We’re totally in love with today’s literary-themed Jewish wedding. Rachel and Paul took full advantage of their library venue with some super cool touches, like library card save-the-dates (stamped with significant dates in their relationship — awwww!) and a library-style card catalog of place cards instead of a traditional seating chart. Is that the cutest, or what?!
Turns out Rachel, who is pursuing a PhD in art history, and Paul, who works for a marketing software company, are not only adorable, but also clever. They knew they didn’t want to miss out on their fantastic catering, and they also knew that couples often get so busy running around and greeting everyone they don’t get a chance to eat.
So they decided to eat their full dinner meal during their yichud during the cocktail reception, making the most of their special first moments alone as a just-married couple. The best part of all? To protect their wedding clothes from any spills, they opted to wear“His” and “Hers” rain ponchos while eating — you’ve got to check out Grant and Laine Daniels’ photos of this adorable moment.
Oh yeah, and Rachel wore a super cool gown from Kate McDonald, one of our favorite new-to-us finds at New York Bridal Fashion Week earlier this month! We are totally digging the cool damask fabric. Rachel picked out totally awesome (and unexpected) wedding shoes too — you won’t want to miss them! Now over to the bride…
How We Met
Rachel, the bride: We were set up by our close friends who thought we would hit it off, and I guess they were right! That was five years ago, and it was clear we were right for each other right away.
A Library Venue
We got married at the Julia Ideson Library in Houston, Texas. Our mutual love of books drew us to it originally, and as an art historian, I loved the Spanish Renaissance architecture.
We wanted someplace that felt more personal than a hotel ballroom, but since we had many guests flying in from out of state, it still had to be central and easy to get to. The Ideson is in the heart of downtown and is just an absolutely stunning, unique building. My favorite part is the coffered ceiling in the atrium where we had our ceremony!
Historic Charm Meets Modern Style
While we loved the historic charm of the library, our own personal style as a couple is much more streamlined and contemporary, so our goal was to blend the two together in a way that worked.
Mallory Ferreira at Two Be Wed did such an incredible job of making the day look and feel authentically like us–we kept the colors primarily neutral, with lots of shades of gray, loose, flowing greenery, and the occasional pop of salmon to complement the rich walls color of the atrium where we held our ceremony.
There were a few personal touches I added to the dà©cor–instead of a seating chart, I created a library card catalog where guests could find their name card with their table number and our hashtag. I designed the day-of items, like the programs, the signage, and the menus, myself.
Consistent with our more minimal, modern style, we wanted something that was simple, bold, and typographic. We found a design we loved on Minted.com and used them to customize and print our invitation suite.
Especially since I was taking a printmaking class at the time, and my research is on 20th century printmaking, I indulged a little to have the invitations letterpress printed, and I think that made a huge difference in elevating the minimal design.
To bring in the library theme a bit more, our envelope liners were a customized marbled design in our color scheme to mimic the marbled endpapers often found in old books.
The typeface we used also has a long history in book publishing, but that was more for me and I didn’t really expect anyone to have any thoughts or feelings about the font.
We had more fun with our Save the Dates, which looked like a library card, and included significant dates from our relationship stamped along the left side (some guests even successfully guessed what they all referred to!)
Hair + Makeup
Haley from Adorne Artistry made me feel absolutely beautiful while still feeling totally like myself. I wear glasses day-to-day, and I wear my hair down more often than up, so a part of me was a little nervous I wouldn’t feel like me when I decided to go with contacts and an updo for my wedding day. But the slightly elevated version of my every-day look made me feel special and 100% comfortable.
A Kate McDonald Dress
I basically had to find my dress in one weekend I was in Houston, and my mom and I had something like 6 appointments over just a few days. There were a couple of dresses we had liked and were planning to come back to, and Lovely was the last shop we visited.
When I tried on the Hughes, I loved how simple and modern the A-line silhouette was, while the deep V in the back and the lovely damask fabric made it unique and special.
I kept my jewelry pretty simple – my something “borrowed” was a gorgeous lariat-style pearl necklace lent by my close family friend, and I wore the same silver bracelet I’ve worn every day for the past seven years or so.
I did swap out my usual studs for a longer pair of pearl earrings I found from an independent jewelry-maker. It was harder than I anticipated to find pearls in a modern, minimal style, but I loved the ones I ended up with. I knew I didn’t want a veil, and opted for a simple vine I ordered from Etsy that sat above my updo.
Colorblock Shoes from Anthropologie
I’m sort of sad no one really got to see my shoes! People were surprised when they saw pictures of my shoes in pictures afterwards – they were really colorful red, blue, and green block heels from Anthropologie, which were incredibly comfortable, and I will absolutely wear them all the time.
I liked the contrast between the fun, colorful shoes and the simplicity of my white dress, but turns out the most important thing about what you wear on your feet is that they are comfortable because no one will see them anyway!
The handsome groom
Paul wore a custom Joseph Abboud charcoal gray suit with a green tie that matched the groomsmen (it’s both of our favorite color).
Bridesmaids in Gray
My sister Jessie was my maid of honor, and I had three of my best friends as bridesmaids. I chose a light gray color and let each of them select whichever style of dress they liked from Azazie. I wanted them to feel comfortable, and I thought it worked out perfectly.
With the bridesmaids in light gray and the groomsmen in dark gray, the bridal party looked great together and didn’t compete with the ornate library interior.
Simple Florals for the Chuppah
The roof of our chuppah was the tallit that my parents were married under. Both of our parents’ marriages are such a deep source of inspiration for us, and so the tallit was such a powerful symbol of that.
Our florist, Lauren Garza of Flora and Fauna, did a great job with the actual structure, which was a modern, brass design draped with white fabric and some coordinating florals.
A Custom Letterpress Ketubah
Our ketubah was a wedding gift from our two close friends, and it is so incredibly special to us. They are both printmakers, and after we worked together to customize the text and create a really simple, elegant design, they letterpress printed it for us.
Oh My Love
I used to be a high school teacher, so it was a great treat to have students from the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts make up our string quartet.
The processionals were a medley of Bach compositions, and we exited to the traditional Mendelssohn recessional.
Our first dance was to Oh My Love by Kat Edmonson, a talented jazz singer that Paul used to see perform in Austin. My father-daughter dance was to Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide, and Paul’s dance with his mother was to Upward Over the Mountain by Iron and Wine.
It wasn’t appropriate for dancing, but we also really wanted to include the Magnetic Fields’ The Book of Love, so we used that for our cake cutting song!
I know absolutely nothing about flowers, but Lauren Garza of Flora and Fauna knocked it out of the park!
I told her I wanted a lot of loose, leafy arrangements with plenty of greenery and some succulents and air plants. The reception tables ended up having a mix of centerpiece arrangements on the round tables, and a variety of geometric bud vases, geometric terrariums, and lush garland-like greenery running down the length of the rectangular tables.
I absolutely loved my bouquet–it was like nothing I had ever seen before, and all of the loose, textural pieces were exactly what I had wanted.
Our Fabulous Photographer…
Grant and Laine Daniels were so so fabulous. We were initially drawn to their more artistic storytelling photography style, but their warm personalities and genuine kindness sealed the deal.
I love Grant’s artistic eye, but he and Laine also did such an incredible job making us feel comfortable throughout the day. I’ve also never seen anyone capable of taking amazing party pictures WHILE dancing himself like Grant.
… and Videographer
We had Doug Coppock of JK Rolling Films do our videography, who was extremely accommodating of our out-of-fashion desires.
We didn’t want a super edited highlights reel set to music or anything, just video footage capturing the important events of the day–the ketubah signing, the ceremony, the toasts, and the first dances.
The video is for posterity–for looking back and remembering the occasion in the future, or for sharing with people who couldn’t be there on the day.
A Marble-Frosted Cake
We opted for a three-tier cake made by Rustika Cafà© and Bakery, a Jewish-Mexican bakery.
It was a gray marbled design, to bring in both the marble columns in the library atrium and the marbling on our invitation liners, and each tier was a different flavor: chocolate mousse, white chocolate raspberry, and strawberries and cream.
I am not a big cake person and I thought it was the most delicious thing ever–cake tasting was maybe one of my favorite parts of wedding planning!
A Yichud Dinner
Cafà© Natalie did our overall catering, and we loved our delicious family-style menu. When I warned Paul that often the bride and groom got so busy walking around during the reception that they hardly got to eat, he was not having it–he was insistent we would eat every delicious course.
So during the cocktail reception, Paul and I retreated to yichud and ate our entire dinner while wearing “His” and “Hers” rain ponchos to protect our clothing from any spills. I’m so glad we took that time for just the two of us (and that we got to eat!)
A Sweet Speech from the Bride’s Parents
One of the sweetest parts of the wedding day was in my parents’ speech, when they brought up a bedtime story my father made up when I was younger and I used to ask for every night. In the story, an orange rose is an important plot device, and then my sister came up and gave Paul an orange rose to present to me.
A Honeymoon in Japan
We went to Japan for two weeks and had the most amazing time–we stuffed ourselves full of sushi, spent a weekend exploring an island filled with contemporary art, traveled to a small city to hand-forge our own knives with a swordsmith, pet some deer in Nara, saw some monkeys in Arashiyama, visited dozens of shrines, and even experienced an earthquake! It was truly the trip of a lifetime.
Advice to couples currently planning their wedding
Mostly, what made the day special was the fact that I was marrying my best friend, not the color of the tablecloths. I think focusing on the big picture and really picking out in advance what is important to you as a couple and as individuals and what you don’t have strong opinions about is the best thing you can do.
What I loved about my wedding coordinator, Mallory, was that she would ask a question about how or if we were doing something, and if my face scrunched up in puzzlement, she would immediately reassure me that I didn’t have to do this or have an opinion about it.
Like she would ask “How do you want your bridal party to be introduced when they enter the reception?” and my eyes would go big and she would say “No bridal party entrance, got it.” This allowed Paul and me to focus more on having energy for and spending time with our friends and loved ones than worrying about doing things for the sake of doing them.
My favorite memories from the day are staring into Paul’s eyes under the chuppah, crying-laughing at the hysterical toasts, losing a shoe during the Hora, and hiking up my wedding dress to lead the walk back to the hotel for the afterparty. None of those things are the type of thing you can sit down and plan for.
Rachel & Paul’s little white book
Photography – Grant Daniels
Wedding planner – Two Be Wed
Venue – Julia Ideson Library
Bride’s dress – Kate McDonald purchased at Lovely Bride
Bride’s shoes – Anthropologie
Bride’s accessories – Etsy
Groom’s attire – Joseph Abboud
Bridesmaids – Azazie
Hair + Makeup – Adorne Artistry
Flowers – Flora and Fauna
Catering – Cafà© Natalie
Cake – Rustika Cafà© and Bakery