Monday, July 27, 2009

Egalitarian Jewish Wedding Vancouver | Tami & Chris Part 2 | Cultural Wedding Planner Profile - Vancouver Wedding Photographer Hamid Attie

A sweet proposal

Tami was back in Toronto, helping take care of her nieces who were visiting from Israel and Chris came out for a week. While visiting, Chris asked his mom for his great grandmother’s wedding ring. It’s a beautiful simple band with a small diamond starburst. On the last day of Chris’s visit, he and Tami decided to go raspberry picking with her nieces, Tami’s sister Hadas and her brother-in-law Yosh. Eventually everyone spread out and Chris called Tami over to see the most amazing raspberry ever. Humoring Chris, she went over and saw the ring, hidden behind a leaf. Chris said, “You make me berry happy. Will you marry me?” Overwhelmed, Tami started bawling and kept asking, “Are you serious?” Everyone looking on thought they had had a giant fight.

The couple decided to get married in the summer in Vancouver. For those of you who have never been to Vancouver (although it rains almost every other day; Tami and Chris were blessed with incredible rain-free weather.

Before the Jewish ceremony

They organized an egalitarian Jewish wedding that was officiated by the wonderful Rabbi Hillel Goelman.

“Rabbi Goelman was wonderful. He met with us many times before the wedding day to make sure that we were ready for this commitment. On our wedding day, he made everyone feel comfortable and engaged. He played guitar and had everyone singing, which added to the joyfulness" says Tami.

The day began about 45 minutes before the guests arrived. Traditionally, about 20 family members and close friends gather for the signing of the Jewish marriage certificate known as the Kettubah. “But the room was so hot we left the door open and as guests arrived they peered in and joined us,” Tami says. “I started slightly flipping out and whispered, Oh my god. They think it’s the wedding. They don’t know it’s the Kettubah. Chris calmly answered, It’s okay. We’ll just have the biggest Kettubah in history.’ So they did!

After the signing of the Kettubah, Rabbi Goelman had Chris and the men go to one side of the room while Tami and the women stayed on the other side. The men each laid a hand on Chris, and if they were too far away, they put their hand on the shoulder of someone who was touching Chris. The women did the same with Tami. Then Chris and Tami closed their eyes and the group moved them together. Tami and Chris then opened their eyes and saw each other for the first time as husband and wife.

“It was the most wonderful moment of the entire day,” Tami recalls. “The positive energy, the exuberant joy and the love of that moment made it marvelous. Of course everyone laughed like crazy.”

Of course everyone including Tami laughed like crazy.

Tradition with a twist

The ceremony was a traditional Jewish ceremony, but they added a few twists.

So that all 115 guests, including kids, could feel close to the bride and groom, the seating was arranged in a circle around the Jewish marriage canopy, called a chuppah, which was held by four dear friends. To personalize it, Chris’s parents gave them a quilt handmade by his great grandma Bacher." It was lovely to get married under all the color, beautiful handwork and intention of the quilt,” Tami says. “It was a perfect symbol of marriage: a series of individual pieces of colour that together makes a cohesive legacy.”

Another twist involved the tradition during the ceremony when a bride walks around the groom seven times. Both Tami and Chris realized that they wanted to do something a little different, so they each walked around the other three times and then walked around the wedding circle to include their guests.

Details of the ceremony

The ceremony took place outside on the grounds, surrounded by the beautiful gardens, where the couple also took family photos. The reception was held in the Aberthau Mansion and spilled out onto the patio and lawns. Besides the historical character, picturesque setting; they also allow you to bring in your caterer which really works for many couples.

Having the entire event in the same location worked out perfectly for us,” Tami says. “Our guests were able come and enjoy themselves without having to move around or drive again

Wedding gown was a steal of a deal

The bride wore a brand-new Vera Wang gown that she got for $100. It was a total accident,” Tami says. “Several years ago I had heard about a Toronto charity called the Bride’s Project. It allowed brides-to-be to buy a huge variety of dresses at drastically reduced prices. The best part is that proceeds go to a camp for children with cancer. While visiting Toronto over Christmas the year before the wedding, Tami's sister Hadas and Tami decided to pop by the Bride’s Project. The first seven dresses were lovely, but too traditional. She was about to leave when the owner asked her what she was looking for. She answered, Something a little irreverent, and she picked out an ivory dress that didn’t look like much on the hanger. Hadas, who is a fashion designer, looked inside the dress and freaked when she saw it was a Vera Wang. Tami put it on and it fit like a glove. Hadas turn to Tami earnestly and said, Let me handle the negotiating. She asked the owner how much and she said it was the same price as all bridesmaid dresses. $100. That’s it? Oh my god! That can’t be right! Are you sure it isn’t more? Tami quietly turned to Hadas and said, Shut up. Then turned to the owner and said, We’ll take it.

On a side note: I happened to catch a wedding story on CBC a few weeks ago titled 'Wedding Bills' and there was a segment about the Bride's Project. Really, a great choice for brides wanting to make a conscious buying decision. I'm not surprised that Tami picked out her very own dress from here as well.

Surprises at the reception

Tami’s brother-in-law surprised everyone by having a Mariachi band perform. So we had our first dance to a live band. Hello? What could be better?

As another surprise, Chris and his best friend performed Weezer’s “El Scorcho”. When they first dated, that was the song that Chris sent to say he had feelings for Tami. The words said it all: “I think I’d be good for you and you’d be good for me.” Chris was a rock star performing truly from the heart. Tami bawled. Again.

Instead of cutting of the cake, they decided to kill the cake. What does that mean? Everyone had to scream at the top of their lungs when they put the knife in the cake and stop immediately once it was out.”

April Bellia from April Cakes created the most beautiful wedding cake. “She truly took the time to get to know us and captured who we were with strawberry shortcake and fondant,” Tami says. “We felt her warm wishes in every bite! For cake toppers we decided to go with Mexican wrestlers we had kicking around the house. She even made sure to have one wrestler touching the other’s bum! Keep that in mind's all about the littlest tiny details that make things so memorable.

To wrap up the day, Tami and Chris got an ice-cream truck to show up. Guests could order whatever they liked. It was great way to end the wedding on a sweet and unusual note.

To see this great shot see Tami & Chris Part 1. I love, love, love creamsicles!!! You know the best part they're only something like a 100 calories. Can you believe it?

Tami’s planning advice

Tami’s tells brides and grooms-to-be that when planning their wedding: Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Other married couples are a wealth of knowledge and experience. Listen up because they can help save money and time. Also, there is a lot of information online and in magazines. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed so just keep the stuff you like, discard the rest.”

Also, don’t be afraid to do your own thing. So many weddings are cookie cutter events, with only a few details changing from couple to couple. Be unique, be brave and stick to your vision.

I had to include a shot of their beautiful family!

Time to relax

Right after the wedding Tami and Chris spent three days in Tofino for mini-moon. It was a great way to relax and decompress after a long week and a half,” recalls Tami. Several months later, the couple decided to take a super-extended honeymoon. “We literally traveled around the world for four months, going to Toronto, New York, Italy, France, Monaco, Spain, Morocco, England, Israel, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong and finally Hawaii,” says Tami. “We figured we would never be able to see the world in quite this way again. It wasn’t always easy, but if it were easy it wouldn’t have been interesting.”

As a newlywed, Tami’s advice on a successful marriage is to avoid getting “hangry” with each other (that’s hungry and angry). If you’re both well fed, reason will usually prevail.

Photos: Vancouver Wedding Photographer Hamid Attie

Congratulations Mr & Mrs. Cool!