Category Archives: Inside Scoop

How To Choose Your First Dance Song

Jessie and Zack by Mi Belle Photography

If you’re having tsuris about narrowing down and choosing a first dance song, I don’t blame you. There’s, like, a bajillion songs in the world, and agreeing on a tune that’s also “appropriate” for a wedding is super stressful.

There could be a number of reasons why you can’t settle on a song. Maybe you both met doing a super romantic dance crazy of our late 90s/early 2000s college days like, um, “grinding” to Nelly’s “Ride Wit Me” at the go-to college dive bar. Or maybe you guys have polar opposite tastes in music since you love Martina McBride and he has Flo Rida plugged into his Pandora station. Another possibility is that you are both scared out of your minds to have 200 of your closest friends and family watch you figure out what to do with both of your left feet as you attempt to partake in a age-old tradition and stumble along to a song that should make you look like the Hough duo.

These are all very legit reasons to roll your eyes about your first dance. Just take comfort in knowing that your first chance is yet another opportunity for you two to show just why you’re a fabulous couple. Make it about YOU. Not the steps. Not the song. You.


Well, obviously you have to pick the song that’s special for you both. There are different kinds of “special” and you haven’t come to The Wedding Mind Readers. You’re at The Wedding Yentas so let’s have an open discussion about what you need to actually ask yourself.

Is there a song that has a special meaning to your relationship? Was there something playing in the background of the place where you first met, and the music swelled as you laid eyes on each other and drums pounded as he took your breath away and a dramatic key change orchestrated your first exchanged smile? If so, you either met on the set of a Nicholas Sparks book-turned-movie or you have a really cool life. And if that’s the case, well, there’s your song.

Also, there might be a song that reminds you of an event that you enjoyed together. Maybe a musical or a concert or a charity dinner. Perhaps you will enjoy dancing to a song that played during a special memory you made together.

Consider the style or theme of your wedding and think about songs that may fit in. For example, if you’re having a sea side wedding, a beachy song might be a perfect choice for your first dance (think: Beach Boys?). If it’s a destination, maybe choose something that’s from that geography’s culture or song book.

Be cheesy. Cheesy doesn’t equal tacky. Let’s face it, the first dance is a pretty romantic part of the wedding, so maybe brainstorm some super romantic songs. I’m talkin’ about the ones that are played on late night infomercials where the titles scroll across the screen and a washed up D-list actor describes the album while sipping a glass of wine. Yeah, that guy.

Crossing fingers here, but maybe you both love the same band or singer? If that’s the case, choose a song from that list. Say you guys are both Jason Mraz fans; there are definitely a few options that would work great for a first dance. Narrowing down like that makes selecting a single song much easier.

Once you’ve decided on your song, make sure that your DJ can get it (if it’s obscure) or that your band can play it. For example, my husband and I danced to “For Once In My Life” which most people know as a Stevie Wonder song. But unless Stevie himself was going to play at our wedding, it’s one of those songs better left alone. For a jazzier and more romantic version, we asked our band to play it like Michael Buble performs it, and it sounded great. They did a little research and got their act together perfectly. I liked that it was a known song, but the version wasn’t as well-known so people weren’t as quick to judge or compare with the radio cut by Stevie.

Even after these pointers, if you’re still not obsessed with your first dance song and you don’t care to bathe in a pool of its sheet music, it’s okay. After all, it is just a dance and takes up approximately 3.5 minutes of your entire wedding day. No one is going to know if it isn’t the single song that exactly describes the way your heart beats for your partner. If you both just like it and it serves the purpose of a step-together-step-touch, then you’re good to go. It does not have to be the defining moment of the world’s greatest romance.

And if you’re not interested in doing a choreographed number and the idea of swaying back and forth like 7th graders gives you anxiety, choose something upbeat and fun! There are no rules. It’s your wedding day and your dance.

If you’re not even sure about being the center of dancing attention, you can always ask your MC to invite everyone to dance with you. One big group first dance to start off the evening and, oh look!, it just happens to be your first dance as marrieds.

According to Michael, a recent groom, “I think in the end you have to pick something that will just make the two of you happy. There is no such thing as the ‘perfect song.’ Too many variables. Do you like the song? Does it make you smile and think of your bride/groom when you hear it? Does it fit you as a couple? If the answers are “yes” then I think you’ve found your first dance.”

What first dance song did you choose? What are you thinking of using? Share some of your ideas here!

Rachel and Justin by Erin Johnson Photography

Tuxedo 911: How My Husband Lost His Tux On Our Wedding Night

Mr. Yenta’s Tuxedo
May 25, 2008 – May 25, 2008
Loyal Fancy Suit and Trusted Wedding Costume

That’s right. Let’s pour a little out for my husband’s wedding tuxedo, which we recently discovered had passed away, most likely, on our wedding night. One wear – and an important one! – but such a short life in Mr. Yenta’s side of the closet.

A few months before our wedding, he purchased his Ralph Lauren (ooo! Fancy!) tuxedo from the tux shop that also outfitted the rentals for the groomsmen. Because he wishes he lived in the world of The Great Gatsby, he wanted to own a tuxedo and to wear it to future formal events. Trouble is, we’re not living out our years at speakeasies and garden parties, so Ralph the Tux wasn’t seeing the light of day.

Finally, four years after our wedding, we would have two formal weddings to attend, giving reason for Husband Yenta to unearth Ralph from the avalanche of work polos and khakis to try on for the upcoming nuptials of our good friends and his sister, events that were happening two weeks apart.

The biggest concern was the elephant in the room: would Ralph still glide right on like butta the way it did on our wedding day or had four years of marital bliss also brought on marital bulge?

Well, friends, you’ll have to stay in suspense because the truth is, we don’t know.

(this is probably a good thing).

(except it’s not because there’s more to this story).

When Mr. Yenta brought Ralph into the light of our bedroom, he noticed that the jacket did not match the pants. The pants were labeled as Ralph as they should, but the jacket was a random, generic name and was accompanied by [gasp!] a bar code!

It’s a little tricky to replay the series of events that took place four years ago after coming off the high of getting married and a perfect night, but we, Mr. and Mrs. Sherlock Holmes, deduced that upon the scurry of gathering up our items at the end of our wedding night, Mr. Yenta’s purchased Ralph Lauren tuxedo jacket got scooped up and piled up with the rentals that the groomsmen were returning the next day. Do not worry, dear ones. The Ralph Lauren tuxedo pants remained on his person.

After a hot and steamy Horah, my dashing groom probably removed his jacket, draped it over a chair, and, never to be worn again, would go back to the rental store from which it was purchased, and live among the coming and going jackets of a lesser caliber. And what my husband took home? One of the groomsmen’s assigned weekend jacket.

Apparently, the tux shop counted units and paid no attention to the labels on the inside of the returned tuxedos. “One, two, three, four? Yup. Got ’em! Thanks for your business! Mazel tov and ta ta!”

So now the lower half of the Ralph Lauren tuxedo has been orphaned without a buddy. The tuxedo shop has changed its entire scanning system since our wedding five years ago – we checked – and the Ralph is long gone. Once worn. Never forgotten.

The moral of this sad tale that details the demise of an otherwise perfect penguin suit? At the end of your wedding reception, please do make sure your husband leaves with his jacket. Make sure that the groomsmen all leave with theirs. Menswear isn’t exactly too exciting to the naked eye, and it’s too easy for them to be mistaken for similar versions.

As for the two weddings we enjoyed last year? Well, it was just too soon to replace the fallen formalwear. Blame it on sentimentality. Blame it on the left the bottom half of Ralph behind and joined the ranks of the renters. It all worked out and one day, he’ll purchase a new tux, but maybe we’ll settle on something that can’t get mixed up; polka dots or zebra stripe print would really be fun, wouldn’t it?

Wedding Advice From A Seasoned Mother of the Bride & Groom

ellenAs the mother of the groom five years ago and mother of the bride one year ago, Ellen has had in-depth experiences celebrating wonderful simchas. With this experience, she has cultivated wisdom about being a mother along for this wedding ride, and is happy to share her lessons with fellow Yentas!

I’ve been the mother of a bride and the mother of a groom! They are both wonderful things to be, but can be very different experiences, but it’s all about how you handle and choose to see them. I was the groom’s mother first, and although I never searched extensively for information about the etiquette or what’s involved in being the mother of the groom in terms of planning a wedding, I did do some reading, and first and foremost used my instincts.

Let’s face it, we mothers are all females first, and as such, we should understand how important weddings can be particularly to our fellow females! So, the first thing I did was put myself in my future daughter-in-law’s place. I knew that I would have wanted to make my own decisions regarding my own wedding, so I let her and my son plan the wedding of their dreams.

Of course there are factors to take into consideration depending on the families’ payment and hosting philosophies. Budget plays an important part in the planning of a wedding and everyone knows that the more money you have to spend, the more options you have. Here’s my thing, and I feel very strongly about it: Single-sided payment or hosting is a thing of the past in my eyes. The tradition of having the bride’s parents pay for the majority of the wedding dates back to the time of the dowry system. This custom began out of a desire to get the bride’s family to contribute a share of the costs involved in setting up a new household. For me, this is an antiquated tradition that really doesn’t apply to modern society. I found that working with the bride’s family and setting up an equal and fair budget that worked for both families took the pressure off of the engaged couple and gave everyone a voice in the decision-making.

The point is, if you’re involved financially, then it’s always nice for the “kids” to take your opinions into consideration, but just because that’s nice, doesn’t mean you should demand your opinions be heard. If you’re contributing with cash, it’s more than likely because it’s out of the goodness of your heart anyway, and you want for your kids to have a wedding day that’s in line with their vision.

I also trusted my son and his fiancée. They were certainly capable of making intelligent decisions about what they wanted on their day. In other words, as the mother of the groom, I basically chose to, for the most part, butt out! My husband and I were lucky in that my son and future daughter-in-law were great about including us in what their ultimate decisions were, and asked for our “OK” before we put any deposits down or paid for anything.

Photo by Eight20 Photography

Photo by Eight20 Photography

I think, though, that in part, this was because we never forced our opinions on them. They were free to make their own choices and just do a “double-check” with us. It made for such a smooth planning process and ultimately a spectacular wedding. As the mother of the groom — or bride! — it’s important to realize that the choices may not be exactly what you want, but it’s not your wedding.

MOGS, take it from me; the less you say, the better. You already had your day, and even if you might have missed out, your children’s wedding is not the time for you to try to have it vicariously through them. While I don’t suggest you do the old fashioned MOG behavior of “wear beige and shut up”, I encourage you to ask questions, be supportive, and ask “how can I help”? Trust me!

And by the way, followed my own advice when I was the mother of the bride as well. I was as supportive as I could be without being pushy, and it worked again! Find that middle ground! And mazel tov!

Photo by ES Photo

Photo by ES Photo

Shopping For Your Wedding Dress: Keep An Open Mind!

Let’s face it. Your wedding dress is one of the centerpieces of your wedding day. It’s an expression of your personal style and wedding theme and something your guests can’t wait to see. Traditionally, we even keep it a secret from the groom so that when he sees you in it — gasp! — he melts with love for you all over again. So shopping for your wedding dress is not a chore to take lightly. It’s an experience and one you should enjoy. And even if you’re not the girly frou-frou type who’s dreamed of The Dress forever, there are ways you can get through checking off this wedding to-do without too many tears or breakdowns.

Choose your gown carefully. I know this sounds like a big, fat “duh” but don’t rush into making any decisions. This is a piece of clothing that will be in every wedding photo and perhaps will make it into the line of family heirlooms. With enough planning in advance and research time, you shouldn’t have to make any quick and dangerous decisions.

Consider the color of your dress. Try on different shades to match your skin tone and think about what kind of lighting your wedding day will have. Is the whole thing inside or outside? Are you marrying at night or during the afternoon? You may want to invest in color analysis to determine exactly what fabrics and colors will work with your complexion. Warm or cool undertones of your skin may actually look better with certain colors of dresses. You want to glow! You do not want to look washed out. Believe it or not, this makes a difference. And so many dress manufacturers have their own versions of the hundreds of shades of white. It’s something you probably never even considered. White is white, right? Wrong! There’s white, diamond white, cool white, antique white, ivory, and even a whole family of beiges and even pinks that still work as wedding dresses. Many dresses also come with complementing colors in accessories. It’s not uncommon to see silver or gold beading, sashes in turquoise, black, and pink, and even black and brown lace patterns or embroidery. Color yourself educated and do the research!

Many gowns today are blending rich fabrics with sheer simplicity. You will see just as many simple and understated dresses as you will big, pouffy, princess ballgowns. This also has to do with the fabrics that designers incorporate in their pieces. Organza, silk satin, crepe georgette, and silk peau de soie are weaving their way into wedding gowns. Prior to my own wedding dress shopping, I could probably name three kinds of clothing fabrics: broken-in denim, Spanx stuff, and sorority t-shirt. So when I entered the world of wedding threads, I had to educate myself on the different varieties of lace and know what raw silk meant. Texture determines the style and shape of a dress, so knowing the fabric that goes into a ballgown skirt versus the material used for a soft, flowing sheath dress will allow you to shop with the appropriate wedding dress goggles.

Know your body type! We’re all made differently and now is not the time to be experimenting with making a statement by not caring about how your hips look in your wedding dress. There are so many cuts and styles available that you absolutely will find a dress that fits your body. I don’t care if you insist your tushie looks like you ate a lifetime supply of fried potato latkes; it doesn’t matter if you’re self conscious about your arms that look like your bubbie’s, whose flap in the wind; there are no excuses if you’re freaking out about your belly that looks like it has enjoyed a diet of only muffin tops, even during Passover. It is OKAY. I’m telling you now that there is a dress for you! You just have to know what works on your body.

Try on a variety of styles and bring someone with you who will give you the brutal truth (isn’t that what Jewish mothers are for?). Now, I say “someone” — that does not mean your entire bridal party and your mother-in-law and six sisters-in-law. Too many opinions will drive you insane. Bring one or two. That’s it. And don’t force anything! No matter how beautiful the dress may be on the hanger, if it doesn’t work with your body style, cross it off and move on. You will find something similar in a cut that works with your frame. I was absolutely set on a dress that I’d gushed over in blogs and magazines. I swear, this dress spoke to me in my dreams, “Alison, come get meeeeee…” and it would absolutely be The Dress. I tracked down the dress, lost sleep due to my excitement to slip it on, and when I finally had my hands — and hips — in it, I was crushed. It looked okay until I realized that I’d have to chop half of it off due to my height and it would lose the detail. The model who wore the dress in the magazines — who could probably wear a potato sack and look totally hot — was about 5’10” with extremely long legs and thin features. I am five feet tall. Exactly. Maybe 5’2″ with my wedding shoes. The dress had pick-ups in the skirt and almost all of them would be cut off in alterations except for a few near the top who needs exaggeration near the tuchus?. Epiphany: short people like me generally cannot pull off pick-ups. And so ended my dresscapade.

So I suggest to you: try on what you like, assess, and redress! Move on. Find something new. You’ll learn so much about your personal style.

Too many pick-ups for a shorty like me! Keep in mind, I'm on a 6-inch platform and most of the pick-ups would have had to been cut off for my regular height, thus drawing more attention to areas that, ahem, don't need it.

Once you pick your dress, make sure you are comfortable with the alterations place and that the seamstress will get you the dress on time. Confirm dates and details for what you want (Adding buttons? Building in a bra? Including a zipper?) and make sure to bring the shoes you’ll be wearing to your fittings for a correct fit.

You will feel amazing in your wedding dress because, well, it’s your wedding dress!! Your girl squeal should be audible only to dogs and the smile on your face should never leave. And when it comes to your wedding night, you should never want to take it off! (Oh, but your groom’s so cute that you will!)

The Dress I ended up picking after several trips and tries!

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Behind The Scenes of a Custom Ketubah

By Anna Abramzon of Anna Abramzon Studio

Eric and Jessica found my art when they were searching for a ketubah and came across my Etsy shop. They liked my style, but were looking for something totally original for their upcoming wedding. They were developing a movement/dance theme for the big day (and their life in general) and liked the idea of having a completely unique hand painted ketubah that no other couple in the world would have.

This is Eric and Jessica, how cute are they?

Anna Abramzon Studio

And so began our journey together. My favorite thing about painting custom ketubot is the opportunity to get to know the couple. Although I have never met Eric or Jessica face to face (they are in San Francisco while I am in Houston) I really loved getting to know them and their creative vision through phone calls, and countless emails.

We started out by brainstorming ideas. I asked them to send me imagery that was appealing and meaningful to them so I could get a feel for their aesthetic. Since they knew for sure that they wanted a dancing figure on the ketubah, I started out by sketching a whole bunch of dancing figures for them, to see what they would like so we could go from there.

Anna Abramzon Studio

But these were a little too “Dancing with the Stars” for them. They sent me some images of the kind of dancing they were into, including this amazing sculpture called Bliss Dance from Treasure Island in San Francisco. Their wedding ceremony would be right next to it.

Treasure Island

So back to the drawing board I went! I presented them with a new series of sketches, focusing on a more organic, flowing and energetic dance style:

Anna Abramzon Studio

And we had a winner! They liked sketch C. They also sent me an image they really loved from a meditation retreat they had just attended, for inspiration. Yes, this wonder couple has time to plan a wedding, study for bar exams, and attend meditation retreats, too!


Next I presented them with a few layout ideas, one with the text split and one with the text all together:

Anna Abramzon Studio

They chose the split-text layout and decided against a “chai” on the top. They also told me they liked the rendering style from the Love Tree 2 Ketubah.

Anna Abramzon Studio

It was time for my favorite part, painting!!

Anna Abramzon Studio

Drumroll please…..

Anna Abramzon Studio

Just a few sentimental sniffles at the FEDEX office, and off the ketubah went on its journey to California and to its permanent home with Eric and Jessica!! Mazel tov you guys!!!!

Thank you so much, Eric and Jessica, for letting my art be a part of your special day. It was truly an honor! May your ketubah stay with you for a long, fulfilling and inspiring marriage, full of miracles! L’Chaim!


Anna Abramzon StudioToday, Anna Abramzon of Anna Abramzon Studio chimes in as a ketubah expert on The Wedding Yentas! They say she started drawing before she started walking, but that may be an exaggeration. As soon as she did start walking though, Anna started traveling, sketchbook in hand. She has lived all over the place and her travels have infused her artwork with color and life. Anna specialize in mixed media, combining collage with gouache, watercolor, pencil and ink. Anna met and married her husband in Jerusalem, Israel, and thought their wedding was a wonderful opportunity to create some love-inspired art, so she painted their ketubah, their invites, their thank you notes, and pretty much everything else that she possibly could for their wedding. Next thing she knew, other people started asking her to create artwork for their weddings. And that’s how Anna became a ketubah artist. She lives in Houston, Texas with her husband and daughter. Shop for your ketubah and keepsake art at Anna Abramzon Studio.