Tag Archives: wedding ceremony

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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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

 

 

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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An Independence Day Interfaith Wedding

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A magical interfaith wedding at which I officiated took place this July 4th in Red Hook, Brooklyn.  The Liberty Warehouse where it was held juts out into the water and faces the Statue of Liberty.  July 4th was the day the statue was reopened this year to the public, having been closed since Hurricane Sandy.

The couple’s backgrounds made the statue an integral part of the ceremony.  Present at the wedding ceremony was the bride’s 90-year-old grandmother, who had survived the Holocaust by posing as a Catholic Polish girl. She was put to work during the War in a munitions factory, and of course came to this country through Ellis Island.  She stayed here in America with relatives in America who took her in after the war.  On the other hand, the groom’s U.S descendants dated back to 1684.  A relative on his mother’s side was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. The two powerful threads of Freedom and Independence embodied both of these families.

aug 27 statue liberty july 4 weddingI met with the couple several times to prepare the service.  The bride gave me a DVD that her grandmother made from the Shoah Foundation; this was a fascinating account of her grandmother’s life in a verbal history.  It was so inspiring to watch!  I learned that both the bride and groom were tremendous athletes and shared many common interests.  They had met in the laundry room of their lower east side building.  She was even teaching him Yiddish.

Performing the interfaith ceremony while the sun set on the Statue of Liberty I thought how blessed and fortunate I was to be a part of this incredible July 4th celebration of marriage and of life.

 

Watch a short video of Sarah & Bobby from Kiss The Bride Films.

 

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Also, check out the lovely wedding website on Carats and Cake.com

 

 

 

And here is the website of the brilliant event planner, “Ang Weddings and Events,”  a boutique event planning company founded by Tzo Ai Ang and based in New York City.  Ang Weddings and Events

 

 

Same Sex Wedding in Upper Manhattan

Glasses, Sparkling Wine, Cheers, Sun Set, Evening     

A colleague of mine recommended that two women call me to arrange for a same sex wedding in NYC.  They had such an interesting story.  They had both been previously married and were living in the mountain area of North Carolina.  Their common work field was speech pathology.  I spoke to each of them and we started working on the service.  They were raising two boys, 9 and 7, who were going to be the ring bearers.  The 20-something daughter of one of the women was an actress in the city who they decided would read the English version of the Sheva Brachot.  Her boyfriend, an actor, was the videographer.

     As luck would have it the brother of the bride owned a restaurant in Inwood where a small group of about 20 friends and family assembled.  With the strains of Frank Sinatra in the background as part of the restaurant vibe, I conducted a ceremony and declared them Wife and Wife.  They spoke the vows they had written, then broke two glasses, and many tears and laughter were  a part of this special service!  

     Before the meal began we celebrated Shabbat together with candle lighting, prayer over the bread and wine and I blessed all present. I stayed for a wonderful dinner and they presented me with a beautiful gift of handicrafted slate and wood that a craftsman from the town had done.  As i rode back downtown on the A-train their warmth and love pervaded me.  

Mazel Tov and Best Wishes to them!

 

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A Baby Naming Ceremony! My Brides and Grooms Having Children.

     I love to see my brides and grooms having children!    

     I  officiated at the interfaith wedding, two years ago, of two lawyers. One was brought up Catholic, the other one Jewish.   I co-officiated with a wonderful Catholic priest, Father Tom who had been the family priest.  We worked on the service with the bride and groom and it was warm, witty and personal.   Even the day’s weather cooperated at sunset on a rooftop in Tribeca.  I got to know both sets of parents and felt that the families welcomed me into the event.

    How amazing it was when I received the email from the bride that she had a little girl some months back and wanted me  to do a baby-naming ceremony  with the priest.   It was Father Tom and I again at a historic building in Park Slope this winter.  We had the opportunity to plan an interfaith baby-naming and it was my first one.   I visited the couple who lived in a  former church converted into a condo in Brooklyn.  The sun through the stain glass windows and the soaring ceilings made it a  magical  place.  They had much input deciding to do blessings themselves and give honors to their parents and grandparents.  Tom and I filled in the blanks with prayers and blessings ourselves. The ceremony was enjoyed by Emily their daughter of seven months. She didn’t cry through the whole thing, so I guess we did something right.  

     I find myself fortunate to connect with my past brides and grooms and  be at these wonderful events of the next generation they have produced.  The fact that another officiant can work with me to produce a spiritual inclusive service is something  I am proud of.

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A Beautiful Jewish Wedding – Of My Best Friend’s Daughter!

       I recently officiated at the Jewish wedding of a bride who is the daughter of close friends of mine, going back 35 years. When I first met the bride, a day after she was born in 1984 at NY Hospital, I was looking at her through the glass window in the baby nursery. She has long been a part of the fabric of my family’s life and is just two years older than my son. He used to enjoy playing with an ”older woman!”

   I watched her through her childhood, adolescence and college years. She was always a woman of definite opinions. Everyone admired her spunk and confidence even for one so young. She started dating a military man and it turned out he had been deployed to Iraq twice. She ended up enlisting in the reserves herself and goes once a month to an army base for her commitment. I got to know him over their several years together and grew to appreciate his sensitivity, loyalty to her, and his quiet confidence. They decided to marry and asked me to officiate.

   Seeing them together is a study in complimentary attributes. She bubbles over with enthusiasm and energy and he looks at her in sheer amazement, but is beaming. Together they support and compliment one another. When I spend time with them I feel uplifted by their loving and easy relationship.

 

   The wedding was at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden the first weekend of June. The night before and even into the early morning the rains came. But two hours before the service the sky cleared and it turned into a picture-perfect June day. They did the wedding in the open air, as was the traditional Jewish custom and they had a lovely chamber music trio setting the tone.

     It was the first wedding I conducted where I felt I might be in tears throughout because of the closeness to the family. But because the bride bounded down the aisle, all smiles and beaming I took my cues from her and didn’t lose it.

   Her father, however, was crying throughout the service . He ended up delivering the benediction which is done at the end of every Jewish service. It was so very touching. Afterwards the reception was warm and filled with music and love. My son and his girlfriend came in from out of town for the event. I felt like I had everyone who loved me around to celebrate this wonderful event.

 

Check out the wedding planner Leigh who makes it all seem so easy   http://www.palmhouse.com/