Clare will be marrying Chris on 5th May 2018 at Laura Ashley The Manor in Elstree, UK.
THREE FACTS: (1) Clare is not Jewish but discovered Smashing The Glass via her Jewish sister-in-law and during her wedding planning journey it has (in her own words!) became her favorite and most useful wedding blog (2) She finds STG refreshing in a sea of wedding blogs as she loves reading stories of couples for whom the ceremony itself is as pivotal as all the other details. (3) Due to falling in love with so many amazing Jewish weddings through the blog, and then booking a wedding consultancy session with STG founder, Karen, it confirmed to her that there were a number of Jewish elements she was going to bring into her wedding that symbolise a lot of things that are very important to her and her fiancà© in their future marriage – she will be having a ‘Jewish-inspired’ wedding!
Now with only three months to go until our big day the planning has reached a crucial stage of multiple to do lists and a constant state of panic – have we forgotten something/someone/got enough time left to create the day of our dreams?!
All of the big things are now booked and it’s only the finer details to be arranged. One very important factor to be confirmed though is our ceremony plan.
Back in 2016 when Chris and I were first engaged I began to search high and low for the right person to perform our ceremony. We wanted a very personal ceremony, incorporating different traditions that were meaningful to us.
Chris and I both have some similarities in our religious views and backgrounds but neither of us are ‘practicing’ anything as such. I have always been fascinated by others beliefs and have been known to be extremely quizzical of other people’s backgrounds. Weddings in particular are a wonderful opportunity to gain insight into some beautiful cultural traditions.
Whether it’s been Catholic weddings, Jewish, Hindu, or a combination, I have often observed certain rituals that I think are really beautiful and thought to myself – I’d really like to do that one day. Regardless of how or where you were brought up or of your ideas on religion, many of the rituals from different religions can contain meaning and symbolism for any couple.
Image by M2 Photography from Yana and Archita’s multicultural wedding
An interterfaith wedding and my session with Karen
So back to my search in the summer of 2016… I didn’t want to just have a registrar marry us and then there be many restrictions on what is allowed in a legal ceremony. The majority of celebrants I came across generally shied away from anything that was ‘religious’ and a priest or a rabbi did not seem suitable for us! After much google searching (who knew that a Hindu priest is apparently quite easy to come across in London, but nobody else could I find for some time!) I found Mark Townsend.
Mark was formerly a priest, and whilst considering himself Christian, is largely spiritual, with connections to Druidism among other forms of spirituality. He truly embraces the idea that all religions have value and can work together. He has conducted multiple weddings for interfaith couples, same sex couples or anybody who wants to add a spiritual or religious element to their day, but perhaps does not have a particular place or officiant to go to. For us, Mark was the perfect fit; and having now had a great deal of correspondence with him in the planning of our ceremony, he is amazingly creative and has an eclectic approach to planning a meaningful ceremony.
Fast forward to around nine months into our planning when I first met Karen at my wedding consultancy session and my ideas for the ceremony truly began to come alive!
Part of Chris’s family are Jewish and this is how I originally came to find Smashing the Glass and felt within the first few weeks of following the blog that I had now attended hundreds of Jewish weddings! There were several traditions I felt were very meaningful, and after discussing with Karen I had a clear idea of several I wished to incorporate into our day.
Image by Jessica Claire from Adriane and Sam’s Jewish wedding
So, putting the ‘Jew’ into a very ‘ish’ ceremony…
Firstly, and perhaps most excitingly, we will be having a chuppah. I have swooned over hundreds, (if not thousands!) of chuppahs and have a Pinterest board dedicated to some of the finest floral creations I could find. To be honest, at first I wanted one from a style perspective, as a beautiful focal point for our ceremony room. I kept discussing with my mum and my florists the beautiful ‘arbor’ I wanted to create.
After meeting with Karen and talking at greater length about the symbolism of the chuppah, I fell in love with the idea of us having a symbolic representation of the home Chris and I wish to build together and so fully embraced the concept of having a chuppah that was both pretty and incredibly meaningful.
Choosing readings whether from scripture, poetry or literature was never going to be an easy task. I didn’t want to go down the line of the same old readings that I’ve heard at civil weddings in the UK.
Karen and I discussed the seven blessings and after some researching I came across an amazing, modern interpretation of these from a celebrant in the US. We are still working on making these fit perfectly for us, not to mention who our seven chosen readers will be, but I am excited for this tradition to feature on our special day.
Finally, one of the last things I need to finalise for our big day is a Ketubah. Again, this is a Jewish wedding tradition that just makes sense and should, in my opinion, form part of everybody’s wedding ceremony!
Our celebrant has suggested several beautiful vows we can recite on the day and we are in the process of agreeing on what we feel is the right version for us. Having these vows made as really personal promises to one another is very important to us and having these recorded, as well as the physical act of signing a ‘contract’ is one that I cannot wait to include in our plans.
Image by Maggie and Rachel Photography from Sarah and Steven’s Jewish wedding (Ketubah by STG’s RV Ink with Intent)
Not ‘just another wedding ceremony’
So for the next few weeks I am putting slightly to one side the flowers, the dessert table, the band, the canapà©s, the hair and makeup (and the many other hundreds of things that seem to still feature in some way on my to do list). Creating a day that looks wonderful and is a creative representation of us as a couple is of course important.
But creating a ceremony that is beautiful in a meaningful way that represents the love and commitment we are sharing with our closest family and friends has got to be just as important. My mum has already cried just reading the draft ceremony plan (add waterproof mascara to that to-do list!) and I know it is going to be an incredibly emotional experience, but hopefully one that will be truly unique and memorable for us all.
So for any of our guests expecting ‘just another wedding ceremony’, we hope to delight, surprise and most of all leave us all with wonderful lasting memories.
Image by Chiko Photography from Cher and Tim’s Jew-ish Chinese wedding
Click here to read all Clare’s planning posts to date.