Real blogging bride quirky and cool Lauren’s Jew-ish wedding at Stoke Place, Buckinghamshire, UK

Attention everyone: we have an exceptionally exciting real wedding on the blog today and one that I’ve been eager to share for quite some time!

Our real blogging bride, Lauren, who we LOVE, finally married her darling John. She is the first of our 2016 real Jewish brides to be blogged and boy, did she get wed in style. Lauren’s Jew-ish wedding was every bit as chic, contemporary and downright cool as I expected it to be. The day was expertly captured in all its glory by Photography by Krishanthi.

Lauren was a very detail-oriented bride with an exceptional eye for design. This shone through in every quirky and awesome choice the happy couple made for their big day, from their stunning gold-foil calligraphy invitations that they sourced from much-loved Smashing Supplier, The Golden Letter Paper Studio to their absolutely astounding pink ombre meringue shard cake, which almost looked too good to eat (almost).

OK, can we talk about that chuppah, please? What a wonderful sentiment and a beautiful way to involve friends and family in such an important life moment. I won’t ruin it for you, go and have a look – and then come back next week for the DIY tutorial to see how it was made.

Lauren has her own fabulous blog, which I’d encourage everyone to follow, but for now I’ll put you in Lauren’s capable hands, for one more encore on the blog (and then another cheeky one when Lauren posts her chuppah tutorial next Friday, 17th – I just can’t get enough)! Take it away, Lauren.

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How we met

We talked for a few weeks on before meeting up for our first date on Valentine’s Day. I turned up very late as I was evidently not overly keen at that point. John bought me a present – a rose and a card.

We got on so well and then watched Impractical Jokers until two AM while eating my homemade cookies. Lots more details are in my first blog!

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A BHLDN bride for a brunch-style Jewish wedding at Park Tavern in Piedmont Park, Atlanta, USA

It’s a Big Day in America today (erm… understatement!) and I couldn’t possibly let the day pass without posting a gorgeous real American Jewish wedding, if nothing else, to divert us from all the madness!

Menucha & Austin are just the cutest and I’ve got an extra special treat in store for you today in terms of the bride’s FABULOUS frockage from BHLDN, one of my favourite bridal fashion brands – super sassy and achingly cool.

Austin isn’t Jewish, but is going to convert to Judaism and in the meantime, Menucha wanted to find a way to show that he was included and invited into the Jewish tradition.

So he had a tisch before the ceremony, and when they danced Austin in to see his bride for the badeken, he carried out the act of placing her veil over her face, but then she carried out her own really special addition to the short ceremony – she placed a white kippah on his head, to symbolise his future conversion to Judaism. It’s personal details like this that make for a truly smashing wedding…

The wedding ceremony itself was jam-packed with intimacy, personality and so much joy. Menucha’s father was the officiant, and the bride’s and groom’s siblings held the chuppah poles. Menucha’s mother also made the ketubah. Truly a family affair.

The images today come from Alyssa Kapnik Samuel – thank you for submitting this gorgeousness, Alyssa!

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How We Met

Menucha, the bride: Austin and I met in college. He was roommates with my best friend from high school. And it was a long journey from there!

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What is a Jew-ish wedding? It’s whatever you want it to be…

In my opinion the important part of any wedding is the actual ceremony itself. Many people can get lost in the details of the party that comes after and the ceremony just happens through the guidance of a rabbi, priest or registrar. However when you are getting married to someone of a different faith (or no faith at all) then there are some significant choices to be made.

This was something John and I discussed before we were even engaged and knew there was one non-negotiable element to our wedding day. We wanted a chuppah. I had discussed the Jewish wedding ceremony with John who is atheist (unless football is considered a religion??) and we both loved the chuppah’s representation of our first home together, supported by our family and friends. It is universal and whilst it comes from a practice of my Jewish heritage, it also will represent the joining of our two families.

Missy & Yoni’s Jew-ish wedding ceremony. Click here to read their wedding story

Jew-ish wedding ceremony options

One thing we weren’t certain of was what the ceremony itself would comprise of. I knew that there wouldn’t be an affiliated rabbi (someone connected to a synagogue organisation) in the UK who would be able to conduct a ceremony or a blessing under a chuppah. Initially I was very frustrated by this. I felt that it was ridiculous that a non-Jewish couple could choose to get married under a canopy after seeing it at a Jewish wedding and liking the symbolism, but I was not able to have a legal wedding or blessing conducted by a rabbi under the same symbolic chuppah.

We could easily have had a civil wedding and then a Jewish blessing straight away, but I didn’t want a long meaningless ceremony followed by a Jewish blessing AND not under a chuppah. Our guests would get bored and so would I for that matter! Many options were bandied about. A civil ceremony earlier on in the day with close family and a blessing that we would invite our guests to? Just a civil ceremony with some sort of Jewish readings? But we didn’t like any of these ideas, they didn’t mean anything to us and I felt like me, my bridesmaids and my mum might need that extra time earlier in the day to put on our war paint! We wanted our wedding to mean something special to us and represent who we are. We said no to the two ceremonies in one day and no to the rabbis.

We decided that we were going to get married legally a few days before our wedding day in a registry office near where we live, just with our close family, and then have a ceremony that truly represents us. This meant that we would be able to get married under a chuppah, with whatever elements we choose and get our family and friends fully involved.

We decided that we wanted to have sheva brachot (seven blessings) written and given to us during the ceremony by seven members of our family and friends, so they will be truly personal to us, a chuppah that we will make ourselves that will showcase the family and friends that have helped to shape us individually until now and John will smash that glass at the end of the ceremony.

Other than that we were excited about all the extra details we would be able to add to our ceremony. But who could we get to ‘officiate’ this ceremony? So along came my charismatic brother Josh who we felt would be a perfect ‘officiant’ for a wedding with his witty banter and strong understanding of Jewish practice and ease of speech that would ensure that all our guests would understand what was going on. Josh has been instrumental in creating this ceremony, yet he still wants to keep a few secrets from John and I. Initially this scared the controlling me, but once I gave him a list of the basic bits we want included and the people we wanted involved, I realised my brother wouldn’t mess up such an important part of the day and let him carry on with his scheming.

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How to successfully mix two religions into one beautiful interfaith wedding ceremony

This is a guest post by Lisa Johnson :: Above image taken from Jess & Alex’s Jewish-Catholic wedding

So, here we are in 2016 and mixed faith ceremonies are far from unusual or controversial, yet there still seems to be a lack of knowledge around the processes and variety of options that are possible.

As a wedding planner, as well as a celebrant, Karen asked me to put a guest post together with lots of ideas on how to blend two different religions into one beautiful ceremony for those of you fusing two different faiths into your wedding day. I’ve covered lots of ground, but if you have anything to add, or you have any burning questions, feel free to pop them in the comments box at the end of the post, and either me or Karen will do our best to answer them

Many couples decide to use two separate officiants – one for each religion; this could mean having a Rabbi and an independent celebrant conduct the ceremony. There are many Rabbis out there who are happy to conduct an interfaith ceremony and they will also have suggestions on how to incorporate your religion into a mixed faith ceremony.

Some religious ceremony traditions are much easier to incorporate into an interfaith ceremony and traditions unique to just one faith can be blended perfectly to make a balanced, beautiful ceremony.

For instance, if one of you is Catholic and one is Jewish, there are large parts of a Catholic mass that would work really well including certain readings and even the ‘peace be with you handshake’. This is when you engage in the sign of peace by shaking the hands of the people around you and saying, “Peace be with you.” Each handshake preferably includes a smile and at least one full second of eye contact.

Francesca & Andrew’s Jewish-Irish Catholic wedding. Click here to read their wedding story

In addition, many Catholic-Jewish couples choose to celebrate the beloved Christian tradition of the lighting of the unity candle with the celebrant reciting this exquisite saying from the Ba’al Shem Tov :

“From every human being, there rises a light, that reaches straight to heaven, and when two souls, destined to be together, find each other, their streams of light flow together and a single brighter light goes forth from their united being.”

Jewish – Muslim weddings are more complicated to arrange, but by no means impossible. The important thing is to remember to consult with your families along the way. This gives you and your family members time to process and address any concerns and prevents any surprise reactions on your big day and don’t forget to take family halal or kosher dietary needs into account for the reception.

So what about using a Rabbi and an Imam in your ceremony?  It can be done – assess what prayers and traditions are typical for a Jewish wedding and Muslim wedding.  Then, meet together with both to figure out the best options. The ultimate would be to have a beautiful ceremony, intertwining blessings from both religions and incorporating Hebrew, Arabic, and English.

Sarah & Ben’s Jewish-Muslim wedding. Click here to read their wedding story

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The diary of a Jewish bride who married out

Today’s post is written by the wonderful Sara Gibbs of Darling Lovely Life, the vintage-inspired lifestyle blog (and one of my favourite daily reads).Today she shares her personal story of marrying out. Or as she puts it, “her husband marrying in”.

Growing up, I always assumed I would meet a nice Jewish boy (maybe a doctor) and spend the rest of my life kvetching at him. OK, so I didn’t really see myself as such an awful stereotype, but growing up in a Jewish / Israeli household that was relatively observant (in a reform kind of way) and going on to be president of my JSoc at university, it was a natural assumption that my future life partner would be Jewish.

So imagine my great surprise when the love of my life showed up when I was just twenty two – and he wasn’t Jewish at all. Not only was he not Jewish, but he’d grown up all over the Middle East (gasp) and not my neck of the woods either (double gasp) because of his dad’s job and while my views on the conflict are hardly controversial or right wing, we actually first got to know each other because of our amusingly divergent views on the obvious.
We worked together in my first job. We became adversaries, then friends, then more. The job was a short-term contract and didn’t last, but I took a souvenir home with me and no, it wasn’t the stapler.

It didn’t take long for John to embrace Jewish culture. The first time I took him home to meet my parents was Rosh Hashanah, throwing him right in the deep end. After three months together, I went to work in Israel for a month and he visited me out there.

He returned home, proudly telling everyone who’d listen how he’d been searched five times by El Al security and even had his wine gift wrapped by the security officer. I flew home and moved in – he was hooked and starting to look and sound more Jewish than I am.

Then, just six months into our relationship, on a freezing cold Brighton beach, John proposed. I said yes, and we started planning our interfaith wedding. I was lucky. My family, already in love with John, took no exception to my “marrying out”. They saw it the way John did. I wasn’t marrying out, he was marrying in.

Converting seemed irrelevant. I wasn’t religious, so I didn’t expect John to be. Judaism is so many things to so many people and to me it’s culture – it’s home. John was happy to have a Jewish home and I was happy to build it with him.
Sara Gibbs Darling Lovely Life
Living in England, interfaith marriages are easy enough. Finding someone to perform a Jewish-style ceremony for an interfaith couple? Not so easy. We went through a sparse list of rabbis who would do it, and again with the awful stereotypes but it seems that you pay a dear price for marrying out. Literally. I mean no disrespect when I say that some even had the chutzpah to charge per blessing.

We approached a dear friend who had been the Jewish chaplain at my university and was the president of my old shul there. While he isn’t a rabbi, he leads services and it wouldn’t be a legally binding ceremony. He knew both John and I incredibly well and we couldn’t think of anyone more perfect to send us off into married life.

As it wasn’t an official, legally binding ceremony (we had a legal ceremony minutes before), we took some liberties that probably had some of the older generations scratching their heads and wondering if they missed something. For a start, I made a Cath Kidston-style chuppah out of table legs, lace tablecloth and floral fabric, we wrote and designed our own Ketubah and I didn’t wear my veil but we did use it during the blessings as it had belonged to my great grandmother.
At the end of the day, though, we married under a chuppah, I circled my groom seven times (because I loved the symbolism), we said blessings, we drank Palwins (awful as ever) and he smashed the glass. My secular groom was about as Jewish as you can get without actually being Jewish.

A year and a half on and we are very happily married. We have a Jewish household, we celebrate the holidays, John is insistent on being observant even when I’m being lazy, he’s attempting to learn Hebrew, there is a mezuzah at our door.

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