We’re so delighted to be sharing the gorgeous interfaith Jewish micro wedding of our Brides Club member Julia, a social worker for the Department of Veteran’s affairs working to hose homeless veterans, and Josh, an EMT and US Army veteran!
Julia and Josh had originally planned for a 200-person wedding at a local park, but when COVID hit they downsized their guest list and shifted the festivities to Julia’s mom’s property – which, luckily for the couple, just happens to be a beautiful farm filled with green fields of wildflowers.
Regardless of the location, Julia’s top priority was always to create a relaxed and inclusive celebration that embraced both her Jewish faith and Josh’s Puerto Rican heritage. In her words,
My husband is Puerto Rican and most of my friends are not Jewish. While I am rooted deeply in my faith, sometimes I feel isolated by my Jew-ishness. Brides Club felt like this beautiful validating hug. I was able to get so much out of the articles and vendor tips. I wish I had found Smashing the Glass earlier!
The pair opted for a mostly Jewish ceremony under a chuppah (covered by a Puerto Rican flag with a Star of David at is center – designed by the groom!), officiated by Julia’s mom’s best friend, who is the rabbi of an interfaith Jewish congregation. And we love that they incorporated their daughter (who also gave a beautiful speech and sang a song for the couple!) into the ceremony, too.
Don’t miss the beautiful images from Abigail Renee Photography – or the rest of the story of this very special day, as narrated by the bride…
How we met
Julia, the bride: Josh and I met working at a group home for teen girls. We both worked third shift at the time. When he started, he requested to have Fridays off and I lost my Shabbats off, so I decided I was not going to like him. (Boy did that backfire!) Turns out the reason he couldn’t work Fridays was because of his daughter. He used his weird sense of humour and a few honeydew melons to get me to talk to him.
When the group home closed, he asked me out (I was his supervisor). I said no. Josh was deployed a few weeks later and when he got to his post, he asked me if he could take me on a date. I agreed when he got home to go on a date with him. When he got home, he drove four hours from the airport home, showered and came right to pick me up.
About four years later he proposed in front of Boston Harbour.
From our officiant and read during our ceremony.
“Now let me tell you a little love story:
Josh and Julia met at a group home where they both worked in Connecticut. It took Julia a while to warm up to Josh. Josh for his part walked right up to Julia to ask if she wanted some melon that he brought to work. She didn’t want to be rude, so she said, sure. (Josh looked really hopeful.) He came back shortly thereafter and ceremoniously dumped half a melon on Julia’s lap. Julia burst out laughing and then Josh started to bring melon themed treats for her thereafter.
A few months later Julia was promoted to supervisor. It was at that point that Josh started to realize that part of the reason he liked coming to work so much was to see Julia. A few months later they both ended up working the same second shift. They got pretty close working together every day. Julia used to cook with the girls most nights and wherever Josh was in the house he would handily appear to watch her cooking with them.
At some point in the life of this group home, there was an announcement that the home was closing. Julia had just bought a house and got really scared. New house, no job. Josh got worried and asked if she wanted to get lunch. He started to ask Julia to hang out a lot at that point and before heading out with his army unit he kissed her. Shortly after that Julia met Gia for the first time.
Josh started asking Julia to be his girlfriend and she kept telling him no. In 2014, when Josh arrived at the national training center in CA, on a security mission, he texted Julia right before he had to relinquish his phone and asked if when he got back, he could take her out on a date. She said yes.
Meanwhile they had a friend who lost her partner to a fatal accident and Julia’s mom was preparing for surgery. When Josh finally got his phone and cell service back they talked every day until he got home. When Josh got off the plane he drove the four hours home, showered and headed right out to meet Julia, Viki, grandma Lauree and her partner Irv, her Aunt Celia and Uncle Dave.
And still Julia didn’t accept Josh’s request to be his girlfriend for another few weeks but that clearly didn’t deter Josh. Josh for his part, looked up Yiddish phrases to tell Julia how beautiful she was and that made Julia smile. Josh and Julia soon began taking Gia out on dinner dates and the three of them began to establish this relationship, that they stand before us today, to dedicate and celebrate.”
Venue and wedding plans
We originally planned on an indoor/outdoor ceremony at a local park I grew up going to. We had a guest list of about 200 people as my husband’s family is huge (he is one of seven). The Garden House has a great 1930s vibe that completely fit my personality. The park is about three minutes away from the house I grew up in and was my husband’s first choice. There were many locations for pictures as well as all the amenities on sight. My grandmother used to bring me to this park growing up. As my husband is still active, the venue offered a safe postponement option and military discount.
Covid changed our ability to have the reception size we originally planned. I grew up on a farm and so my mom offered her home as an alternative. To me this was far better. It was a smaller option, yes, but this allowed for us to make our own schedule, clean up and set up as with as much time as we wanted, and the intimacy to take in the day and enjoy all of our most important people.
I love the property I grew up on, big green fields filed with wildflowers, and my mother’s studio provided the perfect space for getting ready.
What ‘Smashing The Glass Brides Club’ Did For Us
My husband is Puerto Rican and most of my friends are not Jewish. While I am rooted deeply in my faith, sometimes I feel isolated by my Jew-ishness. Brides Club felt like this beautiful validating hug. I was raised Reform and sometime feel like I am not Jewish enough and yet the most important part of our wedding for me was to have a Jewish ceremony. I was able to get so much out of the articles and vendor tips. I wish I had found Smashing the Glass earlier!
Ok, stay with me, because this is going to sound a little strange. My husband and I have matching birthmarks on our left forearms. It is a series of markings in the shape of Orion’s Belt. We choose the theme “Written in the Stars” as our arms both hold “stars”.
We choose navy as our main colour with grey, silver and blush accents. The style I planned for was kind of rustic meets boho meets classic.
With the pandemic the theme took on a laid back picnic quality that made it lovely. Most of all JOY! We wanted to celebrate joy in a time when things were dark.
Our original invitations were designed on Vistaprint and showed a night sky.
Our micro wedding invitations I created through a template I bought off Etsy with sunflowers and eucalyptus on a navy background. While we were trying to stay with our star-based theme, we were also focused on celebrating joy which sunflowers represent.
Hair + Make-up
I knew I wanted my hair up as we got married in August and I didn’t want my heavy hot hair on my neck all day. I choose a picture off of Pinterest and went with a twisted braid. I chose to tuck flowers into my hair.
My makeup was Tarte, shape tape concealer, babassu foudcealer spf 20 foundation, surfer girl curl mascara and sex kitten eye shadow palette.
An Eddy K. Dress
My dress was an Eddy K. I started my dress search at BHLDN as I heard they had good prices and a good range of styles. One of the dresses I tried on we jokingly nick named the “mullet” dress. It was an A-line ball gown of ivory chiffon with simple classic lines, a crystal embellished lace panel in the back with buttons and a train. When I finished with the dresses, I was told that the “beloved” dress was not made in my size.
I continued looking for other dresses but realized I kept comparing them all to that one. I decided to look for the dress used as I was hoping that I might be able to get it altered to fit me if I could find it affordable enough.
I made an appointment at the Savey Bride in Strafford CT which offers used off the rack’s dresses. The owner saw how much I wanted the dress, she looked me in the eye and told me “I am going to find you that dress”.
I told her that they didn’t make it in my size.
She explained that BHLDN only orders their dresses up to a size 18 street size 12 but Eddy K makes it up to a size 30. She made a few calls and came back to tell me that she had found a shop that carried the dress and not only did they have it, they also would give it to me for $500 off the list price because of my budget and they would hold the shop open for me till I could get there to be measured.
Julie Allen Bridals in Newtown CT kept their shop open and extra 30 minutes so that I could try on another Eddy K they had in the shop. Due to Covid the dress didn’t come in until June (two months before we got married) but they fitted me, altered it and had it steamed and pressed!
I bought a veil from Julie Allen Bridals, a two-tier waterfall stye with crystal embellishment that my mother in law (she came with me to the fitting as my mom was stuck in Florida due to the pandemic), helped me choose it and matched the back of my dress.
My earrings and necklace were made by my sister and were sapphire beads to match my engagement ring.
I wore retro navy blue Mary-jane pumps from Chase and Chloe, I am already taller than my husband, so I went with a modest two inches and then switched them for Toms blush pink and lace sandals for the reception.
The handsome groom
Josh wore grey slacks a blush pink button down and a navy sports coat from Jcrew. He claims he was channelling Andy Bernard from the Office. He was wearing pink limited-edition earth Converse high tops.
His kippah was a Puerto Rican flag with a Star of David in the Middle.
My bridesmaids are all individual and beautiful and I wanted their personalities represented. The original dresses were navy maxi skirts and white lace tops of their choice. Except my maiden of honour (my stepdaughter) who was going to wear and blush pink lace top. Unfortunately, Covid caused some delays in shipping and so they chose navy sun dresses and my maiden of honour choose blush pink.
Our groomsmen wore grey converse, navy pants and white button ups and forwent the suits.
As gifts I gave my tribe constellation necklaces and pink quarts or labrodite crystal earrings.
My mom’s best friend who has known me my entire life recently started her own interfaith congregation, Circles for Jewish Living in Northampton MA. She blessed us with the honour of marrying us. We kept with a mostly Jewish ceremony. Myhusband’s parents walked him down the aisle, followed by his brother his two childhood best friends and our ring security agent.
Originally, I had wanted my grandmother to walk me down the aisle but due to the pandemic and her being 90 she was unable to attend. Both my parents walked me down the aisle. My mom and the rabbi sang “Sanctuary” to start the ceremony. We did have some close family there on Zoom.
We asked our rabbi to incorporate my stepdaughter into the ceremony and so she wove her into our story.
We also wrote our own vows, my husband’s were sweet and funny – they made me laugh and took all of my anxiety out of me immediately, I loved them.
For the seven blessings, instead of the bride walking around the groom we had seven important people we had asked to each say a blessing.
Before the ceremony we signed our ketubah standing on either side of a curtain as Josh didn’t want to do a first look. We wrote the ketubah ourselves as well as our vows. Our ketubah was designed by Anna Abramzon and spoke to our desire for equality, growth, love and social justice.
We had my best friend and my sister in law sign as witnesses. Even though we were next to each other it was such a strange moment. My husband’s nervousness was palpable.
My husband had a flag designed for the chuppah which represented both of us. A Puerto Rican flag with Star of David at its centre. The chuppah was a seven ft by seven ft cedar design that could be taken apart and put back together.
Our Music Choice
I have been in the social work field for about twelve years now. Our DJ is a connection from my work with kids in crisis. He volunteered his time with a few of my clients and so he has been a staple at every Perez wedding since.
We had a mixture of Motown, R&B and Reggaeton.The wedding procession was to ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’ by Paul McCartney. Bride entrance was ‘Here Comes the Sun’ by the Beatles (my mom used to sing me this at night growing up, I was named after Julia the Beatles song).
The recession was ‘Never Knew I Needed’ by Neyo. Introduction of the Wedding Party was to ‘Beautiful People’ by Ed Sheeran.
Bride and Groom Mr and Mrs Joshua and Julia Perez! ‘Maldad’ Maluma and Steve Aioki
Our first dance was to ‘Nothing Can Change this Love’ by Sam Cooke. Mother Son dance was to Boys II Men ‘A Song for Mamma’. I danced with my father in law for a father daughter dance to ‘Lose Somebody’ by Kygo and One Republic (my dad has Lewy body dementia and is not able to move very well or function under pressure).
Toasts were made to Redbone, the Supremes, The Temptations. Cake Cutting was to ‘Sugar Sugar’ by Baby Bash
We had bridesmaids’ bouquets, bridal bouquet, chuppah flowers, and a groomsman boutonniere made by Passalongs. They were a mix of dahlias, delphinium and other in season flowers in a loose wildflower theme of blues and pinks. The groomsman boutonnieres were made with dried and paper flowers by me.
A friend of my mom gave us buckets of sunflowers as a wedding gift. The flowers in my hair were picked by my stepdaughter from the back field. Our flower girl carried a lantern with eucalyptus and lavender instead of flowers to cut down on waist and increase sustainability.
Our photographer was AMAZING, she was so supportive and sweet. Abigail Renee Photography out of Groton Ct.
Food and Cake
We got a pizza truck by Chunky Tomato out of Bristol CT. They were amazing! They offered gluten free, kosher and dairy free options. Salad, cannoli, dessert pizza and regular pizza.
We also had arroz con gondulez, bacalao, lasagna and yuca prepared by my husband’s mother and Titi Dolores (because they love me).
Our mini cake and cupcakes were done by Hardcore Sweet Bakery out of Watertown CT. They have been featured on Cupcake Wars, Food Network and most recently they were on the latest season of Sugar Rush. They were fantastic and they have the most unbelievable flavours.
We had lawn games, bubbles, really big sparklers and glowsticks. Since it was just family that was it. We had a sparkler send off.
We didn’t really do favours. Everything was shaky and on the rocks, so they were not really top of the list for us. We had masks and personal hand sanitizers. We also provided personal glasses for everyone with tops and straws and stick on chalk labels. This was for Covid safety as well as sustainability. Plus they were super cute and went over really well!
Every part of the day was special. It was so close to not happening at all that the ability for us to go forward with family and our closest friends was such a beautiful blessing!
I provided sandals to guests to make sure they were comfortable, I put a huge roll of paper out on the kids table to markers and crayons as well as glowsticks and bubbles for them to play with.
My one goal was to create a relaxed and inclusive environment that allowed for both faiths to feel comfortable. I wanted to be able to connect and spend time with my guests and celebrate my marriage and I was able to do that.
My daughter gave the most beautiful speech that absolutely destroyed my makeup. She also sang “When Fools Rush In” as a gift for us.
Also, all vendors were local, and gifts and details were from small artists local or from Etsy. We tried to stay as grassroots at possible.
To be determined post pandemic!
Advice to couples currently planning their wedding
I had a lot of different people give me advice before the pandemic and after. Ultimately this is your day with your husband to celebrate your love. Not everyone can handle that and that is ok. In the end it is better to remember joy than that one friendship that you end up losing over all of this. Be a little selfish and do things for you.
Pandemic wise, drop all your expectations – perfect might not be what you think it is. Think about what you know you can’t be without and go from there.
Make sure that you stop to remember those moments because all those nerves and planning goes by in a blur and then it’s over and you want to remember all your hard work in the fun that you have!
JULIA & JOSH’ LITTLE WHITE BOOK
Photography – Abigail Renee Photography
Venue – Look Memorial Park
Bride’s dress – Eddy K, found and fitted at Julie Allen Bridals
Bride’s shoes – Chase and Chloe , Toms
Bride’s accessories – Aurora Ablaze
Groom’s attire – Converse, Jcrew
Bridesmaids – Assorted
Hair + Makeup – Hippie Soul Hair
Flowers – Passalongs, Thai paperflower via Etsy
DJ – DJ Lexmusica
Catering – Chunky Tomato
Cake – Hardcore Sweet Bakery
Ketubah – Anna Abramzon
Stationery/Invitation – HappyMemoriesPaperie via Etsy
Rabbi – Alison Morse at Circles for Jewish Living
Cake Topper – CreativeButterflyXOX via Etsy
Ring Box- TheMostSpecialDay via Etsy
If you’re a Jewish or Jew-ish bride-to-be, you’ll want to join Smashing The Glass’ Brides Club. Guided by the world’s number 1 Jewish wedding expert, Karen Cinnamon, Brides Club is the private community for Jewish and Jew-ish brides that removes wedstress and indecision and gives you what you need to plan with confidence during these uncertain times. Join our Brides Club here.