This has to be one of the most original and ‘true-to-themselves’ weddings I’ve ever had the pleasure of writing about. It’s a very small affair with the bride and groom, Shiri and Yariv, inviting just 20 of their closest family members out for brunch and then surprising them with a chuppah! And if that wasn’t exciting enough, the ceremony took place on a bustling New York street corner! How incredibly atmospheric must that have been? The chuppah itself is very special but more about that later.
Shiri and Yariv met in New York City several years ago. When they met, Shiri was living in London but spending most of her time in the US on business. She was single and didn’t have much of a social life so used JDate as a platform to meet interesting people. That’s how they met. He took her out for dinner at one of his favorite haunts, a restaurant called Taboon, and the rest is history.
VENUE & THE IDEA FOR A ‘SURPRISE WEDDING’!
Shiri the bride: Our ‘surprise’ wedding took place at Taboon, the restaurant Yariv took me to on our first date. It’s a beautiful yet unassuming Mediterranean restaurant in a neighbourhood of NYC called Hell’s Kitchen. Their menu is full of delicious twists on Israeli dishes and carefully chosen Mediterranean wines. I don’t have to tell you the magical memories the site of a couple’s first date has — I remember that night as if it was yesterday.
Yariv and I return once a year on the date of the night we first met, and that year, halfway through my Haloumi salad (and a few glasses of Chenin Blanc), the idea of having an intimate surprise wedding at Taboon took over my imagination. We had been together for 3 years and really wanted to start a family, but not before sealing the deal under a chuppah. Our families were going to be in town that following Thanksgiving, a few months away… the idea took on a mind of its own!
Thankfully Yariv liked the idea as much as I did. He’s a very modest, low-key guy and the thought of not having a big hoopla wedding sat very well with him. We booked Taboon and very slowly started calling our close family members inviting them for “brunch”.
REVEALING THE SECRET
Uncovering the purpose of our get-together was one of the most exciting moments of our lives. We’d been keeping a secret for what felt like an eternity and our guests had absolutely no idea. Some thought we might announce our engagement at the “brunch” (that’s right, we weren’t even officially engaged) but nothing more.
Once the appetisers were cleared, Yariv & I stood up to toast the occasion. When Yariv announced that we would like to invite everyone to be part of our chuppah just before dessert, the energy of the room became electric. Everyone cheered, our mothers had tears in their eyes and the guests’ excitement was something indescribable.
The Rabbi who wed us is a superstar. He’s a young Chabad Rabbi of a small (yet growing!) congregation in our neighbourhood. When we came to him asking whether he would marry us in a non-kosher restaurant he looked perplexed. We assured him no meat would be served, he took a minute to think about it and said “how about the nearest street corner?” A surprise wedding on a bustling New York street corner? We loved it!
And so did our guests. They stepped outside on a windy but dry day, the men wearing napkins on their heads because someone forgot to buy kippot (!). Four of our male guests held the chuppah poles, the backdrop was the usual hustle & bustle of the city, taxis and buses honking as they whizzed by, a FedEx guy even stopped to watch the show… you get the picture. I will always remember every detail.