A Smashing Engagement

Question

Our son recently got engaged, and we have heard of a pre-marriage ceremony called “The Breaking of the Plate.” What is the significance of this ceremony and is it done? Thank you!

6 months

Answers

  1. When a couple decides to marry, they announce the occasion with an engagement party. In Yiddish this event is called a vort, which means a “word.” At the vort the man and woman traditionally give their “word” and formally commit to marry.

    There is a custom to break a ceramic plate at the vort. This symbolizes the seriousness of their commitment to each other: Just as breaking the plate is final, so too the engagement is final and not easily terminated. (Some break the plate when they first get engaged, some wait until right before the chupah at the wedding ceremony, and some do both!)

    Breaking the plate also tempers the intense joy of the occasion, similar to the glass which is broken under the chupah. It reminds us that the Temple is not yet rebuilt.

    Customarily, the couple’s mothers are the ones who break the plate. They hold the plate together and drop it onto a hard surface. It’s important to wrap the plate well to ensure that no one gets hurt from the broken pieces. I once attended a vort where a flying splinter from a not well-wrapped plate went into the leg of one of the mothers.

    Some have the custom to make a necklace for the bride from the broken pieces. Others give the broken pieces to eligible “singles” as if to say “may a plate soon be broken for you.”

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team