Sign In Forgot Password

Your Marriage

Beth-El's Facilities


Starting the Process

So you’re getting married? Mazal tov!  To inquire about Rabbi Knopf’s availability to officiate your wedding, call Norma Fiedler, 804-355-3564 ext. 100 or email

We think our clergy are the best wedding officiants in “the biz,” and they'd be honored to be a part of this special moment in your lives. Our clergy (who also officiate weddings for same-sex couples) will help you prepare both for your wedding ceremony and for your married life afterwards. After you're married, we hope to maintain a relationship:  that you will feel part of our congregational family, and that you will see our clergy as your clergy.

Our clergy will make every effort to present a meaningful, spiritual, and dignified wedding ceremony. They respect the magic and sanctity of the wedding ceremony, and they'll offer a ceremony that you and your guests will fondly remember. Our Rabbi and Cantor try hard to make every wedding personal. They don’t do “canned” weddings. For this reason, in preparation for your wedding, they will ask you to share your time and your thoughts with them, so that they can know you better.


Rabbi Knopf was the perfect wedding officiant for us, it didn't hurt that we were already friends with him or members of his congregation. We recommend doing his pre-marital counseling, either with him or someone else. The pre-marital counseling gave Rabbi Knopf a chance to get to know us even more, and he wove all of that information into our ceremony. While he already knew us pretty well as a couple and as individuals, he was able to draw on inside jokes and other characteristics about us individually and as a couple. I always thought that the Rabbi who married my parents and my sister would officiate my wedding, but once we got to know Rabbi Knopf there was no question he was the appropriate choice. - Leah and Dan Bondy

We had a wonderful experience with Rabbi Knopf as our wedding officiant.  Prior to our wedding day, we spent time with him learning about the many Jewish wedding practices, as well as discussing strategies to best work together as a married couple.  This allowed us to approach our wedding day feeling prepared, relaxed and excited about our future together. Looking back, it was a perfect reflection of the personal and spiritual values we have as a couple.  Thank you, Rabbi Knopf!   --Julie and Dan Mozes

Rabbi Mike took the time before the ceremony to tease out what was very unique about our relationship. He took that knowledge and with his expertise and charisma was able to make our wedding ceremony beautiful; both in its Jewish elements but also individualized to represent Myself and Rebecca in an authentic and meaningful way.  -Matt and Rebecca Bar

Rabbi Knopf did an absolutely terrific job officiating our wedding. Not only did he do a great job at the actual ceremony, but he also offered wonderful advice and counsel in the months leading up to the big day. Rabbi Knopf is a dear friend and he made the entire wedding process so personal to us; we couldn't have asked for anything more.   -Meryl and Sean Mulligan

Rabbi Knopf took time and great care to plan a wedding ceremony for us that incorporated the modern needs of a same sex wedding with the traditional rituals of Judaism in a meaningful way. All of our guests remarked on the beauty of the ceremony.  -David Perry & David Sachs

When we look back 5 years to our wedding day, we remember a truly special and meaningful ceremony above all else. The entire year leading up to our wedding we had monthly visits with Rabbi Knopf. During this time, he really got to know us as individuals and as a couple. He spoke beautifully about us and our relationship to all of our friends and family and we couldn’t have been happier!  -Shari and Michael Brodsky

We were Rabbi Knopf’s first wedding as the Rabbi of Temple Beth-El.  He took the time to meet (over Skype) with us prior to his arrival in Richmond.  Rabbi Knopf’s wedding ceremony was very personalized and sentimental for my husband and me.  Many of our guests commented on how beautiful the ceremony was.  We couldn’t imagine our special day being any sweeter. - Geri & Drew Adler

When Rabbi Knopf officiated our wedding, he was sensitive to all of the things that were important to us and was able to achieve our goals of having a traditional and spiritual ceremony while making it accessible to our non-Jewish family and friends. His interest in getting to know us as a couple was evident from the start and he was able to put us at ease in helping us to make decisions about our ceremony.  Rabbi Knopf is an insightful, intelligent, and compassionate individual who is gifted at what he does. Highly recommended! - Rebecca Metter

I first spent time with Rabbi Knopf in preparation for my wedding. Already a father of a middle-school-aged daughter, I knew that a wedding ceremony would involve complicated emotions that a first marriage is less likely to evoke. My wife and I are both Jewish, but not very religious. Nevertheless, we wanted a rabbi to officiate our wedding. Beyond that, I don't think we expected much beyond a guy in a tallis playing a role. The experience we had with Rabbi Knopf, however, was more meaningful than we expected. Weddings are stressful in the best of circumstances, and couples can get so focused on the planning and on making everyone else happy that they lose track of the big picture. Rabbi Knopf prepared us for the wedding in two important ways. He helped us with a number of logistic issues related to the ceremony. Then he brought us back to the second, and more important issue. We were making a life-long choice to love each other, with all the intimacy and vulnerability, joy and pain that entails. Sometimes the logistics of a wedding allow you to ignore that, but Rabbi Knopf did not. He created the space for us to face our fears and become closer as we approached the event. The ceremony itself was beautiful. We married outside on a cool evening in Church Hill. Rabbi Knopf created a neshoma of peace and love, connecting our matrimony to hundreds of generations of Jewish weddings that preceded it. That evening remains a happy memory and part of the foundation upon which we are building a strong marriage. -Gabriel Reich

back to top

Meeting Requirements

Your officiant will meet with you five times in advance of your wedding. The first meeting is a brief getting-acquainted session. Your other meetings will take about an hour each:

  • At one meeting, we’ll discuss your wedding ceremony--each of its symbols and their meanings. Our clergy want you to have the wedding you’ve always dreamed about...but that takes some preparation.

  • At the other meetings, we’ll discuss married life and its challenges. It is crucial to do some personal preparation for marriage in the form of premarital counseling.

  • At our final meeting, you will sign a document known as a t'nai b'kiddushin (“conditions of marriage”). This document is like a relationship “life insurance policy” and is required by Jewish law. The rabbi can tell you more about it if you have questions.

In addition, our clergy require brides and grooms to spiritually prepare for their wedding day by immersing in our beautiful, soul-stirring mikveh in advance of the ceremony.  Learn more about the mikveh tradition here. Please schedule your mikveh appointment with our clergy, who can also answer any questions.

We strongly encourage couples to have an aufruf, a premarital blessing and celebration at the Temple. Learn more about the aufruf here. Please schedule your aufruf with our clergy, and feel free to speak with them if you have any questions.

The clergy will also ask each of you to write a letter before your wedding about why you’ve chosen your partner. What attracted you to your partner? What told you s/he was “the one”? What qualities, values, personality traits, commitments, have cemented your love for him/her? Tell us anything that will help us understand your love for one another. Address the letter to your partner. But don’t show it to him/her. Bring it or e-mail it to the rabbi/cantor. They promise they won’t use your letters to embarrass you!  After your wedding, you can take a romantic moment to share your letters with each other.

back to top

Clergy Fees

If you are a member of Temple Beth-El, and your wedding is in the Richmond area, there is no fee -- that’s included in your membership. We encourage you to become a member of Temple Beth-El if you are not already a member of another congregation. In fact, we offer a year of free membership for most newly married couples. 

If you are a member, should you wish to express your gratitude through a gift or contribution, you may contribute to the Rabbi’s and/or Cantor’s Discretionary Fund/s at Temple Beth-El. These funds support projects and causes important to our clergy and our community, and your contribution is appreciated.

For weddings outside Richmond, you will need to discuss travel expenses with your officiant/s.

We also believe that our Temple - our sanctuary and/or our reception hall - is an extraordinary venue for your celebration. We hope you will consider holding your simhah in our facility. If you would like to discuss the available options and packages beyond our basic pricing, please contact our Executive Director at 804-355-3564 ext. 104 or

We realize that arranging a wedding is never easy. If there is a way we can make our part of your celebration easier, please let us know. Feel free to contact us at 804-355-3564 or e-mail the clergy directly at

We look forward to celebrating with you!

back to top

Legal and Ceremonial Items You'll Need

In the months PRECEDING the wedding, you’ll need to arrange for the following, and bring them to the wedding ceremony.

1. State Marriage License. After the ceremony, your officiant will take this document and file it with the county.

2. Wedding rings (According to Jewish tradition, the bride’s ring must be whole, unbroken, with no stones.)

3. Ketubah (If you need help filling it in, you should bring it in at least one month before your wedding date). We strongly prefer couples use the “Orthodox,” “Traditional Aramaic,” or “Conservative Aramaic” (without the “Lieberman Clause”) Ketubah text. If your Ketubah requires a special pen to sign it, make sure to bring it with you on the day of your wedding.

4. Witnesses. You will need two witnesses to sign your Ketubah. The witnesses must both be Jewish. They cannot be related to either of you or to each other (even by marriage). They should also be individuals who are Jewishly observant. Male witnesses are preferable. Finally, the witnesses will need to know their Hebrew names (their name and their parents’ names), and also know how to write their Hebrew names.

5. Guards. You will also need two guards for “Yichud,” a moment of privacy for the bride and groom following the ceremony. Once again, the guards must both be Jewish. They cannot be related to either of you or to each other (even by marriage). They should also be individuals who are Jewishly observant.

On the DAY OF the wedding, also bring the following items.

6. Two kiddush cups or wine goblets.*

7. One bottle of Kosher wine (we suggest white.)

8. One wine glass wrapped in a napkin or cloth bag to break

9. Huppah (Wedding Canopy- can be rented here.)*

10. Head coverings (kippot)*

11. Small table for items 6-10*

*For weddings at Temple Beth-El, this can be borrowed free of charge.

back to top

The Jewish Wedding Explained

We encourage you to do some reading about the rituals and customs of Jewish weddings as you prepare for your ceremony. We recommend the following.

Made in Heaven: A Jewish Wedding Guide by Aryeh Kaplan

The New Jewish Wedding by Anita Diamant

Preliminary Rituals

A. Kinyan (“contracts”) signing documents:

  1.  State marriage license
  2. Ketuba (“marriage agreement”) -- witnesses, jewish, non-relatives

The Ceremony

A. The procession

B. Opening blessings
Blessed Are These Who Come Here In The Name Of God. May The Source Of Power, Blessing And Glory,  Bless This Groom And This Bride.

C. Bride Circles Groom

D. Erusin — Betrothal Blessings -- recited over a full cup of wine.

Praised Are You, Lord God, Whose Presence Fills The Universe, Creator Of The Fruit Of The Vine.

Praised Are You, Lord God, Whose Presence Fills The Universe, Who Has Sanctified Us By Your Commandments And Has Commanded Us To Pursue Intimacy Through Marriage, Blessed Is God Who Sanctifies The People Israel With The Rites Of Marriage.

E. Exchanging rings -- ring is placed on right forefinger. Ring is whole, unbroken, and has no stones.

Groom: Haray At Mee-Koo-Deshet Lee B’ta-Ba-At Zo K’dat Moshe V’yisrael.
By This Ring, You Are Consecrated To Me, As My Wife, In Accordance With The Traditions Of Moses And Israel.

Bride: Haray Ata Mee-Koo-Dash Lee B’ta-Ba-At Zo K’dat Moshe V’yisrael.
By This Ring, You Are Consecrated To Me, As My Husband, In Accordance With The Traditions Of Moses And Israel.

F. The ketubah is read aloud and presented to the bride [and groom].

G. Rabbi speaks to the couple.

H. Sheva Brachot: seven wedding blessing, recited over a second full cup of wine

  1. Praised Are You, Lord God, Whose Presence Fills The Universe, Creator Of The Fruit Of The Vine.
  2. Praised Are You, Lord God, Whose Presence Fills The Universe, Who Created All Things For Your Glory.
  3. Praised Are You, Lord God, Whose Presence Fills The Universe, Creator Of Man And Of Woman.
  4. Praised Are You, Lord God, Whose Presence Fills The Universe, Who Created Man And Woman In Your Image That Together They Might Perpetuate Life. Praised Are You, Lord, Creator Of Humanity.
  5. May Zion Rejoice As Her Children Are Restored To Her In Joy. Praised Are You, Lord, Who Causes Zion To Rejoice With Her Children.
  6. Grant Perfect Joy To These Loving Friends, Lord, As You Did To The First Man And Woman In The Garden Of Eden. Praised Are You, Lord, Who Brings Joy To Bride And Groom.
  7. Praised Are You, Lord God, Whose Presence Fills The Universe, Creator Of Bride And Groom, Joy And Gladness, Delight And Celebration, Love And Harmony, Peace And Sweet Companionship.
  8. Lord Our God, May There Ever Be Heard In The Cities Of Judah And The Streets Of Jerusalem, The Sounds Of Joy And Gladness, The Sounds Of Wedding Celebrations, The Sounds Of People Feasting And Singing.

Praised Are You, Lord, Who Brings Joy To Bride And Groom.

I. Benediction (blessing)

J. Groom breaks a glass.

K. Recessional

After the Ceremony

A. Yichud (“Intimacy”) - bride and groom are given some moments of privacy.

B. The wedding feast - it is an obligation of guest to entertain the bride and groom. The seven blessings are recited following the grace after the meal.

back to top

Sat, April 20 2024 12 Nisan 5784