Greeks aren't the only ones who break plates at weddings. A look at a Jewish Wedding tradition: The Plate Breaking Ceremony.

Greeks aren't the only ones who break plates at weddings, but the Jewish tradition of plate breaking has a deeper significance.

I believe that one of the more intimate and, in a certain sense, subtle traditions that surround the Jewish wedding ceremony, the Chuppah, is the breaking of a plate.  Like many Jewish traditions and customs (or minhagim), reasons for this minhag are varied. 
Let me start by answering the age-old questions: who, what, where, how and why. 

Who breaks the plate?  For the most part, this minhag is followed by Jews of European ancestry, although these days, some Sephardic Jews are following this minhag as well. 
The mothers of the kallah and chatan break the plate together.  Traditionally the mothers hold opposite ends of the plate and break it over a table corner or back of a chair.  The best and safest way to do this is to first place the plate in a cloth bag or pillow case and then smash it.  The pillow case protects the hands and eyes the mothers and onlookers from the shards of broken glass.

What is broken? Typically this is a white, dinner-size plate.  The plate can be plain or be highly decorated in a variety of colored paints with gold and silver trim and adorned with pisukim (quotes from the Torah – especially Tehilim) and/or illustrations, such as scenes of Jerusalem, the Tree of Life and more. I believe that no two plates should have the same decorations, just as no two couples are the alike!

The names of the kallah and chatan ARE NOT WRITTEN on the plates.  The reason behind this is that the act of breaking the plate would cause the breaking apart the letters of couples' names and that would be the antithesis of the act of bringing the couple together under the chuppah.

Examples of plates
Pasuk with Walls of Jerusalem and Hamsah in center

Pasuk with Tree of Life in center
Pasuk with Walls of Jerusalem and Sun in center

What is said while breaking the plate?  No bracha is said – just a resounding "Mazal Tov!" after breaking the plate.

Why is a plate broken?  The answer to this one is as varied as any minhag (tradition).  Some say that the breaking symbolizes the "…seriousness of the commitment", as stated in Aish's Guide to the Jewish Wedding in the section "Kabbalat Panim". 
There is another explanation that compares the breaking of the plate with the breaking of the relationship between the children and the parents and how the kallah and chatan must now create a life together.

My favorite explanation is that for the kallah and chatan, the breaking of the plate symbolizes the break with their 'old' lives and the beginning of their new lives.  And just as you cannot reassemble a broken plate, the kallah and chatan cannot go back to their old lives.
When is the plate broken?  Traditionally the breaking of the plate takes place either during the Engagement (or Eirusin) Party or on the day of the wedding, after the chatan signs the ketubah (at the chasan's tish) and before the bedeken and chuppah. 
When the plate is broken during the Eirusin, all the guests of the Party witness this ceremony and become a part of its celebration.  When the ceremony takes place between the signing of the ketubah and the bedeken/chuppah, it is many times witnessed only by the immediate families, the witnesses to the signing of the ketubah and the group of men who participate in the chasan's tish and usually not the kallah. 

The breaking of the plate can be carried out whenever you chose and according to your own personal minhagim and timetable. 
What is done with the broken plate?  This is another lovely minhag that takes the kallah and chatan's love for each other and hopes of building a life together and passes it on to their unmarried friends and relatives. 

The shards of the plate are collected and then a shard or two is inserted into small organza draw-string bags and distributed to unmarried friends and relatives.  The bags can be distributed immediately after this ceremony or as these friends and relatives are encountered. 
The shards of the plates are considered a 'segula'; a remedy (that can be in the form of a trinket, such as a red string or any article) that is considered to have special "powers" to help a person acquire her/his heart's desire.  The list of segulas is never ending.  Another example of a segula is a slice of challah, cut from the big challah eaten during a celebration of a bris, given to a woman who wishes to get pregnant.  This segula is believed to help a woman give birth to boys.

An alternative to distributing the shards or in addition to the segula, the shards of the plate and of the broken cup from the chuppah can be saved and then used to create a picture (usually scenes of Jerusalem), or artistically arranged and glued to the frame of a photograph of the kallah and chatan or made into any other memento of the chuppah.
What do you need to do if you want to have the Plate Breaking ceremony? 

  1. First of all decide when you would like to hold this ceremony. 
  2. Then, either purchase a specially designed plate  or buy a plain white dinner plate.  If you have many unmarried friends/relatives or wish to create a momento of your own, I recommend breaking more than one plate. 
  3. Buy organza draw-string bags; these bags usually come in sets of ten.  Always buy more than you think you need.
  4. Bring to the ceremony: the plate(s), a large pillow case and the organza bags.
  5. Make sure your photographer takes pictures of the ceremony!

Mazal Tov!
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Mothers of the Bride need attention too!

It's time to stand up and proclaim to the world that Mothers of the Bride need to be shown attention and consideration, as much as and, perhaps in many ways, more than the bride herself does. 

As both a makeup artist and hair stylist for brides and their mothers and as a mother to both a bride and a few grooms, I can tell you that the mother of the bride shares a special place in the pantheon of the needy. 
While grooms are pretty much low maintenance; shower and shave 'em and put them in a suit and they are basically ready to go.  OK, I'll admit it - I've slathered on a bit of mouse on many a groom's hair to make them feel 'pampered'.  But let's be honest, as long as they show up and say 'Ha'rey aht…",  place a ring on the bride's finger and break a glass, oh and smile pretty for some pictures – they have pretty much done their duty.  Mothers of the groom may be nervous and a little anxious, but they do not endure the hours upon hours upon hours of preparation the Mother of the Bride endures as she watches the metamorphosis of her daughter into the BRIDE. 

Truthfully this painful process of 'becoming a bride' really begins with three innocent words spoken by the happy couple: "We're getting married". From that fateful moment and until the happy couple stand under the chuppah, there is a mad dash to complete something like one thousand, six hundred and twenty two tasks.  Each task is a search for sheer perfection – for the wedding, as a whole and for the bride, personally.  The task search list includes: the perfect hall, the perfect menu, the perfect center pieces, the perfect chuppah, the perfect rabbi, the perfect band, the perfect photographer; as well as the perfect bridal gown, the prefect bouquet, the perfect veil, the perfect tiara, the perfect jewelry, the perfect shoes, the perfect makeup, the perfect hairstyle and the list just goes on and on.  As time draws closer to the event, this never-ending list is tackled by an ever-more anxious bride and her ever-more apprehensive mother. 
Let's take "The Hunt for the PERFECT Bridal Dress " as a classic example.  The search for the perfect bridal dress can span cities, countries, continents.  The tears shed during this search could fill oceans.  It's a wonder why we mothers haven't gotten together and decided that the wedding dress search should begin when the "bride" is three years old.  This gives us plenty of time to search in a more leisurely fashion.

But somehow in this mad dash for perfection, the Mother of the Bride is forgotten.  You may rightly say that this is the bride's day, so tough luck; the mother had her day and now it's her daughter's turn.  Fair enough, but I believe that the mother of the bride deserves a little special attention of her own.  It's an emotional day for the bride's mother as she sees her daughter become a bride, especially if this is her first wedding or first daughter marrying or only daughter marrying.  Sometimes all three conditions are found in one wedding event.
On the day of the wedding, as the long hours of preparation move forward and the bride is made up, hair-styled, dressed, attended to and fussed over – hopefully with her friends surrounding her; the mother of the bride is often left behind to watch with a cup of coffee in one hand and a set of car keys in the other hand.

What am I asking for?  I am asking that the mother of the bride get a little pampering on this special day and that someone ELSE remember to pamper her.  Need some pampering ideas?  How about an early morning massage at home or in the hotel, or full makeup, hair styling and nails for the big event?  And you know what else she deserves?  A present – yup - a present for the Mother of the Bride.  Presented either by the bride or the Father of the Bride (I'm sure he is there somewhere, although you really don't seem to notice him until the badekin or the chuppah). 
I believe that jewelry is the perfect present!   And wouldn't it be lovely if it could be something the Mother of the Bride can wear to the wedding and enjoy immediately?  What kind of jewelry? Now that's the subject of a whole other blog!
Remember to kiss the Mother of the Bride – today!

Need more tips on weddings and brides? Check out all my blog articles THE KALLAH WHISPERER.

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If you or anyone you know are planning a wedding and planning to have your hair styled (of course you WILL!), this article is for you!  PRINT AND SAVE THIS BLOGICLE – IT COULD SAVE THE HAIR OF A LOVED ONE!

You've planned every detail of your wedding; dreamt of your dress, hair and makeup since you were a little girl.  Then the big day comes and as you watch your 'every day' hair transformed into a "three-tiered confection", you begin to wonder how you will ever get your 'everyday' hair back on the day after the wedding. 

Brides are always asking me how they should take care of their hair immediately after the wedding, or more to the point, how can they remove the buckets of hairspray, kilos of hair pins, clips and accessories, and multiple rubber bands from their hair.  The answer is: carefully and with patience.  Remember it took many hours to create your wedding hairdo; it will take time to get your hair back to its natural state.

Begin the transforming process, by removing your wedding gown, jewelry and makeup. I warmly recommend that you begin the hair care process the night (should I say "the morning after") of your wedding. You may be exhausted, but on the other hand you may not be able to get any sleep with the mound of teased and tortured hair that is now perched on top of your head.

Begin by removing all the pins, hair accessories and extensions.  I always joke that the bride will be finding pins in her hair until her first anniversary, I exaggerate – but you may find those little sweeties in your hair for a good few days – especially if you have long hair or extensions. 

Work as methodically as you can: begin at the back of your head and remove anything that is not your hair! You can spray your hair with a mixture of warm water and conditioner, working this mixture in your hair from your scalp till the tips of your hair. 

While we are on the subject: Before the wedding, many brides allow their hair to grow long in order to ensure they have "long hair" for their bridal hairstyle.  Many times this long hair is just long lengths of split ends. Once the wedding is over, you should immediately make an appointment to have your hair trimmed!

For those brides reading this blogicle BEFORE the wedding, I warmly recommend that you begin considering your hair, optimum hair length and bridal hairstyle – before anything else.  Under the most favorable circumstances, you would have at least six months to plan your wedding.  Which for our purposes means you have six months to get a good cut/styling and then – depending on how quickly your hair grows – you should have micro-trims every six to eight weeks to keep your hair healthy. Contact me now for a FREE BRIDAL CONSULTATION!

Don't let anyone tell you differently; long split ends are not a substitute for long healthy hair and they do not enhance a bridal hairstyle. 

Back to AFTER the wedding:  Instead of spraying your hair with warm water and conditioner, you can lightly spray your hair with good quality hair oil, such as Moroccan oil, obliphica oil or even olive oil (!).  Massage the oil or conditioner/water mixture GENLTY into your hair. 

Then just as GENTLY begin to comb out the teasing, curling and spraying with a wide tooth comb and/or your fingers.  Beginning at the back of your head and working your way forward.  Work on loosening and separating the hairs a section at a time.  Do not rush!  Try not to tear apart sections of hair that are "glued together" with spray.  Gently separate the hairs.  Remember warm water and oil and patience should release almost every knot in your hair.   

There may be a section of hair that is just too knotted and you will just have to cut this one out! If you do this at home, cut as close to the top of the knot as you can.  Remember not all hair can be saved.

If you are too tired to take care of all your hair that night (morning), then spray with water and conditioner and wash your hair in warm water with a good quality shampoo.  Rinse out and then gently towel dry.  Begin to work on your hair as soon as possible the next day. 

Whether you begin this process right away or the next day, you should shampoo and rinse your hair several times (during the same "session") in order to wash out as much of the gunk and glue as you can.

Once your hair is basically tangle free, treat your hair to a good moisturizing hair mask.  You can do this at home or in a beauty salon.  If you are doing this at-home: shampoo and condition your hair as usual and then comb and detangle your hair and then apply a few good handfuls of hair mask.  The amount you use depends on the length and thickness of your hair. 

As always work methodically.   Apply the mask from the roots through to the tips, massaging your scalp GENTLY as you work.  I like to then wrap the hair in a towel and leave the mask on for 20-30 minutes.  Always read label directions before using any product! 

Relax with your new husband over a leisurely breakfast/brunch for two.  Once the mask setting time is completed, gently rinse out the mask and towel dry.  If you must blow dry, curl, straighten and in general torture your hair, please wait an hour or so, allowing your hair to enjoy the new found silkiness of the mask before beating it into submission again.  Your hair will love you for it!