This gorgeous Jewish wedding is a very special landmark for us: it’s the very first we’ve published featuring not one but two members of Smashing The Glass’s Brides Club!
Both Eliza, a graduate student in Purdue University’s Rhetoric and Composition program, and Jean, a data analyst at an e-commerce marketing tech start-up, were beloved members of the Brides Club community, and we’re so glad to hear their kind words about how helpful and supportive they found the group as they planned their afternoon tea wedding.
We’re in love with the sweet vintage vibes of their day – don’t miss the wonderful photos by Jasmine Norris Photography – featuring lovely touches from a five-course French-style tea, a chuppah built by Jean’s dad, fun loose-leaf tea favors for guests to take home, and a colorful folk art-inspired ketubah by Celia Lemonik, purchased through Smashing The Glass Recommended Vendor ketubah.com. Eliza and Jean especially loved ketubah.com’s wonderful options for personalizing the text and making it egalitarian and gender-neutral.
There’s so much more to say about this very special Jewish wedding – but we’ll turn you over to the brides to hear the rest…
How we Met
Eliza: We met at a bar in Indianapolis (while Jean was on a date with someone else!).
An All-Inclusive Venue
We got married at the The Fowler House Mansion in Lafayette, IN. We both were looking for an all-inclusive venue we could do everything at, from getting ready through the reception.
Eliza: We had an afternoon tea à la Français following our wedding in an historic mansion turned restaurant/museum. Because I’m in academia, I really wanted to avoid getting married during the academic year, so I knew I wanted a summer wedding. With the Shabbat restrictions on weddings making a “typical” Saturday night wedding impossible in the summer, since the sun sets so late here, I decided to lean into doing something different than your usual evening dinner-and-dancing and have a Sunday afternoon garden tea party. We planned everything ourselves and I’m very proud of how well all our hard work turned out!
What ‘Smashing The Glass Brides Club’ Did For Us
We were both members of the Brides Club with Smashing the Glass and it helped us so much! It was so amazing to have people to turn to for support and questions. We got tons of ideas and inspiration through the website and the group!
Hair + Make-up
Eliza: I have a lot of experience doing makeup from my days in student theatre, so I did my own makeup. I don’t wear very much makeup anymore, so I went for a lighter and more natural look. I feel most comfortable with my hair down, but I needed to tuck my tiara into my hair, so my amazing hairstylist created a half-up, half-down look with a braided “crown” across the back interspersed with tiny, handmade silk flower pins.
Jean: I had my hair and makeup done by Eliza’s cousin Maddie. Maddie does hair and makeup for plays and musicals and I was excited to have a chance to get to know some of Eliza’s family.
We got our dresses at a resale bridal boutique, Retulled Boutique. Besides being on a budget, it was important to both of us to avoid as much waste as we could, so we felt like purchasing something used was a great choice for us. We always get ready together and shop together—so it just felt natural to go wedding dress shopping together as well. And we both found our dresses on the first shopping trip, too!
Eliza: I wore a bespoke A-line gown with floral appliqués that I’m told was used for a photoshoot before I purchased it. It made me feel like a model! When I went to try on dresses, I knew what I didn’t want, but not as much what I did, so I tried on a few different styles, but I had a feeling I’d go with my favorite, which I’d saved for last. And I was right! I especially loved that it had delicate straps to help hold it up (what can I say, I’m practical!) and an off-white top layer of tulle on the skirt—having some color in the dress was important to me. I really wanted some sparkle, too, so my seamstress hand-embroidered every appliqué with pearls and glass beads to match my tiara.
Jean: My DE-SA dress is fitted and shows a lot of back, while emphasizing my shoulders. It looked a lot different than the other dresses I tried on. I don’t think it would look good on a lot of girls, but I looked strong and lean in it and I really liked it.
Eliza: I wore my mom’s cathedral-length veil with pearls, as well as the matching crown, a Slavic kokoshnik-style tiara embroidered with beads and pearls. I loved it because the veil came on and off the tiara with Velcro, so it was super easy to take the veil off for the reception. Green was a recurring color in all our décor, and it’s one of my favorite colors, so I chose an emerald teardrop necklace with diamond accents and matching earrings.
Jean: Eliza’s mom got me a string of pearls with a diamond clasp as a gift. I was extremely excited to wear them and tried to match the rest of the accessories to them.
Eliza: To match my accessories, I went with bejewelled Betsy Johnson block heels in emerald green. Our venue has tons of stairs, and I did not want to navigate those in stilettos! Plus, I knew I’d be smashing the glass, and it seemed easier to do that with a chunky heel. They were really comfortable and I wore them all day!
Jean: My Valenti Franco shoes were purchased to match my veil and the diamond clasp that held the string of pearls. They had the most sparkle-power of everything I had on. I had hoped they would be comfortable, but I was on my feet so much that I’m not sure any shoes would have been!
We had a beautiful ketubah made by Celia Lemonik, purchased through ketubah.com. They have a lot of wonderful options for personalizing the text and making it egalitarian and gender-neutral. The ketubah features modern reinterpretations of traditional folk-art in bold colors. At the top, it has a papercutting against a gold background that reveals, in Hebrew, Hosea 2:21-2, the verses that inspired the tradition of circling three times under the chuppah (which we did—we both loved that connection!).
Jean’s dad used to design, build, and inspect homes, so we asked him to build our chuppah for us. (We were very confident it would not fall over!) For the canopy, we went to the fabric store and picked out white gauze with 3-D flower appliqués from the bridal fabric section. Our seamstresses cut it to size, finished the edges, and sewed the ties on. The fabric fit perfectly with our wedding’s ethereal garden vibes.
Our Music Choice
We wanted a traditional wedding with just a rabbi and cantor, and luckily our rabbi is a great singer, so we planned to have him do both parts. We picked ‘Dodi Li’ for the processional and ‘Siman Tov U’Mazel Tov’ for the recessional. Unfortunately, on the Monday before our wedding, our rabbi told us he had just gotten out of the hospital and that wouldn’t be able to sing at the wedding!
We scrambled to find replacements and luckily two of our friends volunteered to play guitar and sing for us. Despite the incredibly short notice, and the guitar player not actually currently owning a guitar to practice on beforehand, their performance was beautiful. It was really special to include them in our day.
For a garden tea party, the florals are key, and we were so lucky to have a florist who understood our unique vision and in whom we had complete trust. We went the same florist who had done Eliza’s parents’ wedding, McKinney’s Flowers. We’d had several bouquets from them previously and had always loved the creativity and quality of their work, so we were happy to carry on that tradition. Since our wedding wasn’t typical, we thought the flowers should be unique, too, so we stayed away from mainstays like roses and ranunculuses.
Instead, we opted for a mix of native wildflowers and more unusual cultivated herbs, flowers, and plants from the garden, with a particular emphasis on the greenery. Our bouquets included special touches just for us—Jean loves hot peppers and we grow them in our garden, so her bouquet had some unripe Tabascos tucked in; Eliza’s bouquet featured Stargazer lilies, which were also in her mother’s and grandmother’s bouquets.
Apart from our photographer’s numerous awards and standout portfolio, we knew Jasmine Norris Photography was the right photographer when we saw the feature on her website dedicated to her cats. In addition to photography, she also provided us assistance with the timeline and day-of coordinating. Jasmine also has a blog with tons of helpful materials for couples planning their wedding. She was really great and we were constantly glad we chose her.
Food and Cake
Luckily, our venue is a working restaurant, so we had complete faith in their kitchen to pull off an amazing tea service. We had a French-style tea, in which there are five courses, individually plated: soup and salad, tea sandwiches and savories, breads and cheeses, fruits and sweets, and dessert (for us, wedding cake petit fours). For beverages, we had black tea—of course!—as well as homemade lavender lemonade and homemade mock- or cocktails of strawberry peach gimlets and planter’s punch (guests could choose to spike their drinks with the appropriate spirit). Our guests gave us tons of compliments on the food, and we were so pleased that everyone enjoyed it so much.
The cake is a funny story (in hindsight—at the time, it was super stressful!). Jean’s cousin is a baker and we asked her to do our cutting cake. Unfortunately, she got COVID before the wedding and obviously couldn’t make it. We had to scramble at the last minute to find a solution for this (just like the music at the ceremony—we had lots of last-minute crises!). Luckily, our favorite local bakery, Scones and Doilies, took pity on us when we called with a desperate plea for a cutting cake three days before the wedding. They were so kind and the cake was amazing—a white cake with raspberry-champagne flavored jam and the most gorgeous floral decoration!
To fit with our theme, we had a string quartet, Candlewood Strings, play during the reception. They were absolutely lovely and even worked in some special requests for some of Eliza’s favorite classical music that isn’t normally arranged for a quartet, which we really appreciated.
Because we really wanted to avoid waste at our wedding, we tried hard to make our wedding favors both fun and practical—something that guests would actually use. Tea was an obvious choice, so we had a variety of individual looseleaf teas for our guests to take home. To fit with our garden theme, we ordered seed paper kippot with wildflower seeds for our guests to take home and plant. In the same vein, we got packets of seeds to use as escort cards.
On the more practical side, we ordered fans and tissues for guests’ “happy tears.” Eliza’s mom also sewed double-layer, lined masks in mix-and-match floral fabric. It was very satisfying to hear from guests the next day about how much they enjoyed the tea and to see how excited they were to plant their seeds!
We honeymooned at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, MI. This was originally where Eliza wanted to get married, but that idea wasn’t terribly practical—so this was our compromise. Mackinac Island (famous for having no cars, just bicycles and carriages) is already such a charming and romantic destination, and the Grand Hotel is renowned worldwide for its old-world luxury—so it really did make for a perfect honeymoon.
Advice to couples currently planning their wedding
Eliza: My life in the moments leading up to the wedding got a lot easier when I learned the phrase, “I’m the bride; it’s not my problem.” People’s instinct is to go to you whenever they have a question there’s an issue, etc., but you cannot be responsible for everything—nor should you have to be! If you have truly expressed your vision and desires to the people helping you, then you can trust them to step up. People might feel like they need your permission on everything, so you may need to give them permission to just handle it! (And, if you’re a type-A person—like I am!—then you may need to give yourself permission to let go and let the people you trust do their job, too.) Also, as hard as it is, try not to get overly stressed out by last-minute issues. Having backup plans helps a lot with this! It will all turn out beautifully and no one will know that it was meant to be any different.
Jean: My advice is to find vendors you can put your complete trust in and let them run free. A huge part of getting our wedding right relied on the flowers, and after we met with LeeAnne at McKenny’s and explained what we were looking for we mostly let her do whatever she came up with. It was a huge load off our shoulders, so I my advice is to recognize when you can trust a vendor to do it right and leave them alone. You can’t do everything!
ELIZA & JEAN’S LITTLE WHITE BOOK
Photography – Jasmine Norris Photography
Venue – The Fowler House Mansion
Brides’ dresses – Retulled Boutique
Shoes – Betsy Johnson
Hair + Makeup – Cari Araiza
Flowers – McKinney’s Flowers
Quartet – Candlewood Strings
Cake – Scones and Doilies
Ketubah – Celia Lemonik’s Folk Art – Betrothed Metallic Papercut via ketubah.com
Rabbi – Mike Harvey
Favors – Custom Wedding Favor
Ring Box – Margo Designs Store
Petal toss dried flowers – OlaFlora
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.