Mel will be marrying Mitch on Sunday 18 March 2018, in a Jewish wedding at Warren Weir at Luton Hoo, UK.
THREE FACTS: (1) Mel and Mitch met online on JDate (2) Their Jewish wedding will be classy and traditional with plenty of modern touches (3) Mel is a member of Smashing The Glass’s private Jewish & Jew-ish Brides Facebook Group. Not yet a member? Come join us here!
As I eluded to in my previous post, it’s so easy to get lost in the ‘luxuries’ of a wedding and forget about the actual marriage part!
Like most brides I got extremely excited to start planning our wedding as soon as we got engaged. The first task for us was finding a venue. We were really clear about what we wanted, and what we didn’t want. Which meant our search for a venue was proving difficult — it wasn’t as easy as I expected to find a venue outside of London that was big enough to accommodate our guests and have enough indoor space to avoid ‘changing over’ rooms between the ceremony and meal. Having a March wedding, we couldn’t rely on the weather being good enough to have an outdoor ceremony. After hours of research and many trips visiting venues all over Essex and Hertfordshire, we found our dream venue –Warren Weir… in Bedfordshire.
Our next task was finding a band. Followed by a photographer, videographer and florist.
Jodie & Joel’s Jewish wedding at Warren Weir by Claudine Hartzel Photography
Thinking about the ceremony
It wasn’t until we had booked all the ‘big suppliers’ as I call them, that we actually started considering the ceremony. We didn’t start thinking about the whole purpose of the day until much later. Crazy, huh?
When you read blogs, magazines and articles, and speak to friends and family, much of the focus is about recommending suppliers. Which is perfectly fine and extremely useful — we found the venue, photographer, band and florist through recommendations. But no one actually told us the process for organising and booking the ceremony.
I knew we needed a Rabbi — that was obvious. But booking the registrar? Giving notice? This was all an unknown entity. I genuinely had no idea you needed another ‘official person’ other than the Rabbi at the ceremony. Nor was I aware you needed to inform the council you were getting married to allow people to oppose it before getting a marriage license?! I thought you just requested one online, maybe after proving we were legally able to get married! Oh, the naivety.
Mitch and I aren’t religious — we observe Judaism in a way that works for us. We don’t keep kosher or go to shul every Shabbat, but we honour the major festivals; we fast and go to shul on Yom Kippur, light the Chanukiah, don’t eat chametz on Pesach, etc. Saying that, we have always known which Rabbi we wanted to marry us.
Until recently, we weren’t a member of a synagogue. However, my mum works in a shul in north London, so over the years I have attended various services and events and got to know the Rabbi well. He has become a family friend. He even came over to bless our new home and put the Mezuzah on the front door when Mitch and I bought our house last year. So, when we got engaged it was an absolute no brainer who we wanted to marry us.
Justifying our decision
Our Rabbi is able to deliver liberal ceremonies; but not United. Though that had no impact on us being able to have the type of ceremony we always envisaged. We aren’t religious. So we thought it would be slightly hypocritical to get married under the United Synagogue. We opted for a reform ceremony. *Cue series of gasps and questions from family and friends*…
John*: “Don’t you think orthodox weddings are much more traditional?”
If we are not religious, why would we want an orthodox ceremony? Our wedding should reflect us — we are not orthodox so by having an orthodox ceremony we wouldn’t be true to ourselves.
Jane*: “You only get married once. Don’t you want a religious ceremony?”
Yes, the plan is to only get married once (!) so we want to make it the perfect wedding, for us.
Joe*: “Your children won’t be able to have an orthodox wedding. Doesn’t that bother you?”
June*: “I agree with ‘Joe’. And your children may not be accepted into an orthodox Jewish school. What would you do if they don’t get in?”
I’m all for planning for the future. Yes, we would love to have children, and please G-d we will one day. But we’re not going to plan our wedding based on the fact our children may not be able to have an orthodox wedding ceremony by default and may not get into the most religious school… I know some people that have gone down the orthodox route for this reason. Fair enough. That’s their decision. It’s just not a choice we have made.
*Not actual people. Names for effect…!
There was no malice in anyone’s questions; I think it was more genuine interest than anything else. But, ultimately, we shouldn’t have to justify our decisions to anyone. And that goes for every bride and groom in my opinion. There is so much outside pressure to do things the ‘traditional’ way. But you can still be traditional and reflect your personality and beliefs too.
There are aspects of a reform ceremony that are clearly different to a traditional orthodox ceremony, but equally, there are a lot of similarities.
Obviously, with any Jewish ceremony — regardless of how religious — there are laws and customs that need to be observed to make the marriage ‘legally Jewish’. But that doesn’t mean you can’t put your own little spin on it. We certainly have plans to make our ceremony special.
Having a reform ceremony doesn’t mean we aren’t having a traditional wedding in line with the laws and customs. We are just putting a slight modern twist on things.
Disclaimer: I am by no means shooting down anyone who opts for an orthodox ceremony, despite not being religious. I am simply making the point that we are doing things our way and how we feel is right for us. Every couple has the right and the freedom (or at least should) to have the wedding they want. It all comes down to our own choices.
Tara & Ben’s destination Jewish wedding in Florence by David Bastianoni
As I mentioned in my previous post about the importance of family, our parents are so supportive. Both our parents got married under the united synagogue, but at no point have they put pressure on us to do the same. They are completely respectful of our choice to have a reform ceremony. And for that I am so grateful and thankful.
A message to other couples
To any brides and grooms reading this, I hope you feel like you are able to make your own decisions like we are. Just remember, ultimately, it’s your wedding. So do it your way and be true to yourself. Don’t make decisions to please others. Obviously, it’s difficult if parents are paying for the wedding; they want to have their say.
But I will always argue that they are paying for your wedding, not theirs. So it should be your decision about how you want to get married.
Click here to read all Mel’s planning posts to date.
Mel & Mitch’s Wedding Vendors booked so far:
Videographer — Denee Motion
Band – XS Showband
Photographer — Chiko Photography
Flowers — Alexandra’s Florist
Table decorations – Wedding Venue Decorators
Venue — Warren Weir