I think it took me exactly 3.6 seconds from the moment I first read Shaun Taylor‘s email, detailing Natalie and Eli’s wedding, to thinking oh yes, this has crashed through my submission barriers — I’ve got a killer Smashing The Glass wedding on my hands here!
I love that Natalie made her own dress and wore cowboy boots. I love that Natalie’s mum made her jewellery. I love that the couple flew out their photographer, Shaun Taylor all the way from Derby to Texas because they loved his work so much. I love what Natalie says about working together with your fiancà© as a team in the planning stages. And I love that it rained and then rained some more, but far from letting the weather dampen their spirits, they embraced it and the results are even better than they imagined, as Natalie describes below.
You’ll also see the most exquisite henna tattoos covering Natalie’s arms. A traditional Yemenite henna party is a popular pre-wedding ritual for Sephardi Jews and you can see theirs in full swing over on Shaun’s blog. It just goes to show you can stamp your personality onto your wedding weekend and dig deep into your culture’s traditions too. The two are not mutually exclusive and that’s exactly what this blog is all about.
AN OUTDOOR COUNTRY WEDDING
Natalie, the Bride: Eli and I wanted an outdoor country wedding that was ‘shabby chic’ and with an earthy palette of colours (greens, browns, rose etc.). House Plantation was affordable and beautiful and we fell in love with it as soon as we found it. We were so thrilled with our choice – the staff were amazing and the property was utterly magnificent. They really know what they are doing, and Connie and Ben were truly amazing and kind.
THE RAIN MADE OUR WEDDING EVEN BETTER!
Everything went without a hitch except for the fact that it rained….all…damn…morning. For me it was no big deal. I LOVE the rain. Eli had a different perspective. We had planned for the wedding and, most importantly, the chuppah to be outside, and to get married at dusk with sunshine and rainbows. He insisted that we could still have it outside even though it was wet and humid (the rain had finally stopped and the skies were clearing out). But our coordinator insisted that we have it inside which meant that the chuppah would be inside. This was a great touch! We spent the whole evening inside and the chuppah got to be a centrepiece! We got to eat under the chuppah, and it was a part of both the ceremony AND the reception. It made the room look incredible! I am so happy that it rained.
DOING THINGS OURSELVES
We planned most of the wedding ourselves. And I designed my dress with the help of a friend, April. My mother had recently taken up jewellery making, so she made me my earrings and necklace.
WHITE COWBOY BOOTS!
I I found the perfect ivory wedding boots from Texas National Outfitters. I wanted to be able to dance at my wedding and heels were not the way to do that. They are elegant cowgirl boots that also captured my tomboy side.
A SUPER STYLISH GROOM
Eli picked out his outfit as well as his groomsmen’s. My only stipulation was that he wear boots too. He chose to wear a navy blue vest with grey trousers and a green and white polka dot tie.
HAIR + MAKE UP
April, who helped me make my dress, also did my hair and makeup. I went for a more natural look. I wanted to leave my hair down since that is how I have always been the most confident.
I picked out dresses from Free People for my bridesmaids. They were somewhat bohemian and I thought it went well with the shabby chic theme. I shopped around a lot to find a dress that would be flattering on all of the girls and still fit the theme.
OUR CHUPPAH AND FLOWERS – NO ROSES ALLOWED!
Our florist, Dream Bouquet, was incredible – she really knew her stuff. Based on our bouquets, flower arrangements and boho shabby chic theme, she pulled off an amazing chuppah that became the centrepiece of the entire wedding. She worked within our budget and it turned out incredible.
For the rest of wedding we chose kind of a rustic set of flowers. Flowers with texture and no roses allowed!
Rabbi Yaghobian married us and he has been mine and Eli’s rabbi for many years now, even before we started dating. It was nice to have an officiant that both Eli and I were close to, plus he was hilarious and made all the guests laugh!
OUR INCREDIBLE PHOTOGRAPHER
Our photographer, Shaun Taylor, was probably our biggest gem. We found out about him through our friends who asked him to be their photographer at their destination wedding. When Eli and I saw his photos, we also absolutely adored his work and flew him out to Texas to photograph our wedding.
And he was AMAZING. He never put that camera down. All of our pictures were genuine and candid. He truly captured our entire wedding weekend (Henna ceremony, Shabbat dinner, pre-wedding shoot) and he got to know us and all of the important people at the wedding ie. close family and friends that he could focus on. We were sad for him to leave as we found a friend in him while he still remained very professional. We are excited to see him again at Tim and Aleece’s wedding in a few months and see what masterpieces he captures there!
MINI CHEESE CAKES (OUR FAVOURITE DESSERT) INSTEAD OF WEDDING CAKE
Rina Kamkhagi, a close friend of the family made our wonderful desserts via her cake business, Mostly Chocolate. We actually opted out of wedding cake and decided on serving little mason jars with passion fruit cheese cake, a favourite of mine and Eli’s. Rina also put a piece of burlap on the lid of each jar. Her presentation was incredible, cheese cake was out of this world.
OUR SPECTACULAR CATERERS
Benny Katz did the catering. In order for Rabbi Yaghobian to agree to be the officiant at our wedding, he made a single stipulation: the food has to be kosher. Now, kosher food is very expensive – it would have eaten our entire budget – however, Benny worked with us and not only delivered a warm Kosher meal, but did it within our price range. The funny thing is that we even told Benny that the food does not have to be good, it just has to not be bad. His response was that he would not attach his name to anything but the best. In the end, everyone was raving about the food and the cake. Both Benny and Rina really went out of their way to make our wedding work.
OUR SUPER FUN ENTERTAINMENT
When Eli was in college at Baylor University, he would go out to the bars to see a duo (drummer and pianist) play (they call the pianist ‘The Piano Man’). They are funny, quirky and talented. They are interactive with the audience (sometimes making fun of them) and add their own little touches to modern songs. He sat me on the piano at one point and started playing something that I thought would be a ballad of some sort but it turned out to be Baby Got Back. Crowd went nutz!
FAVOURS TO REMEMBER OUR WEDDING BY
We had matches with our names on them and kippot with our names on them as well. The kippot were suede and lime(ish) green. We had a lot of guests coming from Mexico City (Eli’s side of the family) and over there weddings are a huge spectacle and very formal affairs. There is also one every weekend. We wanted to do something different for them – something that they had never seen before and that was very personal – an informal wedding, boho, shabby chic, boots, burlap, no tuxes, no jackets, hair down, party town! The lime green kippot were something that they could take home and remember their experience. For us, white satin kippot would have been ordinary and boring.
ADVICE TO OTHER BRIDES
Eli and I organised most of our wedding. We were a team in perfect sync and we tackled each task that way. He would make an appointment, I would consult with a vendor. I would find some cute ideas on Pinterest, he would buy the supplies. He would press the stamp on the paper, I would emboss the text. My advice would be: don’t fight and work together as a team. This validated our relationship and made me even more certain of how well this was going to work. There was never a doubt in my mind. Everyone said it was MY day…but it was not…it was OUR day…and thank goodness because I hate being the centre of attention.
NATALIE + ELI’S LITTLE WHITE BOOK
Photography — Shaun Taylor Photography
Venue — House Plantation
Bride’s dress — Designed and made by the bride and her friend April
Bride’s cowboy boots — Texas National Outfitters
Bride’s jewellery — Designed and made by the bride’s mother
Bridesmaids — Free People
Hair + Make up — Beauty by April
Florals — Dream Bouquet
Cakes — Mostly Chocolate
Catering — Benny Katz