Monthly Archives: March 2014

Engagement Session on the Santa Monica Pier

I’m so excited to share Vicky and Chad’s engagement session on The Wedding Yentas today! They are an adorable couple who look like a lot of fun. They’re also a JDate success story and soon-to-be married, so it’s even more of a privilege to showcase their engagement session because, as most of you know, JDate couples hold a special place in my heart since Mr. Yenta and I are JDate alumni.

Chad and Vicky have been featured on JDate’s collection of Success Stories and here’s an excerpt from their feature:

Vicky and Chad were never in any hurry to get married, and decided very early on to make a “10-year plan.” It grew into a joke with the two saying, “Only 6 years left in the 10-year plan!” But it allowed them to grow and mature at their own pace. During the first five years of their relationship, Vicky and Chad bought a home and adopted a perfect five-pound puppy who has since become the princess of their household.

To celebrate their five-year anniversary, Chad set up a weekend trip to Monterey, CA where they biked the famous 17-Mile Drive and explored the Monterey Aquarium. Before dinner one night, Chad got down on one knee and asked Vicky to marry him. Chad was really nervous, but he shouldn’t have been. It was an easy answer for Vicky: “Yes!”

This cute couple went to the Santa Monica Pier for their engagement photos which was colorful and vibrant in front of Love Janet Photography‘s camera!

Santa Monica Pier Engagement Shoot

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Photographer: Love Janet Photography
Editorial Partner: Two Bright Lights

{Real Jewish Weddings} Chicago, IL

This is an example of a lovely interfaith wedding, where the focus is the couple, not one religion over another. It’s a beautiful whirlwind of love, the way that Kelly and Dan got married. They honored both of their traditions and beliefs, while starting their family of two in a way that truly resembles them as a pair.

Coming out of the ceremony, greeted by their cheering guests, started off the festivities perfectly. The just-married photos that followed were sweet and tender, clearly highlighting the love that Dan and Kelly have for each other. And shoe shots! Love the shoe shot of Kelly’s adorable heels peeking out from under her dress!

The toasts, the dances, and the cute little cake all complemented the special bond these two share. Love is certainly grand!

Mazel tov, Kelly and Dan!

chicago jewish weddings

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Photographer:  Emilia Jane Photography
Dress Store: Bella Bridesmaid
Cake Designer: Bittersweet Bakery
Reception Venue: City Winery Chicago
Floral Designer: Forget Me Knodt

Submitted via Two Bright Lights

{Real Jewish Weddings} Wilmington, DE

Sarah and Greg enjoyed a beautiful fall day for their outdoor ceremony at Rockwood Mansion! The dark purple bridesmaid dresses paired with white and purple bouquets and boutonnières made for a wonderfully classic look to their decor! To reflect the fresh brightness of the beautiful kitchen garden where their ceremony was being held on the estate, sunflowers were placed by each aisle row and also adorned their bamboo chuppah. During the ceremony, you could just feel the love and emotion between the two of them and with a huge smile, Greg broke the glass and kissed his lovely bride!

While the guests headed to the cocktail hour, Sarah and Greg had fun exploring the mansion and its gorgeous grounds for golden hour photos! Then, the newlyweds headed to the rustic carriage house for their first dance and parent dances. Each guest’s table had floating candles and a bottle of wine picked out for them. Sarah and Greg’s wedding cake was the perfect amount of swirls and ruffles to make it simply stunning! They ended the night with fun dancing and spirited music with all of their loved ones!

Mazel tov, Sarah and Greg!

Delaware Jewish Weddings

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Photographer:  Kate’s Lens Photography
Venue: Rockwood Mansion
Caterer: The Greenery Caterers
Submitted via Two Bright Lights

Tales From The Veil: Los Angeles Couple Goes Modern Orthodox Even With Reform Upbringing

Growing up in a small town in Maine, my Jewish identity was defined by cultural Jewish experiences like visiting my grandparents in Long Island where I enjoyed bagel, lox, and cream cheese, knishes and other culturally Jewish delicacies; it was a small taste of what living a Jewish life could mean. It was not until I participated in a Birthright trip during my sophomore year in college that I experienced and became intrigued by Judaism and was eager to learn more.

As a curious teenager, I had a lot of questions about life and I was unable to find satisfying answers. So, I embarked on a journey of Jewish learning that included studying at an all-women’s seminary in Jerusalem, one-on-one learning back in the United States, and slowly adopting practices such as keeping Kosher and attempting to keep Shabbat. When I met my husband, AJ, it was the first time I found someone who came from a similar background, yet was moving in a similar direction. AJ grew up in a Reform synagogue in San Francisco, and became more observant during business school. Together, we are currently paving our path and still figuring out what kind of Jewish home we will keep.

Jewish Weddings

We decided that although we are still growing in our observance and haven’t committed to all observant traditions and practices, it was very important to us to have an Orthodox wedding. There were several reasons to this, but a few included: We wanted all of our guests to feel comfortable. Some of our closest friends are Orthodox and will only eat Kosher food that is under the supervision of a Rabbi. Additionally, many men will only dance with men and women with women. Also, the meaning behind a traditional Jewish ceremony was extremely intriguing to us. It was important that our wedding was a spiritual and elevating experience, not just a party. And lastly, the few Orthodox weddings I had been to in the past were the most moving, exciting, and meaningful.

Obviously, this added a level of complexity when the planning process began because neither my mother nor future mother-in-law had ever been to an Orthodox wedding. The first challenge we faced was deciding where to have the wedding. If we decided to have the wedding in Maine, we would have had to bring Kosher food up from Boston. This just seemed crazy. So, we decided to have the wedding in San Francisco, where we could find Kosher food and had AJ’s mom on the ground to help with the planning. Next, we could only serve Kosher Mevushal wine. This made ordering and selecting alcohol much more complicated and expensive. In the end, we separately ordered the wine from the rest of the alcohol from a distributor in Chicago.

Choosing a band was also hard. We wanted a band that could play “simcha” music (Hora style music), but a band that could also play American music as well. We ended up bringing a band from Los Angeles. Also, we decided that the first 25 minutes would be separate dancing and the rest of the wedding would be mixed. One of the only pre-wedding nightmares I had was about this particular part of the wedding. I worried guests would not want to participate in the separate dancing or that nobody would know what was going on! Fortunately, the separation occurred organically and it seemed as though most of our guests really enjoyed and appreciated this part.

AJ and I decided to not see each other the week before the wedding. However, our parents felt very strongly about having a dinner the night before the wedding with our immediate and extended families. We wanted to respect their request, especially since they were so supportive of our choice to have an Orthodox wedding, so we did not see each other for the entire week up until the wedding, and sat at different tables during the dinner and did everything we could to avoid eye contact. We wanted the moment at the Bedeken (veiling ceremony) to be as special as possible. Many argue the Bedeken goes back to biblical times when Jacob married Leah by accident because her face was veiled, when he really wanted to marry Rachel. Others say it is the groom publicly demonstrating that his love and affection for his new bride goes beyond physical beauty; he loves her for what he cannot see. The Bedeken added a complexity to the photography schedule. Our photographer wanted to take group and family photos before the wedding, which is commonly done. However, we decided we would hold out for the Bedeken and do group pictures during cocktail hour. We wanted our first interaction to be at the veiling.

Jewish Wedding Bedeken

In the end, it all paid off despite the added challenges of planning a wedding that nobody in our family had experienced before. The minute AJ was ushered out of the Tisch escorted by his father and my father, our friends, and family he approached me and pulled my veil over my face, and leaned in and whispered loving words in my ear. I was flooded with emotion and gratitude that not only was I marrying my beshert, but I was participating in a tradition that goes back thousands of years and I have the privilege of living in a time where I can be Jewish and openly, and proudly live a Jewish life.

annabioAfter growing up in non-observant Reform Jewish households, Anna & AJ Prager now live in the Pico Robertson community in Los Angeles, which is typically very traditional. They recently moved from Chicago where Anna was attending graduate school at the University of Chicago. Anna loves to cook, bake challah, host Shabbos meals, and enjoys her daily fitness classes at Equinox with AJ! AJ works in the entertainment industry and is a San Francisco Giants fan. They both love to travel and are enjoying being newlyweds together! You can also see their entire wedding collection and story that was featured on The Wedding Yentas.

{Real Jewish Weddings} San Francisco, CA

In the winter of 2011, Anna participated in a trip to Berlin, Germany, with the organization Germany Close Up, a trip that brings American Jews to experience modern day Germany. On the first evening of the trip, she connected with a fellow participant, Elannah, and the two quickly bonded. Within a few hours of their meeting, Elannah realized Anna would be a perfect match for AJ, one of her best friends back in Los Angeles. The problem was that Anna lived in NYC and AJ in L.A. Nevertheless, Elannah immediately sent AJ an email telling him that she had found his “bashert” (soulmate) in Berlin, Germany. After Anna returned to the States, she and AJ spoke a few times by phone and eventually AJ flew across the country to meet Anna in person.

Anna & AJ got married in San Francisco at the former federal bank called the Bently Reserve. They had a modern Orthodox wedding that reflected their connection and commitment to traditional Judaism. It was the first Orthodox wedding for the majority of their guests, including the couple’s families. The energy and ruach was outstanding and contagious.

Mazel tov, Anna and AJ!

Please also enjoy the highlights reel produced by Blue Moon Productions!

Anna + AJ | Bently Reserve | San Francisco from Andy Hirsch on Vimeo.

New York Jewish Weddings

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Photography: Todd Rafalovich Photography
Venue: Bently Reserve
Lighting: Enhanced Lighting & AV
Cake: Have Your Cake
Rentals: Classic Rentals
Band: Nefesh Orchestra