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I know I’ve been ranting and whining about wedding invitations but now that they are over and done with, I wanted to take you back a few months to where I talked about the wedding dress.
There’s so much that goes into the dress. I mean this is ‘the’ dress that so many girls dream about, envisioning their day dressed in a to die for gown. To be honest, I never really thought about what dress I would wear, but when the day came to actually start thinking about it, I couldn’t believe how many options there were and how most of them did nothing for me. As much as I love sparkly things in everyday life (love glitter), I for some reason found it to be ghastly on a wedding gown. Who knew? I also found it disturbing the lack of options for a Conservative bride. And don’t even get me started on the ‘modest’ dresses that are out there. Seriously, it’s as if ‘modest’ is equated with lack of fashion sense and taste because dresses made for Conservative Jewish girls like me are just plain ugly. Blech. All I wanted was a beautiful dress that was simple and covered the arms. I want to be modest for the ceremony which means covering myself. I know many liberal Jews do not share the same opinion, but I’m naturally conservative and do not like showing my arms. It seems so risque but for this post you’ll see I’m wearing all strapless gowns because that’s what’s out there.
I did eventually find my dress love, the beautiful ‘Addie’ by Monique Lhullier. It really was pure love at first sight. It’s modern, simple, no bling, sequins, or sparkles and it has 3/4 sleeves, sheer beautiful sleeves. This dress is conservative and stylish. But as I mentioned before, it’s also $6000. Ahh.. This was one of those moments where I actually thought life isn’t fair for the budget conscious bride, but I reluctantly got over it, and started the search for ‘the’ dress that looked like my dear ‘Addie’. I started my search at Alfred Angelo, followed by David’s Bridal, and then NY Bride. For all you brides out there, please do not wait to buy your dress. I waited until 4 months before the wedding date which left me very little time to find a dress in time. I felt sort of pressured to make a decision quickly and although I did find my dress, and I love it, it’s not my first love, the Addie, and to be honest, I don’t love it as much as the Addie. It’s true. I still look at pictures of my dear dress but like a long lost love that didn’t work out, I try to focus on what I do have now, my actual dress. I’m happy with it and I bought a sheer tulle bolero with a train to give it a conservative twist because of course it’s strapless. I’m not going to show you what I chose until the actual wedding, but I’ll show you a few of the dresses that didn’t make the cut. Notice my facial expressions in some of the pics…clearly, I wasn’t so thrilled. However, wedding dress shopping is fun and I felt like a princess. I wish there were more occasions to wear such gorgeous dresses than just one day.
So let’s start with my dream dress, the Addie.
And now let’s move onto the ‘real’ dresses
Dress 1 from Alfred Angelo. Pretty but it didn’t catch my eye.
Dress 2 from Alfred Angelo. Simple and modern. I liked it but it didn’t have enough ‘oomph’.
Dress 3 from Alfred Angelo. I just thought this looked weird on me.
Dress 4 from Alfred Angelo. I like the simplicity of this one with the crystal band but it’s hard to tell how it would really look. All the samples were way too big so everything had to be clipped back.
Dress 5 from Alfred Angelo. I like the idea of this dress but it was just too big to really tell what it would look like. It’s very romantic and lace-y. I think if it fit, I would have liked this one more.
Dress 6 from David’s Bridal. I adored this dress from David’s Bridal but once I tried it on, it didn’t look right on me. This is from Vera Wang’s new White line. All the dresses are gorgeous. I tried quite a few on but it didn’t seem to work for me. You’ll also notice my Blue Steel face. I was trying to be Vera Wang-ish and no one was there to take a pic for me. Yes, I went wedding dress shopping alone (initially). I wanted to see how I felt about it without the influence of other’s opinions.
Dress 7 from NY Bride. I really enjoyed this dress but it was too thin for a winter wedding. It didn’t have as much heavy material like the other dresses. It was effortless to move in which is a big plus but I wanted more material.
Dress 8 from NY Bride. I just had to try on a big poofy dress. Fun, but hard to move in, and it swallowed my short body.
Dress 9 from NY Bride. This dress was so pretty and flowy but I found another dress I liked more, so this one could have been the one.
I think I tried on about 20 dresses total. For those ladies who are already married or are getting married, how many dresses did you try before you found the one?
Omg…it’s midnight and we finally finished sealing the last invitation! Woo hoo:) Normally, we would video this moment, but we are both tuckered out, so I leave you with some thoughts. If you knew exactly what went on behind the scenes to get these done, you would fully understand how sealing that last envelope was so sweet.
We put a lot of love into these although I’m not sure if you can tell that’s the case. They’re simple yet it took forever to get these just right! We both knew we wanted our invites to be easy, fun, and only made of 2 parts: the invite on one piece of card stock and a post card RSVP. That’s it. I’ve seen some elaborate invitations with lots of different parts, tags, etc., and they look gorgeous but we are not the type to spend so much time creating such works of art. Yes, we wanted nice invitations, but simple and cost effective was our main priority.
And I thought if we did it ourselves, we would achieve our goals. Nope…not true. I don’t know what the heck I was thinking trying to do these myself. Thank goodness for my fiance and bff otherwise these would not be done until next week. I already have folks asking for details and such but I hear 6 weeks before the wedding is ideal timing to receive an invite, so we’re in the clear.
Arel and I both decided we didn’t want to spend a lot on invitations, but I’m not sure we really saved much doing it ourselves. So to save you from repeating our mistakes, here’s some wise words of wisdom for those of you trying to save money on invitations: unless you know what the heck you’re doing, this is not the route to go. There are plenty of websites that offer extremely affordable, nice looking websites. Check out www.vistaprint.com and www.theamericanwedding.com for ridiculously cheap invites that actually look nice. Or you can even purchase ready to go invites at stores like Michael’s and simply print the info you need on it. This route can be a bit expensive especially if you have a lot of folks to invite but it’s still cheaper than most other options. I learned DIY is not always the cheapest route but it can be if done properly. And with that, I say good night!
We made it through an absolutely amazing weekend of festivities, had a beautiful ceremony and shared in so much love and joy that we are positively bursting.
Now that it is all over I am reflecting on some of the choices we made as a couple and myself as an individual regarding kashrut, Jewish dietary law.
A significant portion of my friends and family keep kosher to one extent or another, so we knew from the start that we had to accommodate that for all meals. We made the simple choice for the reception to go vegetarian because our venue had non-kosher in-house catering. This turned out great since they had superb chefs who were able to come up with three unique, creative and tasty entree options for guests to choose from.
I, however, am a meat lover so we managed to get a kosher caterer for both a Shabbat dinner (for the family that doesn’t travel on the Sabbath) and the rehearsal dinner on Saturday night. It wasn’t easy to find one that was affordable because kosher is such a rare and expensive commodity, but in the end we were very happy with the results and Mia was always willing to accommodate these needs and take on these costs without hesitation or objection. Did I land a good one or what?
This is all by way of leading into the longer term thought processes about what to do as we move forward sharing a home where one of us was brought up keeping kosher and the other most definitely was not.
I have long internally debated how kosher I want to be. Many people over the years have been asked by me about their practices and their reasoning behind it. And in general the most compelling of reasons I’ve received for the practice in the modern era is the tying together of a community. This is important to me, but my community isn’t just Jewish. If I keep too strictly to the rules I start excluding people from my community since I won’t be able to eat in their homes and they won’t be able to bring food into mine. Three quarters of our wedding party would be excluded if I kept to the extremes of kashrut. That’s way further than I could ever go. I want to maintain my identity, but also my flexibility.
It has been years since I’ve kept separate dishes for meat and dairy (though I separate for Passover), since that, to me, is just a silly anachronism. But the other limitations are harder for me to let go, so I’m starting an experiment to see what happens and maybe in a few weeks I’ll have more to say. I decided that for our honeymoon (in France, conveniently enough) I am taking an official kashrut hiatus.
This adventure has already begun as we marked the start of honeymoon with a pre-mini-moon for a night in Phoenix before returning to Boston for a week before leaving for France. That night, at dinner, we were given a pair of complimentary seared scallops (with pancetta in the sauce too). I hadn’t planned on starting yet, but we had declared this night part of the honeymoon so I sat and agonized for a minute or two. And then, for the first time in my life (barring the accidental ham and cheese once when I was 5), I consciously and deliberately chose to eat the flesh of not one, but two un-kosher animals.
I’m not dead yet, but I’m still figuring out how I feel and how this will affect the life Mia and I are now building together. WIsh me luck as the experiment continues.
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!
Mia stole the show last time, so now you’re all stuck with me — Ethan.
This week we had our first serious sit down with one of our two officiants. One is a close family friend of Mia’s who lives in Arizona, he’ll be representing… Well, I don’t know exactly, we haven’t worked out the details entirely, but he’ll be important in the non-Jewish aspects of the ceremony. The other officiant is a cantor out here in Massachusetts who is a great, soulful, spiritual and all around fabulous woman.
We met with her over Korean Bibimbap after work this week. A lot of the discussion was background on our spiritual, personal and family histories so we could build a common language as a basis for the ceremony. When we did start getting into specifics, I found it was important for me to have much of the basic Jewish liturgy included, while Mia wanted a variety of blessings and ceremonial touches from her diverse background. (Did we mention that her people hail from over half a dozen European countries and the Western Hemisphere and has no overlap with my 4 European countries of decent?)
So we’re looking into unity candles, wine drinking/glass breaking, hand fasting, and native American wedding vases, among other things. In thinking about all this though, we still want to keep the ceremony to a reasonable time. Clearly there are going to have to be some compromises to keep it under 2 hours. And that’s when it hit me! Often when doing the Seven Blessings, you’ll have people read them in both Hebrew and English. Sometimes it’s the same person, sometimes different. But what if we do it differently? We’re now looking into writing/stealing our own unique set of seven blessings. Some of the traditional ones are sure to be there, but there will definitely be others as well.
We’ve still not really worked out the details of course, but at least we have a direction for some of this insanity. And it’ll keep things moving if we do it right. Winners all around.
Mia here…Ethan is at a meeting and our cat Daisy is curled up next to me. This rare quiet time inspired contemplative thoughts about my upcoming marriage to Ethan in an interfaith context. The theme of “in between” came to mind on three different levels, so I thought I would share. If anyone has had any positive experience with them, I welcome your feedback!
Level 1: Kinda sorta a “member of the Tribe” but not really ~
As previously shared, I have been overcome by the love and joy Ethan’s family and friends have exhibited as our relationship progressed, and especially when we became engaged. I have also been similarly touched by and grateful for their acceptance of me as a non-Jewish person, as well as their appreciation of my efforts to learn all I can about Judaism, and my participation in high holidays, Shabbat dinners, etc. I have been dubbed something of a budding resource about Judaism among my non-Jewish friends and coworkers. But beneath it all is the truth that I am not Jewish, and at this time, I don’t intend to convert in the near future. Respect, yes. Participate, yes. Continue to learn, of course. It’s just that I have had a very complicated relationship with organized religion since an early age. I was not raised in a religion because my parents wanted my brother and me to choose our own paths, and that process has been met with a lot of confusion and hostility over the years from many camps (not from anyone in Ethan’s family, thankfully!). I need to get to a place where I can find a good middle ground and not feel in limbo, nor feel defensive about my position (although Ethan keeps reminding me there’s no reason to feel that way ~ I hope he’s right!).
Level 2: What’s in a name?
Despite having issues with patriarchal societies, I decided to take Ethan’s last name when we marry. This decision has made me think about heritage a lot. “My people” were Irish, Scottish, Welsh, German, and French (among a handful of others), with a spectrum of heritage associated with them, whereas Ethan’s family name is Russian and Lithuanian with Jewish heritage. We both gravitate toward the unity a shared name implies, as well as the sense of connection we will have with our children. I can just picture my children’s responses to the ancestry question: “Well, we are (in no particular order) English, Irish, Russian, Welsh, Scottish, Lithuanian, Polish, French, German, Spanish, and Native American. Seriously.” I think I may be one of a very small handful of family members in many recent generations of my family to introduce Jewish heritage to the family tree, and this has made me marvel at the amazing webs we all are weaving for future generations of our families in this age of greater tolerance.
And finally (thank goodness, you say!) Level 3: What’s in a Seder and an Easter Egg?
Ethan and I are looking forward to celebrating our third Passover and Easter together. The former is celebrated to the fullest extent; the latter consists of my display of bunnies, painted eggs, and flowers around the house (nothing about Jesus) and the consumption of jelly beans and Cadbury Cream Eggs (drool…). Last year we hosted a Seder, and I asked Ethan in advance if his family would be startled to see Easter decorations. Instead, they were really interested and asked me what the decorations’ meaning is for me. The answer is the thrill of approaching spring and the renewal and fresh start that implies, and memories of savory brunches on the holiday with my family, with me in a new frilly pastel frock and white Mary Janes. Last year, friends and coworkers asked if I was fully participating in Passover since it was Ethan’s and my first under a shared roof, and I replied that I was except for attending every service and observing the restricted eating because I’m hypoglycemic. Again, I find myself in an “in-between” land where I’m partially blending two traditions that have different meanings for me than they do for people who observe them to the letter. But as I write this, I realize that it’s fun! Ethan makes THE best brisket in the world, and I have come to look forward to the bond that exists around the Seder table, while also counting the days until I can transform our home into a springtime display and honor the cycle of the seasons. Don’t worry, I don’t let the Cadbury eggs get anywhere near the brisket.
For those of you who have been around a while, you’ll remember that we’ve had interfaith couples blogging about their wedding preparations, and the ceremony itself, from time to time. The last couple to blog was Lulu and Alx, and you can scroll down to look back on all of that.
But this blog has been vacant for a while… I’ve been keeping my eyes and ears open, trying to find an interesting couple who would want to share their experiences with us. And then I found them: Mia and Ethan. Mia wrote an article for InterfaithFamily.com last spring, in which she shared details of their relationship, how they shared holidays and family meals with each other.
So when I saw Ethan’s family (I’m good friends with two of his sisters) congratulating the couple on Facebook, I pounced.
Ethan and Mia will start blogging here about their plans for their wedding, the decisions they’re making about religious elements, and more. (I personally hope that Ethan’s step-father, a rabbi, will chime in…)
We got hitched went on a fabulous honeymoon in the city of sin and now we’re trying to get back on track with “normal” life. The wedding was absolutely everything we had hoped for. It was definitely worth all of the hard work that went into it from everyone involved. This event challenged Alx and I to analyze, digest, and ultimately accept whole heartedly the differences between us much deeper than we ever had before.
It gave us the opportunity to truly understand each others beliefs as well as incorporate each others’ as our own in our own way. Our Rabbi was key in this process. We couldn’t have done it without her. She taught us how to appreciate the small things in each other and it was those small things that got us through the stress and anxiety of not only the planning of the wedding but especially the planning of the interfaith aspects of the wedding.
The day was absolutely gorgeous and a miracle in itself. It rained for weeks before and for weeks after but on our wedding weekend it was clear skies and in the high 70s to low 80s the entire time! The garden setting was stunning and the semi-circle arrangement of chairs around our huppah made us feel completely enclosed in a circle of love with our friends and family.
Our ketuba sculpture that I’ve lovingly named Beetlejuice Bonzai was perfect and filled with blessings when we took it home. Alx and I will have the honor of reading them on our first anniversary. In the mean while, we enjoy looking at all of our guests initials as witnesses that are signed on each beaded leaf that dangles from our tree. Within its hollow trunk lies our written ketuba with our signatures along with our Rabbi’s.
For the wine blessings we drank from a beautiful handmade silver kiddish cup straight from Israel. This was special for Alx to have that connection and what can I say, I got a really cool cup out of the deal! All kidding aside, I am proud to have such a wonderful kiddish cup that we can pass down through our family to maybe even be used at our children’s weddings.
The ceremony was flawless. It embodied so many of the things that Alx and I hold precious separately and as a couple. We were surrounded by our friends and family on a gorgeous Spring day. The ceremony was happy, relaxed and full of humor…Alx cried, I laughed. One of my most favorite moments was the Seven Blessings. Rabbi Berman said the tradition ones in Hebrew and they were accompanied by seven of our friends’ and families’ blessings. These modern blessings were in haiku form as a nod to my Japanese roots. It was perfect. They were heart felt, gave advice, cherished the moment, and of course had humor.
Our wedding was completely filled with little surprises that made it very LULAX. From the handmade favors by each member of our wedding party that fully expessed them as individuals and why we love them to the hand painted cake toppers that my Maid of Honor designed for us.
Most importantly, our wedding was about family, our family. Our son, Raiden, was included in every aspect of the ceremony. He walked the aisle with us. He stood with us under the huppah adding his own rendition of the Rabbi’s words at various points. He cut the cake with us and he party like it was 1999 with us.
He is the reason we tied the knot. Raiden is the embodiment of everything good that Alx and I could give to this world and in the spirit of that, we made it official. Cheers to you Rai guy. Way to make the love go ’round.
I can’t believe that I am sitting here writing my last blog post before the big day. We’ve hit the final countdown and I’m reminded of it as the weather forecast moves from the 10 day into the 5 day. 5 days until the wedding!
I’m set to leave on my big Mikvah trip in a few hours. Well. Ok. Bachelor party. I’ve just decided to see my upcoming three day adventure as a way to cleanse myself of any feelings of anxiety or stress. I am going to use my time-with-the-boys to ground myself and walk down the isle with a clean mind and spirit. I don’t think that I can think of anything more comforting than spending time with people whom I would trust with anything. They have always been there for me, since we were kids, and will continue to be there for me no matter what happens. They are the people that I am most comfortable around and I’m happy to have them put me in the mind frame to push me out of this liminal space and into married life
We have so much going on that my whole body is spinning (not just my head anymore!) Although the plans are shaping up, I can’t forget that there is always going to be more to do.
The benefit to being us is that we don’t stress too easily. This is one of those times where we both understand that if it gets done, great. If not, we will still have the best day ever.
I will be totally ready.
I’m excited to start this adventure, and honored to be a part of Lula’s life. I’m just so glad that it’s her.
All of the details are starting to fall into place and it’s actually looking like we’re going to pull this wedding off. We’ve done so much work and there is still some to do. Clean the house, meet with the caterer, get the stuff to the venue…my gosh, it’s like running a marathon. Just when you think your cool for the home stretch, you come up against “the wall” gasping for breath with stabbing pains in your ribs. Well, it’s not quite that dramatic but you get the picture.
I’ve run into a little bit of a hurdle in our home stretch. Traditionally in a Jewish wedding vows are not said like in the movies when the blushing bride and groom look into each others’ eyes and proclaim their love before saying “I do”. The ketuba pretty much serves as the vows. Alx and I decided to go with reading the ketubah out loud before signing it to serve as us saying our vows. We wrote it together and it’s beautiful; however, we felt that something needed to be said when we exchange our rings. Maybe I’ve watched too many romantic comedies but whatever the reason I just couldn’t exchange the rings without saying something.
Herein lies the hurdle. What the hell am I supposed to say? Don’t get me wrong, I love the guy with all of my heart but how do you express that in a few sentences without sounding like it came straight from a cheesy romance novel? On top of that, there’s no “do you take this man/woman” stuff to fluff-out any literary shortcomings that my proclamation might have.
The real kicker is that I always bounce my writing off of Alx before putting it out into the great wide open but we decided it would be sweet to not know what each other is going to say. Damn, I didn’t think that one through.
So, I figured I’d hit-up the next best thing and ask you all what you think. Did you say something to your significant other? Is there something someone has said to you that you’d like to share?
In other words, HELP! My wedding is in eleven days and I’m supposed to say something earth shattering to the man I love and frankly, my mind is so bogged down with random details about everything else in life right now that I just can’t get it out. Your insight will be much appreciated. I look forward to being inspired.
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