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Ukrainian-Jewish Wedding – Culture and Traditions

Iconostas, Tetrapod and HuppahI have been sharing lots of wedding posts with you this year.

You already learned about the Ukrainian wedding traditionsHindu wedding traditions, Ukrainian- Greek wedding traditions, and now I will share my reflections from a Ukrainian-Jewish wedding.

My husband and I were looking forward to this particular wedding, since the invitation was from our long time friends, and the traditions were intertwined with Ukrainian and Jewish cultures.

The church ceremony took place at a Ukrainian Catholic Church, with all the usual Ukrainian traditions of the Bride and Groom wearing periwinkle/myrtle wreaths on their heads during the crowning ceremony.

Also standing on on embroidered scarf (rushnyk) in front of the Tetrapod.

Being lead by be priest three times around the Tetrapod, for the Ceremonial Walk.

Sharing the Common Cup, which for this wedding was the cup used by Groom’s father during Passover Seder, and other family dinners.

Also, the Ave Maria was sang by a soloist, while the Bride prayed at the altar of Virgin Mary, asking for a blessing of fertility, and being thankful for her husband.

Orysia and Mike in front of the Tetrapod and under the Huppah

This ceremony also included a Jewish wedding tradition, the presence of the Huppah (also known as Chuppah), which consists of a beautiful lace canopy suspended from 4 decorative posts.   The Bride and Groom were standing on a Ukrainian embroidered scarf (rushnyk), under the Huppah, throughout the wedding ceremony.

Once the Bride and Groom were pronounced as husband and wife, a Jewish tradition of the glass breaking ceremony took place.  A wine glass, wrapped in a white cloth napkin, was placed on the floor in front of the Groom, to step on and to crush.  It is a symbol of  their strong marriage bond, and the shattered glass signifies the many pieces needed to make one whole, successful relationship and marriage, which can only be dissolved if all the glass pieces can be glued back together again (which is never).

Another significant part of a Ukrainian wedding is the greeting of the Bride and Groom with wine, bread, and salt, by their parents.

Wedding Halla Bread

At this wedding, this tradition was observed as well, but there also was a special chant and greeting of the Bride and Groom, and all the guests, by the Father of the Groom, with a traditional Jewish bread, the Challah, which then was cut up, and served to the family and guests.

The reception began with the Bride and Groom sitting on chairs, which were lifted up high into the air, above everyone else, and the traditional Jewish folk dance, Hava Nagila, was carried out by the wedding party, and family and friends of the Bride and the Groom.

This dance was followed by the Ukrainian Kolomeyka, a traditional Ukrainian dance, which also engages everyone to either watch the performers, or to participate and show off their own dance talent.

Mother of the Bride will exchange the veil with a babushka scarf Exchanging the veil for a babushka scarf


The Bride also selected to  follow the traditional Ukrainian exchange of the veil with the “babushka” scarf, which is done by her mother, to signify that her daughter is no longer a single lady, but rather a married woman.

Wedding Cake - O and M

As a final touch, or “icing on the cake” to this wedding post, I am sharing a picture of their Wedding Cake, which, as you will agree, was absolutely gorgeous, and tasted totally decadent.

If you would like to learn more about the symbolic meanings of the different parts of this wedding ceremony, please read the next post, which mirrors side by side, the Byzantine Rite and the Jewish traditions, as presented in the wedding ceremony program booklet, prepared by the Bride and Groom, and passed out to everyone at the church ceremony.

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