We gather here today to discuss how I’ve been under the influence of wedded matrimony for the past two weeks.
Two of my dear girlfriends — pretty much the last of my Perpetually Single Plus One’s — have tied the knot, taken the plunge, gone to the chapel, settled down.
Now, despite the fact that I myself am still single at almost-35, I do love a good wedding. Ask my mom and she’ll tell you about how I used to agree to go food shopping with her when I was little just so I could flip through the bridal magazines they kept at checkout. She’d be bagging groceries and I’d be picking out colors and deciding between orchids and hydrangeas. (Sorry I wasn’t more of a help, Mom!) And if only we could figure out how to digitize the VHS recording of the Barbie wedding my sister and I threw one summer afternoon, complete with toilet paper aisle and garden impatiens for photo opps. This picture will have to suffice.
Unlike many of my friends and Katherine Heigl, I haven’t had to wear 27 Dresses in ugly shapes, sizes and colors as I watched my pals, cousins, and neighbors say their vows. In fact, I can count on my two hands (and maybe one foot) all of the weddings I’ve been to.
So, for those curious what a Jewish American affair is like here in New York, you’re about to get Daft Punk lucky cause I’ve got the goods on two very different, but equally lavish and lover-ly weddings. One had a DJ, the other a band. But both had a chuppah and sushi. Oh, the sushi!
The first — my friend Jen’s — was held in a rustic warehouse in Brooklyn. Picture exposed brick, steel beams and dozens of candlelit tea lights scattered around. It was called for 5p.m. on a Sunday and “cocktail attire” was suggested. To me, cocktail attire means short, maybe sparkly, but rarely long. Also, it being in Brooklyn, any and all funkiness is usually encouraged.
I wore my great-grandmother Doris’s black dress with lace bodice and taffeta bottom, funked-up Sara-style with a pink tube to match my shimmery, click-three-times Kate Spade peep-toes.
Jen’s chuppah — the “wedding canopy” that Jewish brides and grooms stand under to symbolize the home they’ll create — featured four branch-like limbs and her father’s tallit, which is the prayer shawl that men wear in shul.
Cocktail hour consisted of a sushi station (complete with servers in geisha gowns) and passed hors d’oeuvres so good we all could’ve been part of a Top Chef challenge and not known it. During dinner, we didn’t get to choose between “steak or fish” as is usually the case — we got both! Also, the fish wasn’t salmon, which was a nice change since that’s usually the swimmer of choice at weddings. (Snooze.) The “bonus extras” were the ridiculous views of the Statue of Liberty and downtown Manhattan, a photo-booth (complete with hats, glasses and other accessories for selfie-silliness), and an old-timey car my dear friend Dani and I got all up on.
When the six-hour party ended at 11p.m., no one wanted to stop celebrating, so a bunch of us (aka, the singletons and out-of-town-no-work-tomorrow guests) retreated to this bar in the Financial District, which, unbeknownst to us, had just been named the best new cocktail bar in the world!
In my book, any celebration time that begs for continued celebration time is a good times, Wa-ho!
Now, onto Wedding No. 2.
Debra’s knot-tying took place in a synagogue that I was quite familiar with, as it was in my hometown and therefore the destination of many a Bar and Bat Mitzvah during my 12-going-on-13-going-on-too-cool-for-Hebrew-School years. It was “black tie preferred” on Saturday night, which meant more fancy for the ladies, and penguin-suits for the fellas. Still, since it was a different group of friends and I loved the feel and look of my vintage-gone-modern get-up, I wore it again — despite the fact that every time I lifted my arms to clap or attempted to do the twist I worried the skirt might separate from the top. It was that delicate. Thankfully, I just ended up with a split zipper at around 1a.m.. (Nothing a safety pin couldn’t handle!)
Deb’s chuppah was of the floating variety: It hung from the ceiling ever-so-elegantly, and featured the most beautiful purple and white flowers.
The sushi station didn’t have costumed-servers, but check out this display:
There were also the following food stations: assortments of pasta, Jewish deli carved to order, American burgers and mac ‘n’ cheese, Asian noodles and dumplings and a center area filled with salads and hummus and olives and cheese. Oh, and champagne lollipops! No joke. There was a lot of food. Like, a ridiculous amount of food. And that was just for cocktail hour. Once inside the ballroom, we were also served a salad with candied-something, choice of chicken, duck, steak or salmon (!) and for dessert, another ridiculous assortment of sweets from a jelly bean bar to an ice cream sundae stand to macaroons and chocolate truffles. Oh, and wedding cake. If you wanted something to wash it down with while dancing up a storm, a server magically appeared on the dancefloor with a tray of mini Poland Spring bottles hidden by misty dry ice.
Speaking of dancing up a storm, the best part of Deb’s wedding wasn’t the red carpet and velvet rope at the entrance (see below), but the 18-piece band! That’s right, folks: 18 piece. They were so incredible that despite there being numerous reasons to sit and eat, no one wanted to do anything but get down and boogie (oogie oogie).
I wish I had attended a wedding in the UK to compare celebratory traditions. My Fabulous friend Rachel is attending SEVEN this summer, and she’s worn amazing hats to each of them. I am so not a hat person, so perhaps I’m better off having avoided watching a walk down the aisle in Blighty.
Luckily, my favorite magazine, AFAR, recently ran a picture feature showing brides from different countries, which offered a nice glimpse of alternative matrimonies.
At the top of the two pages of photos taken of brides from around the world, each adorned in customary headgear, makeup or gowns representative of their culture and country, is a quote by John Steinbeck:
A journey is like marriage: a certain way to be wrong, is to think you can control it.
It’s no wonder I’m so enamored by both — and why I continue to not-look for my Ken, choosing to commit to just enjoying the unplanned journey instead. Attending friends’ weddings, and picking up the occasional issue of the Knot while bagging my own groceries will have to I do. For now.