It is all very well offering cultural events and weddings but you need to have done your homework in order to know what to expect and more importantly, what to offer. Being able to discuss such topics in initial meetings will demonstrate a certain empathy for different customs that will definitely bare you in good stead when finalizing business.
 
The key is not to be false in your actions. Don’t offer cultural events just for the money it may bring. Of course money makes the world work but endeavour at least to have a true interest in other cultures. Being fake and greedy will only leave you skipping over details, not acknowledging the fine print and ultimately failing to deliver what you promise! Remember too, that not only understanding the ‘how’ but the ‘why’ behind customs and cultures will give you the advantage you need when promoting your event services. If necessary, a little extra research won’t hurt and will certainly expand your business.
 
Jewish celebrations are often great way to get going with your cultural events initiative and although the below is not the be all and end all of Jewish celebrations, it is certainly enough to get you going on the right track.
 

Jewish wedding ceremonies:

Following being pronounced husband and wife, it is custom for the couple to have a few private moments together and it is important to be able to offer a private room for them. Always ask the couple during your meetings leading up to the ceremony if this is something that they would like. Not all couples may wish to follow old time tradition but it is best to still have somewhere in mind just in case they change theirs or family insist on keeping tradition.
 

Bar Mitzvahs:

Bar Mitzvah is a coming of age ritual for boys of 13 and girls of 12 years of age. Food needs to be plentiful and following the meal, there will certainly plenty of dancing. Definitely ask the family for any traditional music that needs to be played for dance such as the hora or horah and for a copy of this to be provided beforehand. Sourcing a DJ with experience of Bar Mitzvah’s is also a definite plus although not essential.
 

Hora/Horah:

An hora or horah is a traditional dance performed at festivals but particularly Jewish wedding celebrations where the bride and groom are often lifted up on chairs. While there is not really anything to set up or arrange apart from a sturdy chair or two, ensuring that the DJ or band that you have provided or recommended have either performed at Jewish weddings and have the music for the hora or have been provided with it and know when in the proceedings it is to be played. It is always best also to have your own CD copy, just in case. There are other traditional dances that can be performed at Jewish weddings so be sure to ask what the family will want. It may be that the couple will provide the music.
 

Huppah:

A Jewish wedding ceremony is often performed by a Rabbi under a Huppah, a large cloth representing God’s shelter and protection. While the Rabbi, will normally provide his own Huppah and take care of all the proceedings associated with it, it is however, always best to double check with the Rabbi and the couple before hand to eliminate any unwelcome surprises.
 

Ketuba:

Signed prior to the wedding ceremony and normally only at traditional Hebrew ceremonies, a ketuba is an agreement that sets out the expectations of marriage. The wedding planner will not need to be involved in this but having a podium or table, which the couple and Rabbi can use to sign the document will be of course useful.
 

Smashing the glass:

The smashing of the glass marks the fragility of human happiness and is only done on at the end of a wedding ceremony. Very often a couple will produce their own glass but not always. If it is necessary to provide one then a small wine glass or even better, a champagne glass wrapped in a cloth, dinner napkin or hand towel will be just fine. This is not to be confused with the Greek wedding tradition of smashing plates for good luck.
 

Sabbath Services:

The Sabbath service is always held at sundown on a Friday evening. Bread called Challah is required to be provided along with kosher wine and candles. Yarmulkes are often self-provided but if you are able to have extra on hand, then perfect. Ladies can either wear nothing or cover their heads with shawl or a white lace covering, which you would most probably be able to order online if you would like to have some on hand to offer. Be very specific, however, if you intend to provide the Yarmulkes, white lace coverings and prayer books or whether your services merely include providing the venue, bread and wine.  For the little’uns, grape juice is acceptable in lieu of the kosher wine.
 
Everything must be set before the guests arrive. The Challah bread must be covered by a white cloth and salt must be available either in saltshakers or small packets.

Wine glasses need to be set and approximately 8 unlit candles will be required. Where real ones can’t be provided, electric ones can suffice but this is not preferable. Tea lights are perfect for such event and it is advisable to have some extras on hand just in case. The candles are supposed to be left to burn out and so must remain lit at least until everyone has left the room. It will be up to the event planner to blow these out if they have not burned out already. Tea lights can get quite hot, so for safety, place the tea lights on saucers or plates.

The group may or may not want someone serving the wine following the ceremony and it will be of course up to them how many bottles they purchase. I would definitely have some extra in stock just in case they decide they want more or run out. Extra could be charged on consumption but this must be made clear during your pre-service meetings.

Manischewitz or Baron Herzog wine are both great choices. Manischewitz is perhaps slightly more popular and not quite as expensive but ask your clients what they prefer as this will obviously determine your final price quote.
 
Check back next week for more information on a further range of cultural events and weddings.

Fiona

Following a University degree and a drastic career move, Fiona Warren-Bassett soon found herself rapidly moving forward in the events and PR world. Enjoying the change of direction, Fiona went on to further her Event Management experience, spending 6 years working for a renowned cruise line company. Having travelled extensively and been actively involved in many events and weddings, Fiona has since returned to land and has successfully launched her freelance writing and PR career.

Tagged with: ,