Frequently Asked Questions

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 for artful and imaginative ideas for your wedding document.

My Services Include:

  • 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 ceremony.

Wedding Planning FAQ's

The following are the most frequently-asked questions by couples who are planning their Interfaith wedding ceremony:

Click on hyperlink below to answer question.

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) 887-2036 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 Catholic-Jewish.

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 requested.

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 are you?

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 the wedding.

Click on hyperlink below to answer question.

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 married. 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 "Chuppah?"

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 Chuppah.

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 children.

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 the Chuppah?

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 wedding...wouldn't it?

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.

Sample Ceremony for an Interfaith Wedding:

Anything considered “Jewish” (almost everything is symbolic, not Jewish) is explained during the course of the ceremony.

This is a sample ceremony only. It is shown as an Interfaith ceremony with a Co-Officiant. Obviously, if I am the sole Officiant, it will read differently. When I write a ceremony for a couple it is quite different. I am completely aware of what Priests can and cannot do. I make an effort to represent both faiths by being inclusive of the priest or minister and all the invited guests. Therefore your individual ceremony will differ a greatly because it is written for you.

Rabbi Allen and Co-Officiant:

Rabbi Allen: Good evening friends. I am Rabbi Richard Allen and my colleague is Father, Rev. , Pastor ___________. We welcome you on behalf of (Bride and Groom) as we give witness to the love and commitment they are about to express, and in that expression they will move from this stage, etc..

Co-Officiant: Bride and Groom are being joined today in a religious ceremony, secure in the knowledge that their family and friends around them will accept it as a symbol of their mutual faith in God. They are grateful to their friends and family members for gracing this occasion with their presence.

Opening Blessing

Priest or Rev.: Blessed are you who come in the name of Lord. We bless you in the name of the Lord.

Rabbi Allen: Same – in Hebrew

Remembering Loved Ones Who Have Passed Away
Rabbi, Priest or Rev.

I would like to take this moment to mention that there are those close to (Bride and Groom) who could not travel to be here today, but whose thoughts and blessings are with them; and there are loved ones who are no longer here with us, but who are here in spirit. Let us remember them now in a moment of silence. (Names may be inserted upon request.)


Optional Reading:

: I Corinthians, chapter 12:31-13:8a:

If I speak with the eloquence of mortals or of angels, but have not love, if I have the gift of prophecy, understanding all the mysteries there are and knowing everything, and if I have faith in all its fullness, enough to move mountains, but have not love, then I am nothing at all, etc.

Priest or Rev.: If there is a Unity Candle: N.B. This is neither Christian nor Jewish tradition. It is the warm and fuzzy Hallmark tradition. If you want this it must be requested.

Rabbi Allen and Priest or Rev.:

Explanation this cup of wine.

Blessing Over the Wine: (Hebrew and English or English only)

Readings (read by family members or friends) The readings are placed strategically in the ceremony.

Optional Reading 2:

I will send you about 30 readings from which to choose.

Personal remarks:


Rabbi Allen:

Rabbi Allen sings the Seven Blessings


In words that we pray may describe your marriage, the Prophet Hosea said:

I betroth you unto me forever, I betroth you unto me in righteousness, loving kindness and in compassion; I betroth you to me in faithfulness.


Usually done by the Priest or Minister, if present:

Rev.: Groom
, please repeat these words after me: In the Name of the Lord, I, Groom, take you, Bride, to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day foreword, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, for as long as we both shall live. This is my solemn vow.

Used in a Jewish ceremony: And now I ask you, in the presence of God and this assembly: Do you, Groom, take Bride to be your wife, in joy and in sorrow, to love, to respect and to cherish her for as long as you both shall live?

Groom: I will.

And do you, Bride, take Groom: I will to be your husband, in joy and in sorrow, to love, to respect and to cherish him for as long as you both shall live?

Bride: I will.

Rabbi Allen or Priest or Rev.

It is now the moment to speak the words and exchange the rings that make you husband and wife.

Exchange of Rings

Rabbi Allen: Groom
, as you place this ring on Bride’s finger, please repeat these words after me: I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine. With these words you are consecrated to me, as my wife etc…………………………….

Bride, as you place this ring on Groom’s finger, please repeat these words after me: I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine. With these words you are consecrated to me, as my husband, etc……………………………

(The Seven Wedding Blessings are placed here. These are sung by Rabbi Allen.)

Pronouncement of Marriage

Rabbi Allen or Priest or Rev.

Now that you have spoken the words and performed the rites that unite your lives, we/I now, declare your marriage to be valid and binding, and declare you, (groom and bride), husband and wife, etc……………………………


Rabbi and Co-Officiant: antiphonally, in Hebrew and English

May the Lord bless you and keep you.

May the Lord’s countenance shine upon you and be gracious to you.

May the Lord look upon you with favor and grant you peace.

Breaking of the Glass

Rabbi Allen
: (Bride and Groom), the wedding is a ceremony of symbols..... The canopy, the wine, the exchange of vows, the exchange of rings; it ends with the symbol of the breaking of the glass..............etc.

Honeymoon Destinations

- Where I have listed specific B&B's, I have stayed in them and been delighted!

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:

France: Bed and Breakfasts

B&B Domaine De La Grange Neuve

Owners: Jos and Ann Verbruggen
Tel: 011-334-9066-5527
Fax: same
Route de Saumane
84210 La Roque-Sur-Pernes

B&B MME. Eve Daran
Tel: 011-334-9368-2243
Fax: 011-334-9338-2853
14, rue Campestra
Cannes 06400

MME Bourgade B&B Villa Panko
Work: 011-334-9367-9249
17, chemin du Parc Saramartel
06160 Antibes - Juan-les-Pins, (Alpes Maritimes)

B&B, Le Rocher Pointu M. et Mme. Andr Malek
Home: 011-334-6657-4187
Fax: 011-334-6657-0177
Plan de Dve
30390 Aramon

Check out Rick Steves' France.

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.

Vista Isolabella (Taormina, Sicily) - I cannot recommend this villa highly enough! Due to price, it is best to share with another couple or friends. This magnificent villa can be found through

Check out Rick Steves' Italy.

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:

Portugal 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)
Tel: 011-351-835-065
Fax: 011-351-811-491

B&B Amare (Salema, Algarve, Portugal)
Fabulous value on the Atlantic. English owner. No need to speak anything but English!
John Wilkinson - Owner
Work: 011-351-282- 695-165

B&B Quinta De Santa Caterina
Rua Visconde de Palma de Almeda
2530 Lourinh Portugal
Work: 351-258-835065
Fax: 351-258-811491
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: