Rabbi Allen works with you to make your wedding service creative and
memorable. Co-officiating with Protestant or Catholic clergy poses no problem,
for Rabbi Allen has the respect of other clergy and the professionalism and
expertise that will give you peace of mind on your wedding day.
Have you attended forgettable ceremonies?
The starting point for every memorable wedding is a personalized creative
wedding ceremony. Every word should reflect the thoughts and feelings of bride
and groom which they have shared during premarital counseling. A by-the-book
ceremony from the Minister's or Rabbi's manual or a vapid service by a Justice
of the Peace just does not do the job.
Every couple wants their ceremony to be memorable.
A wedding officiant, well-schooled in the writing of unique ceremonies, can be
of immense help. Officiants offer a broad outline and guide you in your choices.
You may decide on creative readings instead of, or supplementing readings, not
necessarily from scripture. Visit www.e-ketubah.com for artful and imaginative
ideas for your wedding document.
||Send you driving directions to my home; possible readings and proposed
outline for service after you have called to make an appointment.
||Premarital counseling - up to six hours.
||Write a ceremony especially for you, using (when necessary) both English
and French, Spanish, Italian and German.
||Send you the ceremony for review (interactive) - you can suggest or
request changes in the ceremony with enough lead-time.
||If a co-officiate is desired, I contact him/her before writing the
Ask Rabbi Allen!
Wedding Planning FAQ's
The following are the most frequently-asked questions by
couples who are planning their Interfaith wedding ceremony:
The right time to start the process.
Ideally you will meet with me to plan your ceremony. In that way I can write
your ceremony months before your wedding date. Interfaith couples should begin
their search for officiants even earlier. Call today: our calendar fills very
quickly. Remember, no two couples are exactly alike, so every ceremony needs to be
personalized. Clergy officiants can help with this process. I like the idea of
inclusivity, making your family and friends part of the ceremony instead of
having them act as passive bystanders. You will have the opportunity to write
personal promises to one another in addition to, or instead of traditional vows.
To explore all the options, contact Rabbi Allen (215) 657-3737 today!
What is your primary requirement of couples?
Time. That is, time for getting to know one another and for creating together a
warm and meaningful ceremony.
Do you co-officiate weddings?
Yes. I have many friends who are priests; some who are ministers. The
overwhelming number (about 97%) of all my Interfaith weddings are
In a Church?
No. I don’t believe a church or synagogue is the correct venue. I believe that
Interfaith weddings should take place on "neutral" ground, such as a
country club or other facility.
What is the best way to contact you?
I do hold dates for couples who make a phone commitment, so call today!
What days won't you officiate?
Rosh Ha-Shanah, Yom Kippur, and the three major Jewish Festivals.
Do you officiate at Jewish-Jewish weddings?
Yes. I still serve my former congregation in all life-cycle events when
Do you travel to officiate weddings?
I've traveled to France, Italy, Canada and Central America. I also have
officiated throughout the United States. In addition to English I have
officiated in French, Spanish, Italian and German.
If you are not available on our date, what do you suggest?
As a founding member of the International Federation of Rabbis, I am able to
call upon colleagues from all over the United States. In addition, I have a
number of colleagues in the Philadelphia area upon whom I can call.
Do you officiate weddings on Saturday?
Yes. Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons after 3:30PM
Do you officiate at other kinds of weddings?
Yes. I have officiated at Nondenominational weddings, Hindu-Jewish, etc.
Is there something else that distinguishes you from other rabbis?
Yes. In addition to my very wide educational background, I was a cantor who
sang opera internationally for twenty-two years. My singing ability add a real
"plus" to weddings, both Jewish and Interfaith.
What kind of rabbi
Having grown up in an Orthodox and then Conservative home, I chose
Reform Judaism at the age of thirty. After intense study for the rabbinate, once
I was ordained, I decided that my liberal outlook and study of other religions
made me a "Post-denominational" rabbi, for there is a great deal to be
learned from all religions. The most important concepts that guide my life are
morality, ethical behavior and social responsibility.
The Week Before Your Wedding - FAQ's:
Most commonly asked of the Rabbi by the bride in the last week before
When do we sign the Marriage Application and the Ketubah?
The Marriage Application and the Ketubah can be signed by your chosen
witnesses during the marriage service. Do not confuse the marriage service
with the wedding ceremony.
The marriage service is private, usually held in a small, but separate
room, away from the guests, about 15 minutes prior to the wedding ceremony.
The bride and groom and their immediate families, plus those who you will be
honoring as witnesses should be present. Witnesses to the marriage
certificate from the state can be any two people you choose. Witnesses to
the Ketubah can be either men or women or one of each, who are not blood
relatives to either the bride or groom (for Jewish ceremonies only). The
actual marriages take place here and once the witnesses sign you are legally
PLEASE do not forget to have the civil marriage application with you at
this time. I cannot marry you without it. Keep the marriage application
together with the return envelope and papers that come with it. NOTE: once
this application is signed by the witnesses, you will get your original in
Pennsylvania. The completed application must be returned by clergy, a judge
or a notary public. When I mail it back in other states, it generally takes
about three (3) weeks until you receive your marriage certificate. You will
have already signed the application when you applied for it, and your
signatures will be notarized by the clerk.
The ketubah, once signed by your witnesses, makes you Halachicly ( by
Jewish law ) Married. I will read it during the wedding ceremony and I will
present it to the bride's parents after the wedding ceremony. It is not the
legal document it once was. Many Interfaith couples buy an Interfaith
Ketubah as a beautiful remembrance of the occasion.
What is the
significance of the “Chuppah?"
The "Chuppah" represents your first home. By coming out of the Chuppah to
come to you, and you accepting his hand and going with him under the Chuppah,
you have signified your acceptance of betrothal. I usually explain the
Chuppah during the ceremony.
Do the men have to wear a
"kipah" ( Hebrew for scull cap) In Yiddish it is a "Yarmulka?" For Jewish
weddings it is in order.
No. Those men who are invited who are not Jewish should not be asked to
wear a kipah. It is an insult to other faiths to do so. If the groom is
Jewish, he should, along with all the other men in attendance who are
Jewish. If the groom is not Jewish he doesn't have to: however, out of
respect to the Jewish bride and her faith, he should consider doing so.
Note: women are not required to wear a head covering.
Do I stand on the right or the left of my groom once I am under the
Following ancient custom, the groom should always be on the right side
of the bride. Reason: The man always needed to defend himself (and now his
bride as well), and since the vast majority of men are right handed, he
should be unobstructed from removing his sword from his left hip. Therefore,
the man's right side should always be open.
When my groom comes from the
"Chuppah" to get me, how does he lead me back to the "Chuppah"?
If the groom takes you by the hand or elbow to lead you under the
Chuppah, he should do this using his right hand for good reasons. It will
automatically put you on the right side when the two of you come under the
Must we have so many people
surrounding us under the Chuppah? I'd like my guests to be able to see what
is happening and so many people under the Chuppah will block their view?
Following our traditions has been important to Jews. Having immediate
family with you under the Chuppah is a tradition of long standing. However,
in recent years and sometimes due to age, many weddings provide for the
grandparents, parents, flower girl and ring-bearer to sit on the very first
row as a sign of honor. Then, only the maid of honor and the best man may
join the bridge and groom under the Chuppah along with the rabbi. Groomsmen
and bridesmaids may either take seating on the second row, or may be
requested to be present at the Chuppah and may fan out as to not obstruct
the view of the guests, with men on the grooms side and women on the bride's
side. The choice is yours to make.
Parents may also be asked to stand at the sides of the Chuppah of their
Recently, a member of my
family has passed on and had so much looked forward to this day. Is
there any way you could mention their name during the ceremony?
In ancient days, this was not done. It was thought that mentioning the
name of someone who has gone might bring a reminder of death to this joyous
occasion. However, over time, as people have moved slowly into a time of
tremendous spirituality, it is nearly normal to mention a person’s name as
being here in spirit. Please let me know of your personal decision prior
when we meet for Premarital Counseling.
I know that I will be wearing a
wedding ring, but my groom chooses not to. Is this proper?
The wearing of a wedding ring says to the entire world that "I am my
beloved's and my beloved is mine." For many centuries, it has been the
custom for a man to place a wedding ring upon his brides hand; in essence,
showing the world that this woman has been sanctified in marriage to
another. Most often today, marriages are sanctified by a double ring
ceremony with both parties to it each displaying their participation in
sanctity. However, a man may choose not to wear a ring. This is not to say
that his deep love and affection is only in words and does not carry with it
the display of being married. The choice should be left to the groom since
our tradition did not provide for this.
I will be receiving
a beautiful diamond wedding ring from my groom. Is there a problem for
me wearing it during the ceremony?
Problem? No! Life’s problems are only made up of what we perceive as
problems. However, going back to tradition once more, it is believed within
Judaism that a circle signifies life, and in order for a life to be whole
(with a ‘W’) the wedding ring should have no hole (with only an ‘h’)in it. A
hole shows that this life, or marriage if you will, may have and
imperfection in it
Some members of my family are
objecting to the candle lighting portion of the wedding service, saying they
never heard of this before. Is this permitted by Halachah (Jewish law)?
With all due respect to those who never heard of this before, they also
never heard of a prayer service, or a holiday celebration or certainly not a
wedding on the beach, in a forest or by the edge of a lake either. Anything
that can strengthen a marriage through ceremony has always been acceptable
to Jews. God did not create the wedding ceremony. Humans did. When each of
you is asked to light a separate candle that represents who you are, your
dreams, your hopes, your aspirations; that's fine. But when you are asked to
ignite a common flame of passion using each of your own flames, this adds
significance to the marriage. Again, let your own feelings guide you in
making this decision. Please let me know during Premarital Counseling.
What will I do with my
bouquet of flowers when I am asked to place my grooms ring on his finger
or light my candle or drink from the cup of wine?
Now you know why you have chosen a maid or matron of honor who will be
standing next to you.
I have a young child from a
previous marriage. Is it appropriate to have my child stand with me under
How wondrous is our God, who provides a replacement for a husband lost
to divorce or even early death (may it never occur again) and one who will
also be a father to your child.
Our great-grandparents would only whisper the word "divorce" as though it
was a dirty word...a shame upon the family because they believed that a
marriage was to be forever, no matter what. Better they should think of how
miserably unhappy their own lives would be if they had to face an unfaithful
partner, an abusive partner or worse. How very special would be their
relationship with God, just knowing that God's love for them enabled them to
be free of such awful pressures. They would say how grateful they are to
God, who has permitted you to be free from such enslavement.
Talmud provides for divorce. Our ancient and holy sages were wise enough
to know that nothing on earth lasts forever, and many things have to be
corrected by humans themselves. Worn out spark plugs need to be replaced,
VCR's occasionally record the wrong channel and even souls need re-shoeing.
Certain diets need to be changed in order to work properly. Why should
marriage be any different?
No. Your child should not stand with you under the chuppah. It is you and
your groom who are being bound as one under the eyes of God. Your children
of a previous marriage should not be part of the wedding ceremony.
Some of my guests haven't arrived yet.
We can wait for them. Can't we?
Of course another 15 minutes will be acceptable, however, assuming that
you did send out invitations stating where and at what time the ceremony was
to take place, any length of time beyond that would be rude of them and also
improper for them to hold up your wedding day.
We noticed on the wedding
agreement we signed with you that final payment is to be paid two weeks
prior to the wedding day. It will be okay if we gave you the payment at the
Unlike caterers, florists and musicians who expect final payment at the
wedding, I consider it inappropriate and actually embarrassing to accept
final payment before the eyes of your loved ones. You accepted this
responsibility long ago with the signing of he wedding agreement and like a
marriage; you are expected to honor this agreement. Please mail your final
payment two weeks prior to your wedding day.
While I am well aware that these questions and answers will be helpful to
you, each wedding is different and additional questions will arise. Please
do not hesitate calling me at any time other then Shabbat to ask. I am,
after all, here for you.
Rabbi Richard Allen, Ph.D.
Honeymoon Destinations - Where I have listed specific B&B's, I have stayed in them and been
Trains: If you are booking Trains, both in-country and across Europe, go to:
While I don't usually give commercials, I cannot help but recommend any of
Rick Steves' books.
Planning & Information:
Beds and Breakfasts, Country Inns, Small Hotels and Vacation Rentals
All Destinations in Europe
Hotel Guide - An International Hotel Directory and Guide
- Worldwide directory of Bed and Breakfasts and Inns
Reservations at Hotelcity.com
Western International Inc. - Hotels in U.S., Canada, Mexico, North America,
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Discount airfare, flights, hotels, cars, vacation packages, cruises,
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News - Back Issues
Bed and Breakfasts
B&B Domaine De La Grange Neuve
Owners: Jos and Ann Verbruggen
Route de Saumane
84210 La Roque-Sur-Pernes
B&B MME. Eve
14, rue Campestra
MME Bourgade B&B Villa Panko
17, chemin du Parc Saramartel
06160 Antibes - Juan-les-Pins, (Alpes Maritimes)
B&B, Le Rocher Pointu M. et Mme. André Malek
Plan de Dève
Check out Rick
Other France Sites:
Italy: Bed and Breakfasts
La Dolce Vita (Rome)
Pontassieve [Near Florence] Vacanze nel Verde (Flora Fontana)
Venice: Hotel Savoia & Jolanda (Piazza San Marco)
B&B Albergo Milano in Varenna on Lake Como
B&B Albergo Milano - more comfortable, and right in the old town,
with a magnificent breakfast terrace--is your best Varenna splurge (tel. &
fax 0341/830-298, $110 doubles). All rooms with Bath, shower & toilet.
Other Italy Sites:
Spain: Bed and Breakfasts
Spain does not have B & B's as such. You can find hotels and
Paradores. Best Western
has a great hotel in Granada, not far from the
Alhambra! Seville has an inexpensive hotel, Hostal
Arias, in the heart of the city!
Check out Rick
Steves' Spain and Portugal.
Other Spain Sites:
Bed and Breakfasts
For the best values in gracious Bed and Breakfasts, go to Manor
Houses of Portugal. This site, in particular, is excellent!
B&B Manor Houses of Portugal
David Lumby (Susan)
Amare (Salema, Algarve, Portugal)
Fabulous value on the Atlantic. English owner. No need to speak anything but
John Wilkinson - Owner
Work: 011-351-282- 695-165
Quinta De Santa Caterina
Rua Visconde de Palma de Almeda
2530 Lourinhã Portugal
Owner: Senhora Dona Teresa Maria De Palma De Almeida Braga
Dom Jorge Palma De Almeida
Check out Rick
Steves' Spain and Portugal.
Other Portugal Sites:
Rabbi Richard Allen