A destination Jewish wedding doesn’t have to take place thousands of miles from home to have a seriously big impact. For evidence, see the gorgeous rustic wedding of Erica, a content manager in the pharmaceutical industry and adjunct professor in business communications, and Jared, an electrical engineer.
They knew they wanted an intimate wedding that would allow their family and friends – who hadn’t spent much time together due to living far apart – to really get to know each other. So they opted to host #GordonWeddinGetaway in Vermont’s breathtaking Green Mountains – far enough away from their home in Philadelphia to qualify as a bona fide destination while still accessible to their guests.
We love that Erica and Jared really focused on keeping everything low key and fun for their 45 guests, and never lost sight of their ultimate goal for the wedding weekend: connecting with their nearest and dearest – and allowing their family and friends a chill couple of days to connect with each other, too! And based on the wonderful photos from Jesse Schloff Photography, it seems to have gone exactly to plan.
One of our biggest goals here at STG is to make sure all brides (and grooms) to be are able to craft a wedding day (or weekend!) that’s exactly how they want it to be – and we’re so excited to be launching our first-ever FREE Jewish Wedding Planning Bootcamp, starting TODAY, Monday, June 3! It’s going to be full of tips and tools for creating the wedding of your dreams, stress-free (or just about), and it’s not too late to sign up!
Now over to the bride, who looked exquisite in her off-the-shoulder mermaid gown from Pronovias…
How we met
Erica, the bride: Like many others these days, we met online—Jdate specifically. From reading his profile, I thought we had a lot in common (we’re both from the same town). I liked that he said he liked to go mini golfing and play board games—nerdy things that I also enjoy. We also both lived in South Florida; we even went to the same high school in PA but were a year apart.
We set up our first date for October 2, 2015. We went bowling and split a pizza. I thought he was very cute and felt a connection right away. Early on, I could see Jared being “the one.”
Our wedding took place on August 11, 2018, at Topnotch Resort & Spa in Stowe, VT. I always loved the idea of a destination wedding. Our families did not know each other very well because of the distance, so the vision for our wedding was a weekend away in a scenic location for our family and friends to connect and create new memories.
We decided on New England for its proximity to our home outside of Philadelphia and for its mild summer weather. After some research, we found Topnotch Resort in Stowe, VT, to be the perfect venue for its scenic location in the beautiful Green Mountains and its rustic, modern décor and intimate, friendly atmosphere. .
I wanted an outdoor ceremony with a beautiful view, and the view of Mt. Mansfield (the highest peak of the Green Mountains) was amazing. To top it off, across the street from the resort is a horse and carriage ride company; I just loved the idea of taking a ride and/or using it as a photo spot (which we did). Overall, it was the perfect mix of modern and whimsical—perfect for us and our guests — it felt like a world away while only an 8-hour drive from home.
We had family members read a blessing, and Jared and I also recited our own vows to each other at the end.
An Intimate Wedding
The wedding was intimate, with 45 family members and friends, with a number of personal and meaningful touches. It took on a rustic, whimsical theme—my vision was for it to be fun, unique, and colorful—with jewel tones, specifically dark purple/plum, navy/midnight blue, and gold. I wanted the wedding to be modern, yet fun and not stuffy, and to reflect our personalities.
No wedding planner; I did all the planning, with help from Liz Hagwood, the wedding and events coordinator at the resort.
Our personalities were reflected in many of the details. I love art, so we had a custom map created of the resort and town of Stowe that we included in our invitations. I am a writer and editor and my husband an engineer and gamer, so our guest book featured a handmade Scrabble board cover with our names as Scrabble tiles.
Our ring pillow was especially significant to us; it was made of a shirt of my father’s and a handkerchief of Jared’s father, in memory of both.
Photos of my dad and family dog who passed recently were displayed at the remembrance table. Although they were not physically present, I know they were all watching over us and enjoying every minute.
Other unique touches included our acrylic bar menu sign in midnight blue paint splash and gold lettering that featured the bride’s signature rose, which I called “Will You Accept This Rose’?” for my love of the Bachelor and Bachelorette franchise. Our welcome sign was also painted in the same midnight blue with gold lettering, and listed the weekend’s agenda, as well as our hashtag #GordonWeddinGetaway.
What ‘Smashing The Glass’ Did For Us
I first learned of Smashing the Glass when I was researching traditions and songs for our ceremony; because we didn’t work with a rabbi and our wedding was destination, the blog was helpful in providing some of this information.
Invitations in Ecru
From my initial research, I knew I liked laser-cut invitations. My mom and I looked through several books at The Paper Boutique and narrowed the selection down to one—which I knew I loved as soon as I saw it. Our invitations were ecru/ivory with dark purple lettering and a motif of mountains at the bottom.
The invitation itself, by William Arthur of Crane and Co., was set in a pocket of gold laser-cut lace. Response cards and other items within featured the same colors and design. We also purchased Thank You cards from The Paper Boutique as well; they featured our monogram EGJ in ecru with dark purple lettering in a modern font.
An art lover, I discovered custom wedding maps and loved this idea, especially since we were planning a destination wedding. We had Eight21Studios create a custom map created of the resort and town of Stowe, with several icons of places that were representative of our personalities that we included in our invitations. Later, I had the map enlarged on a 16×20 canvas that I displayed on our dessert table at the wedding and later matted and framed to display in our home.
Hair + Makeup
Topnotch Salon and Spa (the salon at the resort/venue) did my hair and makeup, as well as the hair and makeup of the bridal party (except for the Matron-of-Honor’s makeup which she did herself). I wore my hair part-up and part-down, in loose waves. Makeup was very natural, with a light/pale lip.
A Pronovias Dress
I wore a romantic, off-the-shoulder Pronovias gown, Darcy, a delicate mermaid design made of chiffon, tulle, and lace, with sloping cap sleeves, a structured sweetheart bodice of lace with just a bit of beading/sparkle, with a soft and flowing, romantic skirt—and an exquisite long, lace train. The style fit well with the romantic, whimsical feel of the wedding. I purchased my gown from La Belle Mariée Bridal in Langhorne, PA.
I had actually purchased a different dress first and then had second thoughts. I thought the dress was beautiful, but I never had that moment when I knew it was “the one.” I felt that I made the decision too quickly.
One day I was running errands with my mom at the shopping center where La Belle Mariée Bridal is located; we decided to take a peek at the store. My mom found the gown I later purchased. After I couldn’t get the dress out of my mind, we made an appointment a few days later and I took the day off work. Because my original dress was never altered, I was able to sell it at a good price on PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com to a bride in Buffalo, NY, who regretted her first dress choice and who wanted exactly the gown I was selling. We both felt it was all meant to be!
For my hair accessories, which I purchased at La Belle Mariée Bridal, I wore a finger-tip length veil trimmed in crystals and a rhinestone/crystal hair pin, both from Justine M. Couture.
For jewelry, I wore my everyday necklace, which is a diamond that belonged to my grandmother (my dad’s mother), a Holocaust survivor. I also wore costume Nadre diamond/crystal earrings and a thin silver Kendra Scott bracelet with a white stone, both from Nordstrom. On my left hand, I wore a pearl and crystal bracelet from A Beautiful Touch in Haddonfield, NJ. And, of course, my raised cushion-cut diamond engagement ring set in a halo of diamonds on a delicate diamond and white gold band, from Mark’s Jewelers in Montgomeryville, PA.
Other bridal accessories also from A Beautiful Touch included my white and pale blue garter and light blue silk bridal robe personalized with “Mrs. Gordon” on the back.
I had a difficult time finding shoes because of my tiny feet; I wear a size 4 in heels! After ordering a pair of Jimmy Choo heels in my size, I later learned about Nina Shoes, which run small. I cancelled my order of the $700 shoes and instead purchased a size 5 sparkly, strappy Nina sandal in gold with a 3-and-a-half-inch heel for $39 on sale at Nordstrom!
The handsome groom
Jared wore a custom dark gray suit from JoS. A. Bank with a purple pocket square, gray and purple striped tie, and black shoes without laces. He wore a boutonniere of thistle, purple wax flowers and mix greenery wrapped with a purple ribbon.
Bridesmaids in Purple
I chose to have only family in our wedding party. Both my sisters-in-law were bridesmaids. My sister-in-law (brother’s wife), Cheryl, was Matron-of-Honor and Erica, the groom’s sister, was a bridesmaid. Both wore dark purple/plum dresses of different designs that they purchased individually at David’s Bridal. The Best Man and groomsmen wore dark gray suits with white shirts and dark purple ties.
A Moving Ceremony
Our ceremony was held outdoors under a pergola at the resort overlooking Mt. Mansfield, with red, fuschia, and white ombre rose petals decorating the aisle; our families stood on either side of us.
My favorite parts of the ceremony were when we recited our own vows and when my Matron-of-Honor spoke about the significance of the ring pillow, which she had specially made of a shirt of my father’s and a tie and handkerchief of Jared’s father, in memory of both who had passed away.
The night before the wedding we had a ketubah signing/small religious ceremony officiated by my cousin’s husband. For both ceremonies, we had family members read a blessing.
A Paper-cut Ketubah
Our ketubah, called Devotion II by Cindy Michael, is a paper-cut design in white with a gray background which we selected. We purchased it at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia. The symbolic design features a dove, hamsa, leaves, the sun and the moon, and the city of Jerusalem at the top. “I am My Beloved’s My Beloved is Mine” is in Hebrew and English at the top. We later had the ketubah beautifully framed with white and gray matting and a thick distressed gray/silver frame from Frugal Frames in Montgomeryville, PA.
I Knew I Loved You
Jared and I love 80s and 90s pop and alternative rock, so we chose a good selection of songs from the 80s, 90s, and 2000s (with a sprinkling of songs from the 60s, 70s, and today). The reception featured more pop and dance songs (with soft rock played during dinner), while the cocktail hour was more alternative and soft rock.
Our processional song for our walk down the aisle was an instrumental version of ‘I Knew I Loved You’ by Savage Garden, and instrumental versions of ‘Your Song’ by Elton John and ‘Fields of Gold’ by Sting (two of Jared’s favorite artists) played during the processional of the wedding party. We chose ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell for our recessional. I thought it fit the theme well.
Our first dance was to ‘Will You Still Love Me?’ by Chicago. Jared and I did not have a special song prior to the wedding, so we did our research. I knew this was the song for our first dance because I had tears in my eyes when I heard it. It also reflected out musical tastes and had lyrics that aligned well with our story.
We spent a while working together to select our favorite music that reflected our personalities. The music was one of the few aspects of the wedding that Jared worked on with me since it was very important to him!
For flowers, we used Heavenscent Floral Art.
My vision was bold, vibrant flowers in jewel tones, as well as greenery. Some of the flowers and colors used were red piano garden roses, bright red spray roses, eggplant Calla lilies, purple and navy anemone, deep pink ranunculas, purple dendrobium orchids, chocolate and red scabiosa, purple and blue thistle, and purple wax flowers. Greenery/accent flowers included Italian ruscus, agonis foliage, and eucalyptus.
The bouquets were beautiful and bold and had a fresh-picked garden feel with lots of texture and greenery.
Our ceremony featured red, fuschia, and white ombre rose petals decorating the aisle. The poles and chandelier of the pergola/chuppah was decorated with Italian ruscus, agonis foliage, bright red spray roses, and purple wax flowers.
Jesse Schloff, owner of Jesse Schloff Photography, was our wedding photographer. He was recommended by our venue. Once I saw his work, I knew he was the one to photograph our wedding. The package also included a second photographer, which was great since he was able to capture additional angles and shots.
Jesse did an amazing job capturing our wedding day and the emotions on everyone’s faces, as well as all the small details. I was absolutely blown away when I saw the photos! The colors and composition were just beautiful. Jesse lives in Stowe, so he knows the area well, and even took us to a few locations near the resort that made for beautiful backdrops. He’s also very friendly, thorough, and easy to work with. He made sure to check in with me on our wedding day to see if there was anything else we wanted him to capture.
A Cake to Move Mountains
Our cake baker and designer was Marion of Vermont Sweet Tooth. She created a double layer semi-naked wedding cake of both chocolate chunk and Bourbon vanilla bean (two of her most popular flavors; I like chocolate, while Jared is more of a vanilla guy), with maple buttercream in between the layers and a scraping of vanilla buttercream covering the cake. The cake was decorated with gold flakes and red, pink, and purple edible flowers made of sugar paste. Topping the cake was our custom-made laser-cut cake topper in the shape of mountains that read “for you I’d move mountains Erica & Jared 08-11-18 Stowe, VT”.
We had a DJ company, Supersounds, provide the music for the reception, as well as the ceremony and cocktail hour. Supersounds did a great job getting everyone on the dance floor; it was packed all night!
We also had a unique slide show that accompanied the hilarious Best Man Speech, as well as a slideshow of childhood photos of us as kids and then together as adults on a large screen during our first dance to Chicago’s ‘Will You Still Love Me?’
Each guest received a small bottle of Vermont maple syrup that we ordered from Trade Winds Farm in Vermont. Once I knew we were having our wedding in Vermont, the maple syrup favors were a must since they fit with our theme and were something our guests would definitely use!
Speeches and Slideshows
A highlight of the night was the hilarious Best Man’s speech. The Best Man was Jared’s Uncle Gary, known by the family as “Uncle Doc.” He put together a unique slide show with a boardgame theme (Jared is a gamer and is part of a boardgame group); with the help of Jared’s Aunt Lori (a graphic designer), some slides even had our faces interposed! We also had a slideshow of childhood photos of us and then together as adults during our first dance.
My husband is not a fan of flying or tropical, warm weather, so we decided to go north to Quebec and Montreal, which is only a 2-hour drive from Stowe, VT. There was just enough to do for three days/nights in Quebec and three days/nights in Montreal. I loved Quebec especially for its historic, European charm, cute shops, and restaurants and cafes with outdoor seating.
Our entire wedding and honeymoon was a road trip; we drove from our home in the suburbs of Philadelphia to Stowe, VT on Thursday, August 9th for the wedding. On Sunday, the 12th, we left the resort after our post-wedding brunch and stopped at Ben and Jerry’s Factory for the ice cream tour and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Café and Visitor Center (I’m a big coffee lover) before heading to Old Quebec, where we stayed for three nights at the Auberge St. Antoine. The hotel was romantic, with the perfect combination of historic charm and modern décor and amenities, including a beautiful farm-to-fork restaurant, a bar/lounge, and spa.
Advice to couples currently planning their wedding
Don’t assume the vendors will know exactly what you want; communication is very important, especially when you are planning a destination wedding. Try to meet in person if possible, and, if not, communicate over the phone as well as email. Also make sure you finalize all details over the phone and not just over email. Things can get miscommunicated along the way, especially with so much to do! Lastly, trust your instincts and go with your gut; if something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t!
Erica & Jared’s little white book
Photography – Jesse Schloff Photography
Videography – Video Memory by Supersounds
Venue – Topnotch Resort & Spa
Bride’s dress – Pronovias found and fitted at La Belle Mariée Bridal
Bride’s shoes – Nina Shoes
Bride’s accessories – Mark’s Jewelers, Justine M. Couture, A Beautiful Touch, Kendra Scott from Nordstrom
Groom’s attire – JoS. A. Bank
Bridesmaids – David’s Bridal
Hair + Makeup – Topnotch Salon & Spa
Flowers – Heavenscent Floral Art
Cake – Vermont Sweet Tooth
Cake topper – Light + Paper
DJ – Supersounds
Favors – Trade Winds Farm
Stationery – The Paper Boutique, Eight21Studios, William Arthur of Crane and Co. and Minted
Ketubah – National Museum of American Jewish History and Frugal Frames
Honeymoon – at Auberge St. Antoine