Monthly Archives: February 2012

Taking the Mystery Out of the Mikvah

******** THIS IS A STICKY POST THROUGH 2/29 ********
All of the MP Artworks ketubah couples are excited for your votes! We are one day closer to announcing our ketubah winners! Voting is open right now and goes through February 29 at 11:59 p.m. PST. The winning couple will be announced March 1. Find your ketubah couples here! Voting can take place on Twitter by mentioning your favorite couple and using hashtag #TWYGiveaway, The Wedding Yentas Facebook page, or the MP Artworks Facebook page, or the Ketubah Couples website page. Votes on any other page of The Wedding Yentas web site will not be counted.
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For once, how would you like to get in the water and not have a care in the world about your hair getting wet or being self-conscious over your body? For once, how would you like a renewing experience that makes you feel alive, regenerated, and part of a tradition that spans from generations to generations? Mikvahs are not just for converted Jews. A bride may take a mikveh bath to ignite the start of her journey as a new, Jewish, married woman.

The mikvah, which is done as close to the wedding as possible, symbolizes a sort of rebirth or new life that the bride enters upon her upcoming marriage. The mikvah is a natural body of water, whether it’s a lake or a stream or a man-made pool that feeds from natural waters and resources, like rainwater or melted snow. Cool fact: There are 40 seah each (seah is a unit of measuremement; 40 seah equals about 200 gallons) of water in a mikvah and according to Sharon Shenker, founder and teacher at the Jewish Marriage Institute, the number 40 has significant relevance in Jewish history and culture.

“It is something that has linked the Jewish people together for thousands of thousand of years,” says Shenker. “Wherever you find a community, there is a mikvah there.”

Some interesting connections between the number 40 and rebirth: The rain fell for 40 days in the story of Noah and surrounded the world with water; The Hebrew people lived in the Sinai desert for 40 years and it is said that 40 years represents a period of time for a new generation to be born; Babies are in utero for 40 weeks and come out of the water at birth, purified and clean. There are hundreds of examples associations with the number 40, but perhaps the latter listed here is the most significant to the mikvah.

If you think about it, in Judaism, water is seen as a cleansing element, symbolizing revitalization in various forms of ceremonies and rituals. At Passover, we wash our hands at the seder; after a funeral, we wash our hands after leaving the cemetery and before entering a home; and of course, after a conversion, a new Jew will take a mikvah to mark his or her refreshed status as a Jewish person. So, it’s only fitting that prior to the simcha of a wedding, a bride may choose to mark her new life with a water purification and rebirth. After all, marriage brings change into a bride’s life, and this ritual acts as a preparation for that change. According to Shenker, “mikvah enables you to change your spiritual status.”

Many women may find mystery or awe in the mikvah experience, but it’s not eerie or something to fear. In fact, many modern mikvahs are creating a spa-like ambiance to appeal to current women. Typically, a modern mikvah has a changing room, a preparation room, the actual body of water itself, and a drying room. Some mikvahs even have specially-arranged bride hours! There can sometimes be a wait, but it’s a useful time to meditate, write, or enjoy the solitude and internal experience. We rarely get a break from our work and play lives to devote to just ourselves. Daydreaming about your future ahead and the plans you two have together is some of the most relaxing and rewarding type of meditation.

Before entering the mikvah, you will completely purify yourself. Think about a baby in the womb: nothing comes between a baby and the surrounding waters. It’s the only time in a human’s life that the baby will be absolutely free of any other substances and stimuli. A mikvah is your chance to seek that similar type of purity. So, preparing for your mikvah includes everything from a body rinse, hair detangling, total makeup and nail polish removal, and detaching any other unnatural elements from your body. This is a wonderful chance for you to get to know every inch and nook and cranny of your body. It’s beautiful, and every part has served a purpose for you and will continue to meet your needs as you hold your partner’s hand on your honeymoon or cradle your baby years from now. You can even pamper yourself! Use your favorite scrub or loofah to really get down to business on your parts. You are giving yourself the royal treatment because, girlfriend, you are the queen!

After your preparation bath, a mikvah attendant may go over all the steps to make sure you prepared properly. She’s looking out for your ultimate mikvah experience. Then, she’ll probably offer you a robe or gown to keep your body pure and honor your privacy as you head to the mikvah water.

Once at the mikvah water, you’ll walk down the steps to a full immersion as you dunk your body completely into the water, toes to head. This will make your mikvah kosher and the attendant will declare it so. One plunge satisfies the requirement, but three or seven immersions can be tradition as well, depending on your affiliation or family customs. If there are women in your family who have done mikvahs, ask them what they do. Or, of course, you can talk to your rabbi. If you’re a rookie, you can either take it upon yourself to follow the customs or create new ones for yourself. That’s the beauty of a mikvah. It’s about you.

“It’s one of the only things in Judaism you do with your whole body,” she says. The other two are sitting in a sukkah and walking through Israel.

After your mikvah, once you have finished your immersion, you may then recite to yourself:
Baruch Atah Ado-nai Elo-heinu Melech HaOlam Asher Kidishanu B’mitzvotav V’tzivanu Al Hatevilah.
We bless you, God, Our God, Ruler of the Universe who has made us holy by commanding the immersion.

You’ll leave the mikvah space to go to a room where you will put yourself back together. Most modern and updated mikvahs that provide a spa-like experience may even have hair dryers and toiletry goodies waiting for you! It’s like a holy country club!

After you leave the mikvah, Shenker says you are not to engage in sexual intercourse until the wedding night. You must preserve your newly cleaned body and mind for your soon-to-be husband. “Some people really have an emotional experience where they feel connected,” she says. “They feel like they’re doing the right thing.” And hey, when we do the right thing, we are in a good mood. And when we are in a good mood, well, you know where this is going. So save your good feelings and moods for the night you become a Mrs.

You can go to mikvah any day of the year except for Yom Kippur and Tisha B’av. Shabbat is a wonderful time to visit the mikvah. The mikvah is reserved for brides only during the day. All other mikvah goers must visit in the evenings. And, most importantly, you must be finished with your monthly cycle when going to the mikvah. So it is important to choose your wedding day in accordance with your cycle. If you’re not on the pill, you might have to do some math. This rule is extremely important, as you can’t visit the mikvah until seven days after the end of your period. Your period is considered to be at least five days (even if it’s shorter, you lucky girl, you), and then you must add on seven more days. So, consider these twelve days while you’re calendaring for your wedding date if you are to do a bridal mikvah within four days of the wedding.

So, overall, this general outline of a mikvah should help in piquing your interest or quelling any concerns you may have. I, personally, did not do a mikvah for my wedding because I didn’t really know about the custom, but have learned about this experience since. I think it’s a beautiful and unique event that I would have done for spiritual growth and development prior to my wedding. Of course, every woman’s experience is different, and between hair trials and dress fittings, it’s one more thing you can do for yourself that also provides a deep reflection and connection to a special Jewish tradition.

To learn more about mikvah practices or additional education about Jewish marriage and relationships, visit the Jewish Marriage Institute. Classes for couples or individuals are available as a wonderful resource for developing healthy and Jewish marriages.

  • Sherri says:

    I am a very reform Jew so I found this to be very educational, enlightening, & an informative topic. Thanks.

  • Rabbi Sara Brandes says:

    For those brides (and grooms!) who are more comfortable in a non-orthodox setting, the Mikvah at the American Jewish University creates an accessible, holy, “spa-like” experience for Jewish brides and grooms. They can be reached at ra@ajula.edu.

Real Jewish Weddings | Great Neck, NY

******** THIS IS A STICKY POST THROUGH 2/29 ********
All of the MP Artworks ketubah couples are excited for your votes! We are one day closer to announcing our ketubah winners! Voting is open right now and goes through February 29 at 11:59 p.m. PST. The winning couple will be announced March 1. Find your ketubah couples here! Voting can take place on Twitter by mentioning your favorite couple and using hashtag #TWYGiveaway, The Wedding Yentas Facebook page, or the MP Artworks Facebook page, or the Ketubah Couples website page. Votes on any other page of The Wedding Yentas web site will not be counted.
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Jackie and Danny’s New York wedding featured traditional symbols and Jewish customs that mixed well with modern florals and fashion. A romantic ceremony in the sanctuary of the synagogue showed their guests a true pledge of love. Then, a spirited reception offered everyone a chance to celebrate Jackie and Danny’s new husband-and-wife status. This perfect Jewish wedding is photographed perfectly by Photography by Verdi offering fabulous inspiration shots. Can’t stop enjoying Jackie and Danny up in the chairs at their reception and the moments of Jackie walking down the aisle arm-in-arm with her parents are so touching.

Mazel tov, Jackie and Danny!

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Venue- Temple Beth El of Great Neck
Photographer- Photography by Verdi
Caterer & Cake Baker- Cosmopolitan Caterers
Florist- Masters & Co.
Band- David Clark and the Renegades
Bride’s Dress- Dinah by Vera Wang at Bridal Salon
Tuxedo- RSVP
Hair Stylist- Metromodes
Make Up Stylist- Kristin Mavroson

Tales from the Veil: Bridezilla Bonanza

Another “Tales from the Veil” story is brought to us by Rachel Kitt who is the Executive Assistant at the Jewish Federation of San Diego County. She loves to run competitively and for pleasure, bake gluten-free sweets, and hang out with her hubby, a San Diego attorney. After eloping to the island of Oahu in December of 2007, Rachel finds herself looking back on her Jewish destination wedding adventure and laughing out loud. Her story will show you how any bride can take wedding disasters and turn them into wedded bliss. Lemons into lemonade. Grapes into Manischewitz. We’ll be hearing more from Rachel as a regular contributor to The Wedding Yentas.

Bridezilla Moment: Every bride has one. Or two.

Let’s be honest, we have all watched those reality TV shows where the bride is a total bridezilla (or worse, the mom is a momzilla!) and while it makes for fantastic ratings, there’s no reason to be that girl in real life. Your moment, your end-all, be-all moment will happen at some point. Your vision will clash with reality. But pick your moment. Pick that moment when someone disagrees with you or when something doesn’t make you happy or doesn’t go according to plan. This is your day. This is the time to put on that tiara that says Princess and MVP and go for it. Get what you want.

What’s that you say? How will I know my moment? Oh, girlfriend, you’ll know. You will know because the juice will be worth the squeeze.

I probably should start by explaining that my hubby and I were only engaged for three months. No no, we were not prego (but thank you to every aunt and girlfriend who asked!). After six years of dating, two years living together, and only a month of wedding planning, I realized that while I wanted the big white poofy dress, I didn’t want the rest of the hoopla. I just wanted to marry my best friend, and I didn’t need the big venue or 200 people. So to make a long story short, after getting engaged in September, we decided in November to get married during our Hawaiian family vacation a month later in December. So the truth is, I had three weeks to plan my wedding in a different state, an entire ocean away.

Clearly, I had a lot to figure out and a lot of opportunities to be a bridezilla. Instead I was flexible, even calm, cool and collected (don’t ask the hubby though). I like to give myself a pat on the back every time I think back to how well I rolled with the punches. Flowers were easy. I just asked for local, pretty pink ones. The cake was easy. I just asked for their most popular type and emailed a photo of a three-tier decorated cake with a design I liked. Food was easy. Every person was going to have surf and turf: mahi-mahi and steak. Drinks were easy. Open bar!

But not everything was perfect and I couldn’t be flexible about everything. I found my bridezilla moment, my “Oh no you didn’t!” three days before the wedding. It was a beautiful eruv Christmas day actually (we Jewish girls remember these things; plus it’s essential to the story). The location of our ceremony at the hotel had to change. Originally the plan was to say “I do” outside with the Pacific Ocean as our backdrop. I mean, we were getting married in Hawaii and what’s a Hawaiian wedding without a beach view? Well, while an ocean view seemed ideal, the Speedo-clad man bending over on the public beach was not. As the wedding coordinator introduced us to the spot where we’d start our lives together as husband and wife, I was distracted. I had visions of the old man and his tush in the background of my wedding photos and that would just not do.

The wedding coordinator said it was a public beach and nothing could be done. My beautiful and quintessential Hawaiian ocean view had the chance of coming with an old man and his Speedo tushie. I thought about it. I could not take the risk. It did not make me happy. So the ocean front location had to go.

Of course I made this decision on Christmas Day, just two days before my December 27th wedding and of course, the wedding coordinator wasn’t working that day. I can’t say that I would expect any person who celebrates Christmas to be working, but with a wedding 48 hours later, she couldn’t pick up her cell phone? Once? She was nowhere to be found, and my patience was at an all time low. My nightmare was about to turn me into a nightmare bride.

What’s a JAP (Jewish American Princess) bride to do? Bridezilla out. My fiancé and I waited two hours to talk to the other on-site wedding coordinator and demanded the site be moved. During our wait I did the following: left a few not-nice voicemails for our wedding coordinator, put my hand in my mother’s face and told her, “I will take care of this! You go enjoy the beach!” (I’m so lucky she still loves me and I think forgives me), and got really, really red in the face. Panic had set in; I was a bride on a mission. It was me against the world, and I was going to get my way, no matter the price. Let me tell you, these were not my best two hours.

Was I acting crazy? Yes. Was I completely aware of it at the time? Yes. Can I laugh about it now? Absolutely. Does my mom still speak to me? No. Just kidding. Of course, yes!

Silver lining: the other wedding coordinator was able to move the ceremony to a more suitable location that was actually more private. We saved some moola on the location by not having an ocean view. And most importantly, no butt cracks in my photos.

My wedding day was still not without its comedy of chaos, like when the hotel caught fire, but that story is for a whole other day.

So, that was my moment. My teeny, tiny, little, itty-bitty moment. Go ahead and find yours. Just make sure it’s worth it. I know that if I had to do it all over again, I would in a heart beat.

  • Anna says:

    Rachel! I love your piece. It’s so funny I saw the thumbnail of your pic appear in my news feed, and I knew I had to read it!

  • Rachel says:

    Thanks Ali for giving me the opportunity to write about Tim and my crazy wedding adventure! I really look forward to future blog posts and sharing more of our story. I hope it helps other brides too, or at least makes other brides laugh!

  • Dana says:

    Great story! Beautiful bride! True Love!

  • Judy Kitt says:

    Nicely written, Rachel! And great pics!

  • Sharon says:

    I love the way you tell your story! I’m happy that your “moment was only an itty-bitty one that was certainly overshadowed by all of it turning out to be what you wanted & wonderful. Look forward to more contributions from you.

Let Petit Gardenia Loves Jewish Weddings & The Yentas

******** THIS IS A STICKY POST THROUGH 2/29 ********
All of the MP Artworks ketubah couples are excited for your votes! We are one day closer to announcing our ketubah winners! Voting is open right now and goes through February 29 at 11:59 p.m. PST. The winning couple will be announced March 1. Find your ketubah couples here! Voting can take place on Twitter by mentioning your favorite couple and using hashtag #TWYGiveaway, The Wedding Yentas Facebook page, or the MP Artworks Facebook page, or the Ketubah Couples website page. Votes on any other page of The Wedding Yentas web site will not be counted.
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This week The Wedding Yentas had a little time in the spotlight on the blog of the Los Angeles and New York florist who created this:

Le Petit Gardenia dressed the entire set of the Valentine’s Day show of the CBS gab fest The Talk. And then, a week later, Le Petit Gardenia dressed their blog with a feature on a Jewish weddings gab fest, The Wedding Yentas. Hey, Sharon Osbourne and Julie Chen: I think you need a new girl on your panel who likes to dish about Jewish weddings! Ahem ahem.

The funny thing is, only a few weeks ago, I went to a taping of The Talk with my mom because a dear friend of mine works on the show. Look, Yentas! I’m on TV!

So it all comes full circle. One of the best wedding florists in the business decked out The Talk with floral, throne-like chairs, a table that rivals any English garden, and amazing details that sprinkled the studio with colorful love. The same wedding florist gave out some Internet love to The Wedding Yentas and in case you ever wanted to know the story and a little background about The Wedding Yentas, you should check out Le Petit Gardenia’s blog!

And then you won’t be able to help yourself because Le Petit Gardenia’s designs are so elaborate and creative, you’ll want to look at all of their arrangements and decor for your own wedding inspiration. Le Petit Gardenia is all about huge creativity!

  • Lei-Ann Salter says:

    I would love to create this for a sweetheart table! How beautiful! Fabulous work girls!

Mismatched Bridesmaids

******** THIS IS A STICKY POST THROUGH 2/29 ********
All of the MP Artworks ketubah couples are excited for your votes! We are one day closer to announcing our ketubah winners! Voting is open right now and goes through February 29 at 11:59 p.m. PST. The winning couple will be announced March 1. Find your ketubah couples here! Voting can take place on Twitter by mentioning your favorite couple and using hashtag #TWYGiveaway, The Wedding Yentas Facebook page, or the MP Artworks Facebook page, or the Ketubah Couples website page. Votes on any other page of The Wedding Yentas web site will not be counted.
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The recent trend of mismatched bridesmaids is hotter than latkes straight from the frying pan. We are seeing the gals dressed beautifully — differently — but beautifully. Brides have many reasons for encouraging this look, including each bridesmaid’s own style and look, size and body shape, and nurturing individuality instead of a cluster of girlfriends. While it can sometimes be easier to just pick out a single dress in a single color and dress your maids in that uniform, coordinating mismatched bridesmaids doesn’t have to be too complicated. They can still be your team as you say “I do” even if they’re dressed in a way that represents them for the reasons they’re your besties in the first place. And in the end, you have a great vision that comes to life down your aisle.

One Color, Many Shades
Have a view for the hue. You can choose a monochromatic color scheme for the dresses by selecting a general color and then differentiate each bridesmaid with a different shade of that color. Working with neutrals? Try beige, champagne, olive, mocha, and cream. Want something bright like pink? You can do salmon, fuchsia, ballet shoe, bubblegum, and rose.

See where this is going? All of the shades complement each other and belong to the parent color, but still showcase their own individual splash. If you’re concerned about the look being too inconsistent, just remember that your maids will most likely carry identical bouquets or you can gift them a piece of jewelry that ties the ensembles together. Take it up a notch and give the gals the same accessories like patterned tights or a sash tied in a bow.

Different Colors, Same Dress
You can still achieve the mismatched look if all your bridesmaids wear the same dress. How? Different colors! If it’s reasonable to put all the girls in the same dress, spice up the look and include splashes of color. Again, the colors are still complementing each other, but they’re changing a single dress to appear as different dresses.

This has been successfully executed with jewel toned or peacock colors. This concept also works well with pastels. The same dress in baby pink, gray, lavender, and cream would be so soft and beautiful. Likewise, a single dress that’s worn in purple, turquoise, magenta, and midnight blue could be breathtaking for a bright and dramatic look.

Different colors in similar dresses were made famous thanks to everyone’s favorite blogger, Carrie Bradshaw of Sex and the City. Remember her wedding? Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha all wore long, glitzy dresses but each in a different color. The dresses were not exactly the same, but they definitely landed in the same family of dresses: fabulous.

One Color, Many Styles
Another way to change up the individual look of each bridesmaid is to select one color in the same shade, but wear it on any style dress. Pick a color. Purple? Blue? Cappuccino? Great. Now, find dresses that come in that one color. The best way to do this is to choose a single dress designer. Stay within that brand and order at the same time to ensure that your color swatches are consistent. Most designers can accommodate their many dress styles and cuts in one color.

Pick two or three varieties of the dress. Maybe with straps, without straps, and one shouldered. Or long, short, and tea length. Or ruffles, sash, or sweetheart neck. All of these styles are different groupings from the same family. Make sure, though, that the varieties or more or less evenly distributed. The maids should stand out as individual bridesmaids, but not take away from each other or you. Therefore, a bridal party with four short dresses and one long dress may do more to distract than blend, especially if you’re the only one in a long wedding gown. So as you distribute styles of dresses among the bridesmaids, make sure that the same types are sprinkled evenly.

mismatched-bridesmaid-dresses

mismatched-bridesmaid-dresses

Want More?
Other ways to spice up your bridesmaids with different looks: The girls can all wear earrings… but in different colors! They can all have bouquets… but with different flowers! They can all wear one shoe color… but in various styles! Pick a theme and then go wild. You don’t have to make every piece different in a bridesmaid’s look, but stay within a range to maintain the vision. The gals in the first picture below are all wearing the exact same dress style and color. Then, your eye catches their ankles and below and it’s like a party on their feet! Super fun. Underneath, the photos shows the opposite: the bridesmaids are all wearing different dresses within the same style and color scheme, but their tootsies are all hugged by the same shoes! Swoon!

So what do you think? Are you going for a mismatched bridesmaid look? What are some ideas you have for achieving this super hot trend?