but I’m happy to clue you in to my methods. I imagine others work pretty much the same way. I generally tell folks to allow about 4 weeks from order to delivery, but I’ve done a fully personalized ketubah in much less time. It’s mostly for your own peace of mind to leave plenty of time. Once you’ve settled on where you’re going to buy your ketubah and what the text will be, you’ll get your information form from the seller or artist. Many couples ask their rabbi to help with this. When you send it in, I use the form to fill out the text in Hebrew and English and send you a pdf to approve. It’s a good idea to run this past your rabbi or officiant. When any changes or corrections are made and the text is approved, I lay it out in the artwork and print.

As I said, it’s a lot for a first-time (or any) ketubah buyer to absorb, so give yourself plenty of time to look around and don’t be shy about asking lots of questions.

Please feel free to get in touch with me with any burning issue I may not have covered here.

Rachel Deitsch is the artist behind New World Wedding. She also creates beautiful jewelry, invitations, and home decor pieces. She can be reached at rachel@newworldjudaica.com or visit her >website for more information.

  • Stephanie says:

    Excellent & helpful information. Your ketubah designs are beautiful, colorful and would make a meaningful work of art on any married couple’s wall.

  • Casey says:

    Thank you for the helpful information! I’ve seen a lot of ketubahs that ask for the signature of the rabbi, but I will have an officiant who is not a rabbi. Is it possible on most websites or stores to have the word “Rabbi” changed to “Officiant”? Is that even necessary? Thanks in advance for the help!

Real Weddings | Washington, DC

Some couples learn how to turn up the spice as they bond. But this Real Weddings couple started with the spice right away. You see, D’Alizza and Lonny met in a Miami salsa-dancing club. Both of them were competitive salsa dancers, and D’Alizza noticed Lonny’s amazing moves. They danced their way into each other’s hearts and got engaged. D’Alizza, who is Dominican, also fell in love with Judaism, and had an Orthodox conversion to become an observant Jew. She was really excited to showcase her Orthodox wedding to her friends and family, and to share how vibrant and rich Dominican culture is to her religious community. D’Alizza is one of the most expressive, excited brides we’ve ever seen. She was literally jumping up and down with joy after coming off of the bimah.

Cool fact: The photographer, Kelly Prizel, is also a convert to Judaism from Catholicism, which naturally bonded D’Alizza and Kelly immediately. Kelly says, “I’ve never seen such a beautiful Jewish bride and never been so convinced that two people were each other’s beshert.”

D’Alizza and Lonny got married at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue, an amazing non-denominational Jewish space in Washington, DC. D’Alizza and Lonny were instantly attracted to it because of its history and also its incredible early 20th century Sephardic architecture. Their Orthodox community from Woodside Synagogue in Silver Spring helped them plan and execute the wedding. It was truly a communal affair.

We love this story and the happiness that explodes from each photograph!

Mazel tov, D’Alizza and Lonny!

Venue – 6th & I Historic Synagogue
Photographer – Kelly Prizel
Officiant -Rabbi Barry Freundel
Florist – Sidra Forman Flowers
Makeup – Ana Merces

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  • Chanel says:

    Great wedding! I love DC.

  • Dani says:

    I love the side by side chair shots of the dress alone & then the bride in her dress. It’s as if the dress comes to life.

  • Melanie says:

    I have seen them both from the salsa world. I think the photos are amazing. Beautiful & Romantic.

Dancin’ with Dad: Tunes to Ponder

In honor of Father’s Day last weekend, we asked our Facebook friends what they thought were great songs for father/daughter dances. We got some great responses and thought we’d share them with you in addition to listing some favorites of The Wedding Yentas.

You have so much to think about during your wedding planning as it is! We want to give you a head start in the brainstorm so you can select a great tune that really means something to you and the other special man in your life! The parent/child songs could act as a 2-fer, as well. At my wedding, we had a father/daughter dance and a mother/son dance at the same time so that we could get back to the partying and group dancing right away! Remember, it’s your wedding! You make up the rules!

So, after a hora that’s like a cardio workout, you’ll rest, hear some speeches, and then most likely create new family memories with a special dance.

Our Facebook poll brought out these ideas:
You’re The Inspiration by Chicago — submitted by Nicole
Unforgettable by Nat King Cole & Natalie Cole — submitted by Ellen
You Make Me Feel So Young by Frank Sinatra — submitted by Sharon
Father and Daughter by Paul Simon — submitted by Shelby

Additional ideas we love:
The Way You Look Tonight by Frank Sinatra
In My Life by The Beatles
Just The Way You Are by Billy Joel
Because You Loved Me by Celine Dion
I Turn to You by Christina Aguilera
Blessed by Elton John
How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) by James Taylor
You Raise Me Up by Josh Groban
Through The Years by Kenny Rogers
I Hope You Dance by Lee Ann Womack
Lullaby by Billy Joel
What A Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong
Hero by Mariah Carey
A Wink And A Smile by Harry Connick, Jr.
Times Of Your Life by Paul Anka
Forever Young by Rod Stewart
Isn’t She Lovely by Stevie Wonder
I’ll Stand By You by The Pretenders
Gracie by Ben Folds Five
How You’ve Grown by 10,000 Maniacs
That’s How Strong My Love Is by Otis Redding
Somewhere Over The Rainbow/What A Wonderful World by Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo’ole
I Get A Kick Out Of You by Frank Sinatra

…and, because what sacrilegious business would a A Guide For The Jewish Bride have NOT including this tried and true tune on the list:

Sunrise, Sunset from Fiddler On The Roof

Image courtesy of DrewBphotography

  • Stefani says:

    I’ve always liked “You Are So Beautiful To Me” by Joe Cocker

  • Debbie says:

    Song suggestions:
    My Girl (temptations)
    Hero (Mariah Carey)

Winner Announced!

Congratulations to DANA who participated and won the Friday Favorites giveaway!

Dana left a comment about her favorite product at The Eco Luxe Life and won a gift certificate to enjoy her own little shopping spree!

Thanks for participating in this green giveaway and we hope you’ll continue to play with The Wedding Yentas!

Check the blog for more opportunities to win! We’re always updating Facebook and Twitter so keep an eye out there for more information!

We hope you enjoyed Green Week!

Friday Favorites | The Eco Luxe Bride

Good things come to those who green.

This week we’ve been offering you a discount code at The Eco Luxe Life. Just type in WEDDINGYENTAS at checkout for your savings! We are also excited to announce this week’s Friday Favorites giveaway! Read on for details on how to enter!

We’re so excited to gush about today’s Friday Favorites store! Some of our favorite green products can be found on The Eco Luxe Life!

When you visit T.E.L.L., the largest, chicest online green store, blog and community forum, you’ll find products for daily life, domestic living, and –our favorite — wedding bliss! It is your go-to, one-stop, hip shop for learning and shopping green! By creating the largest online eco-friendly destination with products that runs the entire lifestyle spectrum, you are able to enjoy tons of fabulous healthy, greener options at all different price points. Just by looking at T.E.L.L. you can see that going eco isn’t about compromise anymore… these products are phenomenal, and they are housed in a website that is totally fab and feminine. You won’t be disappointed!

Let’s get started with your must-have list. You need these items for your pre and post-wedding life anyway, so why not buy them green?!

Makin’ Up
So many brides wear caked on, too heavy makeup on the big day. Switch to a lighter, mineral based makeup so you look perfect like an angel! Try these awesome lip glosses from Cheeky Cosmetics and eye shadows from Modern Minerals. These will lighten you up in more ways than one!



Honeymoon SCENTuality
Smell so good he can’t keep his hands off of you with Ambre Blends essential oils. Phthalate-free, it’ll continue to be safe to use when you’re onto the baby phase, since, we’re warning you now, the minute after you say “I do,” everyone will ask you when you’re going to start making little ones. It’s always something! Anyway, even after the champagne’s run out and your dress is hung back up in the closet, keep him coming back for more of his bride with these essential oils that are, essentially, super romantic.



Scrub a Dub Dub
Slough off your old single girl self and exfoliate prior to the wedding in order to have glowing, healthy-looking skin. Sumbody’s chocolate bon bons let you get your choco fix without all the calories. If you have any wedding stress, don’t eat your feelings; scrub ‘em.



It’s In The Bag
Your bridesmaids will need to put their stuff somewhere during all of your wedding weekend Olympics. Let them schlep their stuff in style with an Envirosax bag. We love this super chic print that matches any wedding color scheme. A practical, earth-friendly bag also serves as a great memento from your special day! Your gals will continue to use it and spread additional earth-loving vibes.



Take A Deep Breath
Nerves got you up at night? Got wedding plans on the brain? Relax with Zen’s Purple Garden’s Sleep Sachet that fits right in your pillowcase to help calm you down so you can sleep. Lavender is a natural way to relax and improve sleep quality. Oh, and it’s pretty, too.



Avoid a Hairy Situation
Tame those tresses with El Serum by Rare Elements. It’ll moisturize and nourish your locks so they’re glowing on game day. This pre-shampoo serum is ideal for hair that’s dry or has been chemically treated. The blushing bride shouldn’t blush out of embarrassment over her split ends! This hair-crack will rejuvenate your locks so you can look your best while locking up your love!



Fire Up Some Love
Set set the mood with these beautiful Soular candles. The wax is natural and free of colorants, so it assures an ultra clean, edge to edge, 50-hour soot-free burn with each lighting. These will fill your space with a truly intoxicating aroma. Perfect for welcome baskets for your out of town guests, bridesmaids gifts, or even wedding night romance, you can find a lot of reasons to fall in love with these awesome GREEN candles!



Nail It!
Gorgeous colors. No stinky smells. Easy to remove. What isn’t there to love about Natural Watercolors Non-Peel Off Nail Polish By Honeybee Gardens nail polish? Bring this with you to your mani/pedi appointment or do it yourself at home. Either way, your hands will be worthy of holding your bouquet on your wedding day!



Show Your Best Face
It’s your wedding day and after you walk down the aisle and kiss your groom, the veil is no longer hiding your face! So show off your mug, especially if you’ve used Facial Mask By Pangea Organics – Japanese Matcha Tea With Acai and Goji Berry. This mega award-winning facial mask does all the fancy, sciencey things to make your face bright, refreshed, and radiant.


We love sharing some of our favorite products with you! Now’s your chance to share something YOU would like to try! Take a walk through The Eco Luxe Life store, pick some products that interest you, and leave them in a comment below to enter to win the sweepstakes! This week, The Wedding Yentas and The Eco Luxe Life have partnered to offer one lucky winner a gift certificate to their store! You can’t win if you don’t enter. We’re accepting entries through Sunday night at 11:59 p.m. The winner of the giveaway will be announced on Monday via The Wedding Yentas blog and Facebook page.

GOOD LUCK!

  • Tali says:

    I love that pillow insert. It sounds so relaxing. The site has such great stuff.

  • Dana says:

    It’s hard to choose just one product. The bedding by Amenity Home is amazing, I love the fern one. Since I’m a pet lover, I love all the organic pet products as well. What a great site!

  • Danielle says:

    LOVE the Bambu Bowls. Very cool. I like unique bamboo looking items. It has a very earthy yet chic look.

  • Megan says:

    My fiance is always breaking out from his aftershave. I keep telling him to get an organic type aftershave that won’t hurt his skin. I think the Honeybee Gardens product would work well for him. If I win the gift certficate, I’ll buy it for him!

  • Abby says:

    Zosimos makes great shower gels! And since you need to shower every day, it may as well be with a good product.

  • Yael says:

    Beeswax pillar candles are my favorite.

  • Araxi says:

    LOVE all these green items!!! I have some of the Pangeas products and LOVE them! Great choices Yentas! :)

  • Kelsey says:

    I think it’s cool that they carry food on their site. Good for gifting.

  • JuneBride2011 says:

    I have a puppy so I would get the Pet Stain & Odor remover. I hate using harsh chemicals in my house to clean up her mess. Cool stuff overall!

  • Sheila says:

    Organic products are great. I love the facial mask!

  • Michelle says:

    I love those nail-polish colors. I’m so tired of my mani/pedi deteriorating the next day, I look forward to trying honeybee gardens!