Linzer double ring ceremony
The traditional wedding ceremony is largely geared towards the husband and officiant; the bride's role is minimal. All she needs to do is silently accept the ring. Various alterations have been made to the ceremony to try and minimise this discrepancy - Rabbi Dov Linzer published an article dealing with such alterations, Towards a More Balanced Wedding Ceremony from an Orthodox standpoint, in the JOFA journal of summer 2003.
In particular, the following allows for an elegant double ring ceremony:
The practice in Sephardic communities and in Jerusalem is for the groom to assume his ketubah obligations under the chuppah, immediately following the kiddushin. This obligation is assumed through an act of kinyan, classically performed by the groom taking an object (often a handkerchief or a pen) from the officiating rabbi in the presence of witnesses. However, since the groom is obligating himself to the bride, it is actually more appropriate that the bride, and not the rabbi, give him the object. This object can be a ring.
This is how such a ceremony would look: Immediately after the kiddushin, the witnesses are called, and it is explained that they are to witness the bride giving a ring to the chatan, upon receipt of which the chatan will undertake his ketubah obligations to the bride. The bride then gives a ring to the groom, stating תקבל טבעת זו ותתחייב לי בכל חיובי כתובה כדת משה וישראל, ”Accept this ring and obligate yourself to me with all the ketubah obligations, according to the law of Moses and Israel.“ The groom accepts the ring, and the witnesses sign the ketubah.
You may also be interested in another excerpt from the same article, dealing with the actual content of the ketubah:
In regards to the ketubah text there are more issues. In Ashkenazic communities, the ketubah is more of a ritual object than an actual contract, and its text is considered relatively fixed. In Sephardic communities, the ketubah is a living document whose text has evolved over the years and is more fluid. While it is important not to overly alter the ketubah text, some minor adjustments can be made without difficulty.
- Use of mother’s names following father’s name (e.g., יעקב בן יצחק ורבקה). This is a more precise identification, and is no different than the use of family names.
- דהנעלת לה מבי אבוה, ”property that she brings in from her father’s house“ can be replaced with דהנעלת לה מבי אבוה ואמה, (that she brings in from her father’s and mother’s house), דהנעלת לה מדנשפה (that she brings in of her own), or with דהנעלת לה(that she brings in), as appropriate. This is already the practice in Sephardic ketubot.
- בתולתא, "virgin". It is currently the practice to use this description for the woman’s first wedding, regardless of her personal status. This description is not essential and may be either be totally eliminated, or replaced with a generic phrase such as לכלה היקרה (to the dear bride).
Beyond these minor adjustments, there is the possibility of adding additional stipulations prior to the phrase וכן אמר יעקב בן יציק, as is the practice in Sephardic communities. The groom can insert a statement that he will not take a second wife or divorce his wife against her will, in accordance with the ban of Rabbeinu Gershom, with language such as: עוד מתחייב לה שלא ישא ולא יקדש שום אשה אחרת עליה כחרם רגמ"ה. This space can also be used to insert phrases of mutual love, support, and commitment. Of course, any new language needs to be carefully reviewed by a competent halakhic authority.
For couples who are disturbed by the unequal nature of the financial obligations in the ketubah additional modifications are possible. For its time, the ketubah was quite progressive, ensuring that the wife was treated as a person and was provided for during and after the marriage. The Rabbis, through the ketubah obligated the husband to pay specific sums if he divorced (or predeceased) her, thus ensuring that a husband did not treat his wife as property, to be disposed of at will. The ketubah also protected the wife’s interests by requiring the husband to provide her with lodging, clothes and food, in exchange for which he is entitled to her earnings. However, these ongoing obligations may be modified, and a marriage contract that speaks of shared earnings and shared financial responsibilities is indeed possible within halakha.
The halakha states that since the husband’s obligations were instituted for the benefit of the woman, the woman is entitled to waive them. If they are waived, the wife would be entitled to her own earnings, and be financially responsible only to herself, and the same would obtain for the husband. They could both then obligate themselves to share their earnings and to share the financial obligations of the household. These stipulations are currently being implemented in Israel, in the context of an external rider to the ketubah with the approval of recognized poskim (religious authorities). For the sake of preserving the standard ketubah text, especially in regards to its basic financial obligations, these stipulations are not being inserted into the ketubah text itself. Couples wishing to use such a rider need to review the issue closely with a competent halakhist.