Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ketubah? Gesundheit!

Our current wedding-related mission is to find the "perfect" ketubah. That means two things: finding the artwork we like, and then hoping that it either comes with the text we like as an option or that it can otherwise be customized. The original orthodox text is actually written in Aramaic and tranliterated into Hebrew (no English appears on the document), and is only signed by the witnesses and the rabbi—not the bride or groom.

On __________ [day of the week], the __________ day of the month __________ in the year __________ since creation of the world, the era according to which we are accustomed to reckon here in the city of __________ how __________ son of __________ said to this virgin __________ daughter of __________ 'Be thou my wife according to the law of Moses and Israel, and I will work for thee, honor, support, and maintain thee in accordance with the custom of Jewish husbands who work for their wives, honor, support, and maintain them in truth. And I will set aside for thee 200 zuz [traditional money], in lieu of thy virginity, which belong to thee (according to the law of Moses), and thy food, clothing, and necessaries, and live with thee in conjugal relations according to universal custom.' And __________ this virgin consented and became his wife. The dowry that she brought from her father's house, in silver, gold, valuables, dresses and bedclothes, amounts to __________ [100 silver pieces], and the bridegroom consented to increase this amount from his own property with the sum of __________ [100 silver pieces], making in all __________ [200 silver pieces]. And thus said __________ the bridegroom, 'I take upon myself and my heirs after me the responsibility of this marriage contract, of the dowry, and of the additional sum, so that all this shall be paid from the best part of my property, real and personal, that I now possess or may hereafter acquire. All my property, even the mantle on my shoulders, shall be mortgaged for the security of the contract and of the dowry and of the addition made thereto.' __________ the bridegroom has taken upon himself the responsibility for all the obligations of this ketubah, as is customary with other ketubot made for the daughters of Israel in accordance with the institution of our sages—may their memory be for a blessing! It is not to be regarded as an illusory obligation or as a mere symbolical delivery between __________ son of __________ the bridegroom, and __________ daughter of __________ the virgin, and they have employed an instrument legally fit for the purpose to strengthen all that is stated above, and everything is valid and established.

How romantic, right?

Although the ketubah is sort of like the original prenuptual agreement and is designed to protect a married woman from abandonment by her husband, it's not really a very egalitarian or progressive document by today's standards. It seems more than a little inappropriate to Mr. Spaniel and I with this language, given our actual religious backgrounds. Luckily, there is a whole world of texts out there, from "Conservative" to "Secular Humanistic," and most ketubot sellers have an option for completely custom text as well, which appeals to us a lot! It's like writing your own vows, for people who are terrified of speaking their own vows aloud!

Anyway, I believe we've narrowed our ketubah search down to two beautiful ketubot.

Embracing Trees by Ruth Stern Warzecha, $200 Papercut-Ivory by Ardyn Halter, $245

* Mr. Spaniel's favorite
* Trees!
* Lower cost
* Custom text ($135) and different sizes available
* My favorite
* Traditional papercut design
* Custom text available ($375-450)

Objectively, Embracing Trees, which I showed you earlier, is the better choice. It has a wider variety of texts available, and if we want to write our own text, it's still relatively affordable. Mr. Spaniel also likes it better because of the natural imagery—what can I say; the man likes trees. But I cannot get the papercut ketubah out of my head! There are a few reasons for my preoccupation:
  • Look at how intricate the cut work is!
  • You could change the design any time you wanted by simply changing the color of the mat behind it
  • Deer are common decorations in both Jewish and Scandinavian artwork, which brings both of our heritages together into one beautiful and meaningful document
  • Did I mention how gorgeous that papercutting is?
Although it's not Mr. Spaniel's favorite, he's considering conceding since he knows how very much I love it. But because it's not just a digital print, it's much harder to customize than his choice. Most of the egalitarian options that would have been acceptable to us are not available, and custom text costs up to three times as much on the papercut design than the tree one! It's hard to justify nearly $700 on a piece of paper, no matter how intricate the cutting. :( So the search may go on...

What do you think? Should we splurge?


  1. They are both very pretty, but I like the trees more. Good luck with the search!

  2. I love the papercut version! I was immiediately attracted to the intricacy of the design as well. I say go for the splurge. You have been very reasonable about your other wedding decisions, so maybe this can be the place where you go "all out"!

  3. As a ketubah artist myself I have to post a comment, right? Hope you'll take a look at at my prints.

  4. Having started out as a calligrapher and paper cut artist in my journey to becoming a ketubah artist, I'm always a fan of paper cuts, and Ardyn's work is stunning! Paper cut prints are expensive to create, and require a lot of storage space, so I only have one (very simple) paper cut design in my ketubah line. I have lots of trees though - they're always popular. :) As are custom texts, so I had my calligraphy digitized into fonts to be able to offer custom texts with the look of calligraphy, but without the price!

    I agree with PartyPlannerGal. The ketubah is one of the only things that actually lasts FOREVER, and not just for the day of your wedding. You really should get the one you both LOVE, even if that means splurging a bit. I've never had a couple tell me they regret spending a lot of money on their ketubah, but I have heard from couples who regretted not getting the ketubah they really wanted.

    Whatever design you decide on, have fun with the search!

  5. Is it bad that I like the trees more? :p

    They're both beautiful though. You'll be great with whatever you pick!


Comment moderation policy: I delete spam and comments in languages that I do not read.


Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin