Shana & Sean's Jewish meets Trinidad wedding with Carnival headdresses and a huge reception surprise

Updated Mar 15 2021
 
Photos by: David Morris Photography
 Photos by David Morris Photography
Photos by David Morris Photography

The Offbeat Bride: Shana, Lingerie Store Owner (and Offbeat Bride Tribe member)

Her offbeat partner: Sean, Contractor

Date and location of wedding: Rosewater Room, Toronto, Ontario, Canada — October 26, 2014

Our offbeat wedding at a glance:

There were many elements of Trinidad, which is Sean's background. For example, the wedding cake was a naked layered cake of Trinidadian black fruit cake, carrot cake, and sponge cake. To top the cake, we had the Hulk and She-Hulk because Sean loves the Hulk. We had the traditional drink of Sorrel made by my mother-in-law, and our DJ was a famous Toronto Soca DJ. We also used Carnival headpieces from my previous Carnival and Toronto Caribana costumes for guests to wear.

Carnival headdresses on @offbeatbride

Wedding party on @offbeatbride

Naked cake on @offbeatbride

Aikido at a wedding! on @offbeatbride

Sean does Aikido, so before dinner we had an Aikido demonstration where he was flipped and flipped people. The funny thing is that he forgot his brown belt, so somebody brought him an orange belt, meaning he got demoted for the day.

Aikido at a wedding! on @offbeatbride

Carnival cartoon drawings at a wedding reception from @offbeatbride

We hired a cartoon artist to draw a cartoon of us in Carnival costumes and asked the kids to colour them during the reception. Following our honeymoon, we taped all these pictures to our kitchen wall for a few months to remind us of our wedding.

Wedding cartoonist on @offbeatbride

My dress was a lace knee-length dress I bought online for less than $200. The challenge was that I was pregnant, and we didn't want to tell anybody until the reception.

Gorgeous wedding chuppah on @offbeatbride

Processional on @offbeatbride

Tell us about the ceremony:

Our ceremony was a Jewish Humanistic Egalitarian ceremony. We included many Jewish traditions. Sean and I made our Chuppah. I don't understand the tradition of pairing off people to walk down the aisle, so we had everybody walk separately unless they were already couple.

Lanterns instead of bouquets on @offbeatbride

Instead of bouquets, we gave everybody in our wedding party a lantern with a lit candle in it. After they carried the lanterns down the aisle, they placed them along both sides of the aisle to make a lit path for Sean and I to walk through. Like the clothes our wedding party was wearing, the lanterns were similar but all different.

Lanterns as aisle runners on @offbeatbride

ET ring bearer on @offbeatbride

For our ring bearer, Sean's childhood E.T. doll was driven down the aisle holding the two rings on his finger.

ET ring bearer on @offbeatbride

For my bouquet, I made a brooch bouquet using brooches from my great aunt and from my grandmother, who had both passed away. It was meaningful to me because it felt like these important women could be part of our day. Our wedding party walked up the aisle to "You're All I Need To Get By" by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. Sean and I walked down the aisle to the reggae song "She's Royal" by Tarrus Riley.

Wedding ceremony on @offbeatbride

When Sean and I got to the chuppah, the Rabbi asked everybody to make themselves comfortable. I took off my shoes because I was pregnant, a little stressed, and my back was killing me!

Another funny moment happened during Sean's vows. Recalling a certain moment in our relationship, he said, "I knew at this point we would be together, but I didn't say then because that would be creepy."

Recessional on @offbeatbride

Reception caricatures on @offbeatbride

Lantern centerpieces on @offbeatbride

Tell us about your reception:

To decorate the tables, we used the same lanterns that our wedding party carried down the aisle and put them on my grandmother's antique doilies. We didn't want to have to kiss during our dinner, so we made up a quiz. If someone wanted us to kiss, they would have to come up to the front with someone else and answer a multiple choice question. If they got it wrong, then they would have to kiss; if they got it right, then we would kiss.

Baby announcement at the wedding! on @offbeatbride

The first question was, "What do Sean and Shana want to announce:"
a) Sean and Shana are moving to Nairobi.
b) Sean is starting clown school.
c) Sean and Shana are getting a pet goat.
d) Sean and Shana are having a baby in April.
This was how we announced that we were pregnant!

Carnival headdresses on @offbeatbride

Salsa dancing on @offbeatbride

For our first dance, Sean learned the Cuban dance that I dance called Casino. We started out dancing just the two of us, but then we had other couples join in the dance like a flash mob, until we were five couples dancing together in a style called Rueda de Casino. Then we had the traditional Jewish chair dance and following that, the Hora.

Salsa dancing on @offbeatbride

Chair dancing on @offbeatbride

Chair dancing on @offbeatbride

As favors, we had little jars of hot sauce that we had made ourselves.

Hot sauce favors on @offbeatbride

What was your most important lesson learned?

Our biggest challenge for the wedding was the expectations of others and reactions to some of our choices from friends and family. I was nervous that Sean's Christian family would have issues with our Jewish ceremony, but it all went well. My Rabbi deserves all the credit for that because she crafted such a beautiful ceremony. We were also paying for the wedding ourselves and had to put our foot down when the guest list started to get larger from family additions.

Some advice if you want to use your bridal suite for some alone time after the ceremony: Ask the venue to not let anyone use that space before you get there. We missed out on alone time because of that.

Dancing at the reception on @offbeatbride

Vendors

    • Thank you so much. We got some eye-rolling when we told people we were going to do this. But people loved it that you can see the cameras going crazy on the wedding video. More so then any part of the procession.

    • Yep. One of my fave weddings for all the sweet details. Go Jewgirl power! ET sold me. <3. Mazel Tov to Shana and Sean on their little bundle of joy-to-be!

      • Thank you so much Laura! BTW she is not a "bundle of joy to be" anymore she is my bundle of joy! Going on 5 months, breastfeeding as I type this. Our wedding was last October she was born in April. 🙂

    • Thank you so much. I forgot to include the link to the Kettubah supplier. We bought it on line from http://www.ketubah.com/ They have piles to choose from.
      Our Rabbi insists on a Egalitarian Humanistic text so we chose from the Kettubahs that had that option. They are reasonably priced I think too if you consider that they are custom made and works of art. We found one in our budget.

  1. I am getting married in November in the same dress (short sleeved version) with mismatched floral wedding party and our ceremony is half Jewish. I am not a beautiful or unique snowflake. 😉

    • You must be an AWESOME person!!!! Of course you are a beautiful snowflake because instead of an ET ring-bearer you will have something else awesome. I read about this happening on Offbeatbride before when a bride thought she was being original and found out that someone was having a wedding at her venue with the same bride's maids dresses. Or something like that. I hope your wedding is a much fun for you as ours was!

  2. What a beautiful wedding! We had a Jewish wedding with inter-cultural elements as well and it's so lovely to see other folks doing the same. Your ketubah is absolutely gorgeous, by the way. Mazel tov and may you share a long and satisfying life together!

    • Thank you so much. We thoroughly enjoy each others cultures so it was very fitting for us to make the wedding reflect that.

  3. Shana, so beautiful….you smile, your glow…wow!
    You guys look great together and this is a lovely featured story! XO
    Sandy B.

  4. Wow, you guys. The coolness levels here are off the charts – love the masks, the ET ringbearer is AMAZING, and overall everything just bursts with personality! Also, that cake sounds absolutely spectacular.

    • Thank you so much! It was great when it all came together on the day. The cake was delicious. It was way bigger then we needed so there were left overs. I'm looking forward to eating the top on our 1 year anniversary next month.

  5. Absolutely gorgeous! You both look stunning & I love seeing Trini heritage represented (I'm half Trini half South African)
    Congratumalations xxx

    • Thank you so much! I always loved Trinidad and it's customs from long before that I met my husband. There is no way I couldn't include it in our wedding.

  6. Congrats on the pregnancy! I'm sort of hoping to be able to announce a pregnancy at a wedding myself, in a few years.

    • Thank you. It was a really fun surprise but hard to conceal as I was 4 months pregnant walking down the aisle. Everybody went crazy when it was read out but I'm sure many of them must have been suspecting.

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