While the ceremony was Jewish, we incorporated other elements that spoke to us and together with our rabbi, crafted the most memorable 30 minutes of my life. I know I'm not alone when I speak of prior worries about being "present" for the ceremony and now, from the other side, I can safely say that for me, those fears were completely unfounded.
I was there. Of all the moments from our wedding, the ones that I feel the most deeply are those from the ceremony. I can see so clearly every single second of it in my mind's eye and can vividly remember the intense emotions throughout. And now, I'm going to attempt to tell you guys about it.
So, here we go...
With everyone seated and waiting, it was time to get this show on the road.
Closed Circle Photography
My two wonderful, musically-inclined friends Heather and Henry (both of whom I went to college with and who are now married to each other) did our ceremony music. I was so touched that they were willing to take the time to learn the songs I wanted played, going so far as to download the sheet music and practicing together for about a month beforehand. Henry even schlepped his guitar out from Chicago on an airplane!
Closed Circle Photography
As the strains of The Beatle's "Here Comes The Sun" floated back to me, I knew that it was time to start. But I wasn't nervous, I was thrilled. This was it, here and now, forever and ever...My wedding had officially begun...
Closed Circle Photography
First up down the aisle was Mr Trail Mix, escorted by his parents (this is a Jewish tradition. The parents of both children also stand up under the Chuppah with them.)
He looks so happy, doesn't he? Which is rather reassuring, natch!
Then it was our groomsmen and bridesmaids' turn. Two by two, our bridal party walked down the aisle and parted ways in front of the Chuppah, ready to stand up there and support us as we performed the sacred rituals of a marriage ceremony, as so many have before us...Thank you, friends, for being there for and with us during such an incredible moment in our lives.
Mr Trail Mix waited at the end of aisle for me to make my grand entrance. He didn't have to wait very long because once the MOH and Best Man reached the end of the aisle and parted ways, H and H immediately segued into The Beatles "In My Life..."
Which meant it was my turn.
There are truly no words to adequately express what the walk down the aisle feels like. To see all of your loved ones there, smiling and crying, while realizing that this, this right here, is the moment. The big Kahuna moment, the one we've all waited for for so long(some of us, since we were little girls...)
To actually experience that moment is, well...Just writing about it still brings me to tears. My eyes instantly welled up when we first started walking but I held it together and mostly just smiled and took it in, every single second. I took in the strains of my favorite song, the flowers, the people, the love, my parents, everything. I drank it all in, then had seconds and thirds. I couldn't get enough, I wanted this moment to last forever...
I remember seeing my mom's cousin standing up near the front, smiling with tears in his eyes. And a friend from high school looking back and giving me the thumbs up. I remember thinking "This is what you live for- the opportunity to share in moments like this." And I gave a little prayer for the fact that I could share this momentous occasion with all of the people sitting in that room on our wedding day; "Thank you, Creator, for blessing me with this day. Thank you."
It is an incredible feeling and it is an incredibly humbling experience. I walked towards my love with tears in my eyes and an open heart and the happiness that pervaded the room could have been palpable.
And then, before I knew it, I had reached my handsome groom. We smiled a little knowing smile at each other and gave a quick wink.
And then I completely froze up. I couldn't remember if I was supposed to wait for a signal from our Rabbi before starting the Circling (a Jewish wedding tradition.) Turns out I was not supposed to wait and she thought I knew that (I did, just forgot in the moment) and so she was busy looking over her notes and handing out tissues to the parents, not realizing that I was just standing there helplessly.
Finally, after what seemed like ages, although was probably only a minute or so, she looked up, realized I hadn't started yet and motioned for me to go. Whooops! Hopefully no one really noticed what happened...
And so I circled. MOH Pip counted for me as I was sure to lose count with all the emotions running wild.
You wouldn't think we'd need counters for only three circles but man, was I glad our Rabbi had mentioned something at the rehearsal. In fact, I'm still not sure if I did three or four (there's some debate in our household and I'm too lazy to watch the video and count) but I did them, without tripping on my dress, thankfully (which was too long!)
Instead of the bride doing the entire seven circles as is traditionally done, Mr Trail Mix and I decided for a more egalitarian version, so I did three, then he did three (Best Man Charles counted for him)...
And then we did the seventh circle together, giddy and giggling the entire time.
Once the Circling was complete, we walked together up onto the stage and stood in front of our Rabbi, who made a very brief welcome speech before asking my beloved Aunt J to read the Rumi poem (Rumi is a 13th-Century Sufi poet) we had selected.
My parents are Jewish but also involved in a Sufi community they helped form back in the 70's (yes, a commune. So cliche, right?) so including this poem was a nod to this influence in my upbringing.
Here's the poem...
A moment of happiness,
you and I sitting on the verandah
How awesome is that line "The parrots of heaven will be cracking sugar?" I Love it! I remember listening very intently as she read, hoping that everyone could hear her and would appreciate the poem as much as I did.
Then it was time to dig in and get into the meat of the ceremony. Our Rabbi began with the Seven Blessings, chanting them in Hebrew and then repeating them in English so everyone would understand.
Our groomsmen show their serious faces...
And my beautiful bridesmaids looked on as the ceremony got underway...
To be perfectly honest, this is the part of our ceremony I remember the least. Not because I wasn't interested in what the Rabbi was saying but because my knees were killing me!
I have no idea why, maybe because I was locking my legs or something (thank goodness I didn't pass out...You've all heard that rumor that if you lock your knees for too long, you'll pass out, right? Can you imagine?) but all I could focus on was how much my knees hurt.
Anyways, mostly what I remember from the Seven Blessings is that I was constantly shifting my weight from foot to foot, trying to ease the aching.
Our rabbi then read our Ketubah out loud so everyone would be witness to the contract we had signed.
Here is the text of our Ketubah, should anyone be looking for inspiration (and so you can all witness what it says, in case Mr Trail Mix misbehaves and I have to refer back to it for some reason!)
On the 30th Day in the month of Sivan in the year 5770, also known as June 12, 2010
Here in New Lebanon, NY
The bride, Mrs Trail Mix, daughter of Mom and Dad Trail Mix
And the groom, Mr Trail Mix, son of MIL and FIL Trail Mix
Join one another in a marriage covenant according to the traditions of Israel and the Jewish people
They accept each other as they are on this day
And pledge to support and care for each other on all future days
They promise to foster strength and unity in their marriage by loving and respecting each other always
By offering insight and affection freely
And by recognizing and meeting each other's worldly and spiritual needs
They vow to remain friends
To talk with and listen to one another openly and wholeheartedly
Remembering apology and patience
They commit to a lifetime of learning, discussion and adventure as individuals and partners
They agree to create a warm and generous home open to all
Celebrating life as a Jewish family
Together they promise to pursue Tikkum Olam, the realization of a peaceful and just world
With their friends and families as witnesses
Mrs Trail Mix says to Mr Trail Mix
By this ring you are consecrated unto me as my husband in accordance with the traditions of Moses and Israel
Mr Trail Mix says to Mrs Trail Mix
By this ring you are consecrated unto me as my wife in accordance with the traditionss of Moses and Israel
All is valid and binding
Once the reading of the Ketubah was complete, our Rabbi game a touching and heartfelt speech, speaking about the importance of masah u'matan, or give and take, in a marriage and how this concept was at the core of our relationship.
She then went on to cite how we've negotiated our TV schedule (Gossip Girl and Monday Night Football were both mentioned) as a prime example of this, haha!
That got a giggle out of us all, including myself, as did the mention of our first date, which was to the movie Ocean's Twelve and then Coldstone Creamery (Siiiiiigh, I can't believe it's been almost six years since that day...)
She concluded her speech with a beautiful message to us both:
"As you take the next step in this journey together, may you never forget the love and passion that you felt on that day and on this one. May you always maintain a sense of masan u'matan so that you never feel off-balance. May you always give each other no less than all of your love for all of your lives. And may you remember the sacred partnership that you enter into today and that it asks no less than you give all of yourselves to the other."
I listened intently to her words and felt as though they were written on my heart from that day forwards...
Next up was the Kiddush (because what would a Jewish ceremony be without wine, right?) Our Rabbi recited the blessing and then both Mr Trail Mix and I had a sip. Yumm-o, me loves wine!
Although, you wouldn't know it from this photo...
I'm swear I'm not self-centered, there's simply no photo of Mr Trail Mix drinking his wine. I'm not sure why but I didn't want you all to think I was only concerned with myself, ha!
Anyways, these were the main components to our ceremony and both the parts we crafted as well as the traditional elements were meaningful to hear. In fact, I was surprised at how much I loved our ceremony, because I really, really did.
But all of this was just leading up to the main event: The Vows. We wrote our own and kept them a surprise from one another. Just the thought of Mr Trail Mix reading his to me had been enough to bring tears to my eyes for the month leading up to the wedding, so I was very much anticipating the actual event.
And friends, I was not disappointed (I like to think mine were pretty sweet too, for the record.) But, sorry to say, you're gonna have to wait for the next post to hear them!
Follow along, if ya want...