How to make your friends and family feel extra special at your wedding

creative wedding ideas

Smashing The Glass is all about super creative Jewish (and Jew-ish) weddings packed with individuality and personal details so you’ve definitely come to the right place for inspiration!

I’ve come up with lots of creative ideas for you with everything from innovative ways to include friends, family and little ones in your ceremony to making them feel ultra special at your reception

Ceremony ideas

A lovely way to get your closest friends and family involved is to have them contribute to your chuppah design. Ask guests to contribute different squares (tell them what size is required or supply a blank piece of square material sized correctly) and patchwork them together to make one big chuppah canopy.

Cheryl and Ernest’s beautiful personalised chuppah quilt (below) is an example that’s made out of the clothes of the bride’s mother who sadly passed away, and other momentous pieces including her grandmother’s wedding dress and a shirt her mum had kept of her grandfather’s after he had died, but the same quilt style could be used by asking friends and family to each contribute a square, and sewing them altogether.

quilted-chuppah
Image: Daniel C. Photography from Cheryl & Ernest’s Jewish wedding

Or do what my husband and I did where we asked some of our guests to contribute to our chuppah design by asking them to compose a short message (in English or Hebrew) that we then incorporated into our chuppah canopy design.

This was also a lovely way of including guests from abroad that weren’t able to attend in person. We also chose four significant people to hold each of the four chuppah poles including Sharon, our Irish Catholic mutual friend that set us up (chuppah holders don’t have to be Jewish). Perhaps your fiancée’s best friend could do that? Everyone we asked felt very honoured!

personal chuppah
Image: Earthy Photography from my own Jewish wedding

Another ‘ceremony’ idea is to replace the traditional Sheva Brachot (seven blessings) with prayers by all your friends personalised for you, then have each friend came up and read their own prayer. Chelm and Jake did that in their Jewish wedding – have a read of their wedding post for many more ideas of how to involve friends and family. And even if you don’t want to personalise the seven blessings, you can still ask seven different friends or cousins to read each blessing for you at the chuppah. People comfortable reading Hebrew can read the blessing in Hebrew, while non-Jewish friends can always read an English translation.

Wedding reception ideas

A lovely way to make your guests feel super special is to incorporate another detail that I did for my wedding. My husband and I knew we wouldn’t have a lot of time to talk to everyone on the day, so we spent some time before the wedding writing personal notes to everyone at the wedding which we then had printed underneath their names on their menus / name cards. It took a bit of time but we really wanted each and every guest to realise how much we wanted them there and what they meant to us.

personal wedding messages
Images: Earthy Photography from my own Jewish wedding

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What’s the correct processional order for a Jewish wedding ceremony?

Jewish wedding question
To begin with, I want to say that “there is no such thing as a ‘generic’ Jewish wedding – no matter what the rabbi tells you, no matter what your mother tells you, and no matter what the caterer tells you”.

That’s not my quote, that’s Anita Diamant’s, from her wonderful book, The New Jewish Wedding. And I start with it, as it’s important to know that just like all other aspects of a Jewish wedding, the processional order will vary with how religious you are, and your local practices, but it will still follow this basic order:

The wedding party enters in this order:

  • Rabbi and/or chazan (cantor) on Rabbi’s right.
  • Bride’s grandparents (or they can choose to be seated beforehand)
  • Groom’s grandparents (or they can choose to be seated beforehand)
  • Ushers in pairs (shortest to tallest)
  • Best man and / or Best woman
  • The groom, escorted by his parents (father on his left, mother on his right)
  • Bridesmaids (individually or in pairs)
  • The bride, escorted by her parents (father on her left, mother on her right)

Jewish-wedding-ceremony-processional-order

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Smashing The Glass features in this week’s Jewish Chronicle

jewish-chronicle-smashing-the-glass
I’m in the diary section
of the Jewish Chronicle today – such a sweet piece! Thank you to the lovely folk at The JC for writing about me.

If you’ve found Smashing The Glass via this article well hello there! You can read all about why I started the blog here, and see my own Jewish wedding (at London’s Wallace Collection) here. In fact, the heart and soul of SmashingTheGlass.com are the real Jewish weddings so I think that’s a great place to start.

Click here and you’ll find all the UK Jewish weddings that I’ve blogged about with everything from this outrageously cool London Jewish wedding, to this breathtaking ‘HinJew’ wedding at the Mandarin Oriental where the bride and groom intertwined their Indian and Jewish heritages incredibly beautifully, to this New Years Eve fancy dress wedding held in an Arthouse cinema, to this South London Jewish wedding that was held in a chapel(!),and this Wedstock-themed wedding featuring a bride who made her entire dress out of paper. You can bet your bottom dollar that I’ve blogged about every Jewish wedding in between too.

cool-jewish-wedding
Chelm & Jake’s super cool London Jewish wedding by Blake Ezra Photography

I also regularly post wedding planning articles and have blogged about everything from what are the best chuppah entrance songs, to tips for getting great wedding photography to how to incorporate ‘Jewish’ into a non-Jewish or interfaith wedding, inspiration for chuppah ideas, and lots more.

And if you’re still on the hunt for that perfect photographer, DJ, chazan, or venue, my Smashing Suppliers section is a great place to start. It’s my handpicked selection of the most stylish brands and services the wedding industry has to offer, and you’ll not only be able to click through to the suppliers own websites to see what they say about themselves, you’ll be able to see a lot of their work first hand in the real Jewish weddings section and read the opinion of couples that have actually used them.

I love helping my readers plan their weddings but the best part is when couples email me their own photographs after their wedding and tell me that Smashing The Glass helped them have the wedding they truly wanted!

By the way if you’re reading this and you’re already married, be sure to send me a submission. It’s my readers who ultimately make my blog a must-read and I can’t wait to hear from you!

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Rachel & Zach | Intimate City Chic Jewish Winter Wedding at Old Finsbury Town Hall, Islington, London

LONDON JEWISH WEDDING
Rachel and Zach were married at the gorgeous Old Finsbury Town Hall close to Angel, Islington in North London. They threw a really relaxed, fun wedding party and organised most of it via the wonders of the internet from their home in New York.

They ditched a lot of the traditional wedding formalities too: they chose not to have a bridal party, wedding cake, expensive dress or favours, and had some brilliant ideas, like using Rachel’s enormous collection of New Yorker magazines as individual place cards for each guest. They also devised a very traditional, but totally egalitarian, Jewish ceremony with tons of personal twists, and an utterly unique ketubah. They also wrote an inspired wedding program. The beautiful bride, Rachel, elaborates below.

Chris Giles, their photographer, does city chic romance effortlessly, and even the way he captures Rachel’s shoes perched on a side table is like something out of a modern fairytale. Enjoy every one of Chris (and his wife, Laura)’s gorgeous images, and whisk yourself away to a warm-hearted wintery December in London.

Finsbury Town Hall London Jewish Wedding_0012

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Natalie & Nicole | Über-creative rustic ‘Barn Eccentric’ Lesbian Jewish Wedding at Sydney Polo Club, Australia

Sydney Polo Club Barn Wedding
You know when a couple have really put their blood, sweat and tears (of joy obviously!) into their big day because it shows. It shows in the small details, it shows in the smiles of rapture on their faces and it shows in their guests faces. It also shines through in the photography.

Nicole and Natalie run a creative agency and are two craft-istas so they unashamedly went to town on getting everything just right with their own creative, personalised twist. and I’m not even sure I know where to begin with their big day. Do I start with the flash mob, old lady tea ceremony, and the double-smashing of the glass with a cowboy boot on one foot, and stiletto on another?

Or perhaps I’ll begin with the table centrepieces with clusters of ‘Beautiful Random’,or the brides’ sassy, ethereal style (I need their dresses in my life!). Actually I might just kick off with the tea ceremony with the rickshaws, lawn games, and breast cupcakes… and the oh-so-simple but effective paper doll-chain aisle runners… and the fans for guests with ‘We’re Your Biggest Fans’ tags, and tambourines with ‘Shake What Your Mumma Gave You’ tags!

Actually I’m just going to let you experience this heart-warming, life-affirming, radiant big day for yourselves. Enjoy their beautifully  written report (watch out for their top advice at the end), and delve into Lara Hotz‘s images, and a wedding film by Light Noise Films
creative rustic barn Wedding at Sydney Polo Club Australia_0019 breast cupcakes

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