How does one spell “Jewish Wedding Canopy”?

The people Ethan would playfully refer to as “punks” would say “J-E-W-I-S-H…” but that’s not what we’re talking about here.

One thing we noticed while on our whirlwind trip through Phoenix last week, talking to florists, planners, event location managers, caterers, and other sundry people involved in The Wedding Day, was that we just couldn’t come to agreement on how to spell Huppah.  There are just so many choices, Chuppah, Hupah, Huppah, Huppa, Chuppa….  Though some would probably argue that there is only one right way to do it, they better not be using the Roman alphabet.  Because there just isn’t standardization in transliteration.  Oh sure, some people have tried, and large groups of Jews choose to use one standard or another, but there just isn’t a universal.

This can cause a bit of a problem when dealing with people not familiar with all the variance.  If you use a spelling they’re not used to, then they might not understand what you’re talking about.  Certainly this problem is more prevalent in the modern age when so much is done via email and the internet, but trying to make arrangements from 2000 miles away doesn’t help either.

Fortunately we haven’t run into any major snafus because of the joys of transliteration, but there has been occasional minor confusion.

All that being said, we’re happy to report success in making major progress from our trip, and invitations are going out tomorrow.

On a related note, when we drafted our invitations we had included the Hebrew date, and had spelled out the English year “Two thousand and eleven,” as is often traditional in formal invitations.  We had kept the Hebrew date as a numeral and got a near universal reaction from people who reviewed it that that looked weird.  In the end we chose uniformity in numerals because spelling out “Fifty seven and seventy one” in addition to the above just took up way too much space.  So be on the lookout and keep it in mind for your big day.  It’s a minor detail, but one worth looking good.

Phoenix Here We Come, Phoenix Here We Are

This week, Ethan was freed from the bonds of the academic calendar (boy, finals are fun) and we near instantly picked up and flew out to Phoenix for a long weekend to taste, meet vendors and walk through venues for the upcoming wedding and associated events.

Our first stop (a mere hour and a half after our plane landed) was at Temple Chai in Scottsdale, where we had the pleasure of seeing where our Shabbat and rehearsal dinners will be.  It took a little imagination to picture our events taking place in Room Gimel (I believe named for being vaguely shaped like the Hebrew letter), given that it was set up for a blue and white, sports-themed bar mitzvah party.  But nonetheless the facilities were looking quite good and we’re confident that they will be treating us very well.  (Ethan has family who are members.)

Mia had an interesting revelation as she walked with Ethan and her parents into the hall: her folks were very concerned about whether they were dressed appropriately for this visit, and what the dress code would be for the actual dinners. This reminded Mia of when she first started attending services with Ethan and was really worried about fitting in and not being “offensive” somehow (not that she wears cutoffs and bustiers, of course!). She noted how relaxed she was as she encouraged her parents to trust Ethan’s assurances that they were just fine. (What a difference 2.5 years make: now she’s reassuring her parents rather than being reassured by Ethan.)

Meanwhile, back to the caterer… conveniently enough, the event we were watching get set up was being catered by the same company we were hoping to use for the dinners, and they were kind enough to let us sample some of their hors d’oeuvres to get a sense of their cooking.  It is pretty important for Ethan that we get a kosher caterer for the Shabbat dinner because he simply likes his meat and with a significant number of guests who keep kosher the rest of the weekend will have to be milchig (dairy).  So who could be more happy when the first waiter to come by brings out the traditional pigs in a blanket?  Mia found the concept of the non-dairy pastry wrapper to be quite novel too.  (Perhaps yet another indication of how she’s becoming accustomed to thinking about the kosher/non-kosher dynamic whenever she’s eating.)

So thus our weekend begins, tune in next week for more thrilling adventures from the desert.

How to make a Jewish art deco ring

Wow, has time flown or what?!?!? Ethan has been working full time plus taking classes toward a grad degree at night, which is like a second job, while Mia recently changed jobs and has been wedding planning at night….which is like a second job also!

Among many developments are the successful and laughter-filled meetings we have been having with our two officiants. One is the cantor at Ethan’s family’s shul who we love, the other is a long-time family friend of Mia’s. We have been very pleased by how naturally everything is coming together for our interfaith ceremony which will honor both of our heritages. (For those of you just starting to think about your interfaith ceremonies, we respectfully recommend checking out the options provided here on InterfaithFamily.com – what a resource! And we’re not just sayin’ that cuz we’re bloggin’ here – it’s true! We looked elsewhere!)

The other notable development (more exciting than cake and DJ selection and wedding gown fittings) is that we recently contracted a local jeweler to design and make our wedding bands. Supporting local businesses whenever possible, versus buying from chains, has been a major goal for us for all aspects of the wedding. We are thrilled to know that our rings won’t be mass produced in another country, and that we are supporting a local craftswoman.

When Ethan proposed to Mia, he surprised her with a vintage-style art deco ring that has marvelous elements in it that attract the admiration of everyone who sees them. We decided to mirror some of these elements in our wedding band for unity, artfully interspersed among the Hebrew lettering of the beautiful phrase, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.”

In the interest of full disclosure, since this is a space dedicated to sharing some of the trials and tribulations of interfaith relationships, Mia confesses that she had pause about having Hebrew lettering on her wedding band since, well, she’s not Jewish and she questioned whether that would be a true reflection of her. But then she realized that the sentiment in the expression transcends languages, religions and heritages and that the Hebrew lettering would be a daily reminder of the leap of faith Ethan is taking with her as well.

We were thrilled that the jeweler had created rings before with that phrase and was so supportive of it, and we know our rings will be unique, a constant reminder of our love for each other. We can’t wait to see them and to see people marvel over them, and their significance, like they do with Mia’s engagement ring!