Jessica and Adam, both college classmates of mine, were married last weekend in the synagogue Jessica grew up attending in Memphis. My best friend Abby's mom, with whom I sat, told me that the sanctuary was designed in a bowl-like shape so that the congregation would feel as though it was being held in the cupped hands of God. I liked that concept -- and I especially liked that it entailed raked floors, which meant that I didn't have to strain to see over or around anyone. Hooray for short-person-friendly spaces! Isn't the sanctuary gorgeous? I love the elaborate carved doors on the ark. Not to mention the chuppah:
Normally I'm not one for incorporating popular music into anything at a house of worship, but I really loved what Jessica and Adam chose for their processional pieces. A string quartet played My Favorite Things as the grandparents came in; the wedding party processed to What a Wonderful World; and the bride and her mother made their entrance to Can't Help Falling in Love. (An Elvis tune! In Memphis!) The music was sweet and utterly charming.
In a Jewish ceremony (as some of you may know), the parents of the couple stand up front with them in addition to the bridesmaids and groomsmen. The bride and groom also generally walk down the aisle with both of their parents in the Jewish tradition. There's a strong sense of family about the ceremony. The service incorporated lots of singing by the rabbis, a lovely homily and a few special rituals that were explained in the program. After they said their vows in Hebrew and English, Adam stomped on the glass, he and Jessica kissed and we all shouted "Mazel tov!"
From there, we didn't have far to go. The whole shindig took place at the synagogue, so the cocktail hour was just outside the vestibule in the foyer/lobby area. The reception was in the social hall, which was really, really nice. You definitely can't have awesome parties like this in the church where I got married or the one I grew up in (or in many Protestant churches, I'd reckon), because they don't allow booze of any sort. (I'm sure there are curfews and decoration rules to deal with as well, but there wasn't any point looking into that stuff for our wedding, since we wanted a dance party with adult beverages.) This felt like a swanky hotel reception, without the hassle of having to get into a car and go somewhere else! Well played indeed.
Here are Jessica and Adam taking their first spin around the dance floor as husband and wife:
And below we have the early stages of the hora, before the bride and groom (and others) get hoisted up above the crowd in chairs by the burly men. One of the bridesmaid's husbands, who quickly became one of my favorite people, started talking about how excited he was for the hora as soon as the service was over. I also heard a few hilarious hora horror stories. Fortunately all went well with this one, though I think Jessica wouldn't have minded if it had wrapped up sooner. Aside from the hora, we boogied all night long to the sounds of the SoulSations.
Last but certainly not least, I know I promised I'd report back about the wedding cake. Well, there wasn't any -- there were cupcakes and doughnuts instead! (I'm told this was a major victory for the bride during the planning process.) I sampled two flavors of mini cupcake and, alas, just one kind of doughnut. All were delicious. I really just love the tower o' doughnuts. NOM.
Did I mention I enjoyed the doughnuts?
above photo courtesy of the studio j photobooth (via abby)