Planning a wedding in Israel can be a thrilling experience. Whether you are at the stage of touring venues (in-person or virtually), researching the best wedding planners in Israel or ‘pinning’ design inspiration, these are exciting times. In addition to all of the positive aspects of making a wedding in Israel, there can also be roadblocks and hiccups along the way.
We break down the three biggest fails and guide you on how to get married in Israel, without a hitch.
You didn’t do your homework
What we’re about to disclose can completely stop you from making a wedding in Israel.
If you are planning to marry in a Jewish ceremony in Israel, it must be officiated by the Orthodox rabbinate. This applies to both foreigners getting married in israel and marrying an Israeli citizen. This means that both partners need to be ‘Halachically Jewish.’ If one or both of you are converts, it needs to have been an Orthodox conversion.
This also applies if you are half-Jewish – it must be through your mother’s side. If not, you will need to convert under the Orthodox framework. Additionally, under Orthodox law, a male Cohen can’t marry a divorced woman or a convert. This also applies to same-sex marriages – they are not preformed by the rabbinate. As it stands, these are the Israel marriage customs.
You forgot to bring your homework
You must present to the rabbinate the following documents:
- The bride and groom’s passports.
- Confirmation of your Jewishness from your home synagogue or Rabbi
- Your parents’ Ketubah.
- If you are divorced, you must bring a certificate of bachelorhood. You can pick this up when you arrive in Israel. You just need to make sure that two witnesses from the groom’s home community are ready to confirm that he is in fact single.
A wedding event planner can help you check that everything is in order and help you avoid any issues with the rabbinate.
You expect an American (or anglo) approach to everything
It is important to remember that you are in a different country and some of the same rules you are used to don’t apply. This includes jumping on one of the first wedding venues in Israel that you see. Israelis keep it cool and there is always an element of negotiation.
If you show all your cards, you will never have the upper hand. Try your best poker face when discussing budgets with vendors because (as I have learned many times here) “everything is negotiable.”