Wedding Planners Make It Look Easy

So I know what you’re thinking…she’s a graphic designer so her wedding is going to look FABULOUS. Well, that is what I was thinking too, however, reality set-in as we started trying to plan this beast of an event. Planning an event of this magnitude is a painful, tedious process in itself. We not only have the daunting task of planning it but also incorporating the right balance of, well, of us.

The essence of our relationship lies in a fine balance of tolerance, respect, and admiration for the others’ culture and beliefs. Wedding planning is the type of situation in which that balance is often pushed, pulled, and challenged in every way possible. As a conservative Jew, Alx has very specific things that are a must for his big day: a rabbi, a chuppah, the breaking of the glass, the horah, to name a few. You would think that this wouldn’t bother me since I actually don’t subscribe to any organized religion; however, that is very far from the truth. The issue isn’t that I don’t want these rituals in our nuptials. The issue is how to embrace and incorporate all of them without it becoming strictly a Jewish wedding.

We found out quite quickly that it all comes down to a lot of long, hard discussions. I truly believe our saving grace is our bond of love and respect for each other. We disagree, we fight, we cry, we make-up and ultimately we work it out. One of the harder aspects has been the quest for a rabbi. It can’t just be any rabbi. It has to be a rabbi that is comfortable doing interfaith weddings who we are comfortable with. This is no easy task. In fact, we are still in the midst of that journey.

I’m also having a bit of trouble pinning down rituals that I want to include from my culture. Since I come from such a diverse background, it isn’t so easy for me. This type of thing is very black & white for Alx. I have to admit that it is a point of frustration to not be able to just rattle off a list of rituals and be done with it. I’m sure it’s as equally frustrating for Alx when he asks what I want to incorporate and doesn’t really get an answer. All I know is that I don’t want it to be a strictly Jewish wedding because it’s my wedding too and frankly, I’m not Jewish.

To top off all of the challenges that we already face, I’m just not into being a bridezilla. I am not the type of woman who had her wedding planned since she was a little girl. Just to give you an idea of what I’m talking about, my wedding dress is the first dress I tried on from the first store I walked into. My wedding shoes are the first pair of shoes that my Maid of Honor stuck in front of my face and said “these are cute”. I don’t like tulle, lace, pink, frilly stuff, or even most flowers.

I am the ultimate anti-bride.

This does not make wedding planning easy. Although in my defense, Alx knew what he was getting into. Our first Valentine’s Day he got me a paper shredder. That’s when I knew he was The One. So after months of feeling like I’ve been drowning in all things girlie, I decided to approach the situation like I would any of my design projects. I made concept boards.

Concept Board 1

   Concept Board 1: Visualization of table decor

Concept Board 2

  Concept Board 2: Diagram of garden for ceremony

I’ve found that this approach has helped immensely. I’ve also created spreadsheets for tasks, timelines, vendors, and our invitation list. The “project” has definitely morphed into something completely different than when we started planning a few months ago. We began with a very laid back approach to the whole wedding but it has since become a bit more upscale. It’s not super fancy but is also isn’t the laid back B-B-Q idea that we originally started with.

Decor That Died

Decor That Died: My first attempt at wedding decor. I was trying to stick with our ideals of “reduce, reuse, recycle” so I reused Raiden’s baby food jars for tea light candle holders. That got recycled…

In keeping with my approach as a designer, I’ve come-up with a main concept or theme for our wedding. It’s basically, all the things we love: my favorite colors, his commitment to Judaism, my love of minimalism, our love of books, our love of nature, our love of just having a good time. Our love of nature is what led us to agree on a centerpiece.

Our Minimalist Artsy Centerpiece

 Our Minimalist Artsy Centerpiece: The pic doesn’t do it justice. It’s willow branches with little insects, birds, and bright yellow beads on the branches. The vase is filled with iridescent, glass marbles mixed with miniature seashells (my hometown is a beach town).

Centerpiece Details

Centerpiece Detail

Centerpiece Concept Board

Centerpiece Concept Board: Of course I had a concept board for the centerpiece!

The process is coming along slowly but we are well on our way to a wedding! Now we just need to work out all of those kinks with the rituals but I’ll save that for the next post.

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2 thoughts on “Wedding Planners Make It Look Easy

  1. I can fully appreciate your angst about the ceremony. Besides looking for a rabbi who will do the ceremony, try to find someone who is more than just a “body in a tallis,” to quote my mother-in-law, yet who is comfortable with creating and celebrating marriage in a non-standard context. This is key. There are quite a few rabbis willing to perform an interfaith marriage ceremony, yet many fewer who can embrace and transform the menage of cultural focal points into something that you can fall in love with, something that can define your relationship and your bond, something that you’ll take with you once you leave the ceremony. I keep telling couples: it’s not just a ceremony – it really DOES have the capacity to define who you are and where you’re going, and to keep doing it in the future (I encourage couples to take a copy of their created ceremony with them and to read it together on their anniversary each year).

    I’m leading a seminar right now among some very orthodox Jewish people. I’m trying to get them to think outside the box, to really start to think what their faith means to them. It’s called “Halakha on Mars.” The premise is that they’ve been transplanted to Mars, and everything that they consider to be standard on Earth: plants, animals, ways of marking time, etc. isn’t there anymore. So standard ways of celebrating their Jewish faith, a faith who boundaries are delineated by firmly defined observances and rituals, no longer apply. I challenge them to take their faith with them to Mars, and to come up with solutions to issues of observance and belief, in ways that the formal guidelines haven’t addressed or cannot address.

    I suggest a similar approach in regard to marriage rituals. So you want a glass breaking, sheva brachot, chuppah, wine blessing, you name it: what does it mean to you, what’s it supposed to mean, how do the two relate to your relationship, now and in what think the future will be. Not everything is compulsory or necessary. Certainly, not everything you’ll want to drop off, either. Instead of thinking in terms of Jewish or not, think in terms of the faith of Alx and Lula, in terms of the new family that you will be creating, of the new traditions you will be creating and celebrating in your new life together.

  2. Thank you for this post. You said:

    “I have to admit that it is a point of frustration to not be able to just rattle off a list of rituals and be done with it. I’m sure it’s as equally frustrating for Alx when he asks what I want to incorporate and doesn’t really get an answer. All I know is that I don’t want it to be a strictly Jewish wedding because it’s my wedding too and frankly, I’m not Jewish.”

    That’s exactly the conversation I’ve been having with my fiance today, except he’s the one that’s not Jewish and I am. I’ve been having a hard time understanding that he doesn’t have a list of elements he wants in the ceremony, yet doesn’t just want my elements either. Just hearing that someone else is dealing with the same stuff is really great.

    And best of luck on your rabbi search! That’s the other thing we’re struggling with… at this point my “to call” list is down to a friend of a friend, and a woman who’s “sort of” a cantor. Yikes. But I’m confident we’ll find the right person, and I’m sure you will too! :)

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