A femme and a suit-wearing dreamboat have a must-see vegan Jewish wedding

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride
Photos by Love Me Do Photography

The Offbeat Bride: Ariana, rabbi-in-training (and Offbeat Bride Tribe member)

Their offbeat partner: Ever, lawyer-in-training

Date and location of wedding: Awbury Arboretum, Philadelphia, PA — June 21, 2015

Our offbeat wedding at a glance:

My mom thrifted all the china plates, made my wedding outfit (a family tradition) out of yards and yards of linen, and thrifted and refurnished the furniture that decorated the lawns.

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

Neither of us wore veils, so we chose to have our giant brothers stand back-to-back creating a shield between us for a b'dekin/first look. All our bridal party happened to be there. We exchanged gifts: I gave Ever a talit (prayer shawl), and we tied the last corner together.

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

Legal ketubot must have two Jewish witnesses. We had three Jewish witnesses plus our beloved professor who watched us fall in love in her class. The ketubah was in Yiddish and English, written by us.

We had tish, traditional singing before the wedding — raucous and joyful, led by my classmates. Tambourines. Fireball whiskey. Surprise crash by Daniel Kahn. Re-writing hetero Zionist wedding songs to be homo and diasporic.

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

Our political work is a crucial part of our relationship, and we wanted it to be reflected in the ritual and party and where our money went. The music, menu, ritual, and venue were carefully picked in line with our values. We considered farm tables, but decided they were too costly. The wedding the day before had them and the vendor didn't want to move them so our coordinators bargained to keep them for free!

Ever's mother and one of her friends created an altar for the Solstice. My mom and dad made gorgeous menu signs and lawn games.

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

Tell us about the ceremony:

We spent a year planning our ceremony. I am a rabbinical student, and Ever grew up creating ritual, and our rabbi, Rabbi Linda, was patient and creative and joyful. Highlights:

  • We had two ketubot: one between us, and a "community ketubah" that made our promises as a couple to our current and future communities. Organizer friends/chosen family presented it at the ceremony alongside the other ketubah.
  • Alma Sheppard-Matsuo is an amazing artist and member of our favorite brass band, Rude Mechanical Orchestra. She designed both based on our dreams, as well as made a "parent ketubah" for my parents based on her childhood kitchen.
  • I spent eight months knitting the chuppah ("LifeCycle" by Laura Nelkin on Ravelry) and lost it once, but managed to finish it!
  • The first kiddush cup was made by my friend as of first grade.
  • We walked in to "Modern Girl" by Sleater-Kinney, circled each other to "Crawled Out of the Sea" by Laura Marling (and "I Will Never Marry" by Joan Baez) and danced away after the ritual to "I Feel Like Funkin' It Up" by Rebirth Brass Band.
  • We reimagined the Sheva Brachot (7 Wedding Blessings) and asked friends and family to write blessings on the theme of each of the seven.
  • The ceremony was in a grove, with chairs in a circle around the chuppah.
  • At the end of the ceremony, Rabbi Linda asked the assembled crowd to rise and repeat after her, communally pronouncing us "b'shert," Yiddish for "meant to be," which is what we decided to be announced at the end of the ceremony.

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

Tell us about your reception:

It started with raucous horah dancing to mine and Ever's favorite klezmer musician, Daniel Kahn, a radical Yiddishist who lives in Berlin (wedding magic can happen!) as well as napkin jumprope (apparently a Jewish wedding tradition!) and the crowd favorite, lifting in chairs (which were our guest books.)

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

We had an amazing dinner from mega babe Miss Rachel, with a menu full of a lot of our favorite ingredients that Rachel designed out of the blue. She decided to create her dream menu, and despite our budget, cooked it anyway as a wedding gift.

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

More highlights:

  • Shtick. It's a mitzvah to make the bride laugh, so our guests had a double shot! Friends sang on the ukulele, my uncle picked up the guitar for the first time in 20 years to play a duet with Ever's best friend from law school, juggling happened, and a raunchy impersonation of us. With a giant red wig.

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

  • Beers! So good! Also fireball whiskey made a repeat appearance.
  • Watching family and friends dance the horah together and learn about Yiddish music and celebrations for the first time.
  • The photo booth was so fun!
  • Wedding pie! No cake. Later we'd finally get to eat some as leftovers in hotel bathrobes a day later.
  • Singing "Daloyei Politzei (Fuck the Police)" and "Dumai (Think)" with Daniel Kahn and our entire Jewish Voice for Peace family.
  • Having a non-official "Sunday Kind of Love" dance
  • Dancing to "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" and "Sweet Caroline" in homage to the Orioles and Red Sox, as grouped family dances.

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

What was your most important lesson learned?

Sometimes it was really painful to think about how we fit into the script of dress + suit = valid marriage.

A couple of things to note about our planning:
Almost all our vendors were lady-owned businesses. Go ladies! All our ritual objects were made by people we know. Ever changed her name partway through the planning. Invites said one name, ceremony had another. This made coming out and navigating relationships happen all at once and with not a lot of control.

What Is Gender? Being a queer couple that's made up of a femme and a suit-wearing dreamboat, sometimes it was really painful to think about how we fit into the script of dress + suit = valid marriage. But also we both felt so natural in our clothes, and honest to who we are. Sometimes it can be all the things at once.

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

Queer vegan Jewish wedding on @offbeatbride

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  1. I loved this wedding feature! You are clearly so in love and have a community that supports your love. Thank you for the offbeat Jewish inspiration!

    8 agree
  2. This is the absolute cutest! Love the first look with brother-shields!

    3 agree
  3. This wedding looked like so much fun! And hey Philly – good, I needed a new venue choice. Haha. That dress is everything, chile!

    1 agrees
  4. I love the dress!! I am halfway through making my enormous wedding skirt out of unbleached linen and I have never seen another dress with a linen skirt. This is so inspirational! Can I ask how this was fastened at the back please?

    1 agrees
    • Thank you! It is actually 3 layers–a petticoat, that my momma made on elastic so I could slip it off to dance better. A middle layer bias cut/circle skirt with a few french seamed inserts. The top layer is all bias cut and inserts at the waistline. The waist holds the weight of all the draping, mostly.

      2 agree
  5. This is making me cry at work, so thank you for that. This wedding is so beautiful.

    5 agree
  6. Beautiful wedding all around! And I just love the idea of a knitted chuppah!

    I don't know how I didn't think of this before- my mom has her heart set on quilting a chuppah for me and I just can't find a pattern I like, but she could just as easily knit a square lace shawl (woman of many talents, my mother) and it would be so much more my style. Thanks for sharing!

  7. "Re-writing hetero Zionist wedding songs to be homo and diasporic." Please tell us more about this!

    2 agree
    • The 7th blessing of the Sheva Brachot says "soon there will be heard in the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem the voices of every groom and every bride…" and we wanted the places we truly lived to be reflected, as well as our queer relationship. Amazingly, my classmates in seminary who led our tish (singing before the ceremony) rewrote it to be "soon there will be heard in cities of Philadelphia…" which was a surprise.

      We also wanted our commitment to a Jewish life that does not immediately require a blanket pro-Zionist politic to be reflected in our ceremony. So, blessings about justice, commitments in our ketuba to keep this work at the center, and intention to build vibrant Jewish life wherever we find our feet, the idea of hereness, "doykeit." All our ritual materials came from people we knew, and local economies we wanted to support.

      1 agrees
  8. Oh my stars. Halfway through I couldn't see the photos very well because… something got in my eye… totally not crying, I swear 🙂 Your happiness is palpable!

  9. I'm usually unflappable but y'all were too lovely and exuding emotion right through my screen. Vegan cheers to you!

    And…holy shit…is that a bride who didn't suddenly choose to shave? I'm trying to convince myself that this would rule super hard, because I suspect it would!

    • Thank you so much!

      Honestly it never was a question for me about my pits. I haven't shaved them since 2008, and while my father kept jokingly asking about it (answer: "Dad, I was thinking about some nice barrettes for the festive atmosphere!") it wasn't really an issue.

      I thought more about whether I wanted to wear my glasses. Boiled it down, and realized not wearing glasses to uphold Wedding Look ™ didn't match my logic to keep my luscious hairy armpits, so I got some Wedding Glasses.

      (All that being said, as a woman of Eastern European descent, wearing body hair is a lot less risky for me than for women of color esp. Arab women, etc. etc.)

      LOTS OF FEELINGS ABOUT BODY HAIR. Good luck! Yr pits rule.

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