One of my main aims when I started Smashing The Glass was to ensure there would be an abundance of Jew-ish wedding inspiration, by which I mean interfaith wedding inspiration for readers who are marrying out, marrying in (or anywhere in between for that matter) — I call it Jew-ish!
Prior to starting the blog, I remember hearing the same complaint over and over again from friends who were marrying the love of their loves who were of another faith. They desperately wanted a ceremony that embraced both their and their partner’s religion / culture, but there was simply no inspiration, online or offline, for how to create a meaningful fusion Jew-ish wedding.
As a result the blog covers an array of topics from 5 ways to incorporate Jewish’ into a non-Jewish or Interfaith wedding to a diary of a Jewish bride who ‘married out‘, to spotlighting awesome Smashing Suppliers like Rabbi Paul Glantz who has lovingly officiated countless beautiful interfaith Jewish weddings.
It therefore goes without saying that I love blogging mixed faith Jew-ish weddings as part of this focus. I’ve showcased several Indian-Jewish weddings on the blog before, and they are often very colourful affairs, but today’s W Day takes brights and rainbow hues to another level and should definitely be viewed with your sunglasses on!
Ritu, of Indian heritage, and Greg, who’s Jewish, very much wanted a single ceremony versus two separate ones. They found that many of their individual traditions were able to be seamlessly intertwined eg. the chuppah / mandap structure is both a symbol of the home that they would build together (chuppah) and the universe (mandap) and the framework of each is very similar. This blending of both their cultures into one meaningful ceremony meant a lot to them (and by the way, I have a post going live this Friday on how to successfully mix two faiths into one beautiful ceremony… watch this space!).
This entire wedding is magnificent, and not only do we have the images from Priyanca Rao Photography, but also the wedding video from Unique Visions Studio. Ritu’s wedding report is super fun to read too. Don’t miss a beat!
How we met
I am not sure this story makes me look all that good! My friend (and eventual bridesmaid) Claudia and I were at a party for The Brooklyn Rugby Club’s final game of the season. I was a little hesitant about going in the first place… I had been sorta casually spending time with one of the rugby players and that dalliance had recently ended in a full on crash and burn! But Claudia convinced me to accompany her. And then I met the new guy on the team — Greg Aguele. He followed us to another bar and struck up a conversation with me. I was definitely stand-offish — I didn’t want to be the Brooklyn Rugby Groupie! But I will never forget him saying “I get it. But listen, I am a nice guy, and I think we should get to know each other”. And so we did.
The perfect Venue
You know how often the first dress a bride tries on is THE dress? Well that was the the case regarding our venue. The Garden City Hotel was actually recommended by my father. The second I met with the team there, led by Jerry Rizzo, I was in love. We wanted a place that was close to where we both grew up and where both our families could easily get to. And we loved that all of our events (an Indian wedding can have quite a few) could be in one central place where all guests could also stay.
Lots of bright colour
Greg and I are a bit bohemian and we love nature and we definitely wanted something lush and bright. So there were a lot of hot pinks, vibrant oranges, bright greens and rich gold.
Our fabulous wedding planner
SJS Events were our wedding planners. I wasn’t the kind of girl that had spent ages envisioning a wedding. I had no ‘reference materials’. I wanted a planner I could bond with who would simply just get me. Sonal Shah and her team made everything feel fun. I didn’t feel overwhelmed at all – which was my biggest fear going into wedding planning.
I was admittedly having a bit of trouble with invites. Perhaps I wasn’t very good at expressing my vision, but nothing anyone showed me captured what I wanted. Then my bridesmaid Lizzie reminded me of our friend Karen of KLP Designs who did my birthday party invitations years prior.
After one phone session with both of us, Karen created the most intricate, unique designs. We swooned. There were special touches in there for just us. For example, Karen illustrated a small eagle that was a featured on the invite, menu, program, etc… a nod to the literal translation of my husband’s Italian last name.
Hair + Make-up
Priti Shah was my make and hair artist as well as my wedding lengha dresser. I loved her because even though she glammed me up, she still made me look like me! Also, she is a very calming force around a jittery bride.
My wedding ensemble
My wedding day wear was created by Sai Bridal in Hicksville Long Island. I knew that I wanted to wear an ensemble that was a nod to my Indian hertitage, but I also knew that I didn’t want it to be uber-traditional. Sai Bridal created a white and coral wedding lengha – custom made in India. I loved it and was surprisingly comfortable in all the heavy beading and handwork. For the reception, I wore another lengha, but this one more slim fit in peach and bronze.
The wedding lengha comes with what is called a ‘duputta’ – veil. We were planning on going with the white one, but at the last minute we went with the bright coral for the ceremony. Indian bridal jewellery is really abundant. I had wedding bangles and jewelry on my hands and dangling from my wrists.
Some memorable pieces were the necklace that my husband put on me during the ceremony which belonged to my grandmother as well as the reception jewellery which my mother wore at her wedding to my dad.
The handsome groom
I am so impressed by how Greg did this! He went to Sai Bridal and designed his dream ‘sherwani’ (an Indian wedding suit). All by himself without any help from me! It was bright blue long coat with some gorgeous hand design work. He literally looked like the prince he is.
My six bridesmaids were outfitted in silk saris in ‘Ritu Blue’ – my signature colour!
As a groomsman gift, Greg got his guys viking drinking horns. Priyanca convinced them all to wear them as part of their wedding kurta ensembles!
A Jewish-Indian wedding ceremony
The ceremony was so unique to us – taking in my Indian culture and Greg’s Jewish faith. We had a pundit, Prabhakhar Sharma, and a Rabbi, Jill Hausman. They had actually worked together before and they collaborated to make an intertwined joint ceremony completely true to us.
We really wanted one ceremony versus two – so the fact that the traditions were so intertwined, blending into each other meant a lot.
We tried to do that in a lot of our wedding elements. For example, Greg had our wedding rings (Ken and Dana Design) inscribed with ‘I am my beloved’s and my beloved’s is mine’ – my ring started in sanskrit and ended in hebrew, his in reverse.
Favourite parts of the ceremony
One of my favorite parts was when we were wrapped together in the talit. There was an intimacy about it where I felt like it was just he and I, despite all our guest watching.
Also, the week before our wedding, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of same sex marriage. That was tremendous for us. In our vows we made reference to that momentous world changing event.
Greg chose a ketubah that was like our ceremony – with a beautiful nod to nature.
One of the most meaningful ceremonies we had was a milni. Respective family counterparts garland each other (my dad garlanded Greg’s dad, our mom’s garlanded each other) as a show of joining together as family. This is all before Greg and I garland each other. When our uncles were up, my uncle lifted Greg’s uncle right off the ground when they hugged. My cousin Mala, who was master of ceremonies of the milni, was like ‘that’s a little testosterone”. Then Greg picked them BOTH up off the ground. “that’s a LOT of testosterone’ quipped Mala.
Another similarity in our heritages – our wedding canopy! I loved that it was both a symbol of the home we would build together (chuppah) and the universe (mandap).
It was completely drenched in flowers and greens, and wood.
A Bharat band and a shofar
In Indian tradition the groom comes to his wedding on a horse in a bharat – basically a wedding parade. We had a live bharat band (Jina Brass Band), DJ (DJ Manan Shah), and a shofar played by our dear friend Heather.
For the processional, Greg got the bharat band to do a live version of the ending music in Star Wars! I walked down to an instrumental version of Halo. Our recessional was Hall & Oates. And our first dance was My Love is Your Love by Whitney Houston.
Flowers and decor
Design House Decor of Floral Park did all our decor.
Greg had this dream of an outdoor wedding – but with a July 4th wedding date, it just wasn’t practical (and we might have some hot annoyed guests).
Our brief to Design House Decor was simple – bring the outdoors indoors. When we saw what they created – I am not going to deny it – we might have wept a little.
Our fabulous Photographer…
All hail Priyanca Rao Photography! Greg and I knew we didn’t want overly posed photos but ones that were offbeat and memorable. Priyanca with her excitement and infectious laugh was perfect for us. One of my favorite parts was when she took us to a nearby abandoned school for pre-wedding shots – just us. It was a moment where we got to be a little silly and lighthearted. Kinda thereapeutic in it’s own way!
Alex and Nina of Unique Visions Studio created the most spectacular film (embedded at the bottom of this post)… I can’t get enough of it. There is a Brooklyn Rugby tradition where when Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing comes on, the ruggers drop trou. Somehow that song snuck into the playlist… you can only imagine the shock on my mama’s face. But I will never forget Alex down on the floor, camera in hand, getting all sorts of shots!
The Garden City Hotel did the cake with chocolate layers for greg, and butter cream for me. I just don’t remember getting to eat it.
Our topper was a nod to Greg’s rugby life. With me tackling him. Shoulda been the other way around. And of course, Design House Decor put a trail of real flowers up the cake.
And most surprising of all… Greg and his groomsmen surprised me with a rousing Indian dance for his bride.
Advice to brides and grooms currently planning their wedding
Grab your spouse in the middle of the reception, stand over where you can have an overview of everyone and just take a moment to be like ‘wow, these people are all here to celebrate and support and love US’