what is a ketubah?
a ketubah is a jewish marriage contract, a work of art that represents a couple’s love for and commitment to each other. it can look like anything you want, whatever reflects your vision of your love and your style. it is signed at the wedding, then framed and hung in the home, something you can see every day to remind you why you love each other.
there are many text options, just as there are many ways of practicing judaism. the ketubah is even being embraced by non jewish couples, just as the chuppah has been, as it is a beautiful way to symbolize a couple’s love and devotion to each other.
traditionally the ketubah is a legal contract written in aramaic, outlining a husband’s obligations to his wife, safeguarding her from arbitrary divorce and providing for her should the marriage somehow be dissolved. for the first century ce this was quite advanced. by the middle ages a standardized text was agreed upon and it has not changed substantially since, and is now the traditional or orthodox text.
do you do ketubot for interfaith and same sex couples?
yes, i do! i feel very strongly that everyone should have the opportunity to have a piece of art that celebrates their union.
my informal and formal texts can come with gender appropriate hebrew, meaning all female or all male for same sex couples, and i use “beloved” rather than bride or groom for the couple’s signature lines. the informal text is appropriate for everyone, jewish, interfaith, or even non jewish couples.
what if i'm not jewish but want a ketubah?
everyone should have the opportunity to have a piece of art that celebrates their union. if you are not jewish but love the idea of a ketubah, i have several options for you:
if you want to sign it at the wedding like a ketubah, you can get a print with the informal english only text, which is appropriate for everyone, including non jewish couples, i can hand letter a custom text of your own on a print, or you can do something custom that uses whatever language and art you would like.
if you want to have something after the wedding, to commemorate the day and what you said to each other, i can create art from your vows. this can be on a print design, as a simple text or painted with designs and colors that you love.
how do i order a custom ketubah?
look at all my designs, see what you like for design, colors, structure, shape & text, or bring me a design idea of your own.
contact me directly and we discuss your ideas. if you’re in new york, you can come to my studio, otherwise we can discuss it through email and phone calls.
i give you a price based on your choice of design and text, which can be between $1000 to $4000, depending on the complexity of the design. if you have a budget in mind, please let me know. then you send me a deposit of half the final price to secure your spot in the schedule.
i send you a sketch of the design we discussed so you can really see what you’re getting, the actual watercolors on the actual paper, with gold leaf if we’re using it, and which people often like as much as the final product. you approve it, or we make some adjustments and you have your rabbi or officiant approve the text you’ve chosen and i do a proof if they request it.
and finally, i make your ketubah and you enjoy it for the rest of your life.
what is the difference between a print ketubah and a custom ketubah?
a custom ketubah is an original watercolor painting designed with each couple: i start with a blank piece of paper, do all the calligraphy by hand, draw the design and paint the ketubah with watercolors, use only real 24 ct. gold leaf or platinum for accents. it costs between $1000 and $4000.
to order, please contact me directly and we can discuss the details.
a print is part of a limited edition of 7, 18 or 90 that has been previously painted and lettered in calligraphy by me, scanned and printed on special watercolor paper. the design and text are set and preprinted. the couple’s personal information is then hand lettered into the text, and costs about $500.
how do i choose a text for my ketubah?
the text you use for your ketubah is determined by how religious your ceremony is and/or if you want to write your own.
all texts have to be confirmed by the rabbi or officiant performing the ceremony.
here’s the general breakdown:
orthodox: traditional aramaic
conservative: traditional aramaic with leiberman clause, you can add english here if you want
reform: egalitarian hebrew and english, just hebrew or just english, from a range of texts that i have or you bring to me.
for a print, you can see the text that i offer on the text page, or i can write your own text by hand on a print, which starts at $600.
for an original, i can write whatever you want, since we’re starting from scratch.
what information do you need from the couple?
here is a list of the information that i will usually need to be able to make your ketubah:
choice of design and text.
full english names, including middle names if you used them on the invitation.
full hebrew names, which include those of both your parents. if someone doesn’t have a hebrew name then i will transliterate, write in hebrew letters, their english first name.
if all the parents are living.
the date and time of the ceremony.
the city and state where the ceremony is taking place.
how many people will be signing the ketubah as witnesses.
if you want a rabbi, cantor or officiant to sign.
if you want to ship the ketubah, i’ll need the address and phone number of where you want to ship it.
if you’re ordering a print ketubah, i will be emailing you a personalization form once i get your order, that will give me all the information that i need.
if you’re ordering a custom ketubah, please send me the information above to start as well as colors, structure, design and text.
what about hebrew names? why do you need my parents’ names and what if i don’t have one?
your full hebrew name is you son/daughter of dad & mom.
here are a few more details about hebrew names:
i only need the first part of each parents’ name, before “ben” or “bat”, since the part after would be your grandparents’ name and then we’d have an infinite regression.
please don’t worry about how to spell these names in english as they will only appear in hebrew.
if someone doesn’t have a hebrew name because they are not jewish, i will transliterate, or write in hebrew letters, their english first name.
if someone has a hebrew name but can’t remember, it a good place to look for it is on their ketubah or on your naming or bris certificate. you can send me a picture of it if you can’t read hebrew.
if there is no relationship with a parent they do not need to be included. for other complicated family issues, please contact me as there is usually an easy way to sort it out.
can you write a ketubah text on my artwork?
absolutely! i do this all the time. i think it’s wonderful when family or close friends can provide the design, it makes it even more personal, but they can’t always do the calligraphy, and i’m happy to collaborate.
process: i offer a range of texts to use depending on what you need. i like to talk to the artist about size, materials & paper. i usually do the text first, but it can be the other way around, and the pricing starts at $700.
depending on the art being added and text needed, you can also get the just text print.
how long does it take to get a ketubah?
prints should be ordered 6 to 8 weeks from the wedding date. they can be ordered up to a few days before the wedding, but closer than 4 weeks will have rush fees.
custom ketubah designs need to be scheduled 2 to 4 months in advance of the wedding, depending on the time of year, see the availability note in the custom section. but you never know, you can always ask, sometimes i can squeeze you in.
how do we pay you?
for a print, you can order directly on the site and pay through paypal.
for a original design, once we decide on what we’re going to do, i will email you an invoice for half of the final price as a deposit to start work. the balance is due when the ketubah is done and ready to ship.
i accept cash, checks or chase quickpay. credit cards will have a processing fee.
how is the ketubah shipped?
in the US the ketubah is shipped via fedex, and will require a signature, as i don’t like leaving something this important on your doorstep. you will get an email from fedex when it goes out with the tracking number.
for shipping everywhere else, the ketubah is shipped via USPS and i will send you an email with the tracking number when it ships.
the ketubah is packed in archival, acid free paper, rolled in a cardboard tube and shipped in a super strong box.
who signs the ketubah?
usually the bride, groom, 2 witnesses and officiant sign the ketubah.
an orthodox text has 2 kosher witness lines that are the last 2 lines of the text.
a conservative text has 2 kosher witnesses. if there is english section then often after that the bride, groom & rabbi and any additional witnesses will sign.
a reform egalitarian text usually have 2 witnesses, bride and groom & officiant, and you can add more if you like.
i don’t need the names of the witnesses or the officiant. i only need to know how many witnesses you want and the title of the officiant.
what kind of pen do i use to sign the ketubah?
the important thing is that you use an archival, not just permanent, pen to sign your ketubah, so that your signatures will last as long as the ketubah and your marriage. i recommend the sakura pigma micron 01 archival pen in black, it’s thin and will look lovely.
if you’re signing an original that has a colored background, i will be giving you a colored pencil that matches the text color for you to sign with, it’s also archival.
how do i display & protect the ketubah at the wedding?
these are my cheap and easy suggestions. there are several other ways to go, but the main thing is that it’s backed and covered if the ketubah will be displayed and/or handled in any way.
get a piece of thin foamcore, which you can buy at any art supply store, and cut it a little bigger than the ketubah.
use photo corners in each corner of the ketubah to mount to the foamcore.
cut a piece of thin clear plastic, to the same size as the foamcore, lay over the foamcore and place clear tape along the top like a hinge. this will protect the ketubah at the reception and allow you to sign it by lifting the plastic.
after signing, tape along the bottom as well.
have the caterer provide an easel to place the ketubah on, many people put it where the place cards are so everyone can see it but it’s out of the way.
after the wedding…
frame using archival backing materials and uv protective glass or plexi, do not dry mount, hang in your home and enjoy the ketubah for the rest of your life.