A Ketuvah (or marriage document) is a legal document given by a husband to his wife during the marriage ceremony under the Chuppah, i.e. the bridal canopy.
Since a Ketuvah is a legal document committing the husband both financially and personally, it must be written and agreed on beforehand by the two sides, and subsequently signed by two eligible witnesses. Then it is read out under the Chuppah, usually by a Rabbi or relative, after which it is given by the groom to the bride.
A couple is not allowed to live together without a Ketuvah, and so it must be kept safe throughout the marriage, and has to be replaced if it gets lost, destroyed, or even if the writing simply fades away. For this reason, Sephardim are accustomed to leave their Ketuvah with the bride’s mother for safekeeping, and a signed copy in also submitted to the Israeli Rabbinate for marriages conducted in Israel.
Orthodox Ketuvot are invariably written in Aramaic.
Although the terminology used by various communities is very similar, there can be differences depending on several factors, such as a community’s customs, whether this is a first or second marriage, and suchlike.
For instance, Ashkenazim are accustomed to simply write 100 or 200 Zuz, an ancient Babylonian currency, in the Ketuvah, whereas the Sephardic custom is to cite an additional monetary sum in the national currency. However, the groom always commits himself therein to honor, feed and support his wife.
A Ketuvah also grants a lien to the wife on any real estate and other property belonging to the groom, which can be claimed against in cases of divorce. A husband, though, is entitled to benefit from any property that his wife owns or gets from her father, although she retains ownership.
One should consult with the officiating Rabbi about the terminology he requires in each case. The officiating Rabbi should also be consulted about whether he is particular about anything else.
Apart from that, though, Judaism is not particular about design or artwork used in a Ketuvah, and we have many designs for you to choose from.
It is debateable whether a Ketuvah is required by the Torah, or whether that is only required by the Torah for a virgin bride, whereas divorced and other women are required by Rabbinical decree to have a Ketuvah, so that a husband will think twice before divorcing his wife. Were it to be cheap and easy to get divorced, a woman would not feel secure, and she would be constantly worried about divorce.