In 2009, I got no birthday cards, birthday presents, or birthday party. It was still my best birthday ever, because I got NotFroofy for a wife!We drove up to Worcester, Massachusetts on the night of Sunday, October 4, with two dogs. (We had ours, plus the father of ours, who belongs to the friends who had volunteered to do a video of the wedding but who were coming by plane and thus couldn't bring their own dog.)
The father of our dog:
We stayed at the Quality Inn, Worcester:
On Monday, October 5, we went bright and early to the courthouse to request a waiver of the usual three-day waiting period for marriage licenses in Massachusetts.
The person who checked us in at the court asked to see our ID. Seeing we were from Maryland, she asked, "Do you have family in Massachusetts?" We explained that we did not, but that we were getting married in Massachusetts because we still could not get married in Maryland. She responded, "Oh, yes, that's right." Apparently, it took her a moment to remember that we couldn't just get married in every other state the way we could in Massachusetts. With same-sex marriage so controversial elsewhere, it was refreshing to be in a place where it was so taken for granted.
We got the waiver, then went over to City Hall.
At City Hall, I initially got confused and walked to the dog license window instead of the marriage license one, which NotFroofy gave me major amounts of grief about. However, we got the marriage license. Here is the marriage license form:
Yes, it is all up to date, with "Party A" and "Party B" instead of "Bride" and "Groom" (which is just as well, since NotFroofy and I were both brides, and no groom was involved). However, the instructions to the form stated that it was to be completed in "black ink or approved typewriter ribbon." Some bits of it apparently weren't brought up to date!
After picking up a friend at the Boston airport, we drove to the place we were staying.
The house was wonderful! It was a big old Victorian house that had been divided up into three units. NotFroofy and I had a one-bedroom unit for ourselves. A four bedroom unit housed my brother and his wife, my sister, my son, and my daughter. A two-bedroom unit housed four friends of ours. Thus, people could have some privacy, but it was still easy to arrange common meals and see each other.
We arrived with just enough time to get a bite to eat and a manicure before the rabbi came over to discuss wedding details.
As we talked with the rabbi, other people kept drifting in. My brother and my son are major animal lovers; I think they were happier to see the dogs than to see us. After the rabbi had left and most people had arrived, we ordered a bunch of pizzas for the whole crowd.
The only problem was that the couple that owned the father of our dog did not arrive until the small hours of the morning. Their plane had some kind of mechanical difficulties, and had an emergency landing. It took many hours before they got off the ground again. We finally decided just to take their dog back to our unit, so that he wouldn't get frightened at being left alone. Both dogs slept in the bed with the two of us, which was a bit crowded!
The next morning, we got up bright and early to drive to the synagogue:
Temple Shir Tikvah is a Reform congregation in Winchester, MA. Shir Tikvah means Song of Hope. The Temple was founded by 33 families in 1984 to represent the needs of Jews and their families in the Winchester area, where historically very few Jews lived. When the congregation got too large to continue meeting in members' homes, they wanted a building that would reflect their home-based traditions. The current building, a renovated Victorian lodge hall that became the congregation's home in 2000, was modified for the synagogue's use and made accessible for the disabled. It is adjacent to Wedge Pond, which provided a scenic background for photos.
When we arrived, the florist had already delivered our bouquets, the bouquet for our maid of honor and the bout for our dude of honor. Our bouquets were identical, except that mine was set up to be carried on my right arm, and NotFroofy's was set up to be carried on her left:
The maid of honor's bouquet was smaller, but had similar flowers to ours:
And the bout for the dude of honor was an even smaller version:
We had built our own chuppah (wedding canopy), based on the frame of a portable gazebo:
I began setting that up while we waited for our hair and make-up person to arrive.
Meanwhile, the conference room on the first floor of the synagogue was turned into a makeshift dressing room for the two of us:
The hair and make-up person was about half an hour late, which had us a bit nervous, but it turned out she had just been stuck in a bad traffic jam. She arrived and began working on NotFroofy's hair while I continued setting up the chuppah. In spite of the fact that we forgot to bring our hair inspiration photos, she did a great job on both of us:
She also put on our veils. NotFroofy and I had very similar veils, with identical tiaras sewn onto them:
As you can see, I also wore a pearl necklace and faux pearl drop earrings. NotFroofy had a similar necklace, and some earrings lent to her by a friend.
Our dude of honor (my son) and our maid of honor (my daughter) both got dressed up for the ceremony. The dude of honor wore his one and only suit.
The maid of honor wore a dress she had originally gotten when she was maid of honor for a different wedding.
We sent the dude of honor out to get challah for the blessing over the bread. The maid of honor stayed to help decorate the sanctuary. She tied gold sashes around the chairs in the front row to indicate where people should sit:
She also put pew bows on the chairs at each side of the aisle:
We set up our ketubah (marriage contract) on an easel next to the chuppah. It was the "Embrace" ketubah from Amy Fagin of 20th Century Illuminations, with our own custom text, framed by a friend:
Instead of having the usual two lines for witness signatures, we had only lines for us and the rabbi. We wanted everyone who attended to sign as witnesses, so we just had them sign around the outside.
We set up a table under the chuppah with a decanter of kosher white wine, a kiddush cup, my reading glasses, programs (which had the text of the ceremony in them), and the glass for breaking. We'd actually bought the decanter at the Salvation Army. When we'd asked the rabbi about where to buy wine, he had offered to supply it. The synagogue had found a tablecloth, and the maid of honor had the bright idea of using one of the chair sashes as a table runner:
Out in the hall, we set up baskets for the programs (made by NotFroofy based on the design of our ketubah), kippot, and clips:
Of course, we couldn't forget the rings. The one NotFroofy was giving me was inherited from her grandmother back in Wales. It was 22 karat gold, which is hard to find in this country. However, I managed to find a similar one on eBay UK:
As icing on the cake, the sanctuary had big windows that had a lovely view over Wedge Pond:
We did forget a few items, though. We had carefully arranged to have a digital voice recorder for the front, and another one for each person who was giving a reading or a blessing. Since a friend was making a video of the ceremony, we figured this would make sure that all the sound got picked up. Unfortunately, all the DVRs got left on a chair and forgotten, never even being turned on:
Fortunately, though, the sound system on the video camera itself proved to be adequate for our small ceremony, so the recorders were not really necessary.
The other thing we forgot was the pen for signing the ketubah, a special acid-free archival pen. Oops!
However, the sanctuary looked gorgeous when it was all set up:
The Temple staff members were clearly very excited about our wedding, to the point that the rabbi asked if it would be all right if they attended. Of course, we said yes.
The rabbi, dude of honor, and maid of honor walked in to Air, from Water Music, by Handel.
NotFroofy and I walked in together holding hands to La Rejouissance (Music for the Royal Fireworks) - Handel:
When we got to the front, the maid of honor arranged my train, and a friend (whom we jokingly referred to as our "fluffer" arranged NotFroofy's:
The text of our ceremony can be found at this link.
When we went to sign the ketubah, we realized that we didn't have the pen. There was a brief pause while our friend the "fluffer" went and found an acid-free pen in her purse for us to use. Fortunately, everyone was good humored about it, and the rabbi just commented on what a "sense of community" we had. NotFroofy, the rabbi, and I then signed the ketubah in both English and Hebrew. Of course, only the rabbi was able to do it without a cheat sheet!
When we went to exchange rings, the rabbi accidentally handed NotFroofy the ring that I was supposed to give her. She decided that she would just go ahead and put it on my finger:
Therefore, when the rabbi handed me the other ring, I hastily switched the two so I could put the one NotFroofy had just put on my finger back onto hers.
After the ring exchange, seven of our guests read the Sheva Brachot (Seven Blessings). The text in Hebrew was the traditional one, but we used our own English interpretations, which emphasized the spirit of the blessings rather than their literal translations. As each guest finished the blessing, NotFroofy and I each gave him or her a hug. The only problem was that when my sister gave NotFroofy a hug, she accidentally removed NotFroofy's veil. NotFroofy tried to put it on, but after it fell off a second time, NotFroofy gave up and did without it.
fter the blessings, it was time to break the traditional wedding glass. We used the blue one shown below:
Although traditionally the glass is broken by the groom, NotFroofy and I had decided to break it together. This, however, turned out to be easier said than done. First, we both tried stepping on it together:
Then the rabbi suggested that perhaps the dude of honor could help us out. He tried, but that didn't work. Then NotFroofy tried with her heel, but it was too small and just rolled right off:
Finally, NotFroofy managed it by stepping hard with the sole of her boot:
The good news was, we ended up with enough shards of broken glass so that we were later able to have an Etsy seller make it into a fused glass mezuzah for us:
Finally, we were able to have the kiss, be declared married, and start the recessional, to Vivaldi's Spring, from the Four Seasons:
We got married during the festival of Sukkot, so there was a sukkah (ceremonial booth) up in the back yard of the synagogue. We and all our guests went back to the sukkah for the ha-motzi (blessing over bread), which was given by my ex-husband:
After the ceremony, we took all our guests to the private dining room of a nearby Legal Sea Foods for lunch.
It was a very low-key celebration with lots of good food (lobster and fillet mignon were among the menu choices), good wine, and conversation.
Of course, there was the little incident in which my sister started a whipped cream fight with my son, but fortunately the Legal Sea Foods staff was just amused by that one.
Some of the guests had to leave after the reception, so that they could work the next day. The rest of us went back to the house, where some of them helped us make a hamburger dinner.
Because we had to have our wedding mid-week in Massachusetts, very few of our friends from back in DC were able to be there. However, we had a reception for them back in DC three days after the wedding. With the high cost of reception venues in the DC area, we were thrilled to be able to rent a club that was a converted warehouse, and was centrally located, from a friend for a good rental rate. However, because it was not a traditional reception venue, we pretty much had to DIY everything.
We had someone come to the club to do our hair and make-up. Here is how NotFroofy's came out:
I took a small birdcage cardbox, and decorated it with ribbon and a sign:
I made the centerpieces from gold pedestal votive holders with acrylic diamonds, floating candles, and mirrors, then sprinked freeze-dried rose petals around them:
Rather than rent linens, we bought them with the idea of reselling them afterward. We had ivory tablecloths and ivory chair covers with gold sashes. We also used the chuppah from our ceremony to frame the cake table:
I bought ivory cloth napkins, which I rolled up with gold fabric napkin holders:
We hired a friend to buy food from BJ's, prepare heavy hors d'oeuvres, serve, and clean up:
We had an open bar, but also had a couple of specialty drinks. The alcoholic specialty drink was frozen strawberry mimosas. Not wanting to have the noise of a blender going during the reception, I spent several weeks beforehand blending together orange juice, strawberry puree, and ice, and then freezing the resulting mixture. The bartenders were then able to just mix that with more orange juice, strawberry puree, and Prosecco to make a slushy drink that was very popular:
We had a chocolate fountain:
NotFroofy made our cake, a cascading cake with four layers. The bottom one was dark chocolate cake with chocolate ganache filling and vanilla butter cream icing. The second was lemon cake with raspberry mousse filling and lemon butter cream icing. The third was sour cream spice cake with pecans and sour cream frosting. The top layer was the traditional British fruit cake with marzipan and royal icing, which we saved for our anniversary. The cake topper was a traditional Welsh love spoon.
However, the major decoration was the lighting. I made lit-up menus for the food, the specialty drinks at the bar, and the various layers of the cake:
I got eight spotlights, and created DIY uplighting. Here is some of it, shown behind the musician (a friend who played as her wedding present to us):
We also had 127 paper lanterns. Fifty of them were small white battery-operated lanterns. Another fifty were 10" paper lanterns, lit with homemade lighting consisting of LEDs and batteries taped together. Half of them had amber LEDs, and the other half had a mixture of red and white LEDs to turn them pink. Finally, I had 27 natural irregular ribbed lanterns in an 18" size, lit with Westinghouse Stick Up Bulbs. Friends helped me set up all the lanterns the day of the reception.
When we turned down the lights in the club, the effect was magical.
We started the reception by showing the video of the ceremony, so our guests who could not be in Massachusetts could at least see it.
We did our first dance, a swing dance, to Leonard Cohen's "Dance Me to the End of Love."
We supplied dancing shoes (a combination of flip flops and Chinese cotton Mary Janes), in case our guests wore shoes that were not comfortable for dancing:
We didn't have the traditional toast to the bride, because we didn't have any members of our wedding party there. Instead, we gave a toast to all the people who had helped us with the wedding.
However, we did have the traditional cake-cutting:
The club owner sang a special song, traditional for weddings in his family, in tribute to us:
We also had a DIY "photobooth." We supplied various silly props. I made a photo backdrop stand.
A friend with a digital camera then took digital pictures. Another friend made a guestbook, which everyone signed, leaving room to add the pictures afterward. As you can see, all our guests enjoyed the "photobooth." (Yes, this was one of the dogs that went to Massachusetts with us.)
It took us two days to get set up for the reception, even with the help of several friends. When it ended, we spent several hours taking down all the stuff we had brought, and even then had to come back the next day for a lot of it that wouldn't fit into our minivan the first time. And I don't even want to think about how much time we spent laundering all the linens and washing all the dishes.
However, overall the ceremony and reception were exactly what we wanted--a participatory and fun celebration with people who loved us. We followed tradition when it worked for us, and ignored it when it didn't. And after nine years together, we are finally married!