When a couple makes a decision to marry, they reveal the event with an engagement celebration. In Yiddish this occasion is called a vort, which implies a “word.” At the vort the man and woman traditionally give their “word” and formally dedicate themselves to marry.
There is a tradition to damage a ceramic plate at the vort. This symbolizes the seriousness of their dedication to every other person: Equally as breaking the plate is final, so as well the involvement is final and not effortlessly cancelled.
Damaging the plate likewise tempers the intense joy of the occasion, much like the glass which is broken under the chupah. It reminds us that the Temple is not yet reconstructed.
Usually, the couple’s moms are the ones that break the ceramic plate. They hold the plate together and drop it onto a tough surface. It is very important to wrap the plate well to guarantee that nobody gets hurt from the damaged items. One time I attended a vort where a flying piece from a not well-wrapped plate went into the leg of one of the mothers.
There are some that have a custom of making a necklace for the bride from the pieces of the broken plate. Others offer the busted pieces to qualified single folks at the vort as if saying “may a plate soon be broken for you.” Still others will break the plate at the wedding event just before the chuppa.