Reader, I married him.
Everything about our day was perfect: We could not have ordered better weather; the ceremony was personal; the tent was magnificent; the food was delicious; the drinks were flowing; the flowers were brilliant; the band was popping; and we could not have been happier.
I walked around giddy with that Champagne-like feeling. You know the one: Bliss.
I bolted awake Sunday morning knowing the day had finally arrived.
“It’s my wedding day,” I told myself, but I felt numb after sleeping nine whole hours at my parents’ house.
In the days just before our wedding, the nerves kept me awake at night. The unaccustomed sleep made me groggy Sunday. It wasn’t until the makeup and hair people started arriving at 9:30 a.m. that I started feeling jittery.
On the breakfast room table where the sunlight tumbled through French doors — the better for applying makeup, I’m told — the women laid out their mirrors, brushes and colored squares on the glass tabletop. In the adjacent room, the hairdressers laid out their curlers, straighteners and blow-dryers on the dining room table’s white cloth.
My mom, my sisters and I filled the rooms, all of us wearing pajama bottoms and button-down shirts, taking turns sitting in the wicker chairs and turning our faces toward the women who would make us even more beautiful.
The makeup artist I chose, Daniella Ahdout Horn, intuitively understood the natural look I was going for. She gave me the sun-kissed look I wanted: Pink cheeks, pink lips and gold eye shadow. Fake eyelashes, eyeliner and mascara gave it extra oomph.
“You didn’t look just pretty or beautiful or even gorgeous,” Joel told me later. “You looked absolutely stunning.” Truth is, I felt stunning. I felt good in my skin, happy with all the decisions I had made — ready to let it all go and embrace the day.
Before I knew it, it was time to put on my dress. When it zipped, it fit like a custom-fitted lace glove. Only prettier.
Then — quickly, the day was picking up its pace — our photographer, Sandor Welsh, led us outside for photos. It was becoming clear that all these wedding professionals had a much better idea of what was happening that I did, so I just did what they said. They kept us running (almost) on time. To the yard!
The flower beds, the roses, echinacea and butterfly bushes overflowed, and Sandor found some light he liked. We all gripped our bouquets and grinned. Honestly, not my favorite thing. There was a lot of yelling and shuffling and waiting for something to happen — but hopefully the portraits are pretty.
After a grueling half-hour, Sandor declared us finished — then got right up in my face for one last shot.
“That’s the best smile,” he said, “The ‘I’m done’ smile.”
My mom says she drove me and my sisters to our synagogue, but I swear I floated there on a pouf of ivory tulle . . .
Before I knew it, I was sitting in a chair fit for a queen and greeting a monumental line of our guests: People from our synagogue in Margate, childhood friends now married with kids, my grandparents’ friends who saw me in diapers, my parents’ friends who helped raise me, friends from The Press, my girls from college and Joel’s friends who are now my friends, too — all of them offering wishes for wealth, health and happiness. It was really awesome to feel that loved.
And then there were trumpets. At traditional Jewish weddings there is an anthem, the biblical prophecy, “It will be heard in the cities of Judea and in the streets of Jerusalem: The voice of joy and the voice of happiness, the voice of a groom and the voice of a bride.”
It was a golden sound.
In those sleepless nights before our wedding, I would search for the song on YouTube, playing it on repeat, aching to hear it for real. I knew I was hearing a shadow.
When I heard the words on our wedding day, the notes jumped with joy; everyone clapped; a mass of men danced backward to entertain the groom; and in the middle of all of it was Joel dancing and presenting me with roses — the man loves to buy me roses. He left a trail of petals into the social hall — a heart was waiting under our wedding canopy.
He whispered in my ear and, with the help of my sisters, put on my veil. In a flurry of parents’ and rabbis’ blessings, he was gone — off to meet me at the chuppah.
For a moment, I stopped to pray for my family and friends — and then I greeted the last of the ladies and we all lined up to enter the sanctuary. Walking down the aisle with my parents was odd. I know from pictures that everyone stood, but I don’t remember it.
My friends-from-birth played an instrumental version of Grateful Dead’s “Ripple” as I walked. “What possessed you to play the Grateful Dead?” my friend asked me at the reception. I replied: “Because it’s awesome.” We agreed.
But really I chose it because it is a song about finding your own way: “There is a road, no simple highway between the dawn and the dark of night. And if you go no one may follow, that path is for your steps alone.”
As I circled Joel seven times, I tried to think about how I was building symbolic walls to our home; but, mostly, I tried to go faster. I was so relieved when it was over that I hadn’t tripped over my shoes. And that’s when our rabbi, Joel’s friend Maurice from college, leaned in and said, “You made it.”
We laughed. After that, it was easy.
We hit the dance floor hand in hand, snaking under a tunnel of our friends’ arms, and then we spun off onto either side of the dance floor.
Women formed circles around me, and everywhere I looked was another bridesmaid, another best friend’s wife, another new cousin — and they were all smiling, singing and clapping.
I danced with as many people as I could. One by one I pulled them into my inner circle to spin at a feverish pace because this was the time to celebrate! I got married!!! I danced until I had to sit; and when I did, women brought me water and fanned my face. I felt much doted upon.
My mom was right — the band, Nafshenu, was excellent. Jewish music faded into American rock, and the dance floor was always packed. Meanwhile, Shlomo Katz and Elite catering had everyone fat and happy on skirt steaks, hamburgers, hand-rolled hotdogs and a bar stocked with daiquiris and passion-fruit mojitos. Heard the vodka luge was a hit. As everyone ate, Joel and I schmoozed — and for the next two days, we would recount to each other all the conversations we had. Everywhere we walked, more loved ones were wishing us well, telling me how beautiful I looked, how meaningful the ceremony was, how breathtaking the tent, how festive the day.
Then there were the touches the rest of us added: I made a speech to honor Raph Rubin, a second father of mine who died last year. I am so grateful the Rubin family wanted us to have the wedding in their yard because it was exactly where I wanted to be. People told me later they were glad I had said what I said — because they miss him all the time, too.
Joel serenaded me with a Hebrew song a Jewish man sings to his Jewish wife on the Jewish Sabbath — “Aishes Chayil” or “Woman of Valor.” We did a mezinka for Joel’s parents; it is a dance that celebrates the accomplishment of marrying off all of your children. And, at the end of the night, my dad sang Paul Simon’s “Father and Daughter,” which by some miracle did not make me sob on the spot.
“Eyelashes, eyeliner and mascara,” I reminded myself.
It was just so much.
I remembered at one point to take it all in — the huge tent, the grass, the tables topped with brilliant jewel-tones bouquets, our family and friends everywhere — and, in the middle of all of it, my handsome new husband.
It could not have been better.
Contact Arielle Landau:
AGomberg@pressofac.com (for now)
Follow her on Twitter @shesgonebridal
Follow her on Pinterest @superbride