The Sums in the Ketubah

The ketubah deals with three different sums: the basic ketubah, the dowry and the supplement to the ketubah. The basic ketubah is a fixed sum of 200 zuz (the currency in rabbinic times) for a first marriage and 100 zuz for a second marriage. Due to inflation this amounts to a trivial sum today. The woman's dowry consists of the possessions she brought to the marriage (which the husband’s estate would return upon death or divorce). Originally, the dowry was itemized but in order to minimize shame, the sum has been fixed at 100 pieces of pure silver (about $12,000) for a first marriage and half of that for a second marriage. The third sum in the ketubah is the "ketubah supplement" added by the groom to enhance his obligation. The accepted supplement matches the dowry. In some communities an additional supplement is added as well, and this sum is generally a multiple of the number 18 (or chai). The marriage registrar may ask you the amount of the ketubah or he may recommend a sum.