So your long-planned wedding plans have been disrupted by COVID-19. That’s exactly what happened to New York couple Julie, a Smashing The Glass Brides Club member who works in sales for a tech startup, and Benjamin, who’s in private equity. They had a 250-person Jewish wedding planned for April 18, but when it became clear that couldn’t happen due to the pandemic, these two pivoted to something that’s become an increasingly popular choice for #coronabrides and grooms: a Zoom wedding.
These two decided they still wanted to get married on their original date, which fell when the pandemic was at its peak in the New York area. Nonetheless, Julie and Benjamin managed to pull together a truly unforgettable wedding – at the bride’s family home, with her parents attending physically, their rabbi officiating via Zoom, and the rest of the couple’s close family and friends tuning in virtually – in just three days!
Although this was a very different wedding from the big bash the pair had planned – and they do still plan to celebrate in person with their loved ones later on – in Julie’s words, “It was so special and so real. It reminded me that all of the other stuff is just stuff. We will tell this story to our children and our grandchildren.” This day was SO full of love, and we can’t get enough of the photos from Megan Mills.
Julie also kindly provided some invaluable tips for other couples considering Zoom weddings, for everything from dealing with tech to making sure your wedding day feels special – do read on for her wise words! She’s also posted a full Newlywed Debrief video inside Smashing The Glass’s Brides Club where she talks through the day in depth and provides some truly unmissable insights – if you’re planning a Zoom wedding, please do join us in the club so you can fully benefit from Julie’s wisdom and generosity (and so much more)!
HOW WE MET
Julie, the bride: We met on Jswipe on May 18, 2017!
Keeping It Close to Home
We were supposed to get married on April 18th at The Liberty Warehouse with 250 guests! We got engaged on Dec 31, 2018. We were going to have a rehearsal dinner at Sadelle’s and a Sunday Brunch at the Conrad Hotel downtown. We loved the LW because it is so gorgeous, open and a bit more casual than many of the more formal spaces in Manhattan.
Instead, we got married in my parent’s home in Westport, Connecticut on April 18th with my parents present and our closest family and friends on Zoom. We decided just a few days prior to go through with it and it was very simple and full of love. We hung my father’s tallit from his bar mitzvah from our ceiling and had some flowers from a local flower shop. I wore a dress I wore to my bridal shower.
All About the Love
Since it was so last minute, we really kept it simple and made it all about the love. We didn’t have a theme or anything.
Our original invitations were by Susie Blumenfeld from Pink House Productions and were so gorgeous!!
Hair + Make-up
I did it myself!!!
I wore a dress from my bridal shower from Revolve by Bronx and Banco. I wore a $20 veil from Amazon 🙂
The handsome groom
Ben wore a navy blue suit he already had.
They were meant to wear silver and some even wore them on Zoom – how cute!
We decided to invite close family and our bridal party to the live wedding, but we sent a video and pictures out to all of our invited wedding guests the next day. We sent emails!
You can watch the entire ceremony here:
PART ONE: https://youtu.be/DrxA7–LGGQ
PART TWO: https://youtu.be/-HOv4rnZt3E
We just hung up my dad’s bar mitzvah tallit.
My mom and my Mother-in-law got us a few small arrangements of blues and greens.
We hired someone local to simply capture the moment. Her name is Megan Mills and she got great shots!!
Food and Cake
I baked my own gluten free, dairy free mini wedding cake and we had a catered dinner to celebrate, which was a huge luxury during the height of the pandemic!
Advice to couples currently planning their wedding during this time
A few friends in a similar situation to me asked if I felt like I made the right decision, and I confidently told them 100% yes. Although it wasn’t what I had always imagined it would be, it was so special and so real. We put the wedding together in 3 days and it truly reminded me that all of the other stuff is just stuff. We will tell this story to our children and our grandchildren.
We felt the love from near and far as family and friends showered us with calls, emails, texts, flowers, and treats. Our friends put on makeup for the first time during this quarantine. Men put on tuxes. People felt joy! We were all reminded what a wedding is all about. We will one day celebrate this special day. We will dance with our friends and hug our family. But until then, we will have this incredible memory to hold on to. Other pieces of advice:
- Figure out the logistics. Do you already have your marriage license? Is your officiant able to be there in person or is he/she comfortable doing it virtually? This part may not be the most romantic and exciting, but it is the most essential. Cover all of your bases and make sure you get everything you need in time to say I DO.
- Test the tech… and then test it again. This was hands down the most difficult and frustrating part of the entire thing. We had two different Zoom meetings (one with our rabbi and one with all of our guests). We had the rabbi up on the TV behind us and the computer with all of our guests facing the TV and us. We recorded the Zoom meeting and also had an iPhone on a tripod recording. You really need to think through the details here – whatever “view” you use in Zoom is how the Zoom will record – so since we were on gallery view, we got everyone’s reactions the entire ceremony but not really the ceremony. I actually love this because I got the ceremony on the IPhone, but others might want the ceremony. Some older adults needed tutorials prior and we also upgraded our account to ensure the Zoom did not shut off after 40 minutes. There are many things to think about, so just don’t take the technology lightly!
- Decide who you will invite. We did not feel comfortable inviting all 200+ guests we had originally invited to our wedding to our Zoom wedding. It just took away from the intimacy of the moment and we wanted to keep the live attendees limited to just close family and the bridal party. We chose to record the ceremony and email it out to the entire guest list the next day. I also was sure to send it to some of the vendors I am particularly close with!
- Communicate! You will need to “invite” your guests to your virtual wedding. You might also feel the needed to communicate to some people not invited, just to spare their feelings. Let them know that you are only inviting family, or share with them that you will be sending out a recording the following day. Do whatever makes you feel comfortable and at ease on the big day.
- Have someone document the moment. I didn’t want to spend thousands of dollars on a professional photographer, nor did I need to. We didn’t do getting ready pictures, a first look, etc. We just took some nice pictures together before and after and we had someone take pictures during the ceremony so that my parents did not need to be concerned with that. We found someone through a Facebook group and it worked out perfectly!
- Think about what you will do before and after. Not going to lie, the day was just like any other day. My fiancé and I tried to do a few things to make it special – we wrote and read letters to each other, we went for a walk – but in general, it was pretty unremarkable. I missed my girls and I felt like the day was inching along. One of my bridesmaid facetimed with me as I did my makeup, since she is so much better than I am. I needed her help! Another one “joined” me as I did my hair. Perhaps you could do a getting ready Zoom or plan something with your mom! Similarly, think about what you want to do after the camera turns off! We had a special dinner and I baked a cake! We danced, popped champagne, and went to bed at 10 pm.
- Don’t expect it to feel like you thought it would. Because it doesn’t. I can best describe it as anti-climactic. Although it is truly the ceremony that everyone attends a wedding for, the party afterwards adds festivity, fun, and excitement! Without all of that, of course it isn’t going to feel the same! And that is totally okay! I woke up feeling exactly the same as the day before, and the day before that, and the day before that. Take the pressure off of yourself for this to be so life-altering. It’s okay!
- Try not to worry about the future. I know this is way easier said than done, but no one is holding a crystal ball with all of the answers. Getting married to Ben allowed me to finally breathe. Regardless of what happens with rescheduling the large party we still hope to have, I am married to my best friend. I don’t spend all of my time thinking about what we should do. I don’t worry every day about my wedding. I felt like a weight was lifted off of my shoulders and that is truly remarkable.
JULIE & BENJAMIN’S LITTLE WHITE BOOK
Photography – Megan Mills
Bride’s dress – Bronx and Banco
Invitation – Pink House Productions
Rabbi – Rabbi Melissa Buyer Witman
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.