Tag Archives: Destination wedding

A Historical Destination Wedding

maya-wedding-3This summer, I had the pleasure of officiating at a wonderful wedding in Bristol, Rhode Island, a charming town half hour from Providence. I was able to spend a day in Providence before the ceremony, and this allowed me the opportunity to tour this wonderful college town, the home of Johnson and Wales, the famous hospitality university. I so enjoyed sampling some of the great restaurants.


The bride was from Boston originally and she and the groom lived out in New York City, so this location, in Bristol,  was picked for accessibility of all the guests. It turned out to be a restored 19th-century mention now used as a museum and event space. Linden Place is the name and both the interior and the lovely garden in the back where the ceremony was held were used.
Original paintings, furniture, and chandeliers were on display in the rooms, with explanations provided. One could take a tour, reading about the famous guests who stayed there, such as Ulysses S Grant and the Barrymore family. The hall was used as a filming location for the 1974 movie, the great Gatsby. We did the Ketubah ceremony in a magnificent dining room where one could only imagine the many festive dinners that had taken place with exquisite silverware and dishes.

The ceremony was held behind the mansion under a grove of trees on a picture-perfect day. The bride was born in Russia and had put herself through college and Columbia business school – a self-made woman. The groom hailed from Michigan and is working in digital advertising, a gentle and warm person who has a lively family. We had met several times in the city and all three of us instantly connected. I felt they had opened their hearts and minds to me and officiating the service was a joy.

The bride and groom offered me a taste of the life lived in this mansion, if only for an afternoon.

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.


Google+ Profile

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.

lakecomo 8

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.

lakecomo 3

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. 

lake como 11

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.


lake como 9

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 on Shelter Island – Two Sailing Companions in Love!

shelter island pic

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.


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.

The beautiful grandmother and her new love





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.


Google+ Profile

A Jewish Fall Fantasy Wedding

      Two Cornell law school graduates contacted me almost a year ago to plan their Jewish fall fantasy wedding for October this year.  They met at the law school and both were enamored of the fall season particularly beautiful upstate New York, where there is colorful foliage, apple picking, pumpkins and crisp clear air.  They planned to have the wedding near Cornell, near the Finger Lakes. 

     We met at their Hoboken apartment  and I was introduced to their dog-child: an adorable Welsh terrier who was to walk down the aisle.

     Since I enjoy destination weddings, I came up the day before their ceremony and helped with the rehearsal.  The groom, from Tennessee, had many relatives there already.  They had rented a lovely house for family to stay in and did the rehearsal in the back of the house.  Afterwards the rehearsal  dinner reminded me of my own college days with large amounts of pizza and beer to go around.

     The day of the wedding was unseasonably  warm – over 70 degrees – and all the trees glistened in the sun’s rays.  They had picked a venue: The FountainBleu Inn, which was a lovingly restored, 1815 country inn with authentic antiques and beautiful grounds.  The wedding was on the grass overlooking a lake.  The chupah and chairs faced the water and a panoply of multicolored trees.  The bride planned every detail of this herself while working at a high pressure law job in NYC.  How amazing was that?

     When it came time for the bride and groom to do their vows they prepared speeches about themselves.  The words spoken to each other were so moving and heartfelt that both bride, groom and audience were reduced to tears.  We also did the Hebrew vow from the Song of Songs King Solomon.  There were readings, circling in the Jewish tradition and breaking the glass.  They danced up the aisle after the end of the ceremony and frolicked with their dog on the acres of grass.  We were treated to a beautiful sunset  as well.

     I stayed for a wonderful reception.  Lots of dancing and warmth abounded.  The groom danced with his mother to L0uis Armstrong’s “It’s a wonderful world” which for this day in time it certainly was.  They even treated me to a stay at the Inn on Columbia, an amazing upscale restored home with an owner who was my personal chef the morning after.  Regretfully I left to return to NYC.


     ~     ~     ~     ~     ~


The pictures above were taken by the wedding’s wonderful photographer, Anna Simonak. Many thanks to her for the use of these shots!

You can see her beautiful work here: Asimonak.smugmug.com