This Sunday, my friend from law school Roger married Lina at the Ritz Carlton in Tysons Corner, Virginia. The wedding was on Sunday because Roger and Lina are Jewish, Lina having recently converted. We didn't particularly notice it was Sunday though, because Kevin had the week off for Spring Break, so we were able to party all night.
I spoke to Roger in the days leading up to the wedding and he was very excited to be getting married. He had a case of very warm feet, if there is such a thing. The ceremony was lovely, and Lina looked amazing as you can see from the photo above. There are so many beautiful things about Jewish wedding ceremonies. First, I love that both the groom and the bride are walked down the aisle and by both of their parents. Some of my friends and I have lost parents, and anything that honors all your parents like that stands out to me a lot more than it did before.
Roger entering with his very happy parents
The chuppah, or wedding canopy is so nice that I think it's been adapted in weddings of other faiths with "wedding arches." Roger and Lina had a beautiful white flowy one in front of a white curtain backdrop that made it look like they were in heaven. (Yes, I know, Jewish people don't believe in heaven, but I was just describing how pretty it looked.)
I love the bride and groom circling each other. I think maybe it used to just be the bride circling the groom, but it's been modernized so both the bride and the groom do it now. (Don't quote me on this- I don't know.) It's a symbolic gesture about honoring each other that makes a lot of sense once you've been married for a while. It also looked especially beautiful with Lina's train and veil lightly draping around Roger's feet as she went around.
Encircling each other (Lina's turn)
The ketubah, oftentimes called the wedding contract, is signed privately before the ceremony begins. After the signing, the couple is technically married, but these days I think the couple still looks forward to the first kiss at the end of the ceremony. Roger and Lina's ketubah was presented during the ceremony and put on display behind the bridesmaids. It had a lovely drawing of a tree on it, and I imagine that it will look really nice hanging somewhere in their home.
And who doesn't love the drama of the breaking of the glass? It's so exciting! I'm not sure of the exact meaning, but it has to do with joy being tempered in marriage and in life (or it's about the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, or both). Someone gave Roger a special colored glass to break so that it can be framed as a piece of artwork after the wedding. What a great idea!
The big kiss after Roger smashed the glass
The cocktail hour was fun, with delicious appetizers and a orange-vodka-cream cocktail I thoroughly enjoyed. I especially chased around these salmon and cream cheese appetizers that were topped with caviar. Yes, please!
UVA friends at cocktail hour
During the first dance, Roger and Lina invited everyone to join them dancing
They also had this tradition, the Mizinke, that many of the guests had never seen before, but it's wonderful and everyone should start doing it. When parents marry off their last child-- Roger is their youngest of three boys-- they sit in the middle of the floor with laurels and everyone dances around them and congratulates them. Very fun!
Celebrating their last son's marriage
And of course, Roger and Lina danced the Horah. Though I've been to Jewish weddings before, this was the first time I participated in dancing the Horah because I was so afraid of doing the right thing. This time, I felt I had to overcome my fear, so in I jumped. So fun! Why did I ever resist? The wedding had 200 guests and it felt like all of them were dancing and pulling me around the dance floor. At the end, Kevin and Brian were recruited to hold up the couple's chairs. Lina looked a bit nervous but they both bounced around the dance floor without falling off. Mazel tov!
Dancing the Horah
As a bonus for us, Lina and Roger didn't leave on their honeymoon right away, so we got to spend Monday night watching the NCAA Men's National Championship basketball game with them. Roger actually won one of the basketball pools he was in, so he got a little wedding present from the universe.
Now I wasn't asked to give a speech at their wedding, but hey, I have a blog, and I get to say whatever I want, so here's what I would have said (and did say when they got engaged):
- Love is Lina converting to Judaism so that they can better share their lives with God and their children. Love is Roger learning to speak Spanish so he can share in Lina's culture and family life.
- Love is Roger and Lina hiking, five-foot tall Lina straggling behind six-foot tall Roger, until she saw a bear on their path and she darted out in front of him to protect him. That kind of love is fierce, and powerful, and necessary, and you are so blessed to share it.