The offbeat bride: Valerie, Therapist
Her offbeat partner: Noam, Jewish Environmental Educator
Location & date of wedding: Vancouver, BC, Canada — May 30, 2010
What made our wedding offbeat: We really wanted to have a Jewish wedding, which was as traditional as possible, while being meaningful, personalized, down to earth, elegant and lacking in pretention. We also wanted to stay true to our egalitarian, progressive, feminist, and planet-friendly values.
First off, what we wore was important to us. Noam, who hates suits and ties, fell in love with the traditional Indian sherwani. We had one custom made for him with stunning embroidery to match my beautiful dark blue wedding dress. It took my mother a while to get used to the idea of a non-white dress, but I think she secretly loved it.
We also served a kosher, vegetarian meal, grew our own jade plant centerpieces, and chose not to have a wedding cake – too expensive, too stressful to decide on, and it's not a Jewish tradition to boot.
The groom wore a custom-made engagement ring throughout our 18 month engagement (as did I), and I had, not one, but two custom wedding bands made to match my e-ring.
At the reception our friends and family performed traditional “schtick” for us, and we all laughed the night away. We created a relaxed, loving and beautiful day for ourselves and our guests.
Tell us about the ceremony: Our ceremony was a traditional/egalitarian Jewish wedding.
Our rabbi mentioned how happy he was to be in Canada where all loving couples can marry (this was important to him and to us to mention).
There were no marriage vows, as is traditional. Instead, the rabbi asked us to each come up with a one page document outlining what we loved about each other and how our lives are different because of each other. We had groups of friends and family read the traditional sheva brachot (seven blessings), but took some liberty with the english translations so they were more modern/progressive.
Our biggest challenge: The biggest challenge we had was the fact that our engagement was 18 months long. It was far longer than we wanted. It was 1.5 years of planning and arguing over details and I had a terrible time recognizing that my husband really was being helpful in the planning. If only I'd just relaxed and been OK with being the principle organizer, a lot of arguments would never have happened.
My favorite moment: So many moments were amazing, The highlights were:
- When we saw each other for the first time at our bedekken ceremony while surrounded by friends and family, it really felt like we were in a cauldron of love — so amazing!
- When Noam got up on stage with the band and sang me a song he'd written. It was off key, off pitch, and totally amazing. He just went for it, and it was beautiful to see him up there.
- The “schtick” part of the reception when everyone entertained us with hilarious hats, juggling acts, dancing — you name it. It was so great to be surrounded by so many fun and happy and loving people.
- At the ceremony itself, when friends of ours read one of my favourite poems about love and friendship.
My advice for offbeat brides: Put time and effort into understanding the wedding traditions of your ethnicity/religion and mine them for what's meaningful. Even if you're not a religious person, consider that several thousand years of tradition may have some gems you can either use or borrow from and make your own.
Get a good understanding of what your wedding means and the outcomes you want for yourselves and your guests, and be true to that vision. Once you know that, everything else will get much easier.
Allow your loved ones into your vision and there's a good chance they won't be surprised (because they know just how weird — or not weird — you are) and they'll want to participate in making your vision come to life. Let them!
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? Community is the most important thing. If you can remember to keep your community close and connected, love can be everywhere all the time.
Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!