This is a guest post by Mel Islin, a member of STG’s Brides Club and now Smashing Life.
Above a photo from the Brides Club London Challah Bake meet-up in last October.
It all started with getting engaged…..
When I got engaged in 2016 I was full of emotion and excitement. My boyfriend of 3 years had decided I was the one he wanted to spend his life with – what could be more special?!
We got engaged on holiday so as soon as we got back I went into major planning mode. I couldn’t wait to find our dream venue and set a date.
It wasn’t until I started planning that I realised what a minefield the world of weddings was. I hadn’t been to many Jewish weddings before, let alone had to plan my own!
It wasn’t long after that I discovered a fabulous website and blog called Smashing The Glass.
A couple of months after discovering this dream site and stalking their Instagram account (which you must follow if you don’t already!) I saw a post about a competition to win loads of Laura Mercier beauty products. I never win anything (not for want of trying) but thought, why not?! So, I entered… and won!
Madness. That was my first interaction with the lovely founder of STG, Karen Cinnamon.
I then saw a call out for Real Blogging Brides for 2017/18. I’d already thought about blogging my planning journey as I liked the idea of reading back on it in years to come so figured this would be a great way of doing it. I applied and was lucky enough to be chosen. My first blog post went live in May 2017 and I was so excited!
Deciding to join Smashing The Glass’ Brides Club
A couple of months before I got married, the lovely Karen launched STG’s Brides Club.
Brides Club is a non-judgemental membership community for Jewish and Jew-ish brides-to-be and newlyweds, which includes exclusive resources, templates, discounts and an incredibly supportive members-only Facebook group to connect with other brides.
In addition, you also get an exclusive ‘Smashed It’ pouch to smash the glass under the chuppah (if you go on the Smashing The Glass website there’s a snippet on the right of my husband smashing the glass using the Smashed It pouch!).
It was incredible to be part of the Brides Club community and I only wished it launched a year earlier!
Believe it or not, I am still a part of Brides Club now nearly 2 years on! I always assumed I wouldn’t be involved as I was a newlywed not a bride. But Karen was keen for me and other newlyweds to stay involved to support brides-to-be as we could give a different perspective based on our own experience, not just plans – that’s part of what makes the Brides Club Facebook community so special.
Being part of Brides Club has been incredible. It’s enabled me to connect with people I wouldn’t otherwise get the chance. There are members from all over the world – UK, USA, South Africa, Australia, France, Israel, Canada, Germany, to name a few.
You can buy the Smash Glass Pouch on Smashing The Glass Etsy Shop (or join Smashing The Glass’s Brides Club and get one for free!)
STG in-person meet-ups, and making new friends
As the community grew, the idea for real life meet-ups was born. It was great to connect and engage online, but how amazing would it be to meet the people behind the Facebook profile?!
Karen arranged the first London meet-up in the Club Lounge of the stunning Wedding Gallery – it’s the first department store for weddings! Imagine being able to browse dresses, cakes and stationery in one place and sip Prosecco with fellow brides-to-be and newlyweds going through the same stage of life?
It was on 9 May 2019 (I remember the date because it was my brother’s birthday and I chose to attend the meet-up instead…he wasn’t bothered though!). It was at this meet-up that I met so many lovely women, two of which I really connected with.
We had engaged a lot online so meeting face to face felt so natural. We got chatting after the meet-up and met for dinner. We’ve been friends ever since and I attended both their weddings with my husband.
I never intended to make friends in real life, but it’s happened, and I am so thankful.
There have since been many Brides Club meet-ups, across the globe (From LA to NYC to London and everywhere in between), including challah bakes, crafts meet-ups, and brunches, and a Brides Club Galentines meet-up is scheduled this month. I’ve met so many fabulous people and been able to build meaningful friendships.
Mel and her two new BCM friends, Melissa and Amy, at their weddings. See Mel + Mitch’s wedding here and Melissa + Nick’s wedding here.
Smashing Life – for life after the wedding
With the success of Brides Club, members were telling Karen that they would love a separate space to continue the sense of community for life after the Big Day – for everything that comes next.
Karen talked to us about what we we wanted, and what there was a need for, and we realised there was so much potential to create a space for women to connect to support each other in all aspects of Jewish life.
After listening to our needs and wants, Karen launched Smashing Life in July 2019, with the slogan ‘Your Jewish Life Your Way’.
The Smashing Life community has enabled myself and other newlyweds (and even brides-to-be) to connect and discuss navigating life after the wedding and some of the challenges it comes with. We discuss anything and everything!
There are also challenges, takeovers, book club and live masterclasses with experts covering topics from finances to decluttering to creating a meaningful Jewish home, to how to best prepare your body for pregnancy to literally everything…. Karen even brought in a sex therapist for January’s guest talk (the members vote every month on following month’s guest expert topic).
Mel at some of the Brides Club / Smashing Life meet-ups
Smashing Life – Conceiving and Parenting
Talking of family planning… have you ever been with a partner and get constant questions about when you’re getting engaged? Or been to a wedding and someone said, “Please G-d by you”? If you’re married, you’ve probably experienced the barrage of questions the second you sign the ketubah – “Any kids on the horizon?” “When will you start a family?” “Why don’t you have children yet?”
There’s a lack of understanding about the sensitivity of the subject. How do they know the person they’re asking hasn’t been trying for a child for months but is having issues? Or they’ve been pregnant but suffered a loss?
It’s been discussed a few times in Smashing Life. But it’s such an emotive subject and it’s not relevant to everyone so I had the idea of launching a sub-group to SL dedicated to starting and raising a family called Smashing Life – Conceiving and Parenting . I talked about it with Karen and now it’s an added live layer of Smashing Life and it works so well.
It’s had such positive feedback and members have another safe space to talk openly about family planning with other women in a similar situation.
Trying to conceive, pregnancy and parenting can all be anxious times in a person’s life. Having an intimate and confidential community where you can openly discuss your feelings and ask, “is what I’m feeling normal?” is so empowering and comforting.
Amazing cupcakes made by BCM Melissa for a Brides Club meet-up. Aren’t they fab?!
What ‘Smashing The Glass’ means to me
Karen and the team at Smashing The Glass have created a pathway from engagement to planning a wedding then life afterwards.
Having been on that journey myself, I can say from experience that the support, sense of community and belonging I have felt has been unprecedented.
I have not only had support to plan my wedding. I have been given a platform to help others, share my own life achievements and challenges, and make some amazing new friends along the way that I wouldn’t have otherwise met.
My phone is now constantly on the go (for all the right reasons!). Whether it’s WhatsApp with a message from a new group chat, or Facebook alerting me someone has replied to my post or comment. I love reading and contributing to new threads on the Brides Club, Smashing Life, and Smashing Life – Conceiving and Parenting groups.
It’s so refreshing to be amongst people who have no hidden agenda; everyone is there to help each other. Being involved in a community of like-minded women has been invaluable and I cannot wait for that community to grow and thrive.
Amazing cupcakes made by BCM Melissa
Join Smashing The Glass’ Brides Club for step-by-step guides, handpicked wedding vendor discounts, Jewish wedding action plans, a free smash glass pouch, Jewish wedding checklists and templates, and SO much more!
You can currently experience 30 free days inside Brides Club (you can cancel at any time – there’s no tie-in).
The promotion to access the 30 free days is closing on Monday February 17, so do ensure you join before then to experience Brides Club for free!
Join Smashing The Glass’ Smashing Life for life outside of the wedding. It’s our follow-on community to Brides Club where we cover everything from navigating the first year of marriage to house hunting to family planning, to Jewish life to Friday night dinner hacks to fitness to Book Club to interiors to health and wellbeing, finance – we even had a sexual therapist in for January’s expert talk! (February’s guest session is on‘ ‘Organization + Decluttering Tips for Newlyweds’ but of course you’ll have access to all previous sessions).