Today on the blog we’re introducing our 6th amazing bride from our crop of 2017 and 2018 Real Jewish Brides! Please give a warm welcome to Leah who will be marrying Zak on 1st June 2018 at Masia Notari in Spain.
THREE FACTS: (1) Leah knew she wanted to convert to Judaism long before she met Zak. She feels that having a Jewish wedding is another milestone in her Jewish identity and is an opportunity for some of her family to experience new traditions. (2) Leah & Zak met on JDate (3) Leah and Zak are planning a beautiful black tie destination wedding in Barcelona, Spain
How We Met
Now that we’ve been together over 4 years (and are engaged!), we are so much more open to admit that we met on JDate. In the early days of our relationship, whenever anyone would ask how Zak and I met, we’d often look at each other, shrug, and mumble quickly “online… JDate…” and hope to move on to a different line of questioning. This was pre JSwipe, Tinder, Bumble, etc so admitting that we met online wasn’t as normal as it is now.
I had just moved to North Texas for work and after moving four times in less than three years (all for the same company) I told myself I was going to try to settle in and make somewhere feel more like home. I found a shul where I felt comfortable and finally committed to something I always knew I wanted to do: converting to Judaism.
Around this time, a friend of mine was telling me about all of her awful JDate experiences. I figured I’d give JDate a try and worst case scenario if the dates were bad, we could laugh about them! Believe it or not, Zak was the second date I ever went on! I had seen his profile come up a few times and was intrigued when he messaged me. We messaged back and forth on JDate and finally when I was certain I wanted to talk to him, we exchanged numbers.
Our First Date
I still remember the day he called me and asked me out to dinner later that week. A proper date?! Yes, please! I knew it was a good sign when we didn’t want the conversation to end at dinner and kept talking for hours after.
The very next day, Zak called me and asked me out again! We went to a movie and out for coffee after and talked for so long, they shut the restaurant down around us!
At the time, we lived 25 miles away from each other and we both left on trips soon after our second date which forced us to spend more time talking on the phone. I was so childishly excited to see him when we got back! There was never a day after that I wanted to be with anyone else!
Zak and I love to travel. We commit to at least one long vacation per year and small trips on long weekends. It was just weeks before our trip to Asia last October that I overheard him on the phone with his mom when she asked “so when are you going to pick up the ring?”. I bolted from the room because I knew I had just heard something I wasn’t supposed to (not my fault! He shouldn’t have had her on speaker!) and then felt overwhelmingly excited. So now I know the ring exists but don’t know the where or when.
We spent a few days in Hong Kong and Bangkok before heading to Siem Reap, Cambodia for a day. I was dying to see Angkor Wat at sunrise and had convinced Zak and our friends that it would be worth it to wake up at 4am to see. The day before it rained constantly and I started to think that this sunrise was going to be a bust and we shouldn’t bother going.
That morning, our tuk-tuk driver met us at 4:30 and drove us out to the temple where crowds had already started to form. I pushed my way to the front (needed the best photos for my Instagram!) and started snapping away. Zak then told me I should move to another area. I was annoyed because I was in the best spot, one foot in the water, crouched down and was going to have to give it up but I acquiesced and went with him.
He lead me away from the crowds and started talking about our relationship and how much I mean to him. I knew then that he was about to propose. I tried hard to concentrate on what he was saying to me but I honestly can’t remember now. I was just crying and nodding and remember him putting a ring on my shaky hand. The center stone of my ring is one of Zak’s grandmother’s earrings; his sister-in-law has the other! Our friends managed to catch it all on video from further away so I have a still of the moment he proposed.
We spent the rest of the day exploring ancient temples before heading to the airport to go to Phuket. I wrote Zak a postcard from the airport to capture my feelings on that day and it arrived 4 months later. I had forgotten all about it, so it was a welcomed surprise to relive a small portion of that day.
Wedding Plans so far…
We knew early on that we wanted a destination wedding which came as no surprise to our friends and family. Most people automatically think a destination wedding means a beach wedding, but I grew up in South Florida so the beach isn’t a destination… it’s home! We narrowed down our search to outside of Florence and outside of Barcelona and this past March we went with my mom to look for our venue. We were also fortunate enough to have our engagement pictures shot in Florence by Elise McCreary, who I met in a travel group. We loved our engagement photos so much that we asked her if she was willing to fly to Barcelona and shoot are wedding. Luckily, she said yes!
We are renting Masia Notari in Vilanova i la Geltràº, just south of Barcelona. Our guests will be staying with us at the Masia and the wedding will also be held there.
I originally thought I would plan everything myself but unlike our friends in the Dallas area, I can’t just hire the same show band and same photographer and while I searched endlessly, I knew help would go a long way. I recently found Rebecca at Barcelona Brides to help me plan my wedding and am excited to start checking off more boxes!
Style of Jewish Wedding
We are planning a full wedding weekend for our guests May 30th – June 2nd 2018 and are wanting to include regional aspects like Cava tasting or paella making. The wedding itself will flow from outdoors for the ceremony to indoors for dinner and back outdoors after and will be black tie.
Aside from the floral (mostly lush greenery with white flowers) and hints of gold, I am not having wedding colours. We really want to focus on our guests feeling relaxed and with a shared feeling of love and excitement as we explore a new city and enter our new lives together.
Marriage and What It Means To Me
While I never dreamed of my wedding as a young girl, I always knew I wanted to get married under a chuppah. That was before I even took the plunge to convert! I also knew I wanted to convert long before meeting Zak. For me, having a Jewish wedding is another milestone in my Jewish identity and an opportunity for some of my family to experience new traditions.
Our wedding will be before sundown on Friday so my family will also experience shabbat from candle lighting to hamotzi and kiddush! We will legally marry in the US instead of dealing with the hassle of marrying abroad. Zak and I already bought a house and live together so our wedding ceremony is truly just symbolic of our union.
It was important to both of us from early on that even though we were living together, we would actually marry. Our parents and grandparents have strong long lasting marriages and it made an example for us for the type of love and relationship we want to have now and forever.
Click here to read all Leah’s planning posts to date.
Leah & Zak’s Wedding Vendors booked so far: