Modern and Fun Jewish Wedding

Lauren and Sam were supposed to meet at a wedding. But despite both of their parents’ best efforts, they never actually met at that wedding. Their parents met at the bridal shower and thought that Lauren was perfect for Sam. When they got home, they told him all about the girl they met and conspired to get them together. Sam however, was interested in meeting a girl the bride posted a picture with, not someone his parent’s picked out for him and avoided their match-making. Come to the end of the night, Sam sees Lauren hug his parents goodbye and finally realizes that the girl from Instagram was the girl his parents wanted him to meet all along. In true millennial fashion, the next day Lauren got a Facebook message from Sam asking if she would give him another chance since he didn’t get to introduce himself to her at the wedding. A week later, they went on their first date, and 1,000 days later he’d be asking her to marry him.

First on the list when they began planning their own wedding was to have a unique venue. They wanted a memorable day, and that started with the perfect setting. They chose The Peabody Essex Museum just outside their hometown and worked with Urban Soiree to create a modern elegant look and encouraged guests to dress for a night at the museum. For their ceremony, they were wrapped in Lauren’s grandfather’s talit and her other grandfather’s talit was used on the top of the chuppah to have them both close. The reception was full of personalization, from the monogrammed ice cubes to the neon lit champagne wall. The night of dancing ended with Taylor Swift’s Love Story – a favorite song of the couple and Sam always gets down on one knee and proposes to Lauren when she sings that line of the song! Scroll to see it all captured by Cody Kurtz Photography!

In their own words

How did you meet?

The short story: We were supposed to meet at a wedding. The truth: We never actually met at that wedding, despite both of our parents’ best efforts. The longer story: We are from neighboring towns, Sam went to pre-school with Lauren’s oldest brother, and both of us worked as lifeguards at the local JCC, but somehow we had never officially met. In June 2015, Lauren went to a bridal shower for her long-time friend Elyse and posted a picture of the two of them on Instagram. Sam saw the picture and immediately texted Elyse asking who the girl was and if she was single. Little did either of us know, our moms were also chatting at the shower, making their plans to set their children up at the upcoming wedding. A few months later, there was a Friday night dinner before the Sunday wedding. Sam was away on a work trip, but somehow Lauren ended up sitting between her parents and his. She talked with them the whole night, they told her about their “wonderful Jewish son” and his mom even said, “I’d love for Sam to marry a nice Jewish girl, who knows, maybe it could be you!” Sam’s parents went home that night and called Sam to let him know they met “an amazing girl who will be at the wedding.” Sam obviously wanted nothing to do with anyone that his parents had picked out for him. Anyway, he already had his eyes on the maid of honor and “the girl from the Instagram picture” (not realizing that was the same girl who his parents were trying to set him up with). The wedding day comes around, and at one point during cocktail hour Lauren sees her mom talking with Sam and she is GLARING at her to come over and talk to him. Meanwhile, he didn’t even realize he was talking to her mom, he only knew her as my Matt’s [Lauren’s oldest brother] mom! The night goes on and Sam drinks a little too much and gets a little too sweaty. He tried to get into the class picture of a school he didn’t even go to, so Lauren yelled at him to get out of the picture – the only words we ended up speaking that entire night. Come to the end of the night, Sam sees Lauren hug his parents goodbye and finally realizes that the girl from Instagram was the girl his parents wanted him to meet all along. In true millennial fashion, the next day Lauren got a notification that she had a Facebook message from Sam. It was basically a love letter asking if she would give him another chance since he didn’t get to introduce himself to her at the wedding. A week later we went on our first date to the Blue Ox in Lynn – we ate chicken wings, burgers, and even got dessert because Sam didn’t want the night to end. 1,000 days later he’d be asking her to marry him.

What is your proposal story?

Lauren has never backed down from the challenge of a good jigsaw puzzle. Throughout their relationship, Sam has gotten Lauren a few personalized puzzles of their favorite photos for different occasions (like 500 pieces for 500 days together and a heart-shaped valentines day puzzle). Sam got Lauren a beautiful wooden 1,000 piece puzzle of them as a birthday/1,000 day anniversary present which were both coming up in July. He gave it to her a few months before her actual birthday and she worked on it whenever she wasn’t studying. Sam was adamant about the puzzle being finished by Lauren’s birthday on July 18. After months of work, the puzzle was finally finished…almost. Lauren had managed to lose a piece. She made Sam help her look for it, tearing apart their apartment, moving the couch and scrounging under the carpet, but they still couldn’t find it. After all that work putting 999 pieces together, Lauren was so mad about that missing piece and she figured it had to have gotten vacuumed up never to be seen again. Sam decided he’d try to email the puzzle company and maybe they’d be able to send a replacement piece (Lauren thought he was absurd and they’d never do that but she let him try). He emailed them and told Lauren that they were able to put something in the mail for them. He couldn’t be sure it would be the right piece, but he’s always the optimist. Days passed and no puzzle piece came in the mail. Sam and Lauren were getting ready for a big birthday dinner with both of their families, Lauren’s grandparents even flew in from New Jersey to spend her birthday weekend with her. Sam asked if she could be ready in time for a pre-dinner drink on their roof deck since it was such a nice night – this was a normal thing for them to do, so she thought nothing of it. They were enjoying a glass of wine on the roof and Sam realized he forgot to tell her that he got an envelope from the puzzle company! He hands her a stamped, battered envelope that looked like it traveled from China. All Lauren said was, “why didn’t you just open it and put the piece in!?” He hands her the letter inside the envelope which was on stationery from the company, and the first two lines read that they were sorry they lost a piece but they were more than happy to replace it. The letter said that the replacement piece was enclosed in a smaller envelope. Lauren stopped reading and immediately asked Sam to hand her the smaller envelope so she could finally finish her puzzle! Sam told Lauren to just keep reading. Well, it didn’t take long for her to figure out that it wasn’t the missing puzzle piece in the envelope (hint: it was a ring). Sam got down on one knee (actually two knees because he has a bad hip) and read the entirety of the letter (that was actually from him and not a puzzle company- shocking!) about the last 1,000 days together. After a lot of smiles, and of course some ugly happy tears, Sam and Lauren took some pictures on the roof (their friend who is a photographer was hiding on their neighbor’s roof!) and went inside. Sam told Lauren to look inside the puzzle box where she found the ring box with the missing piece of the puzzle (that he had stolen months ago) and she was finally able to finish her 1,000 piece puzzle that is now framed in their apartment. They went to the restaurant to meet their families (Lauren’s didn’t know this was happening tonight!) and had the best night celebrating with them. Lauren was so surprised when he asked, she had absolutely no idea it was going to happen that night, and she just couldn’t have been happier. The amount of time and effort Sam put into planning every little detail amazed her and they are both so excited to spend their lives together solving many more of life’s puzzles.

Tell us a little a bit about your wedding (your vision, color, style, and location choices).

First we wanted a unique venue. We have been to plenty of beautiful hotel ballroom weddings, but none of them seemed especially “memorable” to us and we truly wanted a memorable day, and that started with the perfect setting. The Peabody Essex Museum is in Salem, MA which is located in the town next to where Sam and I grew up in Marblehead and Swampscott. We were excited for a hometown wedding weekend and we loved that each part of the wedding from ceremony to cocktail hour and reception were in 3 distinct areas of the museum so there was no room turnover and the guests got to walk through some of the exhibits to get to the next location.  Our planner Renee (Urban Soiree) was integral in the rest of the inspiration for the wedding. We picked out venue, band, florist, photo and video, hair and makeup, but tying the entire day together was all thanks to her vision and hard work. We aimed for a modern elegant look – museum chic – and encouraged our guests to dress for a night at the museum. Black tie encouraged – but make it fashion!  We had been to so many weddings together and had lists and lists of aspects we liked and things we wanted to do differently – so that experience together with Renees unique ideas and industry connections led us to our perfect day.

Tell us about your attire choices.

I wore the Clara gown by Allison Webb. It’s a sweetheart neckline ballgown with floral jacquard fabric and a long train. I got a custom cathedral length veil (from Flair Bridal in Boston) with pearls and crystals on it. I actually bought this dress in January 2019 when I was visiting my grandparents in Sarasota, FL. I didn’t want to go dress shopping since the (original) wedding was well over a year away but my grandma insisted we go look. And when my mom found out we were dress shopping she booked a flight to come too – even though I assured her it was a waste since I absolutely was not buying a dress! We went to one store, I tried on a few things, figured out what styles I thought I liked and didnt like – but didnt love anything enough to take one home. Then as we were driving back to their condo, we passed another bridal store that looked empty. My grandma insisted we go in even though I told her you need appointments for places like this. Well, they let us in and I explained the styles of dresses I had just tried on and what I liked and didn’t like. It was a small store without a huge selection, but the saleswoman pulled out a dress from the back that no one had tried on yet and said she thinks I may like it. She pulled a few others for me to try on too. I tried on the first dress and absolutely loved it – I felt so beautiful and my mom and grandma were both in tears. I tried on the other two just to be sure, but after those I just wanted to put the first one on again. I Facetimed a few of my bridesmaids since I had always assume they would be with me for this moment and they all approved of the dress too. We ended up buying the sample right then and there and my mom flew home with it the next day so we could do alterations in Boston. Sam didn’t believe me when I said I bought a dress – but when he saw the garment bag he knew it was true. Fast forward almost 3 years, the dress has been sitting unworn in the closet and I am terrified to try it on a few months before the wedding fearing I may not like it anymore since I bought it SO long ago. Luckily I tried it on and it was just as perfect as I remembered. That’s how I knew I picked the right dress – still liking a piece of clothing after almost 3 years doesn’t happen very often for me! And it was so special knowing that I got to pick this dress out with my Mom and Grandma – and I was very happy that I didn’t see anyone I knew wearing my dress before my wedding, I was so nervous that would happen since we postponed for so long! Sam had no idea what my dress looked like until we did the first look on wedding day – he said he would love anything I picked out but the way he looked at me in this dress was just so special. He said he never pictured it looking like this but he couldn’t imagine a more perfect or beautiful dress on me. I was so happy he loved it. All night long guests were telling me how special of a dress it was and how they had never seen anything like it before!   Sam wore a custom tuxedo from Suit Supply with a patterned black bowtie and changed into a white dinner jacket for the reception. He also changed from tuxedo shoes into sparkly Loubotins. He had more outfits than I did! By the end of the night he ended up shirtless in just suspenders – it was quite a party!

What was the most important to the two of you while planning? Was there anything that you chose to splurge on or skip?

Our ceremony was really special to us – we worked with our rabbi to make it very personal and enjoyable for all of our guests – even the ones who weren’t jewish and may not have ever seen a jewish wedding ceremony before. We recited our own personal vows to each other and those were so meaningful. We were wrapped in my grandfather’s talit and my other grandfather’s talit was used on the top of the chuppah – so it was as if they were still here with us. We were able to face out towards our guests for the majority of the ceremony which was special for us to be able to see all of our family and friends – but too many people commented to us about how nice it was to see our faces and not our backs the entire time like most ceremonies.

What were your favorite parts of the day? (memories and stories)

We loved just finally getting to be with all of the people we love – it felt like we would never get our special day to celebrate with everyone so it was just so special to look out at everyone at the ceremony and during our grand entrance and see all the smiling faces of people who love and support us especially during this long wedding journey.  A lot of my favorite memories overlap with some of the details so refer to that section but I’ll try to add a few more I loved the first look with Sam – we knew we were going to do a first look and photos before the ceremony and when he finally saw me in my dress it was just so special. It was a such sweet moment for us and it really made it feel like the wedding day was finally starting! It was also great to be able to be at and enjoy our cocktail hour since we didnt have to spend that time taking pictures if we didnt do a first look. Cocktail hour was so much fun and a great way to mingle with our guests and enjoy the hard work we put into planning by getting to see all of those planning details come to life.  Our ceremony was really meaningful and I’m so glad we wrote our own vows to each other.  We had an epic hora, the dance floor was filled and going up in the chairs was so much fun – Sam especially loved making sure everyone saw his red-bottomed shoes. The dance floor was just so much fun all night – the band played a good mix of current and classic and made sure to add in some of our favorite songs and artists like Shania Twain and Taylor Swift. We loved looking around and seeing everyone having a good time and just knowing they were all there to celebrate us was truly special. Even when the band packed up and left at midnight, the dance floor still had people on it singing and dancing wishing the night wouldnt end!  It is incredible being able to relive all of these memories through the incredible photos and video we have – we are so lucky to have such incredible vendors to capture the most special day so perfectly.

Do you have any advice for couples planning their weddings now?

Hire a planner!!! We weren’t sure if we needed one when we first started planning but it was truly the best thing we ever did. Not even knowing we would be faced with a pandemic and two postponements (there was no way I could have called and rebooked vendors while I was crying about my crumbling wedding plans and wondering what the future held), our planner helped make the process and the day absolutely perfect. I don’t know how she and her team did it but everything was executed so perfectly. Sam and I were so stress-free in the months and weeks leading up to our wedding since Renee was so on top of everything and would just send us emails outlining things we had to check off the list. We invested so much time and money into our wedding, and the added expense of the planner made it so we could truly enjoy the process and make it the best day we could have ever dreamt of. We are so thankful for Renee and her team for making our day truly the best and for allowing us to enjoy every second of it without wondering what was going on behind the scenes.

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