Today’s fantastic couple, Alana and Leo, are always up for an adventure – whether that means marking their 10-month dating anniversary by taking part in The Amazing Race or retooling their plans for a three-day summer camp-style wedding extravaganza in the Berkshires to an intimate micro affair in their very own backyard!
And do we ever love the way these two ended up leaning into their homey, sustainable low-pressure celebration. From a gorgeous simple chuppah built by a friend a wedding gift to a ketubah handcrafted by a designer friend featuring hand-pressed wildflowers from the couple’s own garden, this Jewish wedding is just chock full of meaningful touches.
We’re in love with Simi Rabinowitz’s luminous, joy-filled photos of the day. And though only a handful of the couple’s original guest list could attend in person, thanks to the professional live streaming services of Bob Antonelli friends and family around the world were able to take part.
Echoing the sentiments we’ve heard from so many couples who’ve married during the pandemic under circumstances very different than the ones they’d expected, Alana says, “We wouldn’t have done our wedding any other way. It was true to us, and felt like a real celebration of our friends and our neighborhood!”
Over to you, Alana!
How we Met
Alana, the bride: We met on Tinder in January 2018! And then, right after moving in together six months after we met — all our friends thought we were crazy! — we did something even crazier and applied for The Amazing Race on a whim … and we were cast! It was such a whirlwind. We actually started the first leg of The Amazing Race on our ten-month anniversary!
Racing around the world together wasn’t what convinced us we were meant to be (we’d known that probablyyyy since our third date) but it was such an affirming experience. After you’ve done such wild things with someone and been in such high-stress situations, getting married is a no brainer. We got engaged on our one year anniversary at Walden Pond in Massachusetts.
A Backyard Wedding
We got married in our backyard in Somerville, MA! When we realized we were going to need to re-plan our initial wedding, which we had spent the last year and change planning meticulously for, it was a real hit. But, when we realized we had this incredible and pandemic-proof option literally in our backyard, we knew it was what we had to do. Our ketubah actually has flowers from our backyard hand-pressed into it, and it’s one of our favorite places, especially since the pandemic (thank goodness for outdoor spaces!). We’d put so much time into making it a beautiful and functional garden, it was a wonderful way to showcase that.
Our original plan was to do a three-day summer camp wedding in the Berkshires. Needless to say, an 180 person wedding in such close quarters and with shared bedrooms, bathrooms, and cafeteria-style meals was just NOT GUNNA HAPPEN. We were so excited to build a little community and have a super laid back and fun wedding, but, in the grand scheme of things, changing our wedding plans is nothing compared to the impact this virus has caused.
So, we readjusted and went entirely the opposite direction. We made a bunch of really, really, really difficult decisions around what we could plan for two or three months in advance and felt safe and feasible for the both of us but our little backyard wedding ended up truly perfect!
Focus on Sustainability
We had no theme on purpose. Once we shifted gears and began planning wedding #2, we knew the way to reduce our stress and make sure we enjoyed it was to make things as simple as possible. Food from places where we went to lunch. Comfortable shoes. Evites instead of paper invitations. The list goes on and on. We went with whatever flowers were local and in season and our friends and family helped with all the planning. (We only invited our wedding party, too, so it felt silly to ask them to wear a specific color scheme!).
After planning our large, camp wedding, planning this backyard wedding was a treat! We still joke about how it would have been easier to just plan the backyard one from the jump.
I also really liked this approach because it meant our wedding was a lot more sustainable. When we were making decisions about what plates to buy, for example, I just picked the compostable ones. It really streamlined things and all the choices we made felt like, well, they felt like us.
We wouldn’t have done our wedding any other way. It was true to us, and felt like a real celebration of our friends and our neighborhood!
Hair + Make-up
I kept my original hair and makeup vendor as a way to make the day still feel extra special (Crystal was the only vendor we kept from our original plan!). Crystal Vazquez and her team did my hair and makeup. She is so incredible to work with, and even did my demo in my backyard as an extra safety precaution when I asked!
Dress is from Pronovias.
The handsome groom
Leo wore a linen suit from Suit supply and a vintage Hermes tie (RealReal FTW).
My three maids of honor were MacKenzie Vile, Monica Rodriguez, and Ayushi Tyagi. They all wore floral, casual dresses so it fit with our backyard, casual feel. All the people at our backyard wedding were in the original wedding party, so everyone was my bridesmaid!
We had our guests read each of the seven blessings, which was such a wonderful way to include them! I assigned the blessing at random because I couldn’t handle making another decision, and yet every single blessing felt perfect for the friend who read it.
Our ketubah is one of our favorite parts of our wedding because our good friend and designer Becka Shuelke worked with us and our rabbi to design it! She created the calligraphy style and overall design just for us and suggested the idea of pressing wildflowers from our backyard onto the border of the ketubah, which is so dang perfect. The ketubah is such a wonderful way to preserve the day, quite literally.
Ok! So this is the second of our three favorite parts of our wedding. Our chuppah was built for us by our friend Aaron Troyansky as our wedding gift. He is an incredible carpenter and it was so beautiful — we draped Leo’s tallit on top and decorated the sides with local flowers. What. A. Dream.
Our Music Choice
FINAL FAVORITE PART OF OUR WEDDING ALERT! One of our best friends, Noah Fields, played the violin as my processional. Because we live streamed the wedding on YouTube so friends and family who couldn’t come in person would be able to attend, we learned we couldn’t use most songs because they were under copyright. So, Noah WROTE A SONG FOR OUR WEDDING. I feel so, so lucky to have friends like Noah and Becka and Aaron! We really wanted our big wedding to feel like a community, and, in so many ways, our mini-wedding achieved that same goal!
Our flowers were supplied by Peace Valley Farm, where Leo worked during the summers when he was in college. Bill and Susie were so generous and gave us buckets and buckets of zinnias that we put in vases that I got off local buy nothing Facebook groups. We also had Red Fire Farm, another local Massachusetts farm, create my bouquet, decorate the chuppah, and make Leo’s boutonniere.
Photographer and videographer
Simi Rabinowitz was our photographer. He had photographed my good friend Deb’s wedding and, when we were looking for someone local for our pared down wedding, we learned he lived less than a mile away from us! He was such a great photographer and helped work with us to stage social distanced photos that didn’t feel cold.
Simi’s friend Bob Antonelli live streamed our wedding. It was so fun to hear the stories of how people “tuned in” to our wedding around the world, and we were so happy to be able to include all the folks we wished we could have been celebrating with in person.
Food and Cake
Leo has diabetes and doesn’t eat sugar or carbs, so we skipped cake! We did buy a bunch of our favorite dark chocolate from Taza Chocolate, which is also local to Somerville, and gave those to our guests as “cake” after our toasts. We also ordered individually wrapped veggie sandwiches from our favorite place, Darwins, and had individually-sized champagne bottles. With food and with everything, we were trying to keep it fun and also keep it super safe.
We honeymooned in Bar Harbor, Maine and spent the week after our wedding hiking and eating at every outdoor restaurant in town. My pro tip for honeymoons? We left right after our pared down reception and had our friends and family clean everything up! It was a genius move and one I would recommend to anyone planning a wedding at their house. Plus, we have some great, tipsy videos our friends sent us while we were driving because a bunch of them stuck around and kept celebrating… I mean “cleaning up.”
ALANA & LEO’S LITTLE WHITE BOOK
Photography – Simi Rabinowitz
Videography – Bob Antonelli
Bride’s dress – Pronovias
Groom’s attire – Suit supply, RealReal
Hair + Makeup – Crystal Vazquez
Flowers – Peace Valley Farm, Red Fire Farm
Singer – Noah Fields
Catering – Taza Chocolate, Darwins
Ketubah – Becka Shuelke
Rabbi – Rabbi Spitzer
Champagne – Proof
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