So you're in love with a goy and you want to get married? Mazel Tov!

Even though one of you isn't Jewish, you would like to raise your children as Jewish, and you've talked about joining a temple someday? Wonderful!

You want a rabbi to officiate at your wedding? Uh-oh.

Interfaith couples who want an unambiguously Jewish wedding often have a hard time finding a rabbi willing to stand up with them. Indeed, it's nearly as hard as finding a rabbi willing to co-officiate at an explicitly interdenominational ceremony.

A small number of rabbis perform intermarriages as hired guns, charging a lot of money just to show up at the wedding. Other rabbis, however, make their decisions on a case-by-case basis, meeting with a couple several times and agreeing to officiate only when they believe there is a real commitment to creating a Jewish home. However, the overwhelming majority of rabbis - from all Jewish denominations - say "No."

It helps to understand why most rabbis refuse to officiate. According to Jewish tradition, the core of the ceremony is the ritual statement made by the groom to the bride; "By this ring, you are consecrated to me according to the laws of Moses and Israel."

It's the "laws of Moses and Israel" part that's problematic; if both parties aren't bound by those laws, the commitment has no legal teeth and the marriage has no Jewish standing. Rabbis who officiate at intermarriages do not include this statement, which is referred to as the harah aht (for the first two Hebrew words.) But most rabbis (and cantors) refuse because, regardless of what is or is not said, their very presence makes it appear that the marriage has Jewish standing.

Over the centuries, the Jewish wedding has incorporated many traditions that are now "standard" and expected. Prayers such as the Sheva Brachot and customs such as breaking the glass, are what make Jewish weddings unique and beautiful. The presence of a rabbi has become traditional as well, but in fact, you can create a beautiful, meaningful wedding that celebrates your love for each other and your authentic commitment to Judaism without a rabbi. It happens every day.

Learn as much as you can about the hows, whys, and wherefores of the Jewish wedding. Talk to rabbis, cantors, and other couples who have had Jewish weddings. Read everything you can get your hands on. Once you have a handle on the tradition, decide what elements are most meaningful to you and make them your own by, for instance, creating an original canopy or chuppah, or writing a non-traditional ketubah or marriage contract. Explain your choices to your families in advance, and to your guests in a wedding booklet that defines Hebrew words and describes customs that may be unfamiliar to them.

Every wedding is a joining of two families as well as of two individuals. Making the ceremony purely Jewish can seem like a rejection of the non-Jewish family, so it's important to make both sides feel cherished and honored.

(Parts extracted from an article by Anita Diamant - a writer who lives in Boston. She is a member of Congregation Beth El of the Sudbury River Valley.)

At least one preliminary meeting is mandatory, where you - as a couple - come and spend an hour with me to discuss your requirements, and where we can get to know each other.

Includes limited personal consultation, unlimited email and telephone consultation to decide exactly what you want in your ceremony, custom ceremony and filing of marriage documents at Home Affairs. I issue a South African Marriage Certificate to you on the day.

Starting at R2200 (Monday - Thursday), R2800 (Friday and Saturday), or R3200 (Sundays and public holidays) + travel (see Booking Form for travel costs).