DIY Papercut Ketubah (Jewish Wedding Contract)
Being an interfaith couple (Jewish and Catholic), I knew I wanted to create one of the most important elements of our wedding ceremony and our marriage: a ketubah.
A ketubah is the Hebrew wedding contract and its use in Jewish ceremonies dates back thousands of years. Today, ketubahs are fairly common for interfaith and even non-Jewish weddings.
For Gus and I, I felt that creating a custom ketubah, outlining the promises we have made to each other beginning our wedding day would be a beautiful and very present daily reminder of the kind of marriage we are committed to building together.
There is no one way to create a Ketubah. They can be very detailed, painted, all in Hebrew, all in English, on a tapestry, on a piece of paper, papercut, lasercut, watercolored, and presented in so many creative ways. For ours, I decided to do an abstract papercut. Though I didn't realize it at the time, as I've looked at it every day for the past several months, I've begun to think of the different shapes as the shards of glass shattered at the end of the wedding ceremony when Gus stepped on the glass. These pieces call that moment to mind and all the thoughts behind that tradition.
If you're wondering how to tackle something like this, here's a DIY Tutorial on how I created ours. I hope it inspires your own special version.
- 12 x 18 sheet of Archival Quality white paper & printer
- X-acto knife such as this Fiskars fingertip exacto knife
- Gold handmade paper from Paper Source (1/2 sheet)
- Marble gold fine paper from Paper Source (1/2 sheet)
- Spray adhesive
- Frame (above from Michael's)
- Gold gel pen
- Pencil and a quality eraser
- Personalized ketubah text of your choosing
Choosing the Text
First and foremost, I recommend working with a Rabbi to choose your ketubah text including details like the date of your wedding on the Jewish calendar. I emailed with our Rabbi regarding our text which reads below. I found the majority of it at Modern Ketubah and fell in love with the beautifully-expressed sentiments about honoring values and traditions of both of our Jewish and Catholic families. They seem to fit perfectly with who Gus and I are and how much we cherish our heritage and our loved ones.
Our Ketubah main text reads,
Surrounded by family and friends, we affirm our commitment to each other as husband and wife. Our lives are now forever intertwined.
Our similarities will bind us, our differences will enrich us, and our love with define us.
We will celebrate all of the passages of life together with joy and reverence.
In times of happiness, we will cherish each other, and in times of trouble, we will protect each other.
We commit to a lifetime of learning, discussion and adventure as individuals and partners.
Together, we promise to establish a home committed to our collective heritage.
It will be a home filled with loving affection, laughter, wisdom, tolerance, generosity, and compassion where the values of our families are nurtured and passed on.
We willingly enter into this covenant of companionship and love: from this day forward, we are as one.
May we be better by being together.
Format and Print your Ketubah text
Once you've chosen your text, use a program like Adobe Illustrator or Word to set up a 12" x 18" document and fill in your text in the fonts you'd like to use. Leave a space for yourself and your spouse to sign, for the officiant, and for two witnesses. To create one like mine, place your text towards the bottom of the page, leaving a lot of white space for your artwork.
Have this document printed by a local printer unless your machine can print this large or you've decided to make your ketubah smaller. I'd encourage you to print a few extra copies for the next step.
Plot and Cut your papercut
From there, use a pencil to draw your design directly on your printed Ketubah document. I used a ruler to keep my edges straight on the shapes. I free-handed the Hebrew text (which is Hebrew for "I am my beloved and my beloved is mine.") If you'd like to try your hand at the letters, here's a visual reference to go by.
When you're ready, carefully cut out your shapes and letters with your exacto until all have been cleanly removed from the original document. You may need to clean up the edges with your knife on a second pass. When you're satisfied with your design, carefully erase your pencil marks.
The final DIY step - Paper Backing
For our ketubah, I used two fine papers as the background of my papercut. I did the gold first for just the Hebrew letters so they would stand out. If you plan to do this, make sure to do both steps in one sitting due to the use of spray adhesive. To start, using my exacto knife, I cut a rough shape of the plain gold paper that would cover the entirety of the background of the letters.
I carefully sprayed a small amount of spray adhesive on the back of my ketubah, just on the area that would cover the letters. I then affixed the gold paper to that section and flipped the ketubah over.
Since the adhesive is fairly tacky from the get go, I immediately went ahead and trimmed the gold paper out of any shape surrounding the letters using the exacto knife - this way only the letters would be backed in gold.
The next and final step (other than framing/signing of course) is adding the gold marble paper to cover the open shapes. Cut your gold marble paper to fit behind all of your open shapes. Use your spray adhesive once more on the back of your document and stick your paper on so the gold marble design faces out when you flip the ketubah over.
Lastly, at your ceremony
Provide gold pens for everyone to sign your beautiful ketubah with and pop it in a frame. We also recommend asking your Rabbi to read the text aloud during your ceremony if appropriate. Our ceremony Rabbi chose to do this as a surprise to us and it added that much more meaning and richness to both the Ketubah and our wedding day.
- New Ketubah (gorgeous handmade Ketubahs for purchase as well as a free wonderful DIY kit)
- Modern Ketubah (beautiful Ketubahs for purchase)
To this date, our Ketubah is the only thing we've hung up in our new home thus far. We see it every morning and evening as it's in our bedroom right by the door. Though I certainly had many hiccups creating ours (including 2 rounds of typos after I did the paper cut), I always see this beautifully framed paper and am warmed by all that it represents and reminds us about ourselves and our marriage. And to me, that's probably the best kind of wedding DIY project there is.
[photos: brett & jessica photography]