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Posts Tagged ‘destination wedding’

Another Destination Wedding has come and gone, and this one went WAY too fast!

I know I say this all of the time, but I am just so fortunate in that every one of my wedding couples is amazing – but truly, Eden and Eduardo were such an amazing couple in so many ways.  It was such a great experience getting to know them, and to be such a special part of their most special day.

Eden & Ed live in Washington, DC, and they were referred to me by Rabbi Lev at http://www.interfaithfamily.com.  As soon as Eden contacted me, we both knew right away we were going to be the most perfect match, and we definitely had that assumption right on all counts!  Eden has one of those personalities that just comes right through the phone and you imagine that girl in junior high school who was just bursting with enthusiasm sitting next to you with a GREAT BIG SMILE on her face, and energy that would last for days.

Well – that’s EXACTLY what you got with Eden!  As I was writing notes about the feelings I had about her and Eduardo as we had our conversations on the phone, I kept thinking “earthy, warm, syrup-y, and sweet”.  Again – I totally had it right!

Getting to the wedding venue wasn’t quite as easy as forming the initial connection, but it was a fun and coversation-sparking adventure nonetheless.  They were married at The Villa Montana, in a small town, in the north-western part of the island, called Isabela.  It was about a 2 hour car ride from the San Juan airport.  Well, I was supposed to depart Fort Lauderdale at 6am (ick), but I just happened to check on my flight the night before, and found out that flight no longer existed.  I was sooooo upset, because they were having the rehearsal dinner that evening and wanted me there.  The flight I was booked on now left at 11am, arriving in SJU at 3.  That should have put me there for the rehearsal around 5:30.  Right.

As I made my way off the plane, I went to the pickup area, expecting to be met by a driver, but nobody was waiting for me.  (what a lonely feeling!!)  I called the hotel, and she began checking, and came back and told me the driver was there – but his van had just been TOWED AWAY, and he was trying to get it back.  After about an hour or more, he finally arrived to pick me up – and we were on our way – in Friday night rush hour traffic.  UGH.

At 6:30, I finally arrived at the beautiful little Villa Montana in Isabela.  Paradise.

This place had the small, intimate feel of a guest house, but was loaded with amenities and beauty.  I was immediately greeted by many of her family members as I was rushed to the rehearsal dinner on the beach, and there was Eden, and I just fell in love with her – as I knew I would.

BBQ at Villa Montana Friday night

That night, I got to know many of her guests, and met her family, as well as Eduardo’s.  Ed’s family is from Puerto Rico, and were the most wonderful, gracious, and appreciative family I have met in a long time.  I just knew the wedding would be amazing.

The next morning, I was able to spend quite a bit of time with Eden and Ed’s family and friends over breakfast on the beach.  We spoke for hours about Eden and Eduardo, their personalities, experiences, and their lives.  They told me incredible stories that really helped paint a perfect picture of my newest favorite couple, and I was able to create a perfectly blended, earthy, universalist-style ceremony that was a perfect match for their personalities.  We even re-wrote the words to The 7 Blessings, taking the religious language down a notch, and focusing on the meaning and appreciation of life.  It was quite beautiful.

Eden and Ed, Sister Sacha and Dad

Watching Eden and Ed before me, as I performed their marriage, was the perfect culimination of the experience.  Standing before me was not only a couple in love, but 2 best friends, laughing, touching, giggling, beaming, and kvelling together.  Knowing their closest friends and family were behind them, being witnesses to this magical moment, you could see the joy in their faces, and their hearts, as they spoke their vows to each other.

Certainly, the dinner party on the beach was also quite fun, and I had the most wonderful time with their friends and family.  To everyone I met at the wedding – thank you for making me feel SO comfortable, and welcomed, and thank you for helping me create another beautiful wedding.  Bob & Carol – thanks for the ride the next day to the airport, you are a wonderful couple!  Paula & Ira – thank you SO much for your hospitality – and Eden & Ed – Mazel Tov and Buena Suerte.  You are a beautiful couple that I will remember forever.  See you in DC in May!

Eden and Ed, married at the beach!

B’Shalom,

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I’m up bright and early to finish off this Thanksgiving weekend with quite a bit of activity.

I’m getting ready to leave for Orlando, where I will be co-officiating the wedding of Megan and Michael tonight at the Winter Park Civic Center.  The wedding is a Catholic-Jewish wedding, and I am co-officiating with Father Tim.  The ceremony is a great blend of traditions, and I look forward to writing more about it when I return.

On Sunday morning, upon my return, I am leading a memorial service for a wonderful man who was a legendary father and grandfather.  The stories I have heard about him made me remember my own, and reminded me that even though I had a short time with him in my life, he left me with memories I will cherish forever, and a legacy that leads me through life even today.  How fortunate we are if we have parents and grandparents who shower us with unconditional love.  I know that this man’s presence was terribly missed at the family’s Thanksgiving this year, but they remembered him with joy and happiness, a true testament to the legacy he left behind.

Shortly after I return, I will be leaving for St. Maarten, where I will be officiating the wedding of Keith & Faith.  This is an amazing power-couple!  I cannot wait to spend time with them and their families, and I know this trip is going to be another life-changing experience.  I love my job!

Stay tuned, and have a very Happy Thanksgiving weekend.

Oh – PS – GO GATORS!

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This has most certainly been a whirlwind 2 weeks! I just returned from Aruba, and WOW – was it an amazing trip, for so many reasons! First of all – I simply cannot believe that I forgot my camera, so before I even start writing – I want to say THANKS to Vlad for copying his pictures to my computer last night so I didn’t have to come home empty handed.

So – let me start with some background. I did the wedding for Felix and Evelina at the Riu Palace, Aruba.

Evelina contacted me several months ago, because she had heard that I had done the wedding for Dan and Rita in Mexico, and she is very good friends with Rita’s sister, Yelena. Oddly enough, while Dan and Rita had their wedding at the Riu in Mexico, Felix and Evelina chose the Riu in Aruba. And it was a great choice!

I arrived in Aruba at 3pm. Evelina was greeting some of her friends on the front steps of the hotel as I arrived, and we knew each other immediately! We all got introduced, and I went to settle into my room, before our scheduled meeting together. We had lunch, and sat down to discuss the details of the wedding ceremony, and since they hadn’t ever sent me their profile, we had some catching up to do. But, even in the first five minutes of knowing both of them, I knew this was going to be a weekend to rival Mexico! (Sorry Rita!!)

They are the cutest, sweetest couple, with SUPER fun friends, and beautiful family. The family dynamics were a bit different than Mexico (and I suppose I should stop comparing at all) but, there were so many similarities as well. We connected instantly, and it was a really great chance for me to start getting to know Felix as a person as well. I had more opportunities to talk to Evelina, so it was bonding time for Felix and me! And I really enjoyed that opportunity to get to know him better.

We were very happy because they had an island DJ, but, the DJ didn’t have the traditional Jewish music medley that we typically play, and with some hunting, I was able to get them a copy of the tunes. We quickly sent the music to the DJ, and went on with the night. We all met in the Don Nicolas restaurant for dinner (27 of us) and I got to meet all the family and guests. Later that night, I had been in the lobby checking email, and on my way through the lobby bar to the elevator to my room – I bumped into F&E, and their good friends Vlad & Tanya, Shilana, and Max & Anna. They were having some festive cocktails – and they invited me to join them. We had so much fun, and I felt like we really had a great time connecting together!

Saturday was a beautiful day and we all enjoyed the magnificent pool and beach before getting ready for the wedding. We signed the ketubah in the small gazebo, and then the processional followed out to the chuppah on the beach.

It was breathtaking. The best part??? They found a steel drum player that learned the melody to Sunrise Sunset, the traditional song from Fiddler on the Roof. He played the song while we walked down to the chuppa. By the time we were all gathered, there were probably a hundred people gathered outside to watch the wedding, and they stayed and listened to the whole thing!

We almost had a small problem, though, during the ceremony. It was HOT – I mean H-O-T, and Evelina was getting a little light headed. I thought she wasn’t going to be able to make it – but thankfully, an amazing cool breeze came along, and saved the day. I sang the Priestly blessing, recited the 7 blessings, and overall, it was a beautiful ceremony. What made it even more beautiful was that the sun was setting just as the ceremony was over. We enjoyed a champagne toast on the beach – and then it was on to the pool deck, for a private reception.

The rest of the weekend was fun and relaxing. By the time today rolled around, I felt like I had made amazing new friends, and was sooo sad to leave them. Both Evelina’s and Felix’s parents were so lovely, welcoming, friendly, and incredibly kind to me. They both made it a special point to let me know how happy they were that I was there, and I felt great about our connections. F&E’s friends – well, what can I say? I had some VERYYYYYYY interesting conversations with them all, (Russian summer camp was quite a different experience) and I was so impressed at how classy, bright, and beautiful (inside and out) they all were. Vlad, Tanya, Shilana, Max & Anna – you all made my weekend such a beautiful memory! I hope you all keep in close touch, and let me know when those next 2 proposals happen! I’m going to be looking for them.

But, the most beautiful part of all, was Felix and Evelina, themselves.

This morning, as we took our last dip in the water, Felix asked me if I had a good time. “Of course!”, I said. “I had a simply amazing time”. But I knew at that moment, that he was really concerned about my happiness, and he told me that it really mattered to him that I enjoyed myself. And I thought – how amazing is that? He was worried about ME having fun? They opened their hearts to me, generously included me for 3 full nights, and Felix was worried that I was having fun? Yes, Felix. I had an amazing time. And yes, definitely one of the best! And once again, my life is richer for having you and Evelina in my heart, and for having shared your most incredible memories with me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart! Please send my love to your families, and know that our special memories will live long in my heart. I am so blessed to have known you all.
Love, Peace, and Blessings,

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Wedding at Broken Sound

Wedding at Broken Sound

Stacey & Bruce Wedding Ceremony

I love summer, because it is the season for weddings, and I’m so fortunate to have the privilege of working with so many amazing clients this summer. First, and most especially, I just officiated the wedding of Bruce & Stacey Herzer. This was another amazing couple, and I was very much in awe of their quiet, simple personalities, yet, these were anything but simple people. I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone so smart, but incredibly relatable, down to earth, and easy to know. My friend Jerry had officiated at their friend’s wedding at Broken Sound, but because he was not up to taking a wedding at this time, he referred me to Stacey’s mom – Susan. Susan called me one day, to try to set up a time to meet, and it just so happened, she was going to be right around the corner from me, at the hospital in Hollywood, visiting Stacey’s Grandmother, Edith. So, we arranged to meet there, and because Edith was not well, I offered to visit her too, and say the Mishabeirach, the healing prayer, with her. It was at that moment that I really felt like part of the family.

Susan lives here in Boca, but Bruce & Stacey live in Raleigh, NC, and strangely enough, I was in Raleigh this past December, officiating the Greer wedding, and was able to get some time away to meet Stacey and Bruce in person. What great timing! They came and picked me up at my hotel, and we went to lunch, and this is where I fell in love with my newest wedding couple!

Stacey was just finishing her PHD, and works in the fascinating field of Genetics. Bruce is an amazing guy who wants to make a difference in the world by helping companies become more environmentally conscious. They are both the most wonderful people, with pure hearts and energies, and such a beautiful love for each other. I loved the moment when we were walking out of the restaurant to the car, to go back to the hotel, and Bruce was walking ahead of us, and Stacey leaned in to me and whispered…”Isn’t he SO cute?” He really was! And he loved her with everything he had, and she loves him just the same way. But, what I loved most is that they didn’t need to flaunt it. It just sat out there, so you knew it, without anyone having to demonstrate it. It’s hard to explain, but they were just so easy to be with, and you couldn’t help but love them.

The wedding was beautiful, and they were heading off to an amazing honeymoon adventure that I cannot wait to hear about when they return. I left feeling like one of the family, my favorite feeling in the world!

Now, looking forward to the rest of the summer, I have some adventures coming up. I haven’t traveled in a while, so this summer, I’m looking forward to the weddings of Michael & Larissa in the Bahamas, Evelina & Felix in Aruba (Friends of Dan & Rita’s), and will also be going to Mexico and San Juan, PR in the upcoming months.

Right here at home, I have the honor of joining Wendy & Kristin in a Gay commitment ceremony on Ft. Lauderdale beach, with their son, Cody. Then, in a couple of weeks, stay tuned as I tell you the wild and crazy story about Dana’s beach wedding with Dora the Explorer. Life is such an adventure!

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I just returned last night from my 4 day trip to the Riu Palace in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, where Dan and Rita were married in the most beautiful ceremony (if I do say so, myself). What an amazing group of people this was! I must admit, I was a bit unsure if I would be able to bond with the guests and families, as I usually am able to do so easily. Thursday night, Rita told me they had shut down La Bodega, the Brazilian restaurant on the premises, for her family to have dinner. As I arrived at the restaurant, not having met anyone yet, I approached a group of 50+ people, who I assumed were her guests and family. The only problem was – everyone was speaking Russian! I was a little apprehensive about who I would talk to, and how I could connect with these families whose culture seemed so different from mine.

But, almost immediately, my fears were put to rest. I naturally gravitated to Mila and Vladimir, Rita’s Aunt & Uncle. They made me feel so comfortable, and they were SO interesting to talk to. Next, Dan’s Mom and Dad came and introduced themselves to me, and again, I felt so welcomed. The group went out right after dinner, but since I was tired, I retreated to my room, intending to wake early for the next morning. Friday morning gave me an opportunity to relax, and then we met for the rehearsal of the ceremony. That was when I had the chance to meet Dan and Rita’s wedding party and immediate family, and it was beginning to feel more familiar. I was immediately taken by how friendly and attentive Rita was. She was not only breathtakingly beautiful on the outside, she is even more beautiful inside. From the first minute, she was so concerned that I was having a good time, and you could really tell it was so genuine.

Rita skipping down the aisleFriday afternoon I had been sitting in the lobby working on some emails, and found myself sitting next to Esther, Rita’s cousin. She was so lovely and lively, and we just found ourselves talking for hours. She invited me to join her for dinner with her mom and Rita’s mother, and that was when Faina became my favorite person in the group. Faina is Esther’s mom, and she is one of the most lovely people I have ever known. She became my dinner and breakfast partner, and once we became friends, the rest of the weekend was so easy, and suddenly, I found myself falling for this group of people, because they truly were some of the most special people I have met in quite a while.

I was so taken with how all of these people came from a country that gave them nothing, monetarily. Each and every one of them had an individual story, of leaving Russia, with nothing more than a few dollars in their pockets, not even knowing where they would end up. But, one after another, they found their way to America, and boy did they overcome insurmountable odds. As I was introduced to the family members, one was a doctor, and another was a doctor, and so on. Dan’s dad fixed typewriters when he came to the U.S., and he grew that into a successful office machine business. Vladimir is a successful Engineer, and even the women put themselves through school and found jobs, and they all became successful. 90 family members who came from the most modest beginnings were celebrating, drinking LOTS of Vodka, and toasting “God Bless America” – along with a few l’chayim’s and other Russian toasts I really couldn’t master, but a great time was being had by all!

We were beginning to fear the weather, though. It rained the entire day on Friday, and by Saturday morning, it didn’t look any better. But Rita’s mom prayed extra hard to Rita’s father, who had passed away many years ago, to watch over his daughter and keep the rain away, and her prayers came true. The sun came out in the afternoon, and the wedding was amazing. Even I had a hard time keeping dry eyes through the whole ceremony. And now I can say, it was one of the best weddings I have ever done. I know I say that after every one, but this one was so special, yet I can’t really elaborate why I feel that way. Perhaps it was the people. Perhaps it was Mexico. I’m not really sure, but something very magical happened when 90 Russians converged on Mexico. It was a marriage in more than 1 way, for sure.

Sunday morning, Faina and I had our last breakfast together. We sat in the sun at the beach, and got ready to say our goodbyes. I said goodbye to Rita and Dan, Yelena (Rita’s sister), Faina, Esther, and all of my other newfound Russian friends. I will never forget this experience. It made me a richer person, and certainly not because of the financial gain. I am a better person for having met this group of people. They made me remember that my problems are insignificant, compared to the challenges they have met in life. They reminded me that even though people are different, we can still put aside our differences, and find ways of communicating in loving ways, across cultures. They reminded me it is fun to learn about and meet people from other cultures, that there is a whole big world out there, aside from my own.

They opened the world up to me, and I’m so happy to have met Russia in Mexico. Dan and Rita – I wish you the best life has to offer, because you deserve it. You are an amazingly beautiful couple, and I thank you for everything you brought to my life. Make sure you let me know when the first baby is coming!

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