Most ketubot are sold online these days, though you can also find them at Judaica shops, museum stores and synagogue gift shops. It’s a good idea to put some time into searching for what you like, as there are so many artists out there, and not all of them are carried by the big online stores. Plus if you order direct from the artist in most cases you’ll get faster and better service, dealing directly with the expert, rather than through a middleman.
The ketubah is one of the few things from your wedding that will actually last beyond the day itself, so it’s not something you want to scrimp on. It will be hanging on the wall in your home for the rest of your lives together! Find a ketubah you both really love. You won’t regret it.
As you look for designs you like, here are some things to look for and think about:
1) Do you like the texts they offer?
2) Can you modify the text, or write your own text?
3) If you do write your own ketubah text, do they offer translation services?
4) Will you be able to speak directly with the artist if you have questions/concerns, or will you have to go through a middleman? (since buying a ketubah usually only happens once a lifetime, most people do have questions!)
5) Does your rabbi/cantor approve of your text choice? (Critical! you don’t want to get to the wedding and find that your rabbi won’t allow you to use your ketubah! It happens…)
6) ..and just as important, does your rabbi/cantor approve of the layout of the ketubah? (Many rabbis will not accept a text that is interlinear, or if the text block is unusually shaped. Don’t assume! Always check!)
7) Do you like the lettering/type on the ketubah? Ketubot all used to be calligraphed by hand, but nowadays more and more ketubah
artists are using type. Just as there are more-skilled and less-skilled calligraphers, there are more-skilled and less-skilled typographers. Does the text look like it’s been pasted onto the ketubah as an “afterthought”? Or does it look well-integrated, an integral *part* of the artwork? If type, does it look like something you could have made yourself in Microsoft Word? Or does it truly look like a work of art? (For example, my typefaces are digitized from my calligraphy, so for the price of type, my clients get the feeling of calligraphy. Or for those who want it, I can still offer calligraphy.)
8) Are you happy with the size of the ketubah? Is the design you like available in different sizes? Remember to allow for the mat and frame, and add several inches to both the height and width when estimating how much space it will take up on your wall.
9) What is the printing method? Is it “lightfast”? Will the ketubah still be bright and vibrant years down the road?
10) What kind of paper is the ketubah printed on? I print my ketubot on Arches 140lb. watercolor paper, the same paper I use to make my original artworks, but some ketubot are printed on lighter weight, flimsy stock, or coated stock. If the ketubah is being filled in by hand, this is *critical*, because calligraphy ink can bleed or blob on coated or cheap papers.
11) Are there additional customization options available? (Many of my ketubah designs have the option of incorporating your names, wedding date, or even photos into the artwork, and there are other artists offering the same.)
12) Will you get to see a proof before the ketubah is personalized and shipped? This is your opportunity to make sure that everything is the way you expect – names spelled correctly, all t’s crossed and i’s dotted.
13) When will the ketubah arrive? Ideally you want it to arrive in plenty of time, so that if anything goes wrong you’ll have time to get another one! (It happens…)
14) How will the ketubah arrive? Most ketubot are shipped rolled in a tube, and you’ll have to flatten it out when you get it, which can take several days. Some artists offer the option of flat shipping, or even matting. (I offer what I can a “Wedding Ready Upgrade”: with the basic upgrade the ketubah comes backed with acid-free fome core, encased in a crystal clear archival sleeve, and includes a signing pen; with the deluxe upgrade the ketubah is also matted, so all you need after the wedding is moulding and glazing.)
15) Are there other custom options? For example, can you change colors, shapes, sizes?
16) What kind of guarantee does the store/artist offer if something goes wrong?
17) What other options are available? The ketubah is such a central part of the ceremony, many of my clients use the design as a visual theme for the wedding, and order coordinating invitations, stationery (place cards, program covers, table tent cards, etc.) and chuppah.
18) After asking all these questions, do you really love the ketubah you found? If so, mazel tov! Check it off your list!
I hope this is helpful! Please email with any questions.