Monthly Archives: August 2013

{Real Jewish Weddings} Pasadena, CA

Sara and Ben met in Jerusalem while she was living there and he was visiting on vacation. Sara was taking classes in Jerusalem, and while Ben was in town, he wanted to sit in on a class, since he had attended the same school a few years earlier. One morning in January, Sara walked into her usual class and a cute guy was sitting next to her regular seat. They struck up a conversation and ended up being chevruta (study buddies) that day, but spent most of their study time chatting and getting to know each other. By the end of class, they had exchanged emails. After Ben returned to the US, they started getting to know each other first on email and Gchat, and then long hours over the phone. Several months later, when Sara arrived back in NYC, Ben was waiting for her at the airport with a bouquet of flowers. They’ve been together ever since.

Sara and Ben wanted their wedding to be honest to their values and their backgrounds. Sara is from Los Angeles and Ben is from New York. The wedding was held in Pasadena, CA, but they made sure to incorporate elements of New York, too (they ended the chuppah ceremony with “I Love LA” and made their grand entrance to “New York, New York.”) Whenever possible, Sara and Ben tried to select vendors that were local (the cake was from a Chinese bakery Sara grew up going to), green and/or recycled (eco-suede kippot, rings from Sara’s grandmother), and incorporating friends and family (Sara’s junior high friend made the invitations; Ben’s family’s rabbi flew in from New York to lead the ceremony; Sara’s mom made the chuppah).

It was important to the couple to be married in a traditional Jewish ceremony that infused a spirit of inclusivity and pluralism. Sara comes from a mixed family, and many of the guests were not Jewish; those who are represented different streams of Judaism. A program accompanied the ceremony to explain the rituals, and the rabbi also provided fun and interesting commentary. They were able to incorporate their good friends and family in ways that would make them comfortable – for example, those who knew Hebrew said the sheva brachot, while other read the English translations. Ultimately, they were both proud of holding a ceremony that was welcoming to a diverse group of people.

Sara says her favorite moment was the bedeken, where the rabbi led a guided meditation for the couple to truly see each other before Ben veiled Sara.

Mazel tov, Sara and Ben!

Pasadena, California Jewish Weddings






























Photographer: bycherry photography
Venue: Castle Green
Coordinator: La Bella Dia
Florist: Flowers by Leah
Cake: Fortune Bakery
Videographer: Today’s the Day
Caterer: Simply Elegant
Dress: Dolly Couture
Veil: Custom-made by Bridal Veil Falls
Makeup Artist / Hair Stylist: Kelly Zhang
Officiant: Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanofsky of Ansche Chesed in Manhattan
Invitations / Stationery: Fresh Baked Paper Goods
Yarmulkes: eco suede kippot from Jessy Judaica
Ketubah: Melanie Dankowicz ; ketubah text was Gordon Tucker’s ketubah text
Honeymoon Travel: Registered for Argentina honeymoon on

{Real Jewish Weddings} Hilton Head Island, SC

Cindy and Andrew, another JDate success story, got engaged where it all began for them. Andrew took Cindy for a walk to the place he first fell in love with her and proposed to her with sentimentality and sweetness.

Judiasm was a big part of their ceremony. Cindy’s rabbi, who performed her baby naming, was a big part of how they chose their date. They weren’t thrilled with getting married on a Sunday, but it was very important and special to have him perform their ceremony so they made sure to make the wedding for a date that would work for him. The rabbi also made the wedding ceremony special for all of the guests by explaining each tradition and making the customs accessible to Jews and non-Jews alike.

Cindy and Andrew had eight nieces and nephews from 18 months to six years old in their wedding ceremony, so it’s no surprise that anything that could happen did! As everyone was getting ready to walk down the aisle, Cindy’s four-year-old nephew who was a ring bearer caused a delay with an unexpected bathroom emergency. Kids will be kids! But that was the only hiccup and with so many kids involved in the wedding party, that’s not too shabby at all!

Mazel tov, Cindy and Andrew!

South Carolina Jewish Wedding























Photographer:  Scott Hopkins Photography
Venue: Westin Hilton Head Island Resort and Spa
Floral Designer: Flowers by Freshcuts
Band: Michel Jons Band
Yarmulkes: Etz Chaim
Invitations/Stationery: Noteworthy Designs
Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Bridals by Lori

Submitted via Two Bright Lights

{Real Jewish Weddings} Tampa, FL

Love is brewin’! After all, for Emilee and Matthew, it all started at a Starbucks! And just like the warmth and richness of a good cup of quality coffee, so was their wedding! Emilee’s goal was to create an intimate wedding that was truly special and meaningful. She wanted it to be beautiful, elegant, simple, and classic. To achieve this, for starters, they had 30 guests in attendance. It was very important to Emilee amd Matthew to incorporate some of the traditional aspects of a Jewish wedding ceremony. The chuppah, Ketubah, and breaking of the glass were all customs that were part of the day. The couple designed the ceremony around the idea of the chuppah. They picked four words that are the foundation on which they chose to build their relationship: Love, Communication, Teamwork, and Laughter. Matthew’s step father wrote a poem for each word. Emilee and Matthew’s fathers read the poems as their mothers placed the stones in each of the foundation pots of the chuppah. Another way Emilee and Matthew made the ceremony interactive and special was by having each of their siblings and their siblings spouses read one of the 8 blessings. And to top it all off, they were married by Matthew’s father, a true honor for all of them.

Mazel tov, Emilee and Matthew!

Tampa, Florida Jewish Wedding





















Photographer: Ashfall Mixed Media
Venue: Oxford Exchange
Florist: Alta Fleura
Cake: Alessi Bakeries
Musicians: Caleb Hyers and Ryan Tatum with Caleb Hyers Band
Ketubah: Anna Abramzon Studio
Hair and Make Up: Collective Creations
Editorial Partner: Two Bright Lights

{Real Jewish Weddings} San Antonio, TX

Emily and Noah met unexpectedly and grew close over time while bonding over food and Emily’s rescue dog, Sammy. After graduating, moving on with careers, and buying a house together, Emily came home one day and found Noah dressed ever so handsomely and flowers strewn about their home. He dropped to one knee with a proposal of marriage that could not be refused. Emily, of course, quickly said yes! The evening was celebrated with a romantic and elegant dinner cooked by Noah and a bottle of Champagne to finish off the joyful celebration.

Emily wanted to be a summer bride and so 14 months later, the two were joined by 160 of their beloved friends and family as they shared their wedding vows inside of the 1880s historical building, which was originally, a pickle factory. The ceremony embraced both their cultures and traditions with a Jewish-Christian interfaith ceremony.

The wedding gown captured Emily’s style from head to toe: classic and elegant. The silk organza a-line gown had a strapless sweetheart neckline with a natural waist. A satin ribbon was adorned with an intricate floral detail that was feminine and delicate. Her dark hair was swept back into a simple chignon and covered with a simple tulle bubble veil. She carried a bouquet of white peonies, her favorite flower.
The groom wore a navy blue suit. The sunshine yellow polka dot tie popped on his crisp white shirt. He carried a simple white handkerchief and wore a yellow billy ball on the lapel of his jacket.

Once the couple met at their chuppah, standing side by side, Officiant Cynthia Black took them by the hand and brought them under and blessed their chuppah. “May your home be a shelter against the storms, a haven of peace, a stronghold of faith and love”. With that, their interfaith Jewish-Christian wedding ceremony commenced. The couple’s parents were brought forward to give their affirmation of the others’ child and accepting him or her as a new member of their family. The guests gave their affirmation as well reminding the couple that they don’t belong to one another alone but to a larger community of family and friends who love them and wish them well. The kiddush cup from Noah’s youth was used for the wine ceremony and the Shehecheyanu was recited giving thanks at the joyous blessing of the long awaited life event for this couple.

After the ceremony, guests enjoyed cocktails and appetizers in the poolside courtyard surrounded by antique roses and gorgeous greenery while the couple took a few private moments to celebrate the Yichud. Once the couple returned the wedding festivities began. Old friends and family enjoyed catching up before dinner and dancing in the main courtyard.

Mazel tov, Emily and Noah!

Texas Jewish Weddings












Texas Jewish Weddings






Photographer: Kathlyn Dragna Photography
Venue: ZaZa Gardens
Officiant: Cynthia Black Ceremonies
Event Planner & Floral Designer: The Wedding Studio
Wedding Band: The Texas T’s
Cake: Cake Art
Wedding Stationery: Perfect Pear Designs
Bride’s Dress: Amsale Bridal purchased at Nordstrom
Bridesmaid Dress Store: Bella Bridesmaid
Wedding Favors: Brown Coffee San Antonio

  • Erin says:

    Very beautiful pictures of cousins wedding!

Jewish Wedding Tradition of Circling

While at dinner with friends who are just two weeks away from their wedding, we were talking about the final details of their ceremony and they couldn’t decide on the ritual of circling.

In case you’re not in the inner circle and you’re confused, the casual and informal term of “circling” refers to the tradition of the bride literally walking in circles around the groom during the chuppah ceremony.

Sandor Welsh Photography

Sandor Welsh Photography

Some do it. Some don’t. Some do a variation on the circling.

Still deciding what you want to do? Maybe a little more info will help shape your decision on circling. It’s an Ashkenazi tradition and has been interpreted the bride creating seven or three circles around the groom. Seven is usually considered to be more traditional. As with most concepts in Jewish religion and culture, there are many reasons and symbols for this tradition. I imagine a bunch of really smart rabbis sitting around a table filled with lox and bagels and caawww-fee all discussing the traditions and trying to agree on one explanation and then finally one stands up, bangs his fist on the table, and says “Fah-get about it! Let ’em pick! They all sound good, yes? Of course yes!” and then it’s up to the people. So, here we are, with a few different explanations, open to interpretation depending on your movement and level of observance.

So, the reason for the circles? In the book of Jeremiah, it is said that “a woman encompasses a man.” Therefore, she literally encompasses him, physically, by walking in a circular border around him.

Another explanation is that by circling her groom a number of times, a bride creates a sort of invisible wall to make a sacred space for them in the chuppah.

Also, numbers play a big part in Jewish traditions, and seven happens to be a biggie. Seven is the number of days of creation and, in theory, the couple is creating a new world together. Also, the phrase “a man takes a wife” is mentioned seven times in the Torah. Another one I’ve heard is that Joshua circled the walls of Jericho seven times to take it down, and, therefore, by the bride circling her groom, she is taking down any walls between them.

Three circles are considered to be a more reform practice. And again, it’s a numbers thing. God says “I will betrothe thee unto me” three times in reference to himself and Israel. So some couples decide three circles are enough and like the derivation of that number.

Then, there’s what more modern couples are doing: they’ll take turns circling the other an even amount of tmes — so either 3 or 1 each, and then circle each other at the same time for the final round. This is seen as more equitable practice since modern couples treat their marriage, and therefore the chuppah ceremony, as an equal partnership. That is, it’s not just the bride making the groom her world, but the groom making the bride his world as well.

Talk to your rabbi, cantor, or officiant about the option that would be best for you two and your system of beliefs. You may even choose to skip it altogether. But if you do end up circling, some tips: hold your bouquet with one hand and your dress’s skirt with the other to avoid tripping; Don’t look down the whole time because your face won’t be as available for photographs, so alternate between looking straight ahead at your partner and then at the ground; when you’re finished, make sure your maid of honor re-fluffs your dress once you’re settled in position.

No matter what you choose, your ceremony should be a reflection of your love and values. It’s less about the circles and more about your hearts!