The Spanish & Portuguese wedding service combines beauty and majestic formality to match the splendour of our historic buildings. If you are considering celebrating your special day in one of our synagogues, please have a listen to the recordings below, which will give you some idea of the sound of the formal wedding service featuring the choir.
If you have any questions about the service, or wish to enquire about booking the choir, please contact Eliot Alderman via the "Contact" page on the sidebar to the left.
The choir normally begins singing about 15 minutes before the start-time of the ceremony, usually including the following songs:
If the wedding takes place in synagogue, then the formal ceremony begins with a statutory service of the synagogue, usually Minha. Here are some historic recordings of this beautiful service, taken from a special service held in Bevis Marks in 1956, and featuring the choir and the late Rev. Eliezer Abinun:
After Minha, the Hatan (Bridegroom) formally accepts the Ketubah (Marriage Contract). Whilst he is signing this document and dealing with other formalities, the choir sings this beautiful setting of Psalm 100:
Although not part of the Sephardi wedding service, some couples opt to perform the traditional ceremony of "unveiling" at this point. Whilst this is happening, the choir may sing one or more of the following songs. Alternatively, these may be sung after the Ketubah, whilst the formal processionals are getting ready:
The families of the couple (and the Bridegroom, if there has been a Bedecken) enter before the Bride, and whilst they are doing so, the choir may sing this famous melody, borrowed from Handel's Judas Maccabaeus:
Entrance of the Bride
The Bride enters to the famous traditional melody of the Congregation:
Again, this is not part of the traditional Sephardi wedding service - however, some couples opt at this point to perform the Ashkenazi tradition in which the bride circles her bridegroom seven times. Whilst this is happening, it is usual to sing the following melody:
Under the Chuppa
If one or both of the couple are Ashkenazi, the choir sings the following blessing from the Ashkenazi liturgy, to a melody composed by Salomon Sulzer:
Once both bride and groom are under the Chuppa, the central section of the ceremony begins. The Minister sings the Birkot Irusin (Betrothal blessings), and then the marriage is formally consecrated via the giving of the ring. The Minister will then give his address, following which he will sing the Sheba' Berachot (Marriage Blessings).
Breaking the Glass
The central part of the ceremony continues with the breaking of a glass by the Bridegroom, in memory of the destruction of the Temple. Before this happens, it has become customary to sing the following selection from Psalm 137:
The newly-married couple proceed to the Hechal (Ark) to receive the Priestly Blessing. As they are making this short journey, the choir will sing a short piece, such as the following setting of Psalm 93:
Signing the Civil Register
The couple then return to the Tebah (Lectern) to complete the Civil part of the ceremony. As they are signing the Register, the choir sings this majestic setting of Psalm 150:
Conclusion of the Ceremony
Finally, as the couple are completing the ceremony and leaving the synagogue, the choir may sing a suitable piece, such as the famous setting of Adon 'Olam by the late Rev. D. A. de Sola: