Judaism is important to these two women who met at medical school. So, they incorporated a whole host of Jewish traditions into their rustic farm wedding day.
Tell us how the romance began.
Jordana: I spotted Jenny on the day she moved into medical school four years ago. I was an RA in the med student dormitory and helped her Dad bring in boxes. Immediately I fell for her and started to pursue her.
At the time, she thought she was straight, but after many Shabbat dinners, Hannukah candle lightings, and a basketball game, I had finally convinced her to give kissing me a try.
We have barely spent a night apart since then.
…and the proposal.
Jordana: We had decided that we wanted to get married and designed our rings together. Since we were medical students, money was tight. Her grandmother gave us a pair of diamond earring studs. I also had a few stones from my great-grandmother’s wedding ring. We combined the stones so that we each had diamonds from each other’s family members and had the rings custom made at a local jeweler.
When Jenny’s ring was ready, I secretly picked it up early.
We went to visit her sister for dinner that night, and I said I was making a detour while driving the car. Jenny’s sister showed her a video I had made of 200 one-second video clips of our relationship together set to a cover of “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran, sung by a woman. Then I got out of the car at “Sunset Park” where Jenny’s best friends from medical school were waiting for us. I got down on one knee and proposed. We celebrated with the best Ethiopian food that Upstate New York has to offer.
Not to be outdone, Jenny wanted to surprise me too. She had the jeweler “accidentally” email me that there was a problem with my ring, and it would take a while longer to be finished. She convinced me there was no way I’d be getting that ring on my finger that weekend! Jenny even let me eat part of the cookie cake she had purchased for celebrating.
The next morning, we went on a hike with my three best friends from medical school. It was a bright winter morning with freshly fallen snow. We hiked through the forest and into an open area overlooking a cliff.
As I asked Jenny to take a picture with me in front of the beautiful scenery, she knelt and proposed, quoting Parks and Recreation. We turned the rest of our hike into a photoshoot and ate what was left of the celebratory cookie cake with our friends.
How long did you spend engaged after two epic proposals?
Jenny & Jordana: We were engaged for about fifteen months because we had a particular venue and date in mind! Since we are Jewish, it was necessary to accommodate the Jewish Sabbath, which ends Saturday evening at sundown. In Upstate New York, that occurs very late in the day during the summer months!
So the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend provided the perfect combination of weather, timing, and religious observance that we wanted.
What was the inspiration behind your wedding day?
Jordana: We wanted our wedding to reflect who we are as a couple and individuals.
Jenny spent several years growing up in Japan and has a special love for food. I am a hobby fanatic and wanted to find a way to make the wedding DIY. Both of us love dancing and wanted to include our supportive and loving families in the planning process. We also wanted to suit the venue, which provided an incredible vibe and backdrop.
We settled on an outdoorsy, rustic, understated aesthetic that highlighted all of our loves. I made a huge macramé wedding arch for our ceremony, and several smaller pieces for the dining area and reception.
Jenny found a sushi truck to come out at the end of the night. She also picked an incredible caterer that sourced food locally and composted the leftovers at the end of the night.
Our florist used local flowers and filled mason jars that I had found and recycled.
We ordered our invitations from a company that uses 100% recycled paper and plants a tree with every order.
Each detail was personally attended to and tailored to represent us- not just a Pinterest page or Instagram post. Most importantly, we focused on food, drink, and music for a memorable night for our guests!
In terms of DIY projects, I poured my heart and soul into the huge macramé wedding arch for the big day. My best friend from college constructed a birch wood chuppah, or Jewish wedding canopy, for us, and his Mom decorated it with greenery. I made a seven-foot across and seven-foot-tall macramé backdrop for the chuppah, which took months to complete. It was a fantastic outlet for my wedding energy and event planning nerves.
Now that we have moved into our new home, we will put it up on our bedroom wall, so we will always be surrounded by the love and memories of that day.
Talk to us through the wedding day. Was it everything you’d imagined?
Jordana: Everything fell into place for our wedding. The weather was supposed to be awful, and it was perfect (partially thanks, I think, to some powerful witchcraft on the part of my aunt).
My day-of wedding coordinator was super organized and came with an incredible staff. Our caterers were very familiar with the venue, and the venue owners were helpful to all our vendors.
One of my favorite memories from the wedding was the planned Father-Daughter dance. When the song came on, my Dad was nowhere to be found. I frantically asked my friend to look for him. Immediately, my Mom came to the dancefloor, and Jenny’s Mom did too. Our Father-Daughter dance turned into a Mother-Daughter AND Father-Daughter dance. My Dad took over for my Mom halfway into the song, and so did Jenny’s Dad.
It was an unplanned and perfect way to honor both of my parents.
On top of all the beautiful and magical things that happened that evening, we had probably the most beautiful sunset I’ve ever seen. The sky blazed. Our photographers actually called us off the dancefloor for an emergency, sunset photoshoot!
I have to give our friends and family credit for this favorite memory- our crowd went WILD for “White Houses” by Vanessa Carlton. When it started coming through the speakers, our friends assembled into a mosh pit, and people lifted Jenny and me up on their shoulders. I’m sure it’s the rowdiest rendition of “White Houses” the world has ever seen, and I’m very proud of it.
Tell us more about incorporating Jewish elements into your wedding day.
Our Judaism is important to us, so we incorporated several Jewish elements into the wedding weekend.
Jenny’s childhood Rabbi is hugely supportive of LGBTQ+ Jews, so we knew he would be the perfect officiant for our big day. After meeting with him several times and reading a book on Jewish weddings, we felt empowered to choose the most meaningful rituals from our tradition. For us, this included a Ketubah signing ceremony before the formal wedding ceremony, when our parents and witnesses gathered to read our Jewish wedding contract.
We got married under a chuppah or Jewish wedding canopy. Our ceremony was structured in the traditional Jewish way, and we started the ceremony by walking seven times around each other. We exchanged rings that have the Hebrew translation of “I am my beloved’s” and, “And my beloved is mine” on the inside of the ring.
We both broke a glass with our feet as the ceremony concluded, which is something that has always symbolized weddings for me. I feel extra lucky to be in such an egalitarian marriage because we were both able to partake in all of these rituals, which are traditionally only for one gender or the other.
During our dinner, our grandmothers said the Hebrew blessing over the special challah bread that a family friend had baked for us. We chose not to serve any shellfish or pork at our wedding and focused mainly on pescetarian items that are in keeping with Kosher traditions. Our dance floor kicked off with a huge and loud Horah, or Jewish circle dance, during which Jenny, my parents, her parents, and I were hoisted into the air on chairs.
Now you’re married, what advice would you offer to those planning their wedding?
If you have supportive parents as we did, don’t take that for granted for one minute. I wish I had realized what a big deal it was for our folks that we were getting married – I brushed it off while we were planning the wedding, and it only hit me later that this was a huge life event and milestone for our parents. I am so grateful for all their love and support, but I wish I had included them even more in the wedding preparations.
Photographer Earthmark Photography
Bridal Boutique The Lovely Bride
Cake Scratch Bakeshop
Catering Root Catering
Ceremony & Reception Venue The North Farm
Entertainment SHINE Band, London McDaniel of Ithaca
Engagement & Wedding Rings M Lemp Jewelers
Event Planner Starlit Events
Food Trucks Stingray Sushi Fusion
Gown Designer XO Lovers Society, Halston, BHLDN, Spybaby
H&MU Sara Scollan, Holly Piselli
Photo Booth Party Owl Photo Booth
Prop & Furniture Hire Auburn Party Rentals
Robes Divine Bridal Shop
Officiant Rabbi Laurence Sebert of Town & Village Synagogue
Shoes Naturalizer, BOC
Stationery Paper Culture
Tie Dazi Floral Ties
Transport Fitzgerald Brothers
Wedding Contract Ketubatah Etsy Shop, Jerusalem