Category Archives: Inside Scoop

From The Expert: Perfecting Your Jewish Wedding Registry With The Perfect Guide

From-The-Expert

Today’s Expert: Dena Siegel of Chai & Home: Jewish Life, Beautifully Lived

I didn’t listen to my mother when I was setting up my wedding registry. My mother had a reputation for expensive tastes and spending quite freely, especially other people’s money: at least that is what Dad said. Anyway, when she expressed dismay at my registry full of general household goods and encouraged me to remove that stuff to instead list a proper set of china, crystal, and a real silver set, I was incredulous.

When I was setting up my registry, my fiancé and I were very aware that we didn’t want other people to see us as money-grubbing and desirous of expensive gifts. We placed practical items on the list: a wok, lamps, some small cooking appliances, towels, and the like. It was stuff we really needed everyday and most of it was inexpensive. I thought the guests would appreciate my practicality and see items they could easily afford.

Fast forward 10 years. Do you know what I have left from those gifts: One set of crystal candlesticks — and these weren’t on my registry! They were given off-list and I can only assume because the giver wanted to give me something that would last and they didn’t see anything like that on my registry. Since then, the wok and towels wore out and the lamps and electric items were left in England when I moved back home to Los Angeles. But I use the candlesticks regularly for Shabbat and now I know what my mother meant.

Here is what I know now but didn’t know then:

1. THE WAY YOU LIVE AND ENTERTAIN NOW ISN’T NECESSARILY HOW YOU WILL ENTERTAIN IN 5 AND 10 YEARS. You may not hold Passover now or many other formal dinners. But when you have kids and a beautiful home and your parents are older, by golly, you will be doing just that.

2. YOU THINK OF THE GIVER AND YOUR WEDDING DAY EVERY TIME YOU USE A GIFT FROM THE REGISTRY. This is really true so most items on your registry should be beautiful and elegant because that is how the giver will be remembered, and they know it.

3. YOUR GUESTS (PARTICULARLY YOUR RELATIVES) WANT TO GIVE YOU TIMELESS ITEMS. They have the wisdom to know how important these gifts are and they don’t want to be the one remembered by the vacuum cleaner because they know how temporal and banal the vacuum cleaner is.

4. YOU MAY NOT BE IN A POSITION TO BUY FINE ITEMS LATER. You may be feeling flush now because you have two incomes and no children, but when you are starting a family and establishing a home, it might be years and years before you are in a position again to buy a gold-rimmed set of china. And it might never happen.

So do your future self a favor and listen to this yenta: plan your registry very carefully.

Here is a tool to help. Chai & Home’s A Very Jewish Wedding Registry. This is a downloadable and printable guide to all the key items you will need in establishing a beautiful, Jewish home. With it you can create a meaningful wedding registry that your guests will be pleased to contribute to and that will set you up for your future household.

You will see there is an emphasis on Judaica and tableware and almost no cookware or appliances. When chosen wisely, the Judaica and tableware should last you lifetime. Not only do cookware and appliances not last, but they have an air of mundane practicality that most givers don’t want to be associated with.

May the gifts of your wedding registry display the joy and love your family and friends have for you during this magical time in your life.

L’Chaim!

Download the full registry checklist now!
WeddingRegistryGuide

Dena SiegelDena Siegel writes Chai & Home, a style blog about elegant, modern Jewish living. Through Chai & Home, Dena shows how Jewish life is beautifully lived by bringing you the best in accessories and Judaica available today. New ideas mixed with centuries old traditions will enliven your practice and stimulate yourself, your family, and friends. Visit Chai & Home or swing by to “Like!” the Facebook page.Visit Chai & Home or swing by to “Like!” the Facebook page.

All this pretty stuff! After you’re finished making some additions to your wedding registry based on the tips from Chai & Home, try to get your hands on MORE pretty stuff! Enter for a chance to win the grand prize of our current sweepstakes, sponsored by Emily Kuvin Jewelry Design!

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GIVEAWAY!! Emily Kuvin Jewelry Design Wants to Make You Look Purty!

I seriously have to pinch myself when I have the opportunity to share such wonderful wedding vendors and products with you! And providing you an opportunity to win stuff? Well, color me giddy!

Emily Kuvin and I agree on a lot of things. We agree that you deserve to look maaaaahvelous on your wedding day. We also agree that you should continue looking maaaaaahvelous on every other day, and especially on future special occasions, which is why you deserve to have jewelry that’s unique and personal, made with only the highest quality bling, and created by a true artist who knows her stuff.

Emily Kuvin Jewelry Design Wedding Jewelry

Here’s the thing: You spend hours and hours and hours shopping for THE DRESS. You look through a zillion magazines and web sites, you visit all kinds of stores and boutiques, you try on gown after gown, picking through miles of fabric until you find THE DRESS that makes you weep with joy. This is something you wear on your body, to represent your bridal style, and, unfortunately, only gets worn for the duration of your wedding day. If only it was socially acceptable to don your wedding gown in the frozen foods section of Trader Joe’s! (I’m not kidding. IF ONLY! Sigh.).

So if you spend that much time and thought and decision-making on your dress, shouldn’t you treat your jewelry with as much respect, especially since you can wear it over and over again through life’s special occasions? Fact: I still wear my wedding day earrings to most formal events I attend. It makes me feel happy to give myself a little wink-wink, nudge-nudge that those puppies still look great and are artifacts from one of my most favorite days ever. And hey! They’re the last of my wedding gear that still fit! (I have not gained any weight in my ear lobes! Can you believe it?!)

So this is why I want you to look your best and feel your best, knowing you are wearing jewelry that’s been commissioned JUST for you! Who says only movie stars and first ladies should get this kind of treatment?

Emily Kuvin Jewelry Design Wedding Jewelry

Here’s where winning comes in. Emily Kuvin Jewelry Design wants to give you a chance to win a $250 credit toward a custom designed necklace. The winner will also receive 10% off additional jewelry designs for your bridal party because, yes, jewelry makes for awesome bridesmaids and mothers gifts! What a great way to tie in your wedding look!

And, because Emily and I think you’re all winners — awwww — everyone who enters automatically gets 10% off toward their custom jewelry purchase.

Get inspired now. Visit Emily Kuvin Jewelry Design on Facebook (“Like” the page!) and browse her web site. Pretty stuff!

So, nuts and bolts:

From now until January 15th at 11:59 p.m. PST, enter for a chance to win a detailed consult to discuss your jewelry dreams with Emily which includes tons of thorough communication and designs, a $250 custom necklace, and 10% off your wedding party suite.

All entries are automatically awarded a 10% off coupon code which will be emailed on January 16th after the completion of the giveaway and after the winner has been announced. Winner will be notified via email and announced by The Wedding Yentas on Facebook and Twitter. This sweepstakes is open to U.S. residents. Entries do not have to be Jewish or a bride in order to qualify.

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Good luck, Yentas!

Custom Wedding Jewelry

  • Ashley says:

    How amazing! Would love to win!!!

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    beautiful jewels!

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    beautiful jewelry!

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    I love all the real weddings. Especially the ones in Florida since that’s where we live!

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    I’m not a bride but I enjoy your work on our mom’s group site. ;) Would love something to make this hard working mama feel like a princess!

  • sharon says:

    I’d love some custom jewelery :)

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Modern Weddings: Hooking Up and On The Grid

No, today’s post is not about a subject involving friends, alcohol, and late night shenanigans. We are finding, though, that modern weddings are hooking up — to the Internet!

Are you and your partner Facebook-a-holics? Did you meet online? Did your proposal require Twitter? These days, it’s not uncommon to see tech savvy couples include social networking and media on their wedding days. If you’re wondering how much is too much or if it’s easy to pull off, keep on reading for some tips and guidelines to, literally, hook up at your wedding.

hooking-up-at-your-wedding

If you have a big bridal party or lots of out-of-town family coming together for the first time in a while, it might be fun to set up an online “tailgate party” for your wedding day. Facebook has a “groups” function and you can set up your own wedding group for those who may want to connect before showing up for the big day. This is also an easy way to communicate to your guests and/or bridal party. Also, your group can chat and get to know each other before they meet IRL (in real life) at your wedding. This ice-breaker style function allows for photo albums and chats just like a personal Facebook page!

For more comprehensive pre-wedding tech, create a wedding website to provide information to your guests, introduce the wedding party, link to your registry, and even receive messages through a guestbook. There are varying versions of wedding websites available, and our favorites are found on MyWedding.com. With a plethora of templates to choose from, you and your partner are in control of what you want to share on the Internet!

hooking-up-at-your-wedding

Now, as far as being a techie on your actual wedding day, you and your posse can be linked in various ways. Have a tech-happy member of the wedding party be your Chief Of Tweet. If someone has a Twitter account, it’s more than appropriate to Tweet about the day’s events.

“11:25 a.m. Makeup artist is here! Sarah is lookin’ hot”
“2:08 p.m. Just arrived at venue – chuppah looks fab & sarah’s crying already”
“5:15 p.m. It’s almost go-time. Sarah’s gonna be a Mrs. in 15 mins!”
“6:00 p.m. Holy wow. these appetizers are delish. Oh and happy bride & groom!”
“7:24 p.m. 1 more drink then it’s MOH speech time. Wish me luck. GULP.”
“9:30 p.m. BOUQUET TIME. It’s all mine ladiessssss”
“11:00 p.m. Happy Honeymoon Sarah and David. Okay, time for afterparty”

You can even let your guests know upon arrival that if they want to Tweet or Instagram about the wedding day as it happens, they can use a common hashtag so that all the Tweets related to the wedding day are bunched together. The hashtag suggestion (#SarahandDavidsWedding or #Oct10SarahDavid or #DandSWedding, etc.) can be noted in the program or on a notice that guests can see as they enter the ceremony space. And while it takes more than 140 characters to describe how simply perfect the day is at every point, the Twitterverse will be lucky to have in-the-trenches updates about each milestone from your nuptials.

Your friends and family who are unable to travel to your wedding will no doubt be disappointed to have to miss the big day. Well, don’t let them! Set up a livestream of the event so that they can attend in their PJs from their living room across the country. They won’t be able to sip your signature drink, but at least they can toast to you as it all happens. Ustream is a site we recommend and all you’ll need is an Internet connection and a camera. With a little prep in advance, this should be cake to set up at your venue. You’ll need to provide a link to your at-home viewers and just like that, your attending list can be global. And if you’re a little weirded out about anyone in the world being able to access your wedding online, you can password protect it and still keep the intimacy of your special day. Is that ridiculously cool, or what?!

In the 90s, THE thing to do for weddings was to provide disposable cameras on each table for guests to document their wedding experience. More than likely, couples would return from their honeymoon and develop half-used film that showed Uncle Larry drunk off his tushie or fuzzy images from little cousins snapping away at anything sans flash. We’re going to go out on a limb and say that not only is this costly (cameras and developing aren’t cheap!) commodity tacky, but it’s passe and irrelevant! Why litter your tablescapes with old fashioned disposable cameras when most of your guests are toting their own digital cameras and documenting the entire day for themselves? So, instead, include a small card on each table that tells guests to upload their digital photos to a common Flickr account so that all the images can be compiled in one place for you and your attendees to view and share. While you wait for your pro pics to come in, it’ll be fun to watch your account grow with your guests’ images and you’ll enjoy seeing the wedding through their point of view.

Lastly, get excited to note your marriage online! And no, that doesn’t mean you can change your name at the DMV’s or Social Security Office’s websites. We’re talking about making your marriage Facebook official. It’s never too soon to change your status from Engaged to Married and bask in the Internet glow of newlywed bliss!

When Do You Send Thank You Cards for Wedding Gifts?

I often receive emails from readers about the little things. I am always happy to help however I can! This one came in recently and I thought it was a great example of a really good question needing an equally good answer.

Dear Alison,

I was hoping to get your take on thank you cards for wedding gifts and when to send them. We have just started to receive some gifts for our wedding next month and it feels weird to wait until after the wedding to acknowledge our receipt of them. What do you think?

If I do choose to send a thank you card for a gift sent now, should I also send another thank you card after the wedding thanking the guest for coming?

-Abby

*************************

Super good question!!! Write them as you get them. Much less daunting task than waiting until after the wedding. It’s totally acceptable to get wedding gifts early and it’s even more acceptable to write as you get them. The person who’s sending the gift likes it, too, because they feel good knowing you’ve received it and it’s safely in your home.

Thank them and do your spiel and if they’re coming to the wedding and say something like: “We are so looking forward to celebrating with you Next month/in a few weeks…”

If they’re not coming say something like: “We will miss you on the big day, but please know your thoughtfulness is so appreciated…”

And if you don’t know yet because you haven’t received their RSVP, just say something very neutral like: “The wedding day will be even sweeter thanks to your thoughtfulness, and we are so excited!”

After the wedding, you’ll write these same sentiments but just make them past tense.

Hope this helps!

Big fat mazels and love,
Alison

thank you note

How To Give A Wedding Toast

Ah, the art of the toast. No, not the carbs that get crispy under heat. I am referring to the toast that involves alcohol and some kind words in public. It is an art and there are dos and don’ts. We’ve all been witnesses to toasts gone wrong, and not only is it embarrassing for the toaster (whether they know it or not), it’s also horrifying for the toastee.

It’s not uncommon to hear the best man ramble on about parties from college or gross childhood pranks. And sometimes there’s the maid of honor who shares inside jokes about high school among sniffles of really uncontrollable emotion. As guests, we feel like we want to steer the train away to safety, but can’t, and instead, that runaway train becomes unstoppable.

But toasts don’t have to be roasts! There’s no reason they should become points of embarrassment or a cause to bite off all of your freshly manicured nails!

Toasts can be thoughtful, funny, and tasteful, while also endearing, proving why you’ve been selected to speak to and on behalf of the couple.

B&G Photography

B&G Photography

What are the signs of a successful toast?

1. Bring a drink! Don’t guzzle down so much of the drink that you can’t manage to speak, but you also don’t want to propose a toast with an empty hand. It’s easy to forget your bubbly as the M.C. calls your name to the floor and you’re in a flutter of adrenaline, but just keep repeating to yourself: Take a drink. Take a drink. Take a drink. And that way, at the end, you’re not holding up an imaginary glass of Champs!

2. Bring notes with you. You don’t want to memorize anything completely because if you blow a fuse and you forget a point, you’ll lose your entire train of thought and that rough patch will turn into a total meltdown. On the flipside, you don’t want to read your speech word-for-word off your paper. You’ll lose so much of the personable points and it’s almost impossible to not sound like you’re reading. Sounding like Charlie Brown’s teacher should be the exact opposite of your goal. So find the happy medium: Know the points you want to make, but speak about them from your heart. Use your notes as a guide to keep you on track, but speaking freely will keep your words and voice organic.

3. Keep it light and positive! This is not the time to make fun or put down. That’s uncomfortable for everyone! If you’re stuck, find a quote, a movie line, a piece of poetry, a song lyric. They make great intros and closers. You can tell a pretty benign story if it has a reason and a place in the toast or you can offer tips or advice to the couple. And like all fairytales that end in “happily ever after,” you’ll want to end your toast with kind wishes.

These tips might help you with crafting a toast, but nothing says it better than this video from a YouTube channel called PODIUM. Check out this short and entertaining clip that’ll give you some professional insight to giving toasts as well as some inspiration as you marinate on ideas of your own.

  • Rod Jackson says:

    Thanks so much. This really helped answer it for it.

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