Ketubah FAQ

Click here to read about the ketubah process!


What is a ketubah? A ketubah is a marriage contract according to Jewish law. First encoded in Jewish law around 500 C.E., it was originally a legal contract ensuring the bride’s economic security within the partnership. Over time, couples have broadened this contract into an artistic expression of love and commitment to each other and to Jewish life.


Why is the traditional ketubah text in Aramaic? How is that different from Hebrew? Aramaic was the vernacular in much of the Near East from about 7th century BCE until the 7th century CE, when it was largely replaced by Arabic. Because it was the main written and spoken language at the time and place when the ketubah was originally being formulated, the traditional ketubah text is written in Aramaic. It uses the same alphabet as Hebrew, and many of the words are the same or similar.


What is personalization?If you choose to get personalization, the artist or calligrapher will fill in your information (names, parents’ names, date, location, etc) into the ketubah with their own calligraphy or software. Non-personalized ketubot come with blank spaces for this information; you, your officiant, or someone with good handwriting can fill in the blanks. Almost all of our customers do choose to have the ketubah filled in by the artist.


Can I use a text that I wrote myself?Yes! Many of our artists can accommodate a custom text for no charge or a small fee. Other artists can hand write a custom text in their own calligraphy, which comes with a more significant fee (around $400-$700). If you are interested in using your own text, please reach out to us to discuss your options.


Can I take out or add a word or sentence to my ketubah text?Many of our artists can accommodate small modifications to their texts. If you would like to modify a text that you see on our site, please reach out to us to see if it is possible.


What if I or my parents don’t have a Hebrew name?No problem! Just write their English name and we will transliterate it into Hebrew (spelling the English pronunciation with Hebrew letters phonetically).


What if I want someone else to do the artwork?Several of our artists offer a text-only ketubah, meaning that you will order the full size ketubah with white space around the margins, allowing for someone else to do artwork over it. All of those text-only ketubot can be found under the ketubah theme “Minimalist” in the Ketubot drop down menu.


Can I get a ketubah if I am having a queer marriage?Yes! Almost all of our artists offer specifically queer texts. In addition, Adriana Saipe offers a text in non-binary/gender neutral Hebrew, which is a new innovation with gender neutral Hebrew verb forms. If there is a different text that you like, or an artist that does not offer an explicitly queer text, please reach out to us and we are happy to work with the artists to adapt the text or find one that you love.


Can I get a ketubah if my partner is not Jewish?Yes! Most artists offer a text that is explicitly interfaith, usually with language about two cultures or a diversity of traditions. However, you are welcome to choose any text you’d like.


Can I get a ketubah text if I’m secular/ not observant?Yes! Many artists offer a text without language about divinity or Jewish ritual. Often it will be called Humanist or Secular Humanist or Commitment Vows. In addition, many artists can remove particular sentences if they do not resonate with you.


What is the difference between the Orthodox and Conservative texts?The Conservative text adds what is known as the Lieberman clause to the traditional Aramaic ketubah text. Developed by Talmud scholar Saul Lieberman in the 1950s, this paragraph makes halakhic (Jewish legal) divorce more egalitarian. It stipulates that in the case of civil divorce, a beit din (Jewish court) will adjudicate halakhic divorce, rather than the husband having full control over halakhic divorce. You can view direct translations of each text here. You can get either text in just Aramaic or with the artist’s English interpretation (not the direct translation) of the ketubah text.


What is the question about the bride’s status on the fill-in form?The traditional Aramaic ketubah text contains symbolic instructions on how much money the groom owes the bride in case of death or divorce. This amount differs depending on whether the bride is previously divorced or widowed, has converted to Judaism, or has never been married before. In the ketubah text, the bride’s name will always be preceded by this designation. This is a sensitive question: we encourage you to answer in the way that feels best to you, and to consult your rabbi as well. In recent years, some couples have begun to use the designation “caltah” (כלתא), which simply means “bride” in Aramaic. Please consult with your rabbi if you would like to choose this designation, and let us know in the notes of your online order or at checkout if you are making the order in person.


Can I get the traditional Orthodox or Conservative text if I am not being married by a rabbi?Yes! We are happy to help you through the process of choosing the traditional text, including determining which bridal designation is right for you (see below) and whether you would like the Lieberman Clause or not.


Who signs the ketubah?The only signatures required by Jewish law are two witnesses. There are differing customs on who those people should be; however, traditionally they are adult Jewish non-relatives. Most of our ketubot also have signature lines for the two partners and for the rabbi or officiant.


Can I cancel my ketubah order and get a refund?Once the fill-in form has been submitted and the order has been placed with the artist, the ketubah is non-refundable. Between placing your order and submitting your fill-in form, we will grant a full refund in the event of cancellation.


How far ahead should I order my ketubah? We recommend ordering two to three months in advance. We do have artists who can complete an order in much less time– as little as a few days! To avoid stress and ensure time for a proof, it is best to order ahead.


What pen should I use for signing the ketubah?We recommend a ballpoint pen such as this one, which does not smudge, bleed, or fade. Any other similar style would work well- just don’t use fountain pens or sharpies, which will fade and smear. Some artists send a pen along with their ketubah directly to you. We offer ketubah pens at our store in Brookline and we’re happy to give you a complimentary pen when you purchase a ketubah with us!


Should I get my ketubah framed?It's common to have the ketubah matted before the ceremony making it easier to sign and display. Afterward, bring the matted ketubah back to the framers for framing. If you are local to Boston, we recommend Artful Edge, located in Brookline. If you do not live locally, ask your framer for a “hinge mat” so that the matting for the ceremony can be opened up in order to sign the ketubah.


Is shipping cheaper if I pick my ketubah up at Kolbo?Artists charge the same fee for shipping whether they ship to Kolbo or directly to you, so we highly recommend having it shipped to you. Fees may apply for international shipping.


How does my ketubah ship?Most ketubot ship rolled up in a tube, and the framer can flatten it.


Do I have to come into the store?No—you can complete your ketubah order from start to finish online or over the phone. However, we do recommend coming into the store if you are able, so that you can see the beautiful samples of the ketubah designs in person.


What difference does it make to get my ketubah at Kolbo versus on and other websites?At Kolbo we are happy to personally help you through the whole ketubah process, from choosing a text to figuring out how to frame and sign the ketubah, and at every step of the way a real live human being can help with any specific needs or questions you might have. This can also include coming into our store in Brookline, Massachusetts to view the beautiful samples of ketubot. While you can certainly complete the entire process online or over the phone, viewing the ketubot in the store is a wonderful way to get a real sense of each piece of art, as well as to consult with one of our knowledgeable staff members in person. We are grateful for your support for our small business and excited to work with you!
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