How to Host a Pre-Wedding Blessing Circle

At the first Jewish wedding I ever went to, there was a separate, sacred space where the women gathered before the ceremony. We sang a nigun (wordless melody) on loop, drummed on our laps, and came up to the bride individually to offer her a blessing or whisper words of encouragement. 

The magic in the room was palpable. As we focused our song, energy, and intention on supporting the bride, we were spiritually, mentally, and emotionally preparing her in the moments before crossing this threshold into marriage.

Jewish tradition teaches that the bride is like a queen. She is imbued with special powers on her wedding day. In some cases, she sits on an elevated chair, like a throne, during this reception. She can offer blessings of her own to her family, friends, and guests. 

In many weddings, this time before the ceremony is referred to as the kabbalat panim (a kind of pre-ceremony reception) and it’s an opportunity for people to welcome and greet the bride and/or groom, offer well wishes, eat some light food, and arrive before the more formal ceremony under the chuppah (wedding canopy).

Regardless of how traditional (or not!) the wedding is, I love the concept of a dedicated space to support the person about to be married. And regardless of how you relate to marriage, it can be extremely powerful to support your friend as they transition into this new chapter in their life. 

When a good friend of mine got married last winter, I helped to adapt this tradition to the context of her group of dear friends from multiple religious backgrounds. This is naturally a very accessible ritual. By simply explaining in advance what people can expect (and perhaps choosing wordless melodies rather than Hebrew songs, if you choose to include singing), this pre-wedding blessing circle can be a welcoming and wonderful space for all of the person’s closest friends.

A note on gender: This pre-wedding blessing circle would be a grounding ritual for anyone getting married, of any gender. While there is a tradition of women gathering before a wedding, I encourage you to open the gathering to the closest friends (Jewish or not, women or not) of the person about to be married. 

Here are my suggestions for crafting a meaningful interfaith pre-wedding blessing circle:


  • Check in with your engaged friend — ask them, How might you like to mark this time of transition before you get married? Who would you like to include to support you at this time? 
  • The circle does not need to happen directly before the wedding…in fact, giving some space between the two events may offer a helpful time to process and let the juiciness of the experience settle in.
  • A circle of 6-10 people works well, but you could of course go slightly larger or smaller. I recommend inviting people who are excited and available to be in a ritual space. This isn’t a bachelorette party (although those are great too!) but a more intimate ritual of slowing-down.
  • Let people know ahead of time that everyone will have a chance to speak for a few minutes — to offer reflections, blessings, and well wishes to the engaged person. Some people like to prepare what they will say ahead of time; others may like to ad-lib — either works, but make sure people can mentally prepare!
  • Take the tradition and make it yours! Even though the idea is a Jewish one, encourage each participant to bring something of their faith or spiritual tradition, if they have one — such as a blessing or poem, a candle they wish to light, a song they can teach the group, a special food from their culture.

During the Circle

  • Try to host in your home if you have space, or outdoors in a quiet park — somewhere where people will feel safe sharing in an intimate way (i.e., not at a cafe / bar / restaurant).
  • Do at least one round of introductions, if people don’t know each other, while sharing a snack or a meal.
  • Before beginning to offer blessings to the engaged person, take a few moments to get grounded. You can light a candle to mark the sacred space you are creating together. You might ask someone in the group to lead a brief meditation, such as this one. Or simply invite everyone to take 5 deep breaths at their own pace with their eyes closed.
  • After settling in, go around in a circle and invite each person to share for a few minutes. This could be anything from affirmations about the person getting married, a blessing for them as they cross the threshold into marriage, a story about the couple that moved you, gratitude, a poem, or anything in between.
  • The bride/engaged person can sit and relax, receiving each person’s share but without the need to respond.
  • Finally, invite the engaged person to share back any reflections, blessings for anyone in the group, or anything else that they want to bring into the space.
  • Close with something ceremonial (not logistical details!). Extinguish the candle you lit, do another brief meditation, squeeze each other’s hands, or clap once at the same time.

Keep in Mind

Weaving together different faith and spiritual traditions is an incredible way to draw on the wisdom of community as your friend navigates across the threshold toward marriage. In that spirit, I also suggest enlisting the help of everyone who is coming to contribute something vital, whether that’s preparing the food, hosting in their home, bringing materials, or driving the engaged person to the circle. 

Remember, this gathering is about marking a life passage with a group who all care deeply about the engaged person — so don’t worry about it doing it perfectly! Set a clear intention and purpose for the circle first (such as honoring your friend, or helping them feel at ease before a big moment), and then get into planning the logistics.

Lastly — if you are engaged and like this idea, I encourage you to ask a friend to plan this pre-wedding blessing circle, rather than planning it yourself. Yes, this may feel like a vulnerable request! Share this article with a good friend and ask if they’d be willing to organize. The gathering will ideally feel like a gift for you to receive, rather than an event for you to orchestrate.

May this gathering of friends bring care, sweetness, and connection to a very special day. Mazal tov!

At The Well uplifts many approaches to Jewish practice. Our community draws on ancient Jewish wisdom, sometimes adapting longstanding practices to more deeply support the well-being of women and nonbinary people. See this article’s sources below. We believe Torah (sacred teachings) are always unfolding to help answer the needs of the present moment.


Liturgy, Rituals, and Customs of Jewish Weddings, My Jewish Learning

Being a Guest at a Jewish Wedding, My Jewish Learning

Jewish Wedding Rituals and Traditions, Sefaria

How to Host a Pre-Wedding Blessing Circle
Caroline Kessler
Caroline Kessler

Caroline Kessler is a poet, editor, and facilitator currently living on Ohlone land, in Berkeley, CA. She loves bringing people together through art, writing, and gatherings. Caroline is also the Community Director of GatherBay. Learn more at carokess.com.

Share this post

Looking for more ancient wisdom?

  • Explore the energy of this new moon
  • Tap into the wisdom of your body and heart
  • Commit to new ways to make space for yourself