This is SUCH a perfect country wedding. It’s got it all: a barn venue, a rustic chuppah, plenty of homespun touches, and wide open spaces as far as the eye can see – we are in Texas, after all
And it’s got oodles of sophistication too…. Jenna, the program director at a breast cancer education non-profit, and, Elan, who works in finance at an energy company, crafted a day that embodies effortless rustic elegance. They wanted their day at beautiful Beckendorff Farms in Katy, Texas, to have a comfortable, natural feel, plus a super personal ceremony, and that’s exactly what they got.
To keep the focus on their splendid outdoor surroundings, the couple opted to keep their chuppah simple. But its fresh, rustic looks bely its status as a bona fide family heirloom: the poles were built in Israel by a family member of Elan’s and had been used in multiple family weddings, and the tallit used as the canopy – also used in many family weddings – belongs to Elan’s father. And the tallit that Jenna and Elan were wrapped in during the ceremony belonged to Elan’s late great-grandfather.
As if this pair didn’t bring enough family into their ceremony with that remarkable chuppah, their rabbi was none other than the bride’s brother-in-law (her sister’s husband!). He conducted their very personal ceremony, featuring the couple’s original vows and a ketubah combining the traditional text with their own promises to each other written in English.
Jenna opted for a soft and dreamy gown from BHLDN, but the coolest thing by far about her wedding look was her shoes: custom blush suede 3-inch heels with a peep-toe and cross ankle straps, courtesy of her brother, who co-owns shoe company Huma Blanco. His design was super chic while still comfortable enough to wear all through the dancing.
And there was some hardcore dancing. The couple’s super energetic hora included not just the standard lifting of the couple on chairs; they were also lifted on tablecloths and thrown in the air!
The day was captured so beautifully by Elisheva Golani, who, along with her team, tackled both photography and videography. Now over to Jenna…
How we met
Jenna, the bride: My first job out of college, I worked with Elan’s sister and brother-in-law at the same summer camp/year-round retreat center that Elan grew up attending. We first met one weekend at a retreat. A month later, Elan’s sister had a baby, and we reconnected at his bris! Thanks to that nephew, Elan and I have been together ever since.
A Wedding on the Farm
We got married at Beckendorff Farms in Katy, Texas, which is about 30 minutes outside of Houston. We knew that we wanted an outdoor wedding, but had trouble finding a location in Houston to fit our 300 person guest list. We luckily found the new beautiful family-owned Beckendorff Farms, toured it that day, and knew it was our place.
Dancing and DIY
We wanted our wedding to have a comfortable, natural feel, with lots and lots of dancing. We also wanted the ceremony to be very personal, so we chose to write and recite our own vows. We planned everything on our own and did lots of DIY projects, which made the whole day even more special for us to see it all come together.
Invitations Designed by the Bride
I really enjoy graphic design and art, so I designed all of our invitations and other materials for the weekend myself. I searched invitation sites for the perfect design, but I really wanted something truly unique to us. One of my bridesmaids/best friends painted the watercolor for the wedding invitation, and I designed the wording. We used a local printer to print the invitation suite.
Hair + Makeup
Hair was done by Yolanda Gonzalez and her team. Yolanda is the owner of Limas Studio, and she has done my hair since I was a child. She opened up her studio just for us, where we spent the day getting ready. Makeup was done by Melanie Dial and her team at Bridal Makeup MD.
A BHLDN Dress
I got my dress from BHLDN. I wanted a dress that was comfortable and easy to dance in, so I made sure that it had straps and didn’t have a risk of falling down!
A Veil for the Bedeken
My shoes were my favorite part of my outfit. My brother co-owns an amazing shoe company, Huma Blanco, and he custom made my shoes for me. They were blush, to match the bridesmaids’ dresses, and had a thick 3-inch heel to ensure comfort, and again, ability to dance!
The handsome groom
Bridesmaids in Blush
I had 10 bridesmaids and 1 flowergirl. The bridesmaids picked out their own blush dresses and the flowergirl wore white. Elan and I also have 4 nephews, and they all looked adorable in their matching outfits.
A Simple, Meaningful Chuppah
Because our ceremony was outside in a beautiful setting, we wanted to keep the chuppahsimple. The poles were built in Israel by a family member of Elan’s and had been used in multiple family weddings. The tallit, also used in many family weddings, belongs to Elan’s father. The tallit that we were wrapped in during the ceremony belonged to Elan’s late great-grandfather. We had 4 of our closest friends carry the poles during the ceremony, and our parents and siblings stood around us.
A Rabbi in the Family
I had so many favorite parts! One of the most special aspects was that our rabbi/officiant was my brother-in-law. He has seen Elan’s and my relationship grow from the beginning, so we loved that he was able to officiate our bedeken and ceremony. Our ketubah was also a team effort. The Hebrew section was the traditional Orthodox script, and the English was written by Elan and me. We had the words printed by a friend who is a graphic designer, and another close family friend painted the art.
We were so worried that it was going to rain, but we didn’t anticipate wind! It was such a windy day that our chuppah almost blew away. Our friends who were carrying the poles definitely had their work cut out for them. It made for quite an entertaining ceremony that people are still talking about.
A First Dance to Beyonce
Elan and the rest of the bridal party walked down to our musicians playing an acoustic version of Blitzen Trapper’s Furr, and I walked down to Joni Mitchell’s The Circle Game. We love to dance and wanted our first dance to be fun and upbeat, so after long deliberation, we picked Beyonce’s Love On Top. We do not regret our decision!
A wild hora
Our hora was one of the most fun horas I’ve been a part of, and not just because I was the center of attention. The hora didn’t end after we went up in the chairs. We were lifted onto table cloths and thrown into the air, played jump rope with another rolled up table cloth, and got on our friends shoulders. It went on for a good 30 minutes.
Bringing the Outdoors Inside
Fawn from F. Dellit Designs understood my vision exactly. We wanted the indoor reception to have the feel of outdoors, so we used lots of garlands and greenery with flowers and candles mixed in. My favorite part was the large round swing, filled with flowers and greenery that people could sit on and take pictures.
Our fabulous Photographer
Our photographer/videographer was Elisheva Golani and her team. We chose Elisheva because she specialized in outdoor and Jewish weddings, and we knew she would know exactly when and how to capture our special moments.
Cake and Donuts
Our wedding cake was made by a friend of ours who is a professional baker. It was vanilla with a vanilla bean frosting. Elan isn’t much of a cake eater, but he has one favorite – doberge cake from Joe Gambinos Bakery in New Orleans. We had two of them brought in to Houston for the groom’s cakes. In addition, we had donuts from a Houston favorite donut shop called Shipley’s. We made the donut stands and used family serving platters to display the donuts.
A New Orleans-Style Recessional
Our ceremony and cocktail hour musicians were Danny Ray and The Acoustic Production. We had guitar, cello, and trumpet for the ceremony and cocktail hour. Since I went to college in New Orleans, we ended our ceremony with a second-line, where the trumpeter led us for the recessional.
We wanted to be able to pick every song we wanted, so we chose to have a DJ for the reception.
A Team Effort
Our whole wedding was definitely a team effort. We made everything – the invitations, dessert display, place cards and placecard holders, and signage, so it took a lot of planning and coordinating. The birch placecard holders were originally 8 ft birch poles to be used for the chuppah, but we decided they would be too heavy for our friends to carry down the aisle. So we sawed them into smaller pieces and cut 15 slits in each of them to display the placecards.
Being able to see it all come together successfully was an amazing feeling. We loved having so many personal touches to our wedding which made it feel so much more special.
Advice to brides and groom currently planning their wedding
When Elan and I got engaged, my brother-in-law/our rabbi suggested we read the book The New Jewish Wedding by Anita Diamant. In the introduction, Diamant references the following story in the name of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav:
A group of people who have been to a wedding are on their way home. One says, “It was a beautiful wedding. I liked the food.” Another says, “It was a great wedding. The music was marvelous.” Still another one says, “It was the best wedding I ever went to. I saw all my good friends there and we had a terrific time.” Rabbi Nachman, who has overheard them, says, “Those people weren’t really at a wedding.” Then another wedding guest joins this group and says, “BaruchHaShem! Thank God those two got together!” At that Rabbi Nachman says, “Now, that person was at a wedding!”
We tried to plan our wedding with that quote in the back of our minds. Wedding planning is going to be stressful. No matter how much you plan, things will go wrong, and there will always be a wedding that had better food, better flowers, and better music than yours. No matter what happens, just remember that when everything is said and done, you’re now married and about to start your perfectly imperfect life together as husband and wife.
Jenna & Elan’s little white book
Photography and videography – Elisheva Golani
Day-of coordinator – A Splendid Event
Venue – Beckendorff Farms
Bride’s dress – BHLDN
Bride’s shoes – Huma Blanco
Groom’s attire – Giovanni Bresciani purchased at Les Richards Mensware
Hair + Makeup – Limas Studio and Bridal Makeup MD
Flowers – F. Dellit Designs
Band – Danny Ray and The Acoustic Production
DJ – DJS Entertainment
Caterer – Cafe Natalie
Dessert – Joe Gambinos Bakery and Shipley’s