In this dark time we’re living through, we could all use an extra infusion of Jewish joy. And there’s something about Jewish weddings – the unbridled love and emotion, the continuity and hope for the Jewish future – that comes through better than just about anything else we can think of.
That’s certainly true of the beautiful, heartfelt Jewish wedding of New Hampshire couple Robbie and Jeff. The two grooms centered their big day around their own unique love story, and starting with their choice of venue, Temple Israel in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where Robbie completed his conversion to Judaism, everything about their wedding was ultra-personal. This came through most clearly of all when it came to the duo’s vows, which told their story in an ultra-moving way.
Naturally, the couple wanted to make sure their ketubah was something special, and they found just the thing in their hand-painted tree of life ketubah by the wonderful Nava Shoham from Smashing The Glass Recommended Vendor 1800ketubah.com. Don’t miss it in the wonderful images from Jeffrey Rivkin Photography!
There’s lots more to say about this joyful Jewish wedding, but we’ll let the grooms take it from here…
How We Met
Robbie and Jeff, the grooms: We met in late 2017 through a mutual friend at a Halloween party were we live in Dover, New Hampshire. Jeff was in a relationship at the time, and initially we were just acquaintances at social gatherings, and became gym buddies. When Jeff became single a few months later, Robbie quickly jumped at the opportunity to get closer with the buff new guy with beautiful blue eyes, and the ability to carry an intelligent conversation.
“Jeff was fairly new to the area and didn’t know many people, so Robbie would invite him over to his place after the gym and cook him up some chicken, steak and veggies on the grill while we’d drink wine and get to know each other.”
Being that we were both in our 30s, we both approached the relationship with vulnerability and honesty. Neither of us was wasting any time. We shared our trials and tribulations over those initial dinners, and that’s when we really started connecting. Robbie has a thing for guys who have faced adversity and overcome it, so he was attracted to Jeff from the moment they started getting to know each other.
At around the three week point in our relationship, Robbie blurted out “I love you” after a few glasses of wine and a deep conversation. Jeff played his cards a little closer to his chest, and replied “thank you,” but the reality was that he was instantly drawn to Robbie’s boyish smile, his overflowing empathy, and effortless swagger.
The plot twist to the whole story was that Robbie had just been laid off from his job and was about to move away, eventually planning to land on the West Coast. On a romantic walk along the Marginal Way in Ogunquit Beach, Maine, Jeff tried to end things on a high note, not wanting to get more attached knowing Robbie was leaving. Robbie wasn’t so willing to let go. “I felt crushed as soon as the words came out of Jeff’s mouth. I knew I was going to be living in New England for at least another year before leaving to the West Coast, so I pleaded with Jeff to keeping seeing me and let things play out on their own.”
Thankfully, Jeff agreed, and we ended up maintaining a long distance relationship for about 13 months, roughly 145 miles or 2.5 hours apart. During that time, Robbie found a new job that allowed him to work remotely, and in August of 2019, he moved back to Dover, New Hampshire to live with Jeff full-time.
In January of 2021, we were out walking our cavapoo, Coal, and laughing hysterically as we watched him gliding on the ice on our long driveway. Then, Jeff told Robbie to look up at the stars. Jeff always “stops to smell the roses,” so Robbie looked up too, only to see a completely overcast sky. Confused, he looked back down and saw Jeff getting down on one knee, with a huge smile on his face, and an open ring box. He asked Robbie to marry him, and Robbie asked, “are you being serious?” Jeff replied, “I’m on my knees in the snow with a ring in my hand. Does this look like a joke?” Then Robbie said, “Yes. Yes. Oh, my God, of course.”
Having already been planning to propose to Jeff himself, Robbie went ahead and did a second proposal to Jeff that July at the top of their favorite mountain, Mt. Chocorua, in New Hampshire’s White Mountain region. He got down on one knee near the edge of the mountain at the top while Jeff was looking around, and said, “what do you think about the view over here?” Jeff turned around and Robbie popped the questions. Of course it was already a done deal at that point. Jeff said yes, too!