There’s no two ways about it, Rachel and Michael’s gorgeous Texas Jew-Bu wedding ticks all of the STG boxes. Creative? Tick. Cool? Tick. Unique? Tick. Emotional? Tick. The couple’s quirky, alternative vibe was evident in every little detail.
With a little help from some very crafty friends, acupuncturist-moonlighting-as-an-office-manager, Rachel and product manager / DJ, Michael put their personalities into all of the DIY touches, from their origami cranes to their Tibetan prayer flag chuppah, their sunflower centerpieces to their gorgeous home baked cakes, courtesy of a friend.
Rachel looked every bit the beautiful bride in her stunning, textured Theia Couture gown, chosen for its immense huggability (totally a word), which we think is just adorable. We also have total style envy over her cute cat-eye makeup look and lashes!
The day was recorded for the ages by fabulous photographer, Caitlin McWeeney, we hope you enjoy the images, and Rachel’s brilliant write up, as much as we did.
How we met
Rachel, the bride: We met at a party in May of 2008. Michael was DJing. I danced. The rest is history!
Tying the knot Texas style
We were married at The Wildflower Barn in Driftwood, Texas. Initially we planned to get married in Lake Tahoe, but as we started planning we realized we wanted something more authentic to our current world, something decidedly “Texas.” Both Michael and I knew immediately upon stepping foot on their lovely grounds that this was “the place.” The property just screamed Texas Hill Country beauty, with rustic-chic barns and beautiful oak and cedar trees.
We liked that The Wildflower Barn was affordable and did things a la carte – I wanted a DIY experience (for cost and to flex our creativity) and the property allowed for it. Also, the owner is a hoot!
Origami cranes and Tibetan prayer flags
We planned our entire wedding ourselves. I wanted it to be elegant, but not too stuffy, rustic, but not to kitschy. There were two loose ‘themes’ to the wedding: 1. Origami cranes (my goal was the traditional 1000 – we were a bit short!) and 2. Tibetan prayer flags (I love how they create a sacred, safe space, and Buddhism resonates with both Michael and me). The ceremony and the reception were both outdoors, so I relied upon the natural setting for much of the decor!
Our ceremony was pretty simple – we just had the chuppah (built by Michael and our friends) with a cover made from wind-horse prayer flags (sewn by me), rather than the traditional tallit. It was gorgeous.
The reception integrated a bit more of our wedding colors, which were sunflower yellow, purple, and grey. I had a borrowed assortment of tablecloths in neutral colors. It really was lovely.
It was important to me that our wedding have the best of Jew-ish elements, but that it also be thoughtful. I think we achieved our goal!
Because this whole thing was very DIY, I designed our invite using something I found on Minted (a cool map of Texas) with our own text on the back. It was affordable and pretty unique. Highly recommend Minted!
We used remaining invites as place cards, which I thought was a clever use of excess paper!
Braids, cat eyes and dramatic lashes
My hair and makeup were done by Dash and Jen of Lavish Beauty.
I tend towards funky makeup and hairstyles, but toned that down a bit for the wedding. My hair was up and braided in a few places (was still in a growing-out stage so there wasn’t much they could do!) I had cat eyes and dramatic lashes for the photos.
A textured dress, built for big-day hugging
Like most brides, I took a bunch of my friends shopping with me one Sunday afternoon. We found several lovely dresses, but none were just right or within my budget (didn’t want to spend more than $1000 US before tax).
Unlike other brides, I didn’t really have a style in mind. I knew I wanted straps (because strapless dresses are a bummer) and a very short train. Aside from that, my goal was just to look gorgeous and be super comfortable.
None one of my friends could be with me on the night that I found my dress at Unbridaled. After exhausting the dresses that were within my budget (most dresses are $2000+ at this particular boutique) I took one more turn down the soft white aisles (I was wearing a glorified bridal bra and a too-long skirt at the time – was pretty silly!) My hands brushed upon this dress that just felt amazing. I thought “If I wear this dress, people will want to touch me and hug me all during the wedding!” and that sounded marvelous!
I tried it on. It was exactly the right thing and there was no one to talk me out of it or back into it. I went with my gut. The dress felt both modern and vintage, and I loved that for my quirky DIY outdoor rustic wedding!
Accessories connected to loved ones
I wore my dear friend Karen’s veil (between shoulder and fingertip length). It was gorgeous and I loved that it connected us. I also wore my Bubby Chesna’s (z”l) “mazel” (custom gold pendants her sister designed and every woman in our family wears on special occasions) on my mom’s gold bracelet. I loved that this connected me to both my mom and my Bubby!
My engagement ring was designed by a local Austin jeweler, Shaesby. It integrated the gold from both Michael’s mom’s engagement ring and my mom’s, as well as a garnet from Thailand, my maternal grandmother’s engagement diamond, and a sweet little diamond gifted from a dear friend. It was completely one of a kind, and Michael and I were involved in every step of the process. It was SO cool!
The handsome groom
Michael wore a Hugo Boss lavender dress shirt and linen pants and vest, all from Nordstrom. His shoes had a vintage feel. He looked so darling!
Five bridesmaids and a bridesman
I had five bridesmaids and 1 bridesman. I wanted them to be comfortable and feel pretty/handsome and wear something they might wear again, so I gave them suggestions for colors, but let them do their own thing. I think we looked amazing as a group!
A labor-of-love chuppah
Our chuppah was also DIY! As I mentioned above, the cover was handsewn by me (wind-horse prayer flags are white, yellow, green, red, and blue) and the sun looked so beautiful shining down on us through those bright colors. Looking at the photos, it’s hard to believe we envisioned it – was even more beautiful than I imagined!
The frame was constructed and stained by my husband and a few of his friends, while my bridesman, Dan, actually laced it up at the venue. It truly was a labor of love, touched by at least 10 people!
A Bu-Jew ceremony
Our officiant started the ceremony by having everyone embrace their neighbors – it was a magical way to kick off our celebration of love! Our dear friend, Val, was our officiant. He is a Bu-Jew and a true mensch, and I can think of no other human who could have done such a good job telling our story and setting the stage for our life together.
My favorite part of the ceremony was the seven blessings. Our friends and family spoke from a variety of backgrounds (there were Christian blessings, readings from Rumi, etc.) and it felt inclusive and so very loving. Because we integrated the seven blessings in our ceremony, we were able to honor many more family and friends than we could include in the wedding party (it was already a fairly big group!) It was really special to hear how they viewed love and marriage.
A sweet ketubah signing
Our ketubah was very simple (from Ketubah.com), so we could go a little nuts with the matting and framing! Our ketubah signing was wonderful. It was such a nice, sweet moment with just those who are most precious to us. I love what it signifies. The photos from the signing make my heart sing!
A moving musical choice
Our processional and recessional was the same song: Under the Pressure by The War on Drugs.
Michael is a DJ and music is a huge part of our joint world (in fact it’s how we met!) We agonized over how to best encapsulate eight years of music together (seriously, we must have talked about the processional for hours), but we always came back to this song. It makes us both cry every time we hear it and will forever make me think of Michael and how wonderful he is.
We carefully planned all of the music that was played before the wedding and during cocktail hour – the playlist is still one of my favorite things to chill and listen to. Our DJ friends played music during the reception.
We decided against doing a formal first-dance (in fact I don’t think I danced at all! I was so busy schmoozing!)
Cheery, bright sunflowers
My favorite flower is a sunflower, so I knew that they would be central to our wedding. They are so cheery and bright, and thankfully are in season in August in Texas!
Our centerpieces were more DIY. My mother and father-in-law and I went to a nearby farm to buy sunflowers and whatever else they had that day (there were JUST enough sunflowers for the number of tables we had – a sign!) The farm operates on the honor-system – you just gather the bunches you need and leave money in a box – I just love that!
We didn’t need to do much aside from a bloom here and there for the centerpieces, because the surroundings were such lush in color and texture!
Bouquets and boutonnieres were by Pollen Floral Art here in Austin. They just ‘got’ me when I said I wanted to integrate origami cranes in the design. They were elegant and soft and warm and just perfect. I cried when I entered the bridal suite and saw their wonderful creations – it was beyond my expectations in every way!
Our fabulous photographer
I met Caitlin McWeeney in a car on the way down to a mutual friend’s bachelorette weekend a year before we married. She took some amazing photos of my cats and of the ladies (of course!) I knew she was a professional photographer and loved her work and it seemed like a no-brainer to work with her for our special day.
With so many other decisions on our plate, this one was easy!
Food for an August day in Texas
I didn’t want a cake (it’s too hot in August in Texas to want to eat something so sweet and cloying, in my opinion) but the mothers thought it would be nice to have photos of us doing the cake thing, so I asked our dear friend Kristina to make a small cake (Romanian lemon). She of course outdid herself and made multiple cakes, decorated in sunflowers, which looked amazing and tasted even better!
Our catering was by an amazing Iraqi couple, Raya and Ayman of Baiti Food, who prepare traditional Lebanese fare. The food was fresh, light, and perfect for a hot August day in Texas. We were their first wedding – hopefully they will have many more to come!
We said the berachah over challot which were made by my coworker’s Israeli mother, Iris – perhaps the best challah I’ve ever had! I can still taste it. I know it made my parents really happy to break bread with family and friends.
Quintessential barn wedding favors
We made some custom neoprene can coolers, which were a big hit! Can coolers are the quintessential barn wedding favor here in Texas.
The origami cranes were pretty cool, and were feature in the bouquets and boutonnieres, and on all the tables. We had more prayer flags hung from the rafters in the barn. I collected liquor bottles that I thought were pretty for well over a year to use as vases in the centerpieces. These looked really pretty alongside tealights on top of circular mirrors. It was really wonderful!
Advice to couples currently planning their wedding
My best piece of advice is this: Your wedding = YOUR WEDDING. Lots of people will have a million and a half opinions on things, and while it’s important to make your family happy, this is for YOU. Make it scream ‘you’! Make every detail encapsulate you as individuals and as a couple. People remember the weddings that were highly personal. They also remember food, so make it good!
Things go wrong (and will!), imperfect IS perfect. Don’t fret.
Ask for help from your friends. They mean it when they say they want to assist! Because our wedding was DIY, we relied heavily on the talents and skills of the people we love. They were thrilled to help!
A beautiful wedding is not worth going into debt over. We made good decisions, and created a wonderful experience.
It’s a cliché, but every married person I spoke with before my wedding told me to take a step back and savor the moment. I tried (was hard with so many moving pieces!) but looking back I realize how fast the day went by and how much I missed. Take some time with your mother and father. Do the first look with your fiancé (makes sense anyway if you sign a ketubah). Sit down alone and look at all the people you’ve gathered together. This event is once in a lifetime (hopefully!) and something to be savored.
Rachel & Michael’s little white book
Photographer – Caitlin McWeeney
Venue – The Wildflower Barn
Bride’s dress – Theia Couture purchased at Unbridaled
Groom’s attire – Hugo Boss
Hair + Makeup – Lavish Beauty
Flowers – Pollen Floral Art
Invitation – Minted
Ketubah – Ketubah.com
Catering – Baiti Food
Engagement ring – Shaesby