We are beyond thrilled to be featuring the New Jersey Jewish wedding of our wonderful Brides Club member Mindy today!
Mindy, a fourth grade teacher, and Neil, a digital marketing specialist, crafted the most exquisite celebration combining tradition and modernity – and we love the way they managed to honor family heritage and stay true to Jewish customs while crafting a day that was totally them! They combined a hora with a choreographed first dance, mixed Hebrew and English music, and used two kiddush cups under the chuppah: one from Mindy’s grandfather and another new cup, symbolizing the beginning of her life together with Neil and the start of their own family. You can see it for yourself in the stunning images from Yael Pachino Photography.
One other touch that made Mindy and Neil’s wedding extra special was the fact that they had live wedding painter and Smashing The Glass Recommended Vendor Jordana Sklover on hand to craft a beautiful painting of the day in real time! The pair decided that a painting of their wedding would be a wonderful gift to each other, and getting to see the finished painting at the end of the night was a wonderful way to cap off the celebration – plus, guests enjoyed watching Jordana’s creation come to life in front of their eyes throughout the wedding. Jordana Sklover also painted the couple’s custom ketubah, featuring an illustration of the Jerusalem skyline, honoring the important role Israel plays in their lives.
There’s so much more to say about this wonderful wedding, but we’ll let Mindy – who looked SO elegant in her fit and flare gown by Morilee take it from here…
HOW WE MET
Mindy, the bride: We met on JSwipe and quickly realized that we both love Israeli and Mediterranean food. After dating for six months, we created a shared foodie Instagram, @shakshakingitup, devoted to reviewing hummus, falafel shakshuka, and avocado toast. We spent the early days of the pandemic watching all 30 seasons of the Amazing Race in order to prepare for our lifetime of adventures together.
A Synagogue Venue
We got married at Temple Beth Ahm Yisrael in Springfield, New Jersey.
We weren’t looking for a synagogue initially, but finding a venue that had an in-house caterer, could do Glatt Kosher, and didn’t have a 300 person minimum was actually challenging. We toured a few places and narrowed our list to the synagogues where our caterer has kitchens. We went with Beth Ahm because of their ability to do an outdoor ceremony in the courtyard.
What ‘Smashing The Glass Brides Club’ Did For Us
I enjoyed being in the Brides Club because it was a great place to post questions. I joined some local bride groups but found that they were very large, impersonal, and impractical for my needs. When brides would post looking for make-up artists, photographers would comment with their websites! I found the Brides Club to be a supportive community where I could pose questions for brides and not receive solicitations from random vendors.
Theme and Wedding Planner
We didn’t have a specific theme but we made sure everything was in blue-green color tones. The sanctuary in our venue has a large blue stained glass wall and we wanted to leverage that color in case we had to have an indoor ceremony due to weather.
We hired a Day of Coordinator. Christina Baruch from Events Made Golden made everything flow smoothly! She helped me organize a few months before the wedding and finalized all of the details with vendors during the last eight weeks leading up to the wedding.
Invitations / stationery
We used Basic Invite to create our invitations. My mom and I spent hours adjusting them. Their Hebrew font was not to my taste, and they were able to place PNG files of our names in a font I liked better. They were also able to add raised foil to highlight our names which added an elevated touch to the invitations.
Hair + Make-up
With curly hair and August heat, an updo was a MUST. I wanted to use my natural curls but in the end, blowing out my hair before putting in a bun created the cleaner and smaller bun that I wanted. I loved working with Ashley Riley from Ashley Marie Christine because she is so flexible unlike other artists who lock you into a set number of services, too far in advance. She also books hair and makeup services.
She did my hair and makeup, bringing another artist for my bridal party’s hair. Ashley did everyone’s makeup. She was the last vendor that I booked and I needed someone who could take care of both hair and make up for me. Ashley’s flexibility and relaxed personality made her the best choice for me.
A Morilee Dress
My dress was from Seng Couture and by Morilee. I wasn’t looking for any particular style of dress besides being modest (closed back, covered shoulders). I tried on several dresses and realized that the typical “ball gown” wasn’t for me, but I liked some “fit and flare” type silhouettes.
I found one dress in Seng’s catalog that I thought would be “the one” when preparing for my second appointment. It was the first dress I tried at that appointment and ultimately came back to it after trying a few more. I loved that it had a lace illusion neckline that lightly covered my shoulders.
The dressmaker at Seng’s was very skilled, customizing my dress beautifully. Even though the dress was well covered in the front, it needed some more work on the shoulders and back. We ordered extra lace and had the open back closed or “built up.” Extra lining was added under the illusion lace back, and she even added detachable lace cap sleeves with clear snaps.
Sylvia from Seng did such an amazing job. The dress looked perfect and no one could tell that we had any work done on it. The detachable cap sleeves worked wonders to cover my shoulders for the ceremony, while still allowing me to fully dance at the reception. This is a great option for brides who want fully covered shoulders for only part of their day.
Accessories and Shoes
I tried to use as many family pieces as possible. My hair pins and veil were made from leaves attached to my grandmother’s wedding headpiece from 1948. My mom wore it again in 1980. Wearing the headpiece was the only detail of my wedding that “I always imagined as a little girl.” I brought it to Betsy Wise to create a new piece for me. She removed the leaves from the headpiece and attached them to the comb of a new veil. She also made hair pins that I could wear all day. She was even able to make barrettes for the flower girls as a gift from me to the girls, from their great-grandmother.
Similarly, my pearl earrings were my great grandmother’s too! One of the earrings had broken a long time ago, so I brought them to Adlers Jewelers, who we used for our engagement/wedding rings, to repair them. I still can’t tell which one was repaired.
I wanted to wear Kate Spade bridal sneakers all day so I went dress shopping with them. But, when my dress came in, my sneakers showed from under my dress. I quickly had to pivot and find flats that fit the dress length to wear for portraits and the ceremony. The Betsey Johnson bridal collection had tons for me to choose from. Even with long walks to break in my sneakers before the wedding, I still ended up with blisters. I kicked them off in the middle of the hora and spent the rest of the night in my socks!
The handsome groom
Neil and his groomsmen all wore suits from Indochino. Neil picked a black suit and the groomsmen wore gray. Adding a vest to Neil’s suit gave a more polished look at the reception. He says he felt like James Bond in his suit. We picked socks from Sockologie to represent a collection of “These are a few of our favorite things” including sushi, pizza, donuts and s’mores.
We wanted green ties with a pattern to help tie colors together. We couldn’t find any that were just right so we designed our own with Knotty Tie Co. Knotty provides a set of patterns and colors for you to mix and match until you create the perfect tie for your wedding. The ties are created in Colorado by refugees and made out of recycled plastic bottles.
My bridesmaids wore sage green dresses from Birdy Grey. They also wore Kate Spade mini bow necklaces and earrings. The flower girls wore sage green dresses from Nicolette’s Couture along with the barrettes made by Betsy Wise.
Ceremony and Chuppah
Our chuppah design matched our invitations— asymmetrical greenery. We were also able to add my grandfather’s (z”l) tallit to the top of the chuppah. We used two different Kiddush cups: one from my grandfather and a new cup that was gifted to us. We thought this was a wonderful way to bridge the old and new. My grandfather’s tallit and kiddush cup honored our past and the new cup was a symbol of beginning our lives together and starting our own family.
We also included many family members in our ceremony by having an MC and several family members recite the Sheva Brachot. Our young niece and cousins were the cutest flower girls!
Our Ketubah was custom painted by Jordana Sklover Lobell. We picked the Jerusalem skyline because Israel is very important to us and we hope to live there one day. Jordana worked with us, providing a few sample sketches that made our vision come to life. She did an amazing illustration of the wall of Jerusalem stone with homes in the background, highlighted by a sky that moved from a cool daylight blue to a warm sunset.
Our Music Choice
We booked Unique Musique for our wedding because they have the ability to create a DJ-band hybrid. We opted to have a saxophone, violin, and drummer accompany the DJ. The saxophone player did an amazing job playing a variety of songs for the cocktail hour, with our favorite, ‘Od Yishama!’ The violinist played the instrumental versions of the music for the processional—and of course, the saxophone chimed back in for our Od Yishama recessional.
For the processional, the groomsmen walked down to ‘Mitachat L’Shamayim’ by David Broza. We picked it because my brother enjoys his music and had spent hours creating an arrangement for another David Broza song in high school. Neil entered to ’All of Me’ by John Legend. The bridesmaids and flower girls walked down to ‘Can You Feel the Love Tonight.’ It was fun to have the little girls walk down to a song from the Lion King. I entered with ‘I’m Yours’ by Andy Grammer because he is one of my favorite artists. It was a runner-up for our first dance selection (more on that next!)
‘Everything’ by Michael Bublé was the special music for our first dance. Maya Sank from Maya Moves was our dance teacher and she did an incredible job crafting a two minute routine for us. We enjoyed practicing weekly and are still doing our dance even after the wedding. We picked the song from Maya’s list of suggestions after listening to them together.
Barbara Bell did an amazing job with our flowers. I am not a floral expert so I left the decisions about specific flowers completely up to her. I liked the idea of having mixed high and low centerpieces for aesthetics and budget. I wanted blues, greens, and whites in very natural and organic arrangements. I wanted something different from the often used “ball” arrangement centerpieces. She designed the chuppah using natural wood posts and blue, green, and white florals. I communicated this vision to her and she nailed it!
Photographer and videographer
Yael Pachino Photography was our incredible photographer. At first, I put in several inquiries on the websites of photographers online. After just one consultation, I knew that I had to shift my search because we needed someone who understood the mix of a traditional Jewish Orthodox ceremony with millennial and secular vibes. I found Yael through a Google search and was super hopeful she’d be “the one.” We met with her on Zoom and booked within days. She knew all the aspects of an Orthodox wedding and her portfolio had the light, airy, and modern photos we wanted.
During our first call, we immediately “clicked,” having similar backgrounds and attending Jewish day school. We received so many compliments about Yael and her work both during and after our wedding. My guests and family couldn’t believe how much energy she had at the end of the party. People also complimented Yael’s ability to be clear and direct during portrait sessions, while also being polite and patient. She is a true gem and I would hire her again in a heartbeat!
Nick from Allure Films by Video One Productions was our videographer. I really loved the video from my friend’s 2018 wedding. I contacted the company after seeing their watermark on her video. Tim Sundall, the owner of the company, spoke with me several times to make sure his videographer understood what I wanted. We haven’t received our video yet, but I am excited to see it finished!
One element that made our wedding special was a live painting by Jordana Sklover Lobell. We decided that a painting of our wedding would be a wonderful gift to each other (rather than a new watch) because we love having art in our home. Guests enjoyed watching Jordana’s creation come to life before their eyes. Seeing the beautiful painting at the end was a great surprise.
Another fun element of our wedding was a bride teddy bear. With everything set and ready to go a few days before the wedding, we found ourselves with some free time and nervous energy. After making a bear at Build a Bear, my mom used scrap lace from the alterations of my dress to create a teddy wedding dress and veil (complete with a blusher!). The bear received her own headshots! She was also a wonderful surprise for our flower girls who played with her before the ceremony began.
During the reception, we played the Bar/Bat Mitzvah favorite game of Coke and Pepsi. A groomsman suggested the idea and since a few people were into it, we asked the DJ if he would run the game. Our guests, including Neil and I, enjoyed the fun, re-experiencing past simchas of our early teen years. The crowd booed when Neil and I lost. I was okay with losing because it was time for the s’mores station!
We also had a s’mores station during dessert. As a sleepaway camp person, s’mores are one of my favorite foods. Guests were able to toast their own marshmallows with the help of servers and make their own s’more.
One of my favorite parts of the wedding was our combination of tradition and modernity. We had a beautiful long hora and also did a choreographed first dance. My aunt had a lot of fun making arches out of pool noodles for our entrance and my cousins brought props for “wedding shtick.” We had a mix of Hebrew and English music. After a hora with separate circles for men and women, we opened the dance floor to mixed dancing to secular music.
We also had tons of fun during the wedding. We weren’t afraid to take some personality pictures. On the way to the first look, I took some silly pictures behind Neil while he was patiently waiting for me. It was truly a beautiful and wonderful day!
Advice to other couples planning their wedding
My biggest tip to stress less is to hire a Day of Coordinator if you can—or even a full or partial planner. They are an added luxury but they do really help with the details and provide a plethora of experience, answering every question you have.
Try not to get caught up in every little detail and all the extra “stuff.” There are so many temptations, but this is where the stress and runaway budgets lie. Keep “getting ready outfits” simple. Use a color family, not a specific color for the day. Rather than clashing colors when something is off, you’ll get a beautiful ombré instead. Skip the centerpiece sample. Instead, hire a florist you trust to execute your vision as described.
Finally, see what family pieces you can use for your veil, jewelry, Kiddush cup or any other special items. DIY projects can be complicated—and sometimes end up being more expensive— but using pieces your family owns already can save money while making the day more special!
MINDY & NEIL’S LITTLE WHITE BOOK
Photography – Yael Pachino Photography
Live Painting and Ketubah – Jordana Sklover Lobell
Videography – Allure Films by Video One Productions
Day of Coordinator – Events Made Golden
Venue – Temple Beth Ahm Yisrael
Bride’s dress – Morilee found at Seng Couture
Bride’s shoes – Betsey Johnson
Bride’s accessories – Kate Spade
Groom’s attire – Indochino, Knotty Tie Co, Sockologie
Bridesmaids – Birdy Grey, Nicolette’s Couture
Hair + Makeup – Ashley Marie Christine
Flowers – Barbara Bell
Music – Unique Musique
Stationery/Invitation – Basic Invite
Chuppah – Barabara Bell Designs
Dance Teacher – Maya Moves
Ketubah Printing – Ketubah-Arts
Smash The Glass Pouch – Smashing The Glass Etsy Shop or join Smashing The Glass’s Brides Club and get one for free!
If you’re a Jewish or Jew-ish bride-to-be, you’ll want to join Smashing The Glass’ Brides Club. Guided by the world’s number 1 Jewish wedding expert, Karen Cinnamon, Brides Club is the private community for Jewish and Jew-ish brides that removes wedstress and indecision and gives you what you need to plan with confidence during these uncertain times. Join our Brides Club here.