Category Archives: Destinations

A Special Fall Foliage Wedding at the New York Botanical Gardens

     One of the co-officiants I worked with a year ago recommended me to a couple who planned their interfaith wedding ceremony to take place this past October. They had decided to make it a gorgeous, special wedding at the New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx.  The colors were at peak in the area and the couple was lucky that they missed the beginning of Hurricane Sandy by one day.  They had lovely weather with temperatures in the 60’s for their early evening ceremony.

     The bride was an English teacher working on her doctorate  in English.  She worked with the other officiant and me choosing readings and music.  Being a former English teacher myself I was delighted to see a reading from e.e. cummings and a second poem of Shakespeare’s.  She even had an excerpt from the Book of Ruth set to music.  She had sung the very same lines herself at her cousin’s wedding.

     The night before at the TriBeCa Grill restaurant (owned by Robert de Niro) I met both sides of the family.  The bride’s family hailed from Charleston, South Carolina and it seemed as though every member from a few month old girl to an 80-year-old was present.  The groom’s family was scattered over the states and people from Michigan, and a number of other states made the trip.  The priest had been a long time family friend of the bride’s mother and so it was a family affair.

     The procession and recession were down a beautiful walkway of fall flowers.  The trees around the wedding site were shimmering gold and there was even an usual  fuzzy moon hanging low in the sky.  Picture perfect fall evening for this lovely couple who chose the venue due to their deep appreciation  of nature.

 

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Destination Wedding in Italian Heaven of Lake Como

A couple emailed me a year ago to ask if I would be interested in officiating a wedding in Lake Como Italy in April 2016.  What a question?  Where do I sign up?   It turns out they were a medical and engineering student couple from Ohio State based in Columbus, Ohio.   We Face-Timed and set up a time for me to visit them in Columbus that winter.  On one of the coldest weekends of the winter I flew out and stayed with them.  They toured me around the campus of OSU, had meals with them and spent time hearing about their backgrounds and upcoming service.  I left with a strong idea of who they were and had established a relationship with them.

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The spring arrived and I had organized a mini vacation around their wedding.  Arriving in Milan first and touring around, I drove to Bellagio where they had set up accommodations in  a cute Bed and Breakfast on the water.  The scenery was spectacular:  Lake Como against the snow-capped mountains of Switzerland.  I met the extended family and had time to visit some magnificent gardens near the inn that were in bloom.  The lushness of the landscaping was breathtaking.

The rehearsal dinner was at a restaurant on the water where we were treated to a dinner of wonderful fish, vegetables and deserts.  The wine offered was, of course, quite special.  Toasts and conversation flowed and again I was treated like one of the family.

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The wedding day was picture perfect spring weather.  The venue they selected was Villa Balbiano, an Italian landmark featured in such movies as Star Wars and Casino Royale.  It is necessary to take a boat to this private island villa, then walk up to what feels like  a top of the mountain with a breathtaking view of the entire lake area.  We set up the ceremony on the top under the arches with chairs facing the amazing panorama.  Officiating there was one of the high points of my career as it is so extraordinarily beautiful and the couple felt like my children. 

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We toured around the villa gardens which had amazing statues and flowers then went back to the inn where a wonderful dinner was waiting.  Cocktails first in the garden overlooking the water and then a wonderful meal.  What can one say except it was too short and over too soon.   This was a destination wedding made in heaven.

 

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Fabulous wedding locations and venues!

I have been very fortunate in the last few years to marry couples in wonderful venues! What a delight it is to experience the wedding venues people choose, the imagination that goes into some of their selections, and the fun that we all have!

Since your wedding day is a day you will remember for the rest of your life, choosing a place that is near and dear to your heart is vitally important. Whether it be a church, a synagogue, a garden, the beach, or a mountain top, it should reflect your personalities, your comfort level, and your dreams!

Here are just a few of the spots I have officiated or co-officiated recent weddings:

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The North Shore of Long Island.

I recently co-officiated a lovely interfaith wedding, with a minister, at a beautiful golf club, The Creek in Locust Valley on the North Shore of Long Island. Check out this hundred year old venue; it is not only gorgeous, it is very well run. We had an incredible day and the couple were thrilled!

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plaza hotel

 What can say? It is The Plaza Hotel in New York City! I co-officiated an incredible wedding last year at this wondrous hotel – a true landmark in New York City. I was unprepared for just how intimidating the Plaza Hotel ballroom can be. A product of the early 1900s, it boasts soaring ceilings, beautiful woodwork, detailing and amazing balconies. The decorations for the wedding were incredible: candles everywhere, flowers overflowing and lights illuminating the gold fixtures. The chupah was located on the stage, and we rehearsed as if it were a Broadway production. Lights, audio, video. And with 275 people in attendance, I truly felt like I was beginning my theatrical career.

But I concentrated on the spiritual service at hand and felt gratitude that I had been selected to lead this service in such a historic, elegant and magnificent setting.

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Rooftop of the Brooklyn Sheraton, New York City

 After proposing during the 6th inning of a Yankee game, a couple I recently married chose the roof of the Brooklyn Sheraton for their big event. What fun! Although the day was overcast, by evening when the ceremony took place the sun shone and we were treated to a phenomenal sunset.

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Image result for pinterest images new york botanical garden

October in one of the most beautiful and famous gardens in the northeast… Yes, you can get married there! This past fall I had the pleasure of marrying a wonderful young couple, amidst the gorgeous setting of the New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx. The colors were at peak in the area and the couple was lucky that they missed the beginning of Hurricane Sandy by one day. They had lovely weather with temperatures in the 60′s for their early evening ceremony.

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Block Island, off the coast of Rhode Island

 Beautiful Block Island.jpgBlock Island is a charmer off the coast of Rhode Island. Last summer I co-officiated a wedding ceremony for a lovely couple from Manhattan who loved the island and felt it was the only place on earth they wanted to get married. The island is family-friendly, and small enough to be negotiated with moped or bicycle. Ferries are the only means of transportation there which discourages people from bringing cars.

The old Victorian Bed and Breakfasts and grand hotels dot the bluffs and town streets and the Spring House Hotel, where we were, was wonderful. The beaches are pristine and beautiful and the weather hot and perfect for swimming.

How lucky I was to have been to officiate in paradise and meet some wonderful new friends . After the service one man came up to me and the minister with whom I was co-officiating and said “you should be on television, the two of you together are magical.” How much better could the praise be?

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FountainBleu Inn

 

The wedding was on the grass overlooking a lake at the FountainBleu Inn, in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. It is a lovingly restored, 1815 country inn with authentic antiques and beautiful grounds.

The FountainBleu Inn really is a wonderful venue, with a Tudor banquet room which seats up to 150 guests and opens on to a spacious stone patio overlooking the lake.  It was a wonderful late spring day, and joy was in the air!

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Theatrical Synagogue Wedding in New York


 Angel Orensanz is an 1850′s German synagogue on the Lower East Side of NYC, where many celebrities such as Sarah Jessica Parker have held their weddings.

I recently officiated a dramatic and gorgeous wedding there. This soaring space had room for three balconies and a capacity of 800 people. When the lighting was on it transported those there into another realm.

Check out my blog for all the details of this incredible day.

A Country Club Co-Officiation; a Warm and Loving Interfaith Wedding!

     I was asked almost a year ago to co-officiate and interfaith wedding with a minister on the North Shore of Long Island.  A beautiful golf club, The Creek in Locust Valley, was the venue which had been founded over a hundred years ago.   The bride’s parents and grandparents were members and it was a place that had many wonderful memories for the family.  The minister was a family friend of the bride’s parents and was most anxious to work with me to create a loving seamless service.

     We met at the club, the groom’s parents apartment in the city and again the night before the wedding .   We were determined that all present (many of whom had never been to a Jewish service) would feel comfortable.  The minister suggested  reading from the Book of Ruth which had as its theme loyalty and inclusivity between Jewish and non-Jewish people.

     When it came time for the Hebrew Kiddish prayer over wine the minister handed the couple the wine goblet, read the English prayer and I did the Hebrew.  We complete the service with a benediction called Aaron’s Prayer- our hands were over the bride and groom crisscrossed so that we were a tight group.  It was truly inspiring.

     As I took the arm of the officiant for the recessional I felt the commonality of religions and people.  We truly had worked hard to make the service warm and respectful to both faiths.  The response from both Jewish and Christian people afterwards confirmed my feelings.  Nothing but smiling faces and loving wishes.

An Interfaith Wedding Destination: A Magical Island!

 

      A couple, one from the Catholic faith and the other Jewish had vacationed together on Block Island for years.  They met in high school, dated throughout college and decided after taking “time outs” along the way that they were right for each other.  I met with them a number of times at their apartment and mine in Manhattan.  We constructed the service, talked about marriage and religion for their children.  They wanted  a Christian co-officiant and  I was successful in reaching out to a Pastor on the island.

      We crafted the service for this interfaith wedding with the pastor on a four-way conference call and I knew it would be special.  He was a Princeton graduate who had been raised by missionary parents doing their work in Japan.  His spirituality was in his blood.  He even let me practice my classical piano for a recital on the baby grand piano in his church.

      Block Island is a charmer off the coast of Rhode Island.  It is family-friendly, and small enough to be negotiated with moped or bicycle.  Ferries are the only means of transportation there which discourages people from bringing cars.  The old Victorian Bed and Breakfasts and grand hotels dot the bluffs and town streets and the Spring House Hotel, where we were, was wonderful.  The beaches are pristine and beautiful and the weather hot and perfect for swimming. 

    

The service exceeded my expectations.  The Pastor and I locked arms and walked down the aisle together setting a communal tone.  He started off talking about religious freedom in Rhode Island and of the oldest synagogue in America located in Newport.  I wove in the Jewish prayers, including circling and the Seven Blessings.  He spoke about the Book of Ruth- an intermarriage that led to her descendant, the famous King David.  I read some pieces the bride and groom had written about each other and tears and laughter filled the audience.  This all took place in a gorgeous historic inn on the grass overlooking the water.

How lucky I was to have been to officiate in paradise and meet some wonderful new friends .  After the service one man came up to me and said “you should be on television, the two of you together are magical.”  How much better could the praise be?

Check out the wonderful catering deparment and Danielle an enthusiastic and organized wedding planner at the hotel.   I can highly recommend her.  You can reach her at www.Danielle@SpringHouseHotel.com

 

 

An Interfaith Wedding on Shelter Island – Two Sailing Companions in Love!

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A rabbinic colleague of mine recommended a couple to me, who were planning their interfaith wedding ceremony for the end of June this year. They were currently living in Michigan, but had met in college in the East, on the first day of sailing tryouts their freshman year.  Both had boats and sailing filled a great deal of their pasts. 

Starting off as very good friends, it soon developed into love, and they moved out to Michigan where he had grown up, and where his family still lived.

A Shelter Island Wedding

The bride’s grandmother owned a house in Shelter Island where she spent summers sailing so it was a natural and wonderful idea to hold the wedding there.  The couple used an amazing house and grounds belonging to one of the grandmother’s friends.  Perched high on a hill overlooking the water, the house was nestled in many acres of grassy lawn with beautiful trees surrounding it.  The ceremony and chuppah faced the water; this wedding was simply one of the most picturesque I have ever been fortunate enough to officiate.  A tent was set up for the reception and a wonderful band entertained.

The bride’s and groom’s mothers had become best friends through their years of courtship, even vacationing together.  When I spoke of the two traditions and families blending together I offered this actual proof  as it was embodied in their relationships. This warm and generous family extended their hospitality to me, inviting me to both the rehearsal dinner and the reception.

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The picture I feature here, below,  is of the grandmother and her boyfriend shows up her prior model features and her striking beauty.  She and her new boyfriend had both lost spouses of 50 years and clearly were in love.  This combination of older and young love made this a particularly magical and touching wedding.

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The beautiful grandmother and her new love

 

 

 

 

Destination Wedding in Paradise

Turks and Caicos was the magical setting for a group of 50 family and friends participating in the wedding of Jodi and Brad that I officiated at the end of April. Jodi being an event planner in her day job perfected every detail of the wedding from the colors of the wedding party to the beach barbeque the night before and the barefoot beach ceremony at sunset.

I  felt immediately welcomed by their friends all of whom had many years connection with them and were ecstatic to be there. Brad is an outgoing, compassionate and loving man and someone who knows how to enjoy life. His friends loved to party with him in the past and wasted no time doing the same that weekend. Jodi’s close women friends were loyal and adoring of her- eager to make sure this wedding would be special. Speeches at the reception and beach picnic by friends and family showed how respected and loved this couple is.

Jodi’s parents had divorced over 25 years ago and both remarried.  The two new sets of couple parents got along with each other like long lost friends.  It was amazing to see and admire these couples treating each other and Jodi and Brad with attention, love and affection.  They were solicitous of me as well and wanted to make sure I was having a good time and made me part of this extended family.

After the reception night which had much dancing, drinking and photo ops we all met for  brunch the next day. I made many new friends and the sun, sea and sand brought out the best in everyone. How lucky I was to be on this island officiating the wedding of two wonderful people.

Off to the Races at a Saratoga Wedding

The beautiful and picturesque town of Saratoga has long been a retreat for health and sports with its mineral springs and horse racing in August. FDR had come there for the baths suffering with polio. In fact, the venue for the wedding I officiated was located inside 2000 acres of parkland dedicated during FDR’s term in office for the public to hike, camp, picnic and enjoy nature.

The rehearsal dinner was held at the track but it was only July.  What was this about?  I learned that the trotters run in July preparatory to the season opening.  How exciting to have this wonderful buffet trackside and watch beautiful horses round the bend.

The next day dawned bright and sunny and was one of the many heat wave days July brought us this summer.  But a 5pm start and lots of Saratoga water in blue bottles did the trick for the guests. I co-officiated with a local minister after working with him and the couple to write the service over a number of months.  It went off lovingly.

A visit to Saratoga is not complete without a tour of the baths.  The local bus driver drove a number of us around who were staying at the hotel and we saw and tasted the mineral waters. Then we saw the spa/bath facilities that are booked weeks ahead. Refreshed spiritually and physically and with a few dollars still in my pocket I returned to NYC.

Central Park Wedding in Bloom: Rabbi Gloria Officiates An Interfaith Marriage

central park wedding april 2013      A couple contacted me from Miami to do a wedding at the Central Park Conservatory Garden in April this year.  They had met 11 years before and their paths had gone in separate directions.  After reconnecting it didn’t take long for the groom to say  “This is the woman I want to marry.”  

    They got engaged in Central Park and decided they also wanted to get married there so they could return and relive the moment.  It was an interfaith marriage ceremony and the groom’s father wanted to read from Corinthians which we put in as part of the service.

     The prior day was cold and rainy and the day of their wedding was cloudy in the morning but by the time the ceremony was due to start the sun started peeking out of the clouds.  The Conservatory Garden at 105th and 5th Ave is a public space  that the couple rented.  In full bloom, the cherry trees and flowers were exquisite in their pinks and whites.  

     The small group of people assembled was relaxed and warm; there was a laid back, relaxed feeling to the event.  Because it was a public space we had as many onlookers as guests at the ceremony.  I felt as though I  had performed a wedding for many more people than the ones invited.  There is nothing more gorgeous than a Central Park wedding in bloom; it was a truly beautiful day! 

     An appreciative bride and groom made my job a delight and  I can’t wait to visit Miami and catch up with them.

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The Wonderful Baseball Wedding in New York

A Baseball Wedding!       

A Jersey guy and a girl from Florida met at a bar in Atlantic City that he was managing at the time.  The Yankees were usually not on the TBS network, but were that night in the bar. She stayed to watch because they were being shown.  The rest as they say is baseball history.  

They went to a game on their first date and continued their romance via bus from NYC to Atlantic City on the Greyhound.

 He proposed during the 6th inning of a Yankee game and they and their friends all went out afterwards to celebrate.  

This wonderful baseball wedding was held on a beautiful rooftop of the Brooklyn Sheraton.  While the day was overcast, by evening, when the ceremony took place, the sun shone and we were treated to a phenomenal sunset.

     In keeping with the baseball tradition his good friend carried his own child who carried a baseball mitt in one hand. In the mitt were – you guessed it – the rings!  The child was the ring bearer.  

At the end we all yelled “Play Ball.”  A very happy ending to this “game ” of love.

 

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