7 Tips for Planning Your Dream Kosher Wedding in NJ

At a kosher wedding in NJ, a man is cutting a cake in front of a table full of cupcakes.

Weddings allow couples to merge their personalities with traditions. As an intimate milestone, you may desire to go beyond the latest trends and host an occasion that authentically reflects you. At Brooklake, we’ve had the pleasure of supporting many kosher weddings for couples in the Jewish community.

We understand that planning a full-scale celebration can be overwhelming and intricate, from finalizing your guest list to customizing a kosher wedding menu. You may wonder where to begin. Do you research kosher wedding venues in New Jersey or create a list of items for your Jewish ceremony? Should you reserve a kosher caterer or explore rituals for your special day?

While there are many ways to start, we recommend leading your planning journey with intention and research to make well-informed decisions.

Respect Kosher Requirements

The term “kosher” refers to clean food prepared and cooked according to the Kashrut, the Jewish dietary laws. The kosher rules are defined in the Torah’s Books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy and classify foods into three categories: kosher, trief, and parev.

Some kosher foods include meat, such as beef, lamb, poultry, sheep, and goats. Dairy products from kosher animals, like milk, cheese, butter, and yogurt, are also acceptable. Although meat and dairy are considered kosher, consuming them at the same meal is forbidden.

It’s also mandatory to keep utensils and cookware separate during preparation and to use separate sinks for cleanup. Having different kitchens available during the cooking process ensures these guidelines are honored.

Treif indicates unkosher foods. For instance, pork, shellfish, horse and rabbit meat, predatory birds, and fish without scales and fins are prohibited.

Parev refers to neutral foods you can pair with kosher meals. Some examples include fruits, vegetables, grains, eggs, and certified kosher wine.

Set aside time to learn more about kosher requirements and collaborate with vendors who have a strong understanding of your traditions.

Hire Kosher Caterers

Working with a kosher caterer will provide peace of mind and ensure you can celebrate while maintaining the dietary rules. You’ll want to work with a culinary team that knows the intricacies of preparing kosher food, from separation guidelines and proper sourcing to cleaning procedures.

A reputable kosher caterer will have a kosher certification recognized by one of the following authorities: The Orthodox Union, OK Kosher Certification, KOF-K Kosher Certification, Star-K, and cRc Kosher Certification. Here are six questions to help you find the right caterer for your Jewish wedding:

  • What’s your approach for ensuring your ingredients and food preparation follow the kosher laws?
  • What’s your experience with providing kosher catering for celebrations and events?
  • How do you manage the logistics of separate kitchens and serving stations at a wedding venue?
  • Do you have a specialized staff member to oversee the food preparation or partner with a (mashgiach), a kosher supervisor?
  • How do you ensure ingredients remain kosher during transportation?
  • Are there any additional fees included with your kosher catering services?

Once you bring a caterer on board, you can enjoy tasting sessions and brainstorm delectable meals for your event.

Personalize Your Wedding Menu

The guest experience is a big part of your significant milestone. Before customizing your menu, ask your attendees’ about their dietary preferences and restrictions. Then, inform your caterer so they can plan accordingly. An inclusive menu may include vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options.

You can also offer buffet-style stations with separate serving utensils to maintain kosher laws. This wedding food trend is popular in modern weddings because it allows guests to select their favorite flavors.

If you want an open bar at your reception, be sure to provide kosher wine and liquor. Wondering how to determine which beverages are kosher? Look for the labels with a symbol of a u within a circle. Some brands may showcase a capital P to indicate there aren’t additional fining agents or yeast.

Maintain Kosher Guidelines

A traditional Jewish wedding isn’t limited to your catering. Instead, the responsibility extends to all your vendors, from your floral designer to your entertainment.

Some couples prefer to hire a kosher certifying agency to supervise their event and check all the boxes. If this idea appeals to you, discuss your options with your rabbi. In addition, it may be beneficial to work with a Jewish wedding planner as they’ll likely have extensive experience coordinating kosher celebrations.
You’ll also want to ensure your caterer and NJ venue are on the same page. For example, your culinary team will manage transportation logistics if an event space doesn’t have a separate kitchen. A detailed timeline outlining the day will support special arrangements.

Finally, conduct a walk-through with your vendors and make sure everything follows the Jewish rules. You can address last-minute concerns with your caterer, wedding planner, and event specialist.

Dive into Wedding Details

If you’re looking for a rabbi to officiate your wedding, start by researching rabbis online or using recommendations from friends and family in the community. Once you have a list of candidates, conduct interviews. Here, you can ask about their experience, gauge your comfort level, and share ceremonial preferences. Use this conversation to see if your values align with them. Then, after you select a rabbi, you can discuss the wedding day details.

This is an excellent opportunity to consider the Jewish traditions you want to include in your special day. For instance, signing the Ketubah, a marriage contract to recognize your commitment to one another, and getting married under a chuppah, a canopy with open sides. Note: Couples can host a Jewish wedding at any destination if a rabbi and chuppa are present.

Other important traditions include:

  • Breaking the glass: This action is a symbol of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and the tragedies the Jewish community has endured.
  • Yichud: An event following the ceremony where the married couple shares an intimate moment of excitement in a private space.
  • Seudat Mitzvah: This term refers to the celebratory feast after the union, encouraging guests to celebrate joyfully with the couple.

As for wedding attire, it’s best to stick with modest styles like long sleeves, skirts, and high necklines. You’ll also want to avoid shatnez, which are fabrics with wool and linen. If you have any questions, ask your rabbi.

Explore Kosher Wedding Venues

When looking for a kosher-friendly venue in New Jersey, consider location, size, accommodations, and beautiful scenery. A destination easily accessible by public transportation and car is ideal. In addition, you can use your guest count to navigate your search and select an NJ venue that best supports your festivities.

Select an event space with separate kitchen facilities for food preparation if possible. At Brooklake, we provide stunning indoor and outdoor reception spaces that are a perfect backdrop for your romantic affair. With 150 acres of lush hills and gardens, couples will love the scenery and our event staff’s attention to detail.

Finalize the Logistics

Create a wedding day timeline to guide the celebration. While some things may not go according to plan, an itinerary can help keep you and vendors on track. Here are five tips to help organize your timeline:

  • Add buffer time
  • Highlight key events, like the first look, ceremony, cocktail hour, formal portraits, and reception
  • Make a list of rituals and traditions
  • Allow time for getting ready with hair, makeup, and pre-ceremony practices
  • Review and adjust the schedule with your partner, wedding planner, and rabbi

In addition, inquire about setup and breakdown with your event specialist. Many unique wedding venues in New Jersey feature this amenity as part of their wedding package. If you have any concerns, communicate them with your event specialist.

Enjoy a Beautiful Kosher Wedding at Brooklake

Crafting your dream kosher wedding requires thorough planning and collaboration with vendors who respect your customs, religious beliefs, and traditions. At Florham Park’s Brooklake, we’re here to support your beautiful Jewish wedding. Contact a Brooklake event specialist to start planning the details of your celebration!