Broken Glass on Your Wedding Day

by Mitzvoth Consultant, Julie Herskovitz

Image courtesy of Neely and Leon Rosen from their Wedding Day, Nov. 2, 2008

Image courtesy of Neely and Leon Rosen from their Wedding Day, Nov. 2, 2008

Most everyone is familiar with this scene:

The Ceremony is over, the groom places a glass object beneath his feet, he stomps on it, and everyone yells “Mazel Tov!”

Ceremony over!

But is this necessary?

Contrary to popular belief, breaking a glass is not a mandatory part of a wedding ceremony.

There are several explanations as to why we break glass on our wedding day:

1.     According to Chabad.org,

We do this custom to commemorate the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem some 2,000 years ago. One groom asked: “What does a destroyed building have to do with my wedding?”

Answer: The destruction of the Holy Temple has extreme personal relevance. It happened to you. It is true that shattering the glass primarily commemorates the fall of Jerusalem; however, it is also a reminder of another cataclysmic shattering – that of your very own temple, your soul.

Long story short, we are created as one being, one shared soul. When we enter the earth, G-d shatters us into two pieces. We must then spend our lives maturing alone and searching for our soul-mate, our b’shert. The breaking of the glass symbolizes the destruction of the temple, but also, the need to be broken before we can truly be united.

Click the link above to read more.

2.     Another explanation is:

The Talmud mentions two stories of rabbis who, upon seeing that their son's wedding celebration was getting out of hand, broke a vessel - in the second case a glass - to calm things down. And so we break the glass as a reminder to stay steadfast even in times of joy.

3.     Another explanation come back to the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.

It is a reminder that despite the joy, Jews still mourn the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. However, some people are concerned that this meaning has gotten lost. As a moment to be solemn has been overcome with shouts of joy.

4.     And one final reason I have heard:

The loud noise of the breaking glass is meant to keep the evil spirits out of your lives.

Despite which reason you and your family believe in, fact is, you do NOT need to break the glass. We do it more often as people have come to expect this as the way to mark the end of the ceremony. So, it is your choice!

What to break:

1.     You can purchase a fancy pants wine glass in coordinating colors to match your wedding. You can also buy a mezuzah that has empty space to save the broken glass and display it. Many couples have done this in recent years. Some couples find it odd to save broken glass that is meant to commemorate something sad. Ultimately, what makes you happy?

2.     A Light blub. Yes, a light bulb. As a matter of fact, that is what my husband and I used. It is thinner and easier to break and it makes a louder-popping sound.

3.     You can buy a cheap wine glass if you want something fancier than a light bulb but don’t plan to keep the shards.

Whatever you decide, make the decision together, as future husband and wife. Because that is truly what the day and custom is about. 

Planning a Jewish Wedding? Or do you have a Mitzvah coming up? Call 800-941-2770 or email julie@trilogyeventdesign.com to schedule a free consultation with Mitzvoth Consultant, Julie Herskovitz!