Welcome to our Wedding Wednesday series, where we ask clergy in our community to share their thoughts for couples planning a Jewish wedding and starting an exciting new chapter in their lives. This week’s post comes from Rabbi Reni Dickman, Director of InterfaithFamily/Chicago.

Planning a wedding often involves lists – lists of things to do, people to call, items to bring, questions to ask… Here is another list of things to do when planning your wedding:

1. Look at the Jewish calendar. It’s good to have one of these in your kitchen anyway. There are a lot of Jewish holidays when many rabbis will not perform a wedding. See when these holidays fall before you book a date. Look here for 2018-2019 holiday dates. Then, think about how you might want to mark some of these holy days. Life is a series of days unless we pause occasionally and mark time. Just like your wedding will mark time, think about how you as a couple will mark these special days on the calendar.

2. Talk with your parents and your partners’ parents about what they were imagining for your ceremony. You may be surprised that they have their own dreams and ideas about what traditions you’ll include. Not that you’ll follow all of them, but better for parents to feel heard and considered. There may be creative ways to incorporate readings and traditions as a way of honoring both sides of the family.

3. Find the right officiant(s). Don’t wait on this! Clergy get booked, especially for summer dates! Rabbis appreciate it when you offer a couple of possible dates. Make the rabbi one of the first people you call. InterfaithFamily can help you find the right rabbi for your wedding. Some of our rabbis also co-officiate with clergy from other faiths. Go to interfaithfamily.com/FindARabbi to use our free Jewish clergy referral service.

4. Get screened. The term “Jewish genetic disease” is a bit of a misnomer. Jewish genetic disorders are named such because they appear at higher rates among people of Jewish ancestry. However, they also occur among the general population. Therefore, interfaith/intercultural couples should still get carrier screening, and the Norton & Elaine Sarnoff Center for Jewish Genetics makes it very easy. There are many ways to grow a family, and some couples do not plan to have children, but if you hope to have biological children, visit JewishGenetics.org to learn more and register for their genetic counseling and screening program. It involves a short educational video, you send a saliva sample in the mail, and a genetic counselor calls you with results. Knowledge is good. Don’t let this one slip through the cracks.

5. Visit a Judaica shop, like Rosenblum’s in Skokie, to see the wedding items in person – from a ketubah or marriage contract (yes…there are now interfaith ketubahs) to a Kiddush cup, glass to break, and items for your life moving forward. The wedding is just the beginning!

Read InterfaithFamily’s Jewish Wedding Guide for Interfaith Couples to see a longer list of things to do, things to think about and conversations to have as you plan your wedding and begin your marriage. You can also reach InterfaithFamily at chicago@interfaithfamily.com or interfaithfamily.com.