Bits & Bites / Wedding Planning

Weekends are for Weddings: The Ceremony

Weekends are for weddings!  If you’re like me, with 9 weddings each year, the weekends are, quite literally, for weddings (attending them, that is).  Also if you’re like me, the weekend is a time to think about planning your own wedding.  Lots of people carve out a certain time each week for  to wedding planning (Wedding Wednesday seems to be very popular).  It ensures the wedding doesn’t take over their whole lives; however, I find that confining wedding planning to a specific time is too pressure-filled and bicker-prone.   I plan my wedding when inspiration strikes.  Weekends, in particular, offer the time to let my mind roam and plan my own wedding in a stress-free environment.  In this series, I’ll take you through some of my major planning steps – hopefully this will help you plan your own wedding!


It was important for me to get married by a Rabbi in a temple.  I can’t explain exactly why…it just felt a little more real that way.  With Albert being Catholic, however, there was only one Rabbi in Savannah who would marry us.  Thankfully, Rabbi Haas is super cool – we would have chosen him no matter what – and the temple (though not the one I grew up in) is positively GORGEOUS.

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Temple Mickve Israel is home to the oldest Reform congregation in the country.  Seems odd that Savannah would have such a longstanding Jewish community but makes sense when you realize Georgia was established during the colonial era and Savannah is the oldest city in the state.  The neo-Gothic architecture is stunning and it has a pretty amazing history to boot.  I thought the sanctuary was so lovely that I actually opted not to have any florals there.  Other than a very simple swag of fabric on the chuppah with a cluster of eucalyptus, we didn’t decorate the temple at all.  I was proud to be married there.

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Though the ceremony was primarily Jewish, it was very important that everyone feel welcome.  We did most of the Jewish traditions (blessing over the wine, the seven blessings, the ketubah, and stomping the glass), but we also had one of Albert’s best friends, who is also Catholic, get ordained online and co-officiate.  Additionally, our readings were secular to appeal to guests of all faiths, particularly since the majority of guests were not Jewish.

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Jewish ceremonies are traditionally very quick.  Since we added in the co-officiant and the readings, ours was slightly longer but still no more than 30 minutes.  We took care to choose readings that were not only non-religious but that had special meaning to us.

HOT TIP #1: Tired of hearing Corinthians at every single wedding?  Look at non-Biblical sources.  Poetry and movies are great places to find quotes about love that embody your relationship.

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Since books were being incorporated throughout the wedding weekend, we looked to literature.  Our first reading was a passage from The Fault in Our Stars.  This choice had extra meaning as the author, John Green, was a contributor at Albert’s old job, and one of Albert’s early gifts to me was a signed copy of the book.

“I am,” he said. He was staring at me, and I could see the corners of his eyes crinkling. “I’m in love with you, and I’m not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.”

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The second reading was actually an excerpt from the introduction to Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking Vol. 1.  Though it’s technically about food, the instructions could just as easily pertain to love.  This reading appealed to my love of food and was also a nod to one of my favorite books, My Life in France by Julia Child.

Pay close attention to what you are doing while you work, for precision in small details can make the difference between passable cooking and fine food. If a recipe says, “cover casserole and regulate heat so liquid simmers very slowly,” “heat the butter until its foam begins to subside,” or “beat the hot sauce into the egg yolks by driblets,” follow it. You may be slow and clumsy at first, but with practice you will pick up speed and style.

Allow yourself plenty of time. Most dishes can be assembled, or started, or partially cooked in advance. If you are not an old campaigner, do not plan more than one long or complicated recipe for a meal or you will wear yourself out and derive no pleasure from your efforts.

If food is to be baked or broiled, be sure your oven is hot before the dish goes in. Otherwise soufflés will not rise, piecrusts will collapse, and gratinéed dishes will overcook before they brown.

A pot saver is a self-hampering cook. Use all the pans, bowls, and equipment you need, but soak them in water as soon as you are through with them, Clean up after yourself frequently to avoid confusion.

Train yourself to use your hands and fingers; they are wonderful instruments. Train yourself to handle hot foods; this will save time. Keep your knives sharp.

Above all, have a good time.

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We also went the non-traditional route when it came to choosing music for the ceremony.  When picking up my nephew from preschool, my mom overheard one of the moms discussing how she recently played violin at a wedding.  I had been engaged for about two weeks at this point and my mom barged into the conversation and asked if she could hire this stranger.  It may have been impulsive, but it was a great move.  Alyssa Schoonover has a wide music selection.  We decided to go entirely with selections from her contemporary list (which included Jason Mraz, Sam Smith, David Guetta) to be played while people waited for the ceremony to begin.

HOT TIP #2:  There’s no rule that says you have to play the Wedding March.  Pick music that you love.  Was one of your early dates at a concert?  Play something from that artist.  Even Beyoncé sounds wedding appropriate when slowed down and played on a violin.

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We had a few special requests for the wedding itself and for a very small additional charge, Alyssa was able to arrange and learn them:

  • Welcome/Entrance of the Groom and Groomsmen: Seasons of Love (Rent)
  • Processional: Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen)
  • Bridal Entrance: Crazy Girl (Eli Young Band)
  • Recessional: G-d Only Knows (The Beach Boys)

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The final part of the ceremony was our exit.  The temple opens out onto the beautiful Monterey Square.  Since, as the bride and groom, Albert and I were the first to leave, we quickly ran around the building and back into the sanctuary.  As all our guests left, they grabbed some paper cones (made from book pages to go with the theme(ish) of the weekend) that were filled with dried lavender to toss on us as we re-exited.

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