Dori & Ben's Jewish, vegan, eco-friendly wedding and bonfire

December 9 |

In honor of the beginning of Hanukkah or The Festival of Lights, here is Dori and Ben's Jewish wedding, which fittingly (I thought) ends with a bonfire! Happy Hanukkah!

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Photos by Mindy Myers

The offbeat bride: Dori, non-profit attorney

Her offbeat partner: Ben, potter and phlebotomist

Location & date of wedding: Des Moines, Iowa — May 2, 2010

What made our wedding offbeat: We married on a Jewish holiday, Lag B'Omer, which is celebrated with picnics, bonfires, and weddings. Our Jewish wedding ceremony and party, was followed by a huge bonfire! bd_details00011

If it wasn't enough to have a Jewish wedding right in the heart of the midwest, we went totally green for our big day. Our wedding involved organic, vegan, local, fair trade, sustainable, tree-free, recycled, recyclable, and compostable materials.

A few green highlights:

  • Our attire: Dori bought a consigned dress. Every inch of Ben's suit was hemp, including the shoes.
  • The kippot for the men (and women) were handknit by a bridemaid from hemp yarn.
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    Ben made the ceramic centerpieces.
  • The idea of the ketubah was created by Dori and Ben, but executed by a ketubah artist on tree-free paper.
  • Our kiddish cups were hand-blown by a local Duluth artist.
  • The food were our own vegan recipes that were recreated by a local caterer using sustainable ingredients. The meal was out of this world!
  • The beautiful vegan cake and cupcakes were made by Duluth's up and coming Slackers Bakery.
  • Ben hand threw and wood-fired all of the ceramic centerpieces in his friend's Anagama style kiln using wood harvested in a sustainable manner.
  • The flowers seen were all grown in Des Moines.

ben_dori00035Tell us about the ceremony: Our Jewish ceremony encompassed traditional rituals that we made our own. We had a preceremony ritual called kabbalat panim ("the receiving of the faces") where the bride and groom are in separate rooms, and are greeted by family and friends. Then, everyone came together for the signing of the ketubah and civil marriage contract. Our guests left and we had a private veiling ceremony with our rabbi.

We had a gorgeous chuppah made by Ben's sister, Sara. The fabric was made from scraps from wedding dress shops in Israel. It was held up by our siblings.

We had flower children go down the aisles and hand out origami flowers to the guests on the ends of the rows.

Before our wedding, our rabbi had us write her letters about why we wanted to marry each other. She read select excerpts from the letters. This was the most touching part of the entire day. We both cried. Our families and friends did too. What was read was loving, funny, honest and true. The pictures captured the loving moments of our ceremony so beautifully.

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ben_dori00594bOur biggest challenge: Our wedding party, family and friends shielded us from every little thing that wasn't perfect. Our ceremony musicians were late. We had to stall because one of them hadn't arrived when the ceremony was to begin. That was the only mishap we were privy to. But, we just danced in the reception hall with the band for the party while our guests waited in the sanctuary. She eventually showed up, and the music was beautiful.

ben_dori00011My favorite moment: There were some people that could not be with us for our wedding. We had an In Memorium table with pictures of our loved ones that have passed. It meant so much to have that table there.

The ring that Ben gave me is his grandmother's wedding ring. It is absolutely gorgeous.

Also, we wanted to include my grandmother, so my mother gave me my grandmother's wedding ring. We designed the ring into a pendant necklace for me to wear. When I put it on that day, I cried and so did my mom. It was beautiful, and truly represented the circle of life.

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My funniest moment: We got pulled over on our way to the bonfire. The groomsmen had tied cans to the back and they were flying off the car on the interstate. So a cop pulled us over. He apologized for pulling us over, and said we had to get the cans off he back.

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Kayak cake toppers on their vegan cake!
Unfortunately there were no pictures of this, but we were squatting behind our little smartcar cutting cans off the car on the side of the interstate as our guests passed us.

Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? We knew we were going to love the vegan food, but we were scared some of our carnivorous family members were going to make a beeline for Burger King after the party.

However, the number one thing we got compliments on? THE FOOD! Everyone wanted recipes, and people couldn't believe it was all vegan, yadda yadda yadda.

ben_dori00021My advice for offbeat brides: We loved our nearlyweds wedsite! [Intern's note: Don't forget to check out the Offbeat Bride templates on NearlyWeds!] It was super awesome, and our guests really appreciated all the information we had on there.

We had a ton of out-of-town guests and, because Dori's brother works at the hotel we had our guests stay at, they threw in a hospitality suite for our guests to congregate at. We let all the guests know about it, and filled the room with treats, drinks, and lots of goodies (travel sized Dr. Bronner's, candies and teas from Israel, and all sorts of Dori and Ben stuff).

This gave the guests an opportunity to meet before the big day. So instead of going to an event and feeling like a face in the crowd, our guests felt like they were part of a community. It was pretty great and we recommend it.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

  1. sooooo beautiful! I love how much thought and care went into your wedding. Mazel Tov!

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  2. First of all, hurrah for local business support! Duluth rocks.
    Mini Dr Bronners? Genius! I love that stuff.
    You look so joyous and happy. I hope that follows you your whole marriage through! Thank you for sharing your pictures and words.

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  3. I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS! Congratulations– how beautiful!

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  4. What a beautiful blend of tradition and personalization! I'm taking careful notes. ;) Mazel tov!

    Also, that picture of the flower girl handing a flower to the elderly gentleman and him looking just delighted? Best picture ever.

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  5. Oh my gosh- these pics made me tear up!
    Beautiful pics, a wonderful, good-looking couple, a creative green wedding- everything looked just perfect!
    COngratulations to both of you!

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  6. Congratulations!
    So very excited to see an Iowa wedding, and yours looks divine!
    Your details are great, your flower children look so darling passing out origami flowers. That your rabbi read parts of those letters is very beautiful I'd have to agree. Those are two of about 10,000 details I really like when reading about your wedding.
    PS. That synagogue it is one of the most stunning houses of worship I've ever been in.

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  7. I'm always curious about the menu for vegan/vegetarian receptions because I'd love to have one. What did you serve? Being from Iowa, I was curious about your caterer… Looked at their "Iowa Buffet" option and it made me smile. Definitely reminded me of home!

    Beautiful wedding! Love the green theme throughout!

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  8. are those vegan marshmallows?! :)

    congrats on your marriage. beautiful wedding!

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    • They ARE vegan marshmellows! They are called Sweet & Sara's. We loved them – and they roasted very nicely.

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  9. One of the very best weddings–no–events I have EVER been too. Thanks for making it special for your guest, Ben and Dori. We loved it!
    P.S. To Offbeat Brides-I can make hemp kippot for you, too. Visit my Etsy store and convo me!

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  10. It was one of the best weddings ever…mostly because of the people! I was so honored to be a small part of it!

    XO Bradley

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  11. Dori and Ben…I am still telling people how wonderful your wedding was. Every personal touch was evident to us all. So glad to have been part of it!

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