Smashing The Glass was created by Karen Cinnamon, a London digital & branding designer. SmashingTheGlass.com aims to bring couples who are keen to make their wedding stand out from the cookie cutter crowd, a wealth of ideas through creative and innovative content, the best “real Jewish wedding” eye candy and access to the most desirable (and certainly not always kosher!*) wedding vendors.
Today’s Jewish bride has got one of the most incredible wedding dress stories we’ve encountered yet. Her gorgeous vintage gown was worn not only by her mother, but by her grandmother and aunt too.. I mean WOW!
It’s hard to believe that Alana’s dress dates all the way back to 1949 (!) – but with some modifications, which the dress’s previous wearers kindly permitted, it’s the perfect blend of contemporary and vintage, and just the thing for an outdoor winery wedding. You’ve got to check out all the lovely details in Nightingale Photography’s pics.
Alana, a customer success manager, and Ben, a landscape architect, initially planned on renting their synagogue’s chuppah, but it turned out it was broken and out of commission! This setback turned out to be a blessing in disguise, since it prompted Ben to build one from scratch – and it turned out just tremendously. We love the modern design, and those flowers in the corners? Perfection!
Now over to Alana for the rest of their gorgeous Jewish wedding story…
We got married at Wente Vineyards in Livermore, CA. We were looking for a winery and once we toured Wente, we loved the outdoor space and the food was fantastic!
A Laid-Back Day
We didn’t have a wedding planner apart from the venue coordinator. The colors were centered around light pink/blush and off-white to match my vintage dress. We didn’t choose a particular theme but wanted to embrace the outdoor winery setting and not make anything too formal.
An Heirloom Dress
I wore my maternal grandmother’s dress from 1949. It is very meaningful as my grandmother, mother, and aunt were all married in the same dress! I was lucky that they let me modify it a bit. We took in the waist, removed the long satin sleeves (too hot for an August wedding!), added beading on the top, and added a v-neck in the back. However, I think the dress is still very similar as we kept the skirt, lace detail, and most of the structure. I was so lucky that our seamstress was amazing; once I put on the dress for the wedding day I felt incredible and the fit was perfect!
I wore earrings (pearl and gold) that my mother had purchased many years ago in Florence, Italy. I also wore an art-deco bracelet of emerald and diamond that belonged to my maternal grandmother. My hair piece with flowers on it was purchased from our seamstress, as well as the veil – they matched the dress so perfectly!
Ben built our chuppah from scratch. I had called the synagogue to rent theirs, and it was broken! We thought about renting elsewhere, but all the rentals were very expensive. Ben did an amazing job putting together the wood, staining it, and adding a spot to place the flowers. I was very impressed!
A Meaningful Ceremony
My favorite part of the ceremony was our personal vows. I also loved that we both did 3 circles around each other and one together, instead of the bride doing 7 circles around the groom.
We loved including popular Persian songs for Ben’s family (all Persian). There is a great tradition, where you play a specific Persian song and everyone throws flower petals at the bride and groom. It was so much fun!
Bringing the Rabbi Out of Retirement
We were lucky to have Rabbi Chester agree to officiate our ceremony even though he is retired. I used to attend the synagogue where he was the senior rabbi, and we loved how he included personal tidbits about us as a couple in the ceremony, and made it feel unique and special, while incorporating all the normal Jewish traditions.
Advice to couples currently planning their wedding
As soon as I handed off the wedding binder to our venue’s coordinator, I felt I could finally relax! I was confident they would execute the details perfectly. I was able to enjoy a full Saturday wine tasting with family before the wedding on Sunday.
According to CNN, the average cost of Manhattan wedding is nearly $80,000 (!!!!!!!!!), and even outside Manhattan averages hover around $60,000. Obviously that’s driven up by the small-ish number of ultra- mega- super-luxe weddings the city sees each year, but still. That’s more than a lot of us make in a year. Yikes.
The good news is that you don’t have to break the bank if you want (or need) to get married within the confines of the Big Apple. Especially if you’re willing to have a smaller wedding and/or to compromise on time of year or day of week, there are a surprising number of appealing options for brides and grooms on a budget. From industrial chic to urban glam to how-are-we-not-out-in-the-country, you can still have the wedding style you want.
As with all things in the city, affordability is relative, and many of these venues might still leave those of you from less expensive parts of the country (or world!) with some serious sticker shock. A wedding – anywhere, but especially in a city like New York – is a big investment; there’s no way around that (well, short of eloping!). A few of these are truly mindblowingly cheap by city standards, while others are more, shall we say, mid-tier in price. Let’s get started.
This industrial warehouse venue in Brooklyn’s trendy Gowanus neighborhood embodies urban chic. Built in 1889 as a brass foundry, the space has exposed brick walls and fantastic natural light. It’s a space that’s super customizable, whether you want to fill it with handmade DIY touches like Sarit and Ari or go a little glitzier like Danya and Andrew. There’s a great outdoor area, too, if you’re hoping for an open-air chuppah. With a capacity of 160 for a sit-down event, it’s also pretty spacious – by NYC standards, anyway!
Located in Manhattan’s swoon-worthy West Village, Ramscale stands out for its rooftop terrace with incredible views of Manhattan and the Hudson River. Inside, it’s a bright, clean, contemporary studio space, with the perfect big-city wedding vibes. Check out Aliza and Nate’s stunning outdoor chuppah – views don’t get much better than that!
Dumbo Loft is a terrific raw space for the couple who wants to put their own aesthetic stamp on their day, like Maggie and Jeff did. It can hold 140 seated guests, which is a welcome departure from the norm for affordable NYC venues, which tend to be on the smaller side. And its location in a great Brooklyn neighborhood, just steps from the Brooklyn Bridge, is hard to beat – just think of those photo ops against the backdrop of the Manhattan skyline!
If you’re looking for an unconventional spot for a vintage chic celebration that feels more like a super cool Brooklyn house party than a conventional wedding, check out this Williamsburg spot. It’s all exposed white brick and rustic wooden floors, with vintage furniture and even a grand piano thrown in as a bonus! There’s also a rooftop you could use for an outdoor ceremony.
I know this list has been heavy on the warehouses and lofts so far. But what if you’re looking for more old-fashioned charm and less big city grit? The Boathouse at Prospect Park to the rescue! This stunning venue in the middle of Brooklyn’s sprawling Prospect Park is a city venue that doesn’t feel like one. Dating to 1905, the boathouse itself is a super glam Beaux Arts-style building, plus it’s surprisingly serene, nestled into one of the city’s most beautiful parks as it is.
One of the most affordable venues on my list, this dignified brick building dating back to the ’20s sits in the middle of Columbia University’s distinguished Morningside Heights campus. It’s also one of the larger venues, accommodating up to 250 seated guests–a rarity in Manhattan. The fourth floor space has fantastic views over Manhattan, and the staff gets consistently stellar reviews for their attentiveness and willingness to work with each couple’s preferences and budget restrictions, too.
This sweet DIY venue just exudes rural charm. Even though it’s in the city, this spot is all country at hear. How country, exactly? The farm offers hayrides and animal feeding as activities for your guests. Um, yes please! The downside: it’s pretty far out in Queens, and though it is reachable by public transportation this venue is not nearly as easy to get to as most of the others on this list. Still, if you’re going for that barn wedding aesthetic on a budget but need or want to stay in the city, this is as good as it gets.
This blank slate gallery space in Long Island City, Queens, is the rare venue that allows you to book ready-made packages or bring in your own vendors, depending on your preferences. With exposed brick and high ceilings, the warehouse-esque venue is perfect for an artsy urban wedding, as well as being one of the more affordable options on this list.
The Foundry, one of NYC’s most in-demand industrial chic venues, doesn’t quite meet the threshold to be counted as an affordable option–not in my book, anyway! The good news is that for those of you planning an intimate wedding, it’s now possible to book the Albra Room, a newly available space on the Long Island City premises; since the Albra only holds 70 guests, it won’t set you back nearly as far as the full Foundry.
The only venue in the oft-neglected fifth borough of Staten Island to make this list, Greenbelt Conservancy is yet another great option if you want to feel like you’re out in nature without leaving the city. A not-for-profit that sustains NYC’s largest forest preserve, There are a couple of indoor spaces to choose from, in addition to a lovely stone patio area, and you can even compost your food waste afterward!
Are you planning an NYC wedding on a budget, or have you in the past? If so, we’d love to hear where you held it in the comments – as well as any other tips and tricks on saving money while throwing a wedding in one of the world’s most expensive cities!
We are ALL about bride Ashleigh’s ultra-romantic Needle & Thread dress today. That floral beading! So. Much. Pretty.
Ashleigh knew she wanted something low-key yet beautiful, and we’d say that’s a spot-on description of the style of her laid-back Jewish wedding to Brett.
If you’re in the market for a vintage-inspired dress, Needle & Thread is absolutely worth a look. They’ve got some fantastic, stand-out options for brides on a budget, and they also offer some fab styles for brides on the hunt for that ever-elusive modest wedding gown – check out Smashing the Glass Recommended Vendor Jeremy Blode’s many fab shots highlighting all the lovely detailing for evidence of this!
And aren’t Jeremy Blode’s images divine? Everything he seems to snap up just turns into wedding gold, and you’ll see precisely what I mean when you take a peek at the pretty below.
Ashleigh, an aspiring psychologist working as a program coordinator in the nonprofit sector, and Brett, a doctor, were set on holding their chuppah outside in nature, in their local park – so much so that they went through with their original plans even after an unexpected downpour the morning of the wedding! Love that dedication, guys! Now over to lovely Ash, who’ll fill you in on the rest…
How we met
Ashley, the bride: We met at a family friend’s bar-mitzvah when Ash was 15 and Brett was 17. We were seated on the same table and ended up in a competition on who would appear on the slideshow the most – Brett won.
An Outdoor Chuppah
The chuppah was at our local park – Spring Road Park in Malvern. We wanted to get married outside in nature. So much so that we decided to get married in the park after it was pouring with rain in the morning!
The reception was at Leonda by the Yarra. Initially we wanted to have our reception outside, but anyone who knows Melbourne knows that weather is very unpredictable. Our option B was that we wanted a space that was simple that fitted lots of guests. Leonda was perfect for that.
Hair + Makeup
My philosophy in the hair/makeup department was that I just wanted to look like myself. I wore my hair loose and wore natural mineral-based makeup because that’s how I felt most comfortable.
My dress was made by Needle & Thread – I actually found it online. I was not sure about what sort of dress I wanted to wear. All I knew is that I did not want a big overwhelming dress. I wanted something low-key but also beautiful. Initially when I opened the box and put on the dress I was not sure it was “the one.” I kept trying it on pretty much every day before the 14-day return policy was over. On the 13th day I decided that I would keep it.
My bridesmaids were my sister (aged 12) and Brett’s sister (in her 20s). Considering the age difference, wearing the same dress wasn’t really an option. I asked them both to wear neutral colors. They looked gorgeous.
A Handmade Chuppah
Brett decided that he wanted to build our chuppah! We went for an earthy look with wooden poles, and the top of the chuppah was made from white material that he bought from Lincraft.
An Emotional Ceremony
My favorite part of the ceremony was definitely the badeken. We had not seen each other for seven days. The moment Brett walked through the door was surreal. I was sitting next to my mother and my mother-in-law, surrounded by my grandmothers and all of my family and friends, looking at the man I was about to marry.
The special touches come from the people that were surrounding us – our family and friends each bringing their unique touch into our wedding.
A Garden of Eden Ketubah
We had our ketubah designed by a local artist – Ryan Abromovitz from Today Tomorrow Forever. The theme was “Garden of Eden,” so he designed the background as a garden, with a beautiful peacock at the front.
Our fabulous photographer
We went with Jeremy Blode – we loved his natural photographic style. He was easy to work with and made our day that much easier. Jeremy and Rachel were very personable and we loved how much they cared throughout the day and throughout the process leading up to the wedding. Plus, we loved the final photos!
A Live Band
Brett’s best friend is the manager of a band, and they also happen to be the best band in Melbourne! They are called Isaiah. They do a really good mix of Jewish and secular music!
Our special memories of the wedding come from the small moments that maybe others didn’t realize. For example, my dad was so excited when the rabbi married us, he ended up kissing us on the cheek before we had a chance to have that long-awaited hug!
We also have memories of the huge energy that was in the room the entire night. As a wedding gift we left the venue on a boat on the Yarra River. As we were leaving all our friends and family danced us to the boat. That was awesome!
Advice to couples currently planning their wedding
From Brett: The people make the wedding, and if you love your bride the wedding will be good because you won’t be distracted by the unimportant things.
From Ash: At the end of the day your wedding is about you and your partner deciding to spend the rest of your life together. It is really easy to forget that in the midst of planning and organizing. If this is kept in mind – compromising on the small details won’t seem like such a big deal.
Harlie will be marrying Ben on 19th August 2018 at the Landmark Hotel, London, UK. Click here to read all Harlie’s planning posts to date.
THREE FACTS: Harlie met Ben on an ‘Aish’ trip to Israel during their university years (2) They will be bringing in lots of Spanish influences into their London wedding, for a variety of reasons, not least because that that’s where they got engaged! (3) They will be having a fairly traditional orthodox London wedding, but are including lots of modern twists.
A lone and eventful journey!
Unlike some girls, I never dreamt about my fantasy wedding when I was younger, and I certainly never thought about my dream wedding dress. Even when I got engaged, I still had no idea what sort of wedding dress I would choose as I couldn’t even imagine myself wearing one. Never did I imagine that finding my dress would be the most stressful part of wedding planning, or that it would lead me on a very long and eventful journey!
The engagement party was over and the venue was booked, so I set off on my quest to find ‘the one’ (which took just 13 appointments, over 70 dresses and 4 months of searching). I started to gather some ideas on a Pinterest board with my bridesmaids, with a relatively clear idea in mind of what I thought I wanted.
My mum booked a few appointments at some bridal boutiques that she had been recommended, which seemed like a good place to start as it meant I was not limited to just one designer.
Originally, I was looking for quite a particular style: a tightly fitted fishtail shape with a low back and spaghetti straps. The first dress I tried on at The Bride was exactly this; it was a beautiful Suzanne Neville dress in a delicate lace with buttons down the back.
To try on something different, a classic princess-style Sassi Holford gown followed, then an understated, vintage-esque Jenny Packham. I really thought that the first dress was the one for me as it fitted my very fixed brief, but my mum didn’t want me to settle for the first dress I tried – I can only thank you now, mum!
I continued my search with a few other boutiques, and unfortunately, dress after dress wasn’t right. I just wasn’t getting that feeling that all brides refer to, when “you just know when its your dress”.
So I widened my relatively precise specifications, listening to my mum’s advice as she revealed to me how she always imagined me coming down the aisle in a ‘princess style’ gown. I was pretty adamant though that I didn’t want to fulfil her dreams of me looking like a walking marshmallow!
After some more experimenting, I soon came to realise that my dress simply had to have certain features (if you’re reading Ben, stop right here!): spaghetti straps, a low back with buttons, small waist, full skirt and floral lace – simple enough, right?
Unfortunately, this was not so easy, as you may have realised you are reading the blog of a rather fussy bride. My mum and I found faults in every dress I tried: the skirt was too full, the fit wasn’t right, the shape was wrong, the fabric was too plain, too fussy… it seemed as though it was neverending! I started to really doubt myself, that I was simply being over-particular.
When I loved a dress, my mum didn’t, and vice versa. I even considered having a dress made from scratch, but it made me nervous that I would not see the finished product until only a few weeks before the wedding.
Now that I knew exactly what shape worked best for me, all I had to do was actually find the dress! I was torn between classic, timeless elegance or young, modern and striking, but swaying towards the latter. Israeli designers are perfectly characterised by these styles, and I found myself trawling through the collections of Berta, Galia Lahav, Nurit Hen, Liz Martinez and Riki Dalal, to name a few, in awe at each and every gown I saw.
My next visit was to the absolutely breathtaking boutique Halo & Wren, a stockist of Riki Dalal, which was one of the Israeli designers I had singled out for their exquisite details and fair price in comparison to the steep cost of the other designers mentioned above. I fell in love with one of their ready to wear dresses from their NOYA range named ‘Juliet’ – it was ethereal, floaty and princess-like, with floral fabrics and stunning 3D detailing.
But surprise surprise, something was holding me back. Unfortunately it had a slightly impractical bardot sleeve and a train made with layers of fabric too difficult to bustle – not exactly conducive to a Jewish wedding with a crazy hora!
Time was running out. Every designer had given me an absolute minimum of 6 months to order my dress and I was still none the wiser. I had just returned from a 2 week holiday and the boutiques and designers of all the dresses I had shortlisted as ‘maybes’ were putting pressure on me to place an order.
I decided to book an appointment at Riki Dalal’s flagship store in London so I could try the full collection. Their use of crazy laces and other funky fabrics won me over, and it was that I found ‘the one’! Well… almost. With a bride as indecisive as me, nothing is straightforward.
One particular dress from the couture range stood out to me, with a gliding, ruffled train and a deep illusion back smothered in 3D floral details. As it was made to measure, it meant I had some freedom to make adaptations to fit my increasingly specific brief. I was so set on having a dress made by an Israeli designer, and it became somewhat an obsession! I spent a further two appointments here in effect re-designing the dress, and it was agreed that a sketch artist would send through a final impression of the design once a deposit had been paid.
This threw me off slightly as again, I wouldn’t know what I was getting until money had been put down. The addition of a January discount offer added another element into the mix, and in haste (with only two days left in the month of January) the deposit was paid on visit number 3.
“Why don’t I feel excited about this dress?” was a question I kept asking myself, my mum and my bridesmaids in the next few days. Surely I should be thrilled that I have ordered the dress in which I’ll be walking down the aisle?! Trying to separate out my thoughts, I felt some sort of weird regret that I had chosen to be this modern, fashionable bride who wanted to make a real statement in her dress, rather than just trying to be ‘me’.
“Mum, I’ve made a big mistake! I think I’ve chosen the wrong dress…” is ideally not something a mother wants to hear 6 months before her daughter’s wedding, when she thought they had finally ticked this job off the list. I followed my heart, as well as lots of “I told you so’s” from my mum who so desperately wanted to see me in classic, feminine wedding dress, and decided to make 2 final appointments (for real this time, I swear).
The Caroline Castigliano experience
Laying in bed late one Thursday evening, feeling defeated and ready to give up as the fabrics were due to be ordered for my dress 5 days later, I took a leap of faith and submitted an appointment request for that Saturday to visit a designer whose dresses I hadn’t yet tried at all – Caroline Castigliano.
My sister-in-law wore one of Caroline’s dresses at her wedding a few years ago, but for some reason I never really thought to go there. I had a phone call the next morning from the store informing me there had been a cancellation for the following afternoon – this took me by surprise and I started to think that maybe it was meant to be?
I cancelled my plans and stepped into Caroline’s slice of bridal heaven for my consultation. I felt so excited going through the perfect rows of dresses. By a stroke of luck, it was Caroline herself who took my consultation appointment – something I’ve been told doesn’t usually happen – and by this point I was well and truly invested, and it felt too good to be true.
All I will say now is that my mum cried for the first time seeing me in one of the dresses, so I definitely knew this was the one and experienced that ‘feeling’ that all the other brides talk about. Luckily, I was able to cancel my original order and they were totally understanding. I got there in the end!
My first fitting at Caroline Castigliano is in a couple of weeks and I could not be more excited to see the finished design!
To go with my beautiful dress, I have opted for unfussy accessories: an ivory Jimmy Choo bridal shoe, and a simple, sleek veil with a satin edge.
All of my jewellery is being made by my dad, owner of Seaess Designs. I am VERY lucky, as I have been able to design with him each and every piece of bespoke jewellery for the wedding! How many brides can say they have designed their wedding jewellery with their dad?! My engagement ring is a stunning oval cut diamond on a plain rose gold band, so I am continuing the rose gold theme through with my other jewellery – a half eternity wedding band, a bracelet my dad made for my batmitzvah, and pearl drop necklace and earrings.
He is also making Ben a pair of cufflinks (that I helped to design), and also his wedding band, in rose gold to match mine. I can’t wait to see and show off his stunning creations.
My tips to other brides planning their outfit
I have learnt a few useful things along the way, which I hope will help other brides:
Have a game plan! Have a think about what you may want, but don’t eliminate anything, as you may realise you end up with something totally different from what you imagined
Go to a few boutiques to start with, which will help you to find designers or styles that you like. You’ll quickly be able eliminate many shapes and styles, even some that you originally thought you’d suit. Also, many well known designer flagships charge for appointments, so there is no point paying anywhere between £25-50 per appointment if you aren’t sure you’ll like the dresses
Once you’ve tried on a few dresses and designers and you have more of an idea of your style and the kind of bride you want to be, I would then suggest making a few appointments at the flagship stores – this is because boutiques don’t always stock a particular designer’s entire collection
Listen to your mum – at the end of the day, she knows best!
Lastly, be true to your style and don’t try and be something that you are not
Okay, how much do we love Natasha and Tal’s wisteria chuppah?! SO romantic, and yet somehow also understated, since the couple kept everything else about the structure super simple. What a great reminder that you don’t necessarily have to go all out and do something super dramatic and involved to have a beautiful, memorable chuppah at your Jewish wedding.
There’s so much more that was beautiful and memorable about this day, too – you’ve got to check out Smashing the Glass Recommended Vendor David Pullum’s photos of all the action. But if you just see one, make sure it’s the pic where Natasha’s being tossed six feet in the air (!) on a tablecloth – scroll a bit, and you won’t miss it. It’s pretty dramatic, and we’re not even a little surprised that guests are still talking about it.
From that photo alone, you can probably guess that Natasha and Tal had a pretty rockin’ party. That was partly thanks to Smashing the Glass Recommended Vendor The Function Band, who the couple describe as “truly show-stopping.” They made sure the dance floor was packed all night, and guests are still remarking on their fantastic performance.
Now we’ll turn you over to Natasha, who looked stunning in her Mori Lee dress…
A London Venue
Natasha, the bride: We got married at St Pancras Renaissance. We were struggling to find a venue that we agreed on. We walked up to the front of the venue and were instantly wowed. We walked around imaging the photographs and knew it was going to be the one.
A Personalized Day
We planned everything ourselves. We wanted to make it as personal as we could without being overly different and out there. We felt like it suited us and most importantly it was the atmosphere that was created on the day that made it about us.
Hair + Makeup
Sahar did my make up. She was a dream, she kept the atmosphere peaceful and relaxing, and she really listened to me when I said I wanted to be natural and glowing. It lasted the whole evening too (even though we had 28 degrees and some crazy Israeli dancing).
My hair stylist, Georgina, has done my hair so many times now. I feel like she just gets me and again kept everything so calm and relaxed. I showed her one picture at a trial, it worked and that was that. The hair also stayed in place the whole evening!
A Mori Lee Dress
It was from Mia Sposa in Cockfosters. The designer was Mori Lee. I really struggled to find anything I liked but after scouring the internet I found the Mori Lee designs. I knew that I was going to love one of them and I was right. I knew it was the one when I saw the look on my mum and sister’s faces.
A Double Veil
I kept my hair very “me.” I didn’t want a fancy undo and wanted to feel comfortable. My veil was my favorite part; it was two veils (long and short) put together. It was so beautiful and complemented the dress perfectly.
I wore Converse! It was the best decision I made – they were sparkly and I was comfortable for the whole day. No one even saw my shoes apart from when I was thrown up in the air!
The handsome groom
He wore a Reiss tailored suit in navy. It suited him perfectly. The matching tie and pocket square and the cufflinks that I had bought him for our anniversary a couple of months before all made the whole outfit.
Flower Girls and Page Boys
I had two adult bridesmaid who wore dessy dresses. I really did not want them to be uncomfortable so took them separately to the dress shop so they didn’t feel they needed to match. My sister (maid of honor) looked so elegant and my bridesmaid (the groom’s sister) looked beautiful. We also had 3 flower girls in John Lewis dresses and Converse; they looked gorgeous. And our three page boys, my nephew, g-dson, and best family friend’s son, looked so handsome. They wore River Island suits and Converse. I was so blessed to have such a great bridal party.
A Wisteria Chuppah
We wanted something simple but us. We didn’t decide the final design until about a month before with our florist. We had the structure booked for months. In the end we loved the romantic effect the wisteria gave, and the little touch of my dad’s tallit being laid across the top that only we could see was perfect.
A Personal Ceremony
Both our older siblings, Alexander and Ayelet, read the Sheva Brachot under the chuppah. It was so special and really made it a personal ceremony. The rabbi we both know personally, and he set the perfect relaxed atmosphere (our main priority).
Have a Little Faith in Me
Our procession was Perfect by Ed Sheeran, followed by Boi Kala when the bride entered. It was so perfect and personal, our band were truly amazing and we couldn’t have wished for better. We smashed the glass and Stevie Wonder – Signed, Sealed, Delivered started to play. It was so appropriate because both our families love Stevie Wonder.
We wanted romantic flowers. The bouquets were delicate roses and greenery, which matched the button holes. Our table centers were a mixture of blossom trees and rose bouquets. They were beautiful and suited the height of our room. Amie Bone did our flowers and was the only florist that truly listened to us. She is so passionate and did exactly what she promised.
Our fabulous Photographer
David Pullum and his associate Kabz were our photographers. Both of them were a dream to work with. We knew David was the one; we originally had someone else booked but we didn’t feel comfortable. David came to meet us and was very humble. His work is beautiful and when we said we want someone to capture and document our day he did exactly that.
I never felt over photographed or like he was in the way. He felt like a guest at our wedding, someone who really enjoyed the day with us. We truly were lucky to find David; we found him through a photo one of our friends posted on Facebook and knew we would love his work instantly.
There’s one picture that I think I have been sent by the majority of our guests. It’s me being thrown up on the table cloth. There was some sort of miscommunication between the boys and my sister-in-law, but one second I was on two feet and the next six feet in the air. It was truly amazing and something that people talk about all the time.
Our video was done by a close friend and is going to be edited by another close friend. We are so lucky that so many people wanted to be part of our day!
A Fab Band
The Function Band were truly show stopping. From the second they started to perform in the chuppah room to the final dance, their feet did not come off the gas. They made every second of the night memorable, and people have not stopped speaking about them. We had a link with them through family, but their passion and dedication oozes out of them. It was such a pleasure to work with them.
Late Night Snacks
We did cookies and schwarma at the end of the evening. People were so pleased to see more food!
Advice to couples currently planning their wedding
The advice I got was to stand back for 5 minutes and absorb everything that was going on. I did that and it is my clearest memory of the evening.
We always love hearing from couples who’ve used Smashing The Glass as a wedding planning resource, and today is no exception. Beautiful bride Kiki reports that she loved STG for the real wedding inspo and vendor suggestions, and especially the Jewish 101 sections, which she found super helpful in planning her Jew-ish ceremony. Aw, thanks Kiki!
It was important to Kiki and Rob to plan an inclusive Jew-ish wedding that would be equally welcoming to Rob’s family, who are Jewish, and Kiki’s, who are not. They found the perfect spot in the historic Sixth & I Synagogue in their hometown of Washington, DC – you’ve got to check out the gorgeous photos from Ryan Hicks of Lily & Lime – with the reception nearby at Loft at 600 F, another cool historic building, just the thing for a modern vintage-themed wedding!
Also perfect for the modern vintage aesthetic? Kiki’s stunner of a gown by Eddy K, a strapless lace low-backed number with a dramatic train.
But the visuals are far from the only thing we’re loving about this wedding. Kiki and Rob incorporated all kinds of personal touches into the day. Our favorite: before the wedding, their rabbi had them each write ten things they love about each other and email it to him. Then, on the day, before the seven blessings, he talked about the pair as a couple and mentioned the things they had said about each other. Isn’t that the sweetest?!
Before we hand things over to Kiki, we’ve got to mention that we’re so pleased we were able to help guide Kiki and Rob toward Smashing the Glass Recommended Vendor Ink with Intent for just the right ketubah. In Kiki’s words, working with them was “nothing short of amazing,” with customer service that went above and beyond.
How we met
Kiki, the bride: We met when I started working at George Washington University in fall of 2013 and became friends first through lots of happy hours with coworkers and mutual friends. He now works at NIH in research imaging and I work at GWU assisting in patient care. We started dating that December, and got engaged while on vacation in Florida in December 2016 on the beach at sunrise.
A DC Wedding
We got married at the historic Sixth & I Synagogue in Washington, DC. Rob is Jewish and I am not, so initially we wanted a space that would be equally welcoming to both families. We fell in love with our reception location first and went on the hunt for our ceremony space. We wanted something close and meaningful and I remembered that Sixth & I was close by.
I had been to Sixth & I a couple years ago for a talk with Andy Cohen and Wolf Blitzer with a girlfriend and remembered how much I loved the space and the stained glass, so I made us an appointment to tour so Rob could see it as well. He fell in love and we booked them for the ceremony and ketubah signing.
The reception was held at Loft at 600 F which was only a couple blocks away – open loft space with brick interior, gorgeous!
I was born and raised in Southern California and Rob in New Jersey, and we met and fell in love in DC. Initially, we wanted to travel for the wedding, but we love DC, love the architecture and history and all the things you can do, so we decided to have everyone come to us. We had a somewhat modern-vintage vibe for the wedding – both the ceremony and reception locations are historical buildings, my engagement ring is 1930s vintage with his mother’s engagement stone in the center, and he was going to use his grandfather’s wedding band that had “Our love is everlasting” engraved in Hebrew around the outside.
The colors were light and springy – muted mint, shades of peach, creams and gold. I planned most of the wedding myself but toward the last few months between school and work I felt like I was going crazy and had no time to stay on top of emails with the vendors. So I found Nicole of Sirpilla Soiree, my awesome planner, who helped me organize my last month and the day of the wedding.
I love all the weddings showcased on Smashing The Glass and links to other vendors. I also relied a lot on the “Jewish 101” sections to help educate myself for the wedding.
Hair + Makeup
To keep it simple and local, for hair we went to the DryBar that was a couple blocks from the hotel where we were getting ready. I had done a makeup trial the month before at the Sephora near the hotel and got lucky enough to find Carina Hernandez! She did my trial and I asked if she would be able to do it on the day of the wedding and she was available! She came to the hotel and helped get us all glamorous for the day.
An Eddy K Dress
My first dress shopping trip, I went with a girlfriend and one of my bridesmaids to a couple sample stores in DC and Alexandria. I wanted to see if I could “get lucky” and come across something amazing for a steal, which I didn’t, but I learned what styles I did and didn’t like and actually came across another store where I ended up making an appointment to try on dresses when my aunt came into town a few weeks later. I always wanted something lace, vintage yet modern, and with a low back.
So at the appointment, I pulled a few that grabbed my interest and tried on the first, and my aunt asked the attendant if she had any other dresses with a low back. She came back with the gorgeous lace dress by Eddy K with a dramatic train and I knew I had to try it on next. It fit amazing, I couldn’t stop smiling and had a feeling that might be the one. I tried on one more dress that I really liked but was uncomfortable and tried that second dress on again and knew that that was it. It was comfortable, gorgeous, and I felt so glamorous in it – it had to be mine.
Michael Kors Sandals
I wanted the shoes to be comfortable since I knew there would be a lot of standing and walking, but also wanted to add some glamour to my toes. I went with a shimmery gold sandal from Michael Kors and it was the perfect touch.
The handsome groom
The guys all wore gray suitsfrom the Black Tux – the groomsmen were a lighter heather gray and Rob’s was a darker charcoal. I made the boutonnieres the day before from succulents, eucalyptus, hypericum berries, and baby’s breath.
Bridesmaids in Green
I truly only cared about the color, so they each picked a style of dress from a designer I found that could be found in both California and DC and came in the color I wanted. The end result was amazing! I love how different they all looked but yet so uniform.
A Simple Chuppah
I wanted something simple that didn’t distract from the beauty of the synagogue. I found some peach flowers and vines to decorate with since the synagogue provided the chuppah.
A Personal Ceremony
In one of our last meetings with the rabbi before the wedding, he had us each write 10 things about each other that we love and email it to him. Before the seven blessings, he talked about us as a couple and told us what we said about each other. I loved hearing the reasons he loves me and how we help each other grow.
Ink with Intent
After months of online hunting, we ended up going with Ink with Intent for our ketubah. The process was nothing short of amazing – they were extremely kind and helpful, it came a lot sooner than I thought, and they also sent a list of suggestions for the pen to use for that specific paper and for the frame we used for the day of.
You Are the Best Thing
For the processional we walked down to Take The World by Johnnyswim. I love that song and the meaning of it and knowing that in this marriage we can take on anything together. Recessional was to As by Stevie Wonder – we love that song and what better way to start a celebration?! Our introduction was to Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke, and first dance was to You Are The Best Thing by Ray LaMontagne. The dances are always awkward to me and I didn’t want to do it, so we did part the song and then had the DJ invite everyone else out about a minute in.
Whole Foods Flowers
I wanted to save money on the flowers but also wanted to them to look beautiful. Initally I was going to arrange them myself. Then, of course as things got down to the wire I started having a meltdown about a week before about storing them so I came up with plan b.
I work next to a Whole Foods and they always have gorgeous flowers, so the week of the wedding, I selected a range of peach and cream roses and some white/green hydrangeas, and, due to a miscommunication with the florist at the store, had two girlfriends arrange them for me the morning of the wedding, saving my sanity.
Our fabulous photographer
Rob is a photographer and so is his stepdad, so I gave him complete control of who we selected for the wedding. We went with Lily & Lime, a company that contracts photographers, and went with Ryan Hicks. He was a dream to work with – funny, knew exactly how to get the shots we hoped for, and took great candids of our guests at the reception.
A Cocktail-Style Reception
We did some tasting and were looking for delicious food that could be served in bite-size. We went with a cocktail-style reception since we wanted to mingle with our guests and didn’t want to be tied down to a table. We also hate wedding cake and went with boozy milkshakes and fudge bites instead – everything was so good!
The speeches by the maid of honor and best man took the cake. She brought tears to my eyes, and reminded me that even though we live on opposite coasts, our love and friendship is real and strong. She was so happy that I had “kissed a bunch of frogs to find my prince” and so am I. Rob also designed the programs for the wedding that the guests were able to follow along and understand the different parts of the ceremony.
Alright, hands up – how many of you out there are sneaking peeks at STG while waiting to get engaged? Well, today we have something special for you lot: engagement rings! They’re one of the most fun aspects of engagement, but one that we don’t tend to talk about too much here on the blog.
That’s all changing now, because we have an awesome collection of our top picks for engagement rings from STG fave Browns Family Jewellers. Based in the UK but shipping worldwide, Browns has got a fantastic selection of engagement rings to suit all styles, from vintage to modern, simple to ornate – and if you’re looking to branch out from the standard diamond, they’ve got some amazing options featuring colorful stones. They’re known for their fantastic and attentive customer service, too.
We’ve chosen our favorites from their extensive range, and we’re so excited to share them with you – there are some seriously stunning rings on offer, with some really unique styles that will make you stand out from the pack of engagement selfies on Insta – and some classics too, of course! Read on to find your perfect engagement ring from Browns Family Jewellers.
This diamond halo engagement ring is just so eye-catching, with a central diamond surrounded by an outer halo of cut diamonds, with the ring shoulders embellished with yet more cut diamonds. This is one for those of you after something super sparkly.
This is such a dramatic and unusual, with the focus emphatically on that stunner of an aquamarine. I love the idea of going with a colored stone for your engagement ring, and this is such an elegant, vintage-esque option if you’re looking to go that route.
Last but by no means least, we’ve got this delicate ring that packs a punch with pure diamond shine.
We’d love to hear what you think of all these, and which you would choose. Are you more into modern or vintage? Colored stones, or keeping it classic with diamonds? Let us know in the comments!
Browns Family Jewellers is a Smashing The Glass handpicked sponsor and this is a sponsored post.
We only ever work with sponsors that we absolutely ADORE and would use ourselves.
You can find out more about sponsored posts here.
Happy 4th of July to all our American readers! What are you all doing to celebrate? Jetting off on a quick getaway to, say, Tuscany, by any chance? No? Us neither. But we are doing the next best thing, living vicariously through Helen and Jared’s oh-so-romantic Jewish wedding at Villa Grabau #swooooooon
And what a wedding it was. Can we talk about bride Helen’s out-of-this-world Ines di Santo gown? That train! That tulle! And that’s not even mentioning the painfully delicate beadwork on the bodice. It’s just the absolute perfect blend of sweet and sexy, dramatic and effortless. We are such massive fans of Ines di Santo – you may recall our Facebook Live with her last year– and it’s always a privilege to feature one of her brides on STG.
And once Helen had chosen it, she was pretty much good to go. As busy attorneys, Helen and Jared didn’t have much time to devote to wedding planning, and they were so thrilled that their trusted wedding planners, Benedetta and Elena from Lucca Organizza, were able to give them the dreamy Tuscan day they wanted with minimal guidance.
Benedetta and Elena helped the couple pick everything from their venue(fun fact: it was once featured on the Bachelor), to their phenomenal photographer, Alessandro Colle.
In Helen’s words, “Our planners made everything SO easy for us that I have to pretend to understand what other brides are talking about when they refer to ‘wedding planning stress.’” That’s some serious praise! Now over to the bride herself, who’ll fill you in on all the details of the day…
How we met
Helen, the bride: We are attorneys in Los Angeles – as most tales of romance go, we met in law school at UCLA. Little did we know, despite only crossing paths for the first time in law school, our parents lived mere minutes from each other our whole lives and my sister and one of Jared’s younger brothers were in the same class together in high school! Truly a small world.
A Tuscan Villa
We got married at Villa Grabau – our very trusted wedding planners Benedetta and Elena from Lucca Organizza recommended this venue to us and we really didn’t bother looking elsewhere once we saw it (photos only!). It’s a beautiful lemon house located on a stunning property. In fact, the pictures did not do it justice – we were not disappointed when we arrived. The gates open to a sprawling Tuscan estate worthy of a Bachelor one-on-one (seriously, it was featured on Ari’s season of the Bachelor where he and Lauren had their Italian one-on-one).
The property also offered houses where our family and bridal party could stay during the wedding week.
Wedding Planners to the Rescue
We could not have made our amazing wedding happen from thousands of miles away without the help of Benedetta and Elena. I created a Pinterest board with my idea of what I wanted our wedding to look like and they executed it perfectly!
Hair + Makeup
Benedetta and Elena offered up some stylists and I ended up choosing Adrienne Aereboe after scrolling through her past work on Instagram. We did a trial run when we arrived at the Villa Grabau house a few days before the wedding. Adrienne made me feel at ease and did a great job assisting me, the bridal party, and the two moms!
An Ines di Santo Dress
I went to a handful of bridal dress shops and had a really fun time shopping without actually settling on a dress. I randomly ended up picking out my dress (Whisper, Ines by Ines di Santo) at Lovella after a casual drop-in after walking by the store with my mom. What really sold me on the dress was how much my mom loved it.
BHLDN Hair Combs
My aunt gifted my hair accessories at my bridal shower – they were BHLDN hair combs and they were beautiful (and sturdy, because they kept my hair from completely falling apart during all the dancing).
Stuart Weitzman Shoes
I love shoes so I think I spent the most time shopping for these – I picked the Stuart Weitzman Hijinx platform heel. I love Stuart Weitzman for making really comfortable (and high-heeled) shoes and these did not disappoint. I didn’t take them off all night!
The handsome groom
The guys all wore matching blue wool suits from Indochino and matching deep red ties from Tie Bar.
Bridesmaids in Emerald
My bridesmaids wore Reformation dresses (Balboa dress in emerald green) and my sister, the maid of honor, chose to wear a Dessy Collection dress in the same color. The green looked really great against the lush green Tuscan backdrop and turned out even better in photos.
A Chuppah Designed by the Planners
Despite not having planned many Jewish weddings, Benedetta and Elena created the most beautiful chuppah for us. All we did was send them a Pinterest photo to give them an idea of what it should look like!
My favorite part of the ceremony was managing to find not only a rabbi who could officiate our wedding, but a cantor too! Finding a rabbi in Europe from Los Angeles was a hard feat but after a series of unfortunate events (our first rabbi canceled on us!), we were immensely fortunate to find a rabbi who coincidentally happened to be a family friend who was going to be in Italy the week of our wedding! We were lucky that our rabbi also happened to be married to a cantor, and they conducted a very beautiful ceremony.
Our fabulous Photographer
Again, all we had to do was pick from a handful of photographer recommendations provided by Benedetta and Elena. Based on Instagram, we chose Alessandro Colle. He did a phenomenal job with the photos – everyone who saw our pictures commented on how impressed they were with the aesthetic quality of the pictures. We chose not to have a videographer.
Rather than a cake, which neither of us are huge fans of, we opted for something we were huge fans of – ICE CREAM. We had a gelato cart accompanied by a girl who served gelato to our guests. Benedetta and Elena once again chose our catering – endless rounds of pasta followed by a main course of vegetarian, chicken, or salmon. Of course I am butchering the designations as the Italians would prefer to call them primi piatti, secondi piatti, etc.
He may not love that I chose to share this, but Jared started to get a bloody nose during the ceremony – we escaped during the ceremony without any guests realizing what had happened and it went on beautifully. But I will never forget looking into his eyes and knowing the slight panic creeping into both of us hoping there wouldn’t be a full blown downpour!
Overall, our entire wedding week was so memorable – our guests arrived a few days early and we spent the days biking around the walls of Lucca, taking a walking food tour of the best eats in the city, touring the artist town of Pietrasanta, and spent the night before the wedding eating and dancing away at a local Luccan restaurant with our nearest and dearest.
Watching our friends and family get to know another during these few days and to have it culminate in one big party to celebrate our wedding is an experience neither of us will forget.
Advice to couples currently planning their wedding
Honestly, we couldn’t have done our wedding stress-free without our planners. They made everything SO easy for us that I have to pretend to understand what other brides are talking about when they refer to “wedding planning stress.” We are both attorneys with very busy and high-stress jobs, so to have someone else plan such a beautiful wedding with little interference, stress, and time, was truly the greatest gift.
My greatest advice to future brides is to try to let go – pick the things that are important to you and try to execute those according to whatever “vision” you have in your mind. Forget the rest! Things do and will go wrong and your ability to roll with the punches is what allows you to enjoy the day. It’s already such a blur because you are so focused on making sure your guests are having a good time – the last thing you want to be doing is stressing or moping about something that didn’t go your way. Fewer expectations make for great impressions!
Jennifer will be marrying Charlie on 5th August 2018 at Dartmouth House in Mayfair, London, UK. Click here to read all Jennifer’s planning posts to date.
THREE FACTS: (1) Jennifer and Charlie first met when they were just 17 years old! (2) They are planning an intimate elegant black tie trad(ish)ional Jewish wedding incorporating plenty of personal touches, their sense of humour, and love of all things rose gold (3) Jennifer is a wedding photographer herself so is planning her wedding as an industry insider!
An egalitarian wedding
I have always had a very strong sense of my Jewish identity. I grew up as a member of Belsize Square Synagogue (editor’s note: see the wedding published yesterday at Belsize Square Synagogue, here). I sang in the choir, taught in the Cheder and really understood what it was to be part of a community.
Belsize Square is an independent Synagogue, with a modern, egalitarian approach to Judaism, which is important for Charlie and I to reflect at our wedding. Charlie joined at the beginning of this year and has also fallen in love with the unique character of the Synagogue.
There is no “right” or “wrong” way to have a Jewish wedding, and this is something I love about our religion, it can be interpreted whilst respecting tradition. For us, having an egalitarian wedding is paramount.
One of my first decisions was that I would not be having a maid of honour or bridesmaids. I simply could not choose between all of my wonderful friends or choose all of them and have a huge procession! Instead, I asked each of my closest female friends to do something specific for our wedding that played to their strengths.
I have a friend who knows everything about fashion and she has helped me find the most beautiful wedding dress. Two of my most wonderfully organised and fun girls are planning my hen, and I have other friends signing our ketubah and Civil Registry.
My sister will be with me the night before the wedding and when I get ready in the morning, as I was at her wedding. In this way, I feel that everyone who is important to me has an active role, and hopefully something to look forward to!
Our wedding, our way
We spoke with our Rabbi and he reminded us that this is our wedding; our commitment to each other and however we want our day to be is up to us! We started to look at all the elements of a Jewish wedding, in order to decide how to represent our personalities and beliefs within it.
Charlie and I poured over hundreds of ketubah texts, but could not find one that truly suited us. They were either too religious, or too liberal! So we decided to write our own and it could not have been a more connecting or emotional experience, especially when it arrived from Jennifer Raichman. I cannot wait to have it proudly displayed in our home.
Our Rabbi had already suggested instead of buying Charlie a watch or cufflinks for the big day, to purchase something more meaningful, such as a new tallit.
When he said this, I had a wonderful vision of Charlie seeing me for the first time in the badeken, veiling me and I in turn ‘veiling’ him in his tallit. I bought him a beautiful tallit from Jerusalem The Golden and I have to admit we have been practising the veiling! It is much harder to put a tallit onto someone else than yourself!
Just Us Under The Chuppah
When I imagined getting married, I always heard beautiful, traditional music being played during the ceremony. We are very lucky that our cantor Paul Heller will be singing for us. Charlie is a huge classical music fan, so we have been working closely with the cantor and the director of music at Belsize to ensure the melodies we both love are married together perfectly.
During the ceremony, we only wish to stand under the chuppah with the Rabbi. For us, it is very meaningful that the chuppah represents our Jewish home and we will be inviting our parents into it for Kiddushin.
I’ve read about so many different ways that circling can be done. Charlie and I did think about circling each other and in the end we decided it wasn’t an element that applied to us, especially as everyone knows I wear the trousers in our relationship (or at least Charlie does an excellent job letting me think that I do). We do have an equal relationship and although there are many interpretations of what circling means, we feel it doesn’t reflect our dynamic.
Traditionally at a Jewish wedding, only the groom gives his bride a ring. We both wish to exchange rings and have bought a beautiful pair from a small independent jeweller, Posh Potty Designs.
Children are welcome
We have also made the (somewhat) controversial choice of not having children as part of the ceremony. This is mainly because I have photographed so many weddings where the little ones (understandably) have become restless and start to cry or act up.
I find this to be distracting, so we have made our guests aware that their kids will be having a much more fun time with the fantastic Safe and Sound Events, another great STG Recommended Vendor. We also want our friends to be able to party at our wedding without worry.
I don’t want to give too much away about our big day, and there are lots of fun surprises in store for our guests. This is merely a slice of our trad(ish)onal Jewish wedding.
We all know how overwhelming wedding planning can be. There are so many choices to be made, from color schemes to venues to symbolism and more – and so many vendors to choose from. Of course a wedding planner can be a huge help in sorting through everything that’s out there and focusing your vision, but what if you want to do a lot of the planning yourself?
Today’s couple, Bekka, a lecturer in international relations, and Benjamin, a musician and lecturer in music went for a wedding consultancy session with Smashing the Glass’s own Karen to help and advise with their Jewish wedding.
She directed them toward many of their fantastic vendors, from Smashing the Glass Recommended Vendor Once Upon A Paper, who provided the couple’s beautiful watercolor guest book, to Adams Photography, who captured all the emotion and excitement so exquisitely, to Smashing the Glass Recommended Vendor Prezola registry, which Bekka and Benjamin loved for its wonderful selection of gifts from different stores in the UK, as well as cash funds, Judaica, and charities, to The Wedding Gallery, the world’s first wedding department store, for the groom’s outfit.
All this freed up their time and energy to focus on the many DIY elements the pair incorporated into their wedding.
Bekka and Benjamin designed their invitations themselves and built their own chuppah, but music is where the pair really put their own stamp on the day. For one thing, their ceremony venue, Belsize Square Synagogue, was chosen because Benjamin is the congregation’s music director. So it was only natural that he arranged and composed pieces to be performed during the ceremony, performed by Benjamin’s quartet, bOYbershop, and three (!) choirs that he conducts.
We’ll leave it to Bekka, who looked beautiful in her ivory lace Kenneth Winston dress, to fill you in on the rest…
A Venue with History
Bekka, the bride, and Benjamin, the groom: We got married at Belsize Square Synagogue. We chose it as Benjamin has worked there as musical director for 12 years.
The evening was at the Liberal Club (1 Whitehall Place). Bekka found the venue online. The venue had a small personal connection as Benjamin’s grandfather was a member of the Liberal Party, and Bekka’s father is fascinated with William Gladstone.
Mainly, however, we just loved the venue when we saw it. We also loved the idea of a dusky double decker bus ride through London from the synagogue (particularly for our international guests).
An International Wedding
The wedding incorporated American, British, and Jewish traditions (Bekka is American and Benjamin is British). We think we had a romantic vintagey style Our wedding colors were ivory, grey, and blush pink with lots of greenery.
One of my favorite parts of the wedding was designing decorations and looking for items to order from the many talented vendors on Etsy. We got ribbons from Pompom Blossom (UK); menus, thank you cards and table numbers from L’Atelier d’Or (UK); a watercolor guest book from Once Upon A Paper (Romania); and a hand-knitted shrug for Bekka to wear in the synagogue from Lila Laine Tricot (France).
Invitations Designed by the Couple
We designed the invitations ourselves. Benjamin is a musician and is experienced at using different software for his concert programs and flyers. We included a quote we loved from Song of Songs and printed the invites on ivory cards with rose gold foil (Blush Publishing in Wales did a great job).
We wanted the invitations to be traditional but also joyous and slightly informal. We weren’t sure initially if we should spend money and time on paper invitations, but we both felt that this was one time in our lives when it would be special to send invitations by post, and one is now framed in our living room. Bekka did the calligraphy on the envelopes herself.
Hair + Makeup
I used Anita Warszawska for my hair and makeup. She was lovely and calming and offered a more natural look. I did a trial with her beforehand so that made getting ready on the wedding day easy. She was really talented and I learned a lot from the experience.
A Kenneth Winston Dress
Finding the dress was a nice memory as I went shopping with my sisters during a visit to the US. My youngest sister had just stepped off a plane from Israel, and we were lucky to find one that day (a beautiful ivory lace dress by a designer called Kenneth Winston). I don’t usually buy things on the spot but they gave me the confidence (kick!) to do it.
I loved its long train and low back. I managed to buy a sample dress, which is also a great way to save money rather than buying it custom made.
One of the biggest challenges was not showing it to Benjamin – I was excited to show someone but he was traditional about this and didn’t want to see it in advance.
A Simple Veil
I wore a sheer chapel veil for our more ceremony. The dress was quite detailed so I wanted to keep the veil very simple. I got silver filigree earrings from Jules Bridal (in Dublin), and wore a small pendant from my late grandmother and a silver bracelet from the groom. The synagogue board gave me a handkerchief as a “something blue.”
Freya Rose Shoes
I found a pair of satin ivory-colored shoes from a local British designer, Freya Rose. I wanted closed-toed shoes for the time of year and wore them all weekend (risky but at least this way I got more use out of them). I also love that they are dyable after the wedding so you can wear them again (I am having them dyed black to contrast with their beautiful mother-of-pearl heel).
The handsome groom
The groom looked really handsome in a charcoal grey suit and blush tie, which he bought from The Wedding Gallery (a new store also recommended by Karen). Dominic (the menswear consultant) was very helpful.
Bridesmaids in Blush and Grey
Bekka’s bridesmaids (her longtime friends and her sisters) looked beautiful in mismatched long and flowy blush pink and soft grey dresses. We also had a best man and four groomsmen including Benjamin’s ten-year-old nephew. We had two tiny flower girls (Benjamin’s 2.5-year-old niece and Bekka’s friend’s adorable fifteen-month-old daughter).
A Chuppah Built by the Couple
We wanted a natural romantic look and felt it would be sentimental to build the chuppah ourselves. We considered using live birch trees originally but scaled back to birch wood once we started researching. We ordered the structure from Decorative Birch, and built it with our wonderful synagogue caretaker, Gordon.
Bekka made the canopy from fabric we ordered from Silk Centre (Etsy). The chuppah was decorated with lots of eucalyptus and blush and ivory flowers.
A Musical Ceremony
We found the ceremony very moving, partly because we invested a lot of ourselves in it. Benjamin is a musician and he arranged and composed pieces, including a piece from Song of Songs called “Matzati Et Sheahavah Nafshi” (I have Found the One my Soul Loves). This was the same text that we used on the wedding invitation.
We also included a piece composed by Bekka’s maternal grandfather, which the groom arranged for the violinist. The performers included Benjamin’s quartet, bOYbershop, and three choirs that he conducts (the Belsize Choir, the Zemel Choir, and Quorum). This made it even more personal for us and we had a thank you reception for them afterwards.
One of our favorite memories was the badeken. It was an intimate moment before the wedding ceremony. Bekka gave Benjamin a tallit (ordered from Gabrieli’s in Israel) and bOYbershop led him in singing Od Yishama.
We ordered a papercut ‘Antique Lace’ ketubah from Danny Azoulay in Jerusalem and had it framed by Abbey Road Framing. It looked lovely online, but was even more beautiful in reality.
We got a ‘smashing glass’ from an antiques shop on Flask Walk Hampstead. We put a smashed glass display mezuzah on our Prezola registry to use as a keepsake later.