Monthly Archives: September 2010

Real Weddings | Flagstaff, AZ

Mark is a “Flagstaff local” and it seems everyone around town knows him. This is probably because Mark has provided many lucky feet with comfort and durability with his creation, Teva sandals. And even though these world-famous sandals provide people with safe, easy steps, the best step Mark ever took was marrying Kali, his new wife and stunning bride. Teva happens to be the Hebrew word for nature which is where their beautiful wedding was held: Mark and Kali’s home in the Arizona forest, which lent itself as the perfect venue for their perfect day.

Kali and Mark included many personal touches in their meaningful ceremony. They made their own chuppah and incorporated some Native American wedding traditions in their ceremony to honor the Northern Arizona region in which they live. Mark’s sister, Leslie, helped the rabbi officiate, Mark’s son walked his dad down the aisle and delivered the rings, and Mark sang a song to Kali. They provided a program that explained many of the Jewish traditions for the guests. After the ceremony, the reception was held in their driveway where the band played on and guests enjoyed delicious food. Love was in the desert air as the couple took their first steps into newlywed bliss.

Mazel tov, Kali and Mark!

Venue – Couple’s Private Residence in Flagstaff, Arizona
Photographer – Cameron and Kelly Studios
Caterer – Heartline Cafe
Florist – Sutcliffe Floral
Entertainment – The Spokes
Bakery – Sedona Cake Couture

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  • cameron clark| cameron + kelly studio says:

    Mark and Kali have to be two of the nicest people I know. Their wedding was all about love and joy! Jamelle and I had a blast shooting it!

Real Weddings | Santa Barbara, CA

Mike and Serene met at a party. So they met at a party, what’s the big deal? It’s a sign that the rest of their lives would be one big party. Between Serene’s one-of-a-kind beauty and Mike’s sharp sense of humor, these two could open up their own show and take it on the road. And to top it off, they double-party every June 3 because it’s their birthday. Yes. Their. They even have the same birthday. B’shert? We think so!

Despite their fun-loving nature, Mike and Serene appreciate family, tradition, and keeping loved ones close. Their wedding chuppah was topped with a tallit from Mike’s great-grandfather. He also used his grandfather’s tallit during the ceremony. They reserved a seat at the ceremony by placing a picture of Serene’s beloved kitty, Pono, on a chair in the first row. Most pet owners will understand that Pono is their “child,” and it was as close as they could get to having Pono witness their nuptials! We’re sure Pono thinks the Santa Barbara wedding of Mike and Serene was the cat’s meow!

Mazel tov, Serene and Mike!

Venue – Bacara Resort and Spa
Photographer – Ashleigh Taylor Photography
Event Planner – Gilded Events
Floral Designer – Butterfly Floral Design
DJ – After Dark Entertainment
Wedding Dress – Reem Acra
Groom Suit – Hugo Boss

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Friday Favorites | Sex and the Sukkah

The harvest holiday of Sukkot began Wednesday evening and this opens up a new opportunity to celebrate. Celebrate what? The harvest season, acts of kindness, and the meaning of home. If you’re not too familiar with Sukkot, the Cliffstein Notes version is this: For 40 years, our people wandered and wandered (no deals at Costco on a Magellan or Garmin??) and “miraculous clouds of glory” protected them for the harsh elements of the desert. Since then, we give a little shout out of thanks to G-d for making sure we’re okay and for powerful kindness.

It’s also an opportunity to salute human personalities and community. Sukkot is the time we bond together as a people so that each other’s unique personalities come together and are shared within the group. The message is that we all have something to give and, therefore, it is okay to take concurrently; that if we all contribute to the pot, we come out stronger and more inspired as a people. After all, Jewish togetherness and unity are central themes of the holiday of Sukkot. The four kinds of symbols — palm branch (lulav), two willows (aravot), a minimum of three myrtles (haddasim), and one citron (etrog) — represent four types of Jews with various levels of knowledge and observance. Bringing all these symbols together in blessing represents the unity of the Jewish people and nation. Those who celebrate Sukkot build a sukkah, which is a 3-walled temporary home, topped with branches and other organic materials to represent the autumnal harvest with spaces between to still be able to see the sky and its natural wonders. Jewish law tells its people to enjoy all sleeping and eating inside the sukkah as it is also a mitzvah.

Those observing Sukkot will take the etrog in one hand and all of the other items in the other hand and wave them in a prescribed set of directions while blessing the sukkah and giving thanks for the season. Of course, the directions and blessings have deep significance, but you may casually hear about “waving” or “shaking your lulav” during this time of year. For more detailed information, check out My Jewish Learning‘s site, which describes the ritual.

While the sukkah itself has ancient significance, as a modern Jew, you can enjoy your sukkah even though you’re not currently wandering the desert (if you are and you’re reading this, mazel tov on your awesome wi-fi conenction!). Invite your girlfriends over and have ladies night in the sukkah. Bring in some cushions and throw pillows, make cups of tea or pour some wine, and dish about the latest news with your inner circle of Carries, Charlottes, Samanthas, and Mirandas. A night “out” with the girls takes on a whole new meaning when you’re literally out — outside, under the great big sky. Lulavs and Louboutins: doesn’t get much girlier than that!

A sukkah can be a romantic place to be with your b’shert as well. With the stars peeking through the roof made of branches and leaves and cool breezes forcing you to cuddle to keep warm, you could enjoy a lovely night without the distractions of the TV, Facebook, and cell phones. Go back to the basics. Get back in touch with the foundation of your great romance. Snuggle together. Exchange kisses. Know that you and your partner are outside, in the nature, and carrying on a tradition that has been with our people for thousands of years. Love doesn’t get much sweeter than that.

And for today’s Friday Favorites, we leave you with our new favorite video that pays modern tribute to Sukkot and one of its famous symbols. We think you’ll lu-LOVE the good laughs you get when you watch! Happy Sukkot!

Real Weddings | Milwaukee, WI

We’re happy to present a fresh, Labor Day Weekend wedding! It was a gorgeous day with so many stylized touches. This wedding is definitely for the books.

Literally.

Heather and Jordan met in college and their love affair is a real page turner. They are both librarians! They infused the book nerd details into their modernized Jewish wedding. For example, their guest book was an old typewriter with blank sheets of paper on which guests could leave typed message. We love this vintage and creative idea that’s not only a great memento for the newlyweds, but a fun and interactive way to incorporate the theme with the guests’ experiences. Heather and Jordan created escort cards in an old card catalog! This display totally infuses the library details, and is so unique! And what a great lesson to those who’ve never had the experience of using a card catalog drawer since the couple maintained the proper format and language on the card to tie in with the wedding reception. Just when we think this wedding can’t get any more creative, Heather and Jordan made their card box out of some old Scrabble board games because what word nerd doesn’t enjoy a good ol’ round of Scrabble?

The details that went into Heather and Jordan’s wedding perfectly reflect them as a couple. We give this wedding the equal amount of points as BENZOXYCAMPHORS: Z and H on Double Letter Score, and also on three Triple Word Score squares = 59 x 3 x 3 x 3 = 1593. Oh, and don’t forget, using all 7 letters in one turn.

Mazel tov, Heather and Jordan!

Ceremony Venue – Villa Terrace
Reception Venue – Charles Allis Museum
Photographer – JBe Photography
Rabbi – Rabbi Rachel Saphire of Temple Beth Elohim
Catering – Sully’s
Floral Design – Sendik’s
Ketubah – “Blue Meditation” – Ketubah.com

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  • Lesley Strauss says:

    Beautiful people and fabulous memories!!! It’s easy to see the love Heather and Jordan have for each other. It shines in their eyes.

Jewish Wedding: Cantor vs. Rabbi

Did you know that a Jewish wedding ceremony does not require a rabbi or a cantor? Yes, we’re serious! Despite common belief, you and your betrothed can still exchange, stomp, and kiss without a member of Jewish clergy present. Jewish tradition says that a member of clergy does not marry the bride and groom; they marry each other.

By Jewish law, all that’s required to make a marriage official is a ketubah and a couple of witnesses. A Jewishly knowledgeable person who steers the wedding rituals can “officiate” the chuppah ceremony and oversee the ketubah ceremony. Also according to Jewish law, you need two kosher witnesses, who, depending on your Jewish affiliation, can be either men or women, related or not to the bride and groom, and varying degrees of Jewish observance including the laws of kashrut (eating and keeping kosher). If you have a family rabbi, this would be something to clarify before the wedding day to make sure you’re following correct laws and traditions. As long as your ceremony officiant is ordained by your state, he or she can guide the ceremony for it to count Jewishly and civilly. The ceremony, if it is religious-based, simply requires a license that is filed with the secular authorities (your state) and it ends up fulfilling both secular and Jewish law.

Some couples choose to have a friend officiate the ceremony, but rabbinical student, Aderet Okon Drucker, stresses that it is important for a couple that is getting married within the “Conservative Jewish,” “Reconstructionist Jewish,” “Renewal Jewish,” “Reform Jewish,” or any other movement of traditions run their plans for the ceremony with a rabbi they trust. “There are some things that are required for a wedding to be considered ‘kosher’ and if a couple is going through all of the trouble of getting the day to be perfect, they should do the same for their ceremony,” she says. “so they feel the integrity of the ceremony and don’t need to worry about anything.”

But what if you do want an official member of Jewish clergy to perform your wedding ceremony? You have some options. You can decide if you’d like to hire a rabbi, cantor, or both!

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According to Drucker, depending on the person, their training, and the movement, a rabbi and a cantor can have similar roles in a Jewish wedding. “I am a rabbinical student who enjoys singing,” she said. “When I did Dana and Mark’s wedding [above], I chanted all of the blessings and spoke under the chuppah. Rabbis [in the conservative movement] are trained to recite the blessings with the traditional melodies.”

You may luck out with a rabbi who can carry a tune, and while that’s awesome, you can’t start asking Randy, Paula, and Simon (or whoever their replacements are these days) to join you at Rabbi Idol auditions. So if you happen to know that your rabbi sings, you could probably stop there. Rabbis may chant blessings regardless of their singing talents. Just because a rabbi chants doesn’t mean they are ready for a Vegas lounge. Upholding the integrity and tradition of the chants is any rabbi’s first priority. A rabbi can still officiate your wedding even if he or she can’t sing. If it’s important to you to include music beyond the regular chants in your ceremony, you may want to hire a cantor as an addition to your rabbi. Or, the cantor can gig the wedding alone.

According to Cantor Debbi Ballard of My Personal Cantor, “a rabbi and a cantor are equally qualified under civil law and religious law to perform weddings.” So while cantors can absolutely perform weddings by themselves, they can also definitely sing. That is, by nature, a cantor’s job. If there’s a Jewish song that’s meaningful to you and your betrothed, you could have your cantor sing it. Or, if you’d just like a level of musicality included in the regular wedding ceremony blessings, a cantor would be a good choice.

Cantor Debbi reminds couples, “You are publicly stating your commitment to each other, and you want someone who will capture the essence of your union as a couple, and share it with your family and guests.”

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So remember, for your marriage to be considered official among the members of the tribe, you don’t need a member of clergy. But for your marriage to be recognized by the state, you do. It does not have to be a rabbi or a cantor; this clergy member can be a justice of the peace of a friend or a father or a sister, as long as they become ordained through the state as a secular clergy member. If you do want an official Jewish presence under the chuppah, you can choose to have a rabbi, a cantor, or both! One is not more official than the other. Both autographs make your ketubah valid and consider you to be married. It’s up to you and your personal and religious preference, and we wish you a hearty mazel tov for whatever it is you choose.

The Wedding Yentas is looking for in-house rabbi and cantor friends. If you would like more information about being featured with The Wedding Yentas, please send us an email at: info@theweddingyentas.com — we would be honored to have you join our mispucha that’s full of ruach!
For wedding officiating and consulting, you can contact Aderet Okon Drucker at aderetokondrucker@gmail.com
If you are looking for a cantor for a traditional, at-home, destination, or interfaith wedding, contact Cantor Debbi on her website.