The Wholesale Klezmer Band
Guide to Jewish Weddings


For information and bookings, call Joe Kurland at
413-624-3204 or email us at

"Your music was the soul of our wedding"

Copyright © 1993-2013 by Yosl (Joe Kurland

Whether or not you are having a traditional Jewish wedding, the musical traditions brought to you by the Wholesale KIezmer Band can enhance the meaning, sense of community, and enjoyment of your special day. Take advantage of our more than thirty years experience performing at hundreds of celebrations since our founding in 1982 to help you plan your wedding. We can help you choose music to match the mood you want to set for your ceremony, the kinds of traditional dances you would like us to play for and to lead, and if you like, entertainment with Yiddish folk and theater songs.

What follows is a short guide to traditional weddings and wedding music. The Wholesale Klezmer Band can help you create a wedding as traditional or untraditional as you like. We will help you plan and carry out which ever elements or their variations you would like to incorporate into your wedding. We will be happy to help you adapt traditional elements into more egalitarian or personal styles.

For information and bookings

You can listen to some samples of our music online by clicking on these links or ask us to send you a demo copy of one of our CDs or tapes by calling Yosl (Joe) Kurland at 413-624-3204 or email us at

Khosns Tish, Groom's Party and Kale Bazetsn, Seating of the Bride

The mekhutenistes break a plate after the signing of the tnoyim. Please click on the link for pictures of dancing at this wedding.

At the Khosns Tish the main order of business is the signing of the Ketubah, the marriage contract by the witnesses. Sometimes this is immediately preceded by the signing of the tnoyim, or engagement contract. This tradition comes from the idea that breaking an engagement contract, an agreement by the parents, is more of a dishonor to the families than getting a divorce, so the shorter the engagement, the better. A ten minute engagement is fine. Following the tnoyim, the mothers of bride and groom break a plate. (Click on picture at left for more about this ceremony.
Example of a ketubah, or Jewish wedding contract by Peggy Davis

After the signing, the groom would traditionally attempt to deliver a learned speech, a droshe on Torah or Talmud. However, to avoid embarrassment, because not every groom is equally learned, the speech is always interrupted after a few words by the groom's friends who sing celebratory songs and get up to dance. On the groom's third attempt to begin the speech, the dancing overflows the room, and the groom is conducted to where the bride is seated for the badekn, the veiling. Members of the Wholesale Klezmer Band can get the singing and dancing going, and we can provide songsheets if needed.

Meanwhile, at the kale bazetsn, the seating of the bride, friends come and greet the bride. This is a time for quiet background music by members of the band with dancing, especially for the women, let by our dance leader. This is also the time at which the badkhan, or wedding singer, might sing humorous verses warning the bride that her days of freedom are over, and teasing her about the "faults" of her husband to be. After the groom's party arrives and the groom puts the veil over the brides face, the band leads the guests to the khupe with a lively tune. Food is often served at the khosns tish and at the bazetsn.

Please click on the above letter from a wedding couple to see at full size.

For an egalitarian wedding, we can help you plan a way to combine the functions of the khosns tish and the bazetsn with appropriate music.

Under the Khupe; The Ceremony

Music for the ceremony usually consists of processionals and lively music at the very end. Occasionally couples also ask us to play particular musical selections or songs within the body of the ceremony.

There are two types of music that are usual choices for the processionals: an old style Eastern European khupe march, and modern Israeli settings of portions of the Song of Songs. Ask your Wholesale Klezmer Band advisor to give you an idea of what the different tunes sound like. In a traditional wedding, the bride circles the groom seven times under the khupe. The music for this is in a slow rhythm known as a Roumanian hora.

One old tradition is for the mothers of the bride and groom to guide the bride as she circles the groom, sometimes each holding a candle. In any case, the bride's mother should never be asked to hold the bride's train, as that puts her in a servant role, rather than a position of honor. In egalitarian weddings, the bride and groom may take turns circling each other.

Please click on the above letter from a wedding couple to see at full size.

The parts of a traditional khupe ceremony are the blessing over a cup of wine, the exchange of rings or other tokens, the recitation of the traditional consecration, reading of the ketuba by the rabbi or officiant, the rabbi's talk, and the seven blessings. The breaking of a glass marks the end of the ceremony at which time the Whole sale Klezmer Band breaks into lively congratulatory music. The bride and groom go off to yikhud, to be alone with each other for a while. Guests may spontaneously begin dancing. The band plays until the guests leave the area for where the party takes place, or leads the guests to the party area.

Seudas mitzve, The Party

The band usually plays background music while the party begins and hors d'ouevres are served. When the khosn and kale arrive from yikhud, lively dance music is in order. Dancing may continue at this time or the meal may begin right away, depending on the caterer's schedule. Usually the main body of wedding dances occurs after the main course is served. If dinner is served in many courses, dancing can happen in shorter segments between courses.

If you choose to have some Yiddish songs for entertainment, the best time is usually while people are finishing either their main course or dessert, before they are ready to get up and dance again.

please wait for this letter from wedding customers to download
Please click on the above letter from a wedding couple to see at full size.

Wedding Dances

According to tradition, it is a mitzve, a commandment, to entertain the bride and groom by dancing at their wedding. The description of traditional mitzve dances below can help you choose which ones you would like the Wholesale Klezmer Band to play for and or lead at your wedding party.

Badkhones-the Wedding Singer

Yosl performs a bottle dance at a wedding

In the old days, and in some communities to this day, a badkhan would sing to entertain the bride, groom and guests. Our badkhan, Yosl Kurland, can lead the singing and dancing at the khosn's tish, lead dancing during the reception, sing to the bride at the badekn, perform a Broyges Tants (with our flutist, Peggy Davis, or teach it to the bride's and groom's mothers) and sing special Yiddish wedding songs that heighten the emotions of the occasion with laughter and tears. He is also able to compose a special badkhones for you - usually in Yiddish and English so that everyone can understand the meaning of the words and also experience the flavor of the Yiddish language. For this he will need you to supply, as far in advance as possible, whatever information you can, especially amusing anecdotes, about yourselves, your families, how you met, how you got to know each other and how you decided to get married, how your families reacted, significant life experiences, etc.

Writing personal badkhones involves an additional charge that depends on the length and complexity of the verses that we write for you. Or, we can perform generic badkhones without additional cost. You may request to see examples of personalized badkhones that Yosl has written for couples at whose weddings we have performed.

For more on badkhones and pictures of dances that Yosl taught at a wedding, please see his badkhan's blog.

Please click on the above letter from a wedding couple to see at full size.

Songs for Entertainment

The Wholesale Klezmer Band repertoire includes a wide variety of Yiddish songs. If you have seen us in concert you have seen how we perform them with explanations, visual aids, or humorous vocabulary lessons so that guests who do not understand Yiddish will understand what the songs are about. Although a wedding, bas mitzve or bar mitzve is your show, not ours, many of our customers ask us to perform songs for the entertainment of their guests. If you would like us to include a few Yiddish songs in our performance, we would be happy to discuss with you which types would be appropriate for your celebration.

Planning Your Simkhe, your celebration

The Wholesale Klezmer Band's simkhe advisors are happy to help you plan the way dance and entertainment fit into your simkhe. We are experienced in leading dancing for groups that are not familiar with Jewish traditions. We watch to see just how much dance leading is necessary, and whether the guests can dance without being led. Many couples who have a non-traditional or non-religious ceremony find that traditional dancing led by the Wholesale Klezmer Band provides just the Jewish cultural content they want for their wedding. Even couples neither of whom are Jewish have found these dances add spice and meaning to their weddings.

What they say about the Wholesale Klezmer Band

"We heard the Wholesale Klezmer play at a friend's Bat Mitzvah and from the moment the music started we knew that they would be perfect for our wedding. The band had the ability of being part of the party without overorganizing our guests. It was a nice blend of giving direction without being overbearing."

Judy Wolfman & Peter Larratt, Templeton, MA.

"Your music was the soul of our wedding. The guests were utterly delighted and I feel we really learned some thing from the Mitzvah dances! You guys are great!"

Debra Strick & Chuck Osgood, Belmont, MA.

" ...People loved your friendliness, enthusiasm and spirit. Many people appreciated your encouragements at breaking the ice and getting everyone to dance. I myself expecially liked that you showed us some traditional dances. We are grateful that you were there to help make this day unforgettable."

Jacqueline Lichtenberg, Putney, VT

For further information call:

Joe Kurland 413-624-3204
Or write to: The Wholesale Klezmer Band at
Gan Eydn, Adamsville Road, Colrain, MA 01340

Are You Thinking about Invitations?


Are You Thinking about a Ketubah?

Wholesale Klezmer Band's flutist, Peggy Davis, is also a Hebrew Calligrapher who designs beautiful and meaningful invitations and ketubot. Please have a look at samples of her work.

For more information about the Wholesale Klezmer Band

Gan Eydn Jewish Art and Music

About this Website

This website has been written and designed by Joe Kurland with graphic elements created by Peggy Davis and Joe Kurland. We welcome your comments on the contents and design of the site. Joe and Peggy are available to design your web page too. Please address inquiries and comments to the webmaster.