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Posts Tagged ‘Destination Weddings’

I have been sooooo tired of hearing all the bad economic news lately, that I have almost stopped listening to the news, or reading the paper.  But, today I stumbled upon good news, and it was so exciting, especially because it directly relates to what I do.  I’ve considered myself so fortunate this year, that while everyone has been lamenting about their economic conditions, times are good for me.  I have felt that my business is fairly recession-proof, as long as you provide value for what you do, and I think I work very hard at keeping my prices reasonable, especially for the service that I offer.

That being said, I was happy to read an article today, about brides continuing to book Destination Weddings in the Caribbean.  I have often said that the weddings I officiate in the Caribbean and Mexico are so worthwhile, and way more fun than a 4 hour soiree that costs a fortune, just because it has the word “wedding” attached to it!  When my clients get married at an All Inclusive resort in the islands, their guests get to enjoy a 3 day (or longer!) vacation together, rather than a 4 hour hustle-bustle with mediocre filet and lobster tail, and a dried out potato.

The families get the most amazing bonding time, and the experience can’t be beat.  The wedding planners I have worked with are proven professionals, and the whole experience brings the best memories I could ever imagine.  My clients are relaxed, their families and friends are having FUN, and best of all – they’re spending less than half of what they would spend in the U.S.

I’m so happy to hear that my brides in 2009 and 2010 are still going to be booking Destination Weddings, and that I might be fortunate enough to continue sharing the most amazing experiences with them and their families for the coming years ahead.  I can’t recommend the experience highly enough – and if you are just beginning to think about where you can take your family for your special day – be sure to ask me, because I’ve really had a world of experience the last couple of years.

Looking forward to discussing performing your Destination Wedding in the Caribbean, Mexico, South America, and beyond!  Be sure to check out my Facebook page, as well as my blog, for photos, and writeups on my most recent destinations.  What a great job I have!  See you in the islands!

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I tried all the way home to write my blog entry about this past weekend, but I have come to the definite conclusion that some feelings simply cannot be put into words.  Such is the case for my experience in St. Maarten this past weekend, with Keith & Faith, their families, and friends.  And, if I wrote about every bit of the weekend that I felt was memorable – you would be here reading for another hour, and there was just no way I could cut it down, so I’m going to try to stick to the highlights – just know that there was so much more than what you will find here, and what happened in those moments will be memories I cherish forever.

Keith emailed me a couple months ago, and I knew immediately he was a mensch.  Just from the way he spoke about Faith, the wedding, and their lives, I knew I had to work with this couple.  And after my conversation with Faith, we all knew it was going to be amazing.  Looking back, this couple brought as much, if not more joy to my life, as I hope I brought to theirs, and once again, I fell in love.

At the villa

At the villa

Keith & Faith were married at La Salamandre, on the French side of St. Maarten.   It was the most beautiful villa on an amazing piece of property on the island, about 20 minutes from the hotel many of us stayed at – The Royal Sonesta on Maho Beach.  I have to say, the Villa was definitely the highlight of the weekend – other than the wedding itself.  But, what seems to rank my wedding experiences right up in the top 4 (as this one is definitely ranked up there!) is the people.  From Doug and Monica in St. Croix, to Dan & Rita in Mexico, to Felix & Evelina in Aruba, and now Keith and Faith in St. Maarten, it is absolutely the people I fall in love with.  And this wedding was no exception.

Pool

Pool

The weekend was full of casual, laid back celebration.  Keith and Faith were smart enough to realize that everyone was going to have a different idea of fun.  This was a very large crowd – 75 people, and many were friends of Keith’s Mom and Dad – Marge & Ken, and some were friends of Faith’s Mom – Vicky, and the rest were friends of Keith & Faith’s, so the crowd was diverse.  But, they managed to keep it interesting and fun, while being so easy going.  Friday night, we went to Pineapple Pete’s for dinner, but before, I met a lot of Marge & Ken’s closest friends at a little before party in their room.  My favorites of their friends were Mike & Jane, Linda & Barry, and Steve & Barbara, because they were such amazing and FUN people.

On Saturday – something terrible happened – I lost my voice.  Yes, I had gone to St. Maarten with a bit of a cold, and the cold/damp air conditioning went right into my lungs, and my voice was history.  Quite a panic when you’re the Cantor.  But, with laryngitis and all – this group of 75 made me feel so awesome, because it was clear that we were all so connected, that it just didn’t matter.  And then, to make matters worse – Vicky, Faith’s mom, fell and sprained her ankle, so there was quite a bit of irony in the whole situation!

Saturday night was a riot!!  We went to Cheri’s Cafe, right across from the hotel, a great open air restaurant with the most hysterical live entertainment!!  I can’t even begin to describe this night, but some pics just might give you an idea of how much fun we had!   It was a highly interactive evening, to say the least!!

The men - or - um - the women

The men - or - um - the women

I was very lucky to have found another “soul sister” on this trip – Dionne, who is Faith’s sister.

At the party

At the party

We were joined at the hip, from the moment we were checking in at the hotel – and realized who each other was.  I had so much fun with Dionne, and I don’t know what I would have done without her!  On Saturday and Sunday,  I had some very meaningful opportunities to connect with Faith & Dionne’s Mom, Vicky.  Sometimes, I get a very strong feeling that there is a greater purpose for why I end up in certain places, and my relationship with Vicky was one of those moments.  Vicky and I each had highly noteworthy disabilities this weekend – I lost my voice, and she sprained her foot.  Can you imagine?  A wedding where the Cantor has no voice, and the Mother of the Bride can’t walk her daughter down the aisle?  You might think it would be a disaster, right?  No way, it was amazing.

The wedding itself was magnificent.  From the caterers, to the steel drum band, to the dj, the bartenders, and the photographers (they were incredible – I can’t wait to link to them and see their photos!) this wedding was one of the most unique I have ever attended.  It was so private, and personal, and so much of Keith and Faith went into planning this wedding.  Faith has an very interesting story about her background, but suffice to say that she did not have a Hebrew name, so it was very important to her that before signing the Ketubah, she had a Hebrew name.  So, just before the ceremony, we gathered in the big living room, and I blessed Faith with the Hebrew name of Ruth – her grandmother’s name, with whom she is incredibly close.  We signed the Ketubah, took a few more pics, and then proceeded to the wedding ceremony.

It was here, on this dock, as Keith and Faith stood in front of me, that I had the most profound, meaningful experience in my career as an officiant.  But, it is one of those spots that words cannot describe.  As Keith and Faith stood in front of me, their loving gestures and care and sensitivity for each other overwhelmed me.  Now, you might think that the fact that I do weddings all the time, and see brides and grooms in love together, but Keith and Faith – they were different.  There was one moment in particular (I can’t wait till Judy sends me this photo because she captured it) that they just both instinctively leaned their heads in to rest on each other, while they were wrapped in my tallit, and the look on both of their faces brought me to my own tears – they were so hard to hold back.  It was a truly moving experience, and I am so thankful that we were brought together.

Now – the party – It was just so much fun, and I’ve never seen everyone have such an amazing time together.  The older crowd got down and dirty like the younger crowd, and everyone was having a ball.  On each table at dinner, Faith and Keith put the most unique flavored rums that everyone was taking shots of – which obviously contributed to a wild and crazy night – again – some things just don’t need to be repeated – but a good time was had by all!

The weekend review would not be complete without mentioning Keith’s brother Brian.  Brian – you are one of the MOST personable, bright, and fun people I have ever met.  Love you!

Dionne, Brian and me

In the end, I received two of the most amazing compliments of my career.  Marge, Keith’s mom came up to me, and shared her thoughts with me that were the most moving I have ever heard.

At Pineapple Pete's

At Pineapple Pete's

Marge- I can’t wait to be your friend, and I’m coming to Woodstock to visit!!  Steve, one of Marge & Ken’s friends, is an Orthodox man, a Chabad-nik, and he sat down next to me to tell me that while he disagreed in general with marriage outside a synagogue, he recognized that there was a need, and that he was so happy I was there for Keith and Faith, and he truly made me feel like I am accomplishing my goal.

Rabbi Lipson told me one day…”You can’t change the world”.  I know I can’t.  But, I can be different.  And if I can help one couple avoid being married by the Rabbi that married me, I’ve made enough of a difference in the world.

When I left the party, to return to the hotel, Faith hugged me and told me she loved me.  Keith and Faith – I love you both, so incredibly much!  I can’t wait to share more moments of joy with your family.  Thank you for bringing me into your lives, opening up and sharing your most intimate thoughts, and bringing so much joy to the world.  I miss you all!

B’Shalom,

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I recently returned from Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic, where I had the pleasure of officiating the wedding of Yelena and Lennie, an amazing couple from New Jersey

Yelena & Lennie

but what I loved most was to have the opportunity to once again connect with more fabulous Russian families.  Strangely enough, Yelena was referred to me by my friend, Rabbi Andrea Frank, who was unable to perform her wedding.  When she called me to see if I could fill the role of their officiant, I was SO excited, because of the recent connections I have had with Dan & Rita, and Felix & Evelina, so I was totally on board!

Plans moved quickly, and I was booked to fly out to Punta Cana, where we stayed at the Bavaro Princess Resort.  I arrived just before the rehearsal dinner, and was invited to join the families, and began to get to know everyone.  What a great time I had!  Yelena couldn’t wait to introduce me to Sharon, a work mate of hers, who quickly became my soul sister, and we were inseperable the entire time we were there.  Sharon is an amateur photographer, who was snapping unofficial pics the whole weekend, in between all the laughs we shared!

Yelena – what can I say about her? The first think you notice about Yelena is her big, giant, authentic smile, and after you see her smile, you can’t help but feel her soul shining through.

At the Beach Party

At the Beach Party

One of the friendliest women I have met in a long time, she was so consumed with MY happiness during my stay, and I couldn’t appreciate her more.  Lennie, her reformed wild-side husband was attentive and loving, and the families were all so much fun to be with.  Yelena’s Mom, Alla, was an absolute DOLL, so gracious and kind, and the friends and family were so much fun to be around.

I have to say, the wedding ceremony backdrop was amazing.  Yelena arrivedin a horse and carriage, and the gazebo had a chuppa set up underneath.  The gazebo location just off the ocean made the most romantic setting.  It was raised up, so you could look out across the ocean, and feel the divine presence among us all.

Horse & CarriageGazebo/Chuppa

Then, later that evening, was the beach party reception, and that was SO much fun!  The tables were decorated beautifully out on the ocean.  A dance floor was created in the sand, and they had a fabulous DJ, playing a mix of ethnic dance tunes – many the Russian ones I have come to love, since Dan & Rita’s in Mexico.

The weekend flew by in a flash.  We all enjoyed a beautiful day in the sun together on Saturday, and breakfast and a quick swim Sunday morning, and then it was back to reality.  Yelena and Lennie – THANKS for letting me part of your incredible day, and may you both continue to be blessed with Love.

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I feel like I just got back from the Sykes/Krew wedding in the Bahamas, and now it’s time to depart again…this time for ARUBA!  I’m heading off to the brand new, beautiful RIU Palace in Aruba, where I will officiate the Jewish wedding of Evelina & Felix.  This is a 7-month-later flashback to “Russia-Meet Mexico”, except, this time Russia is heading to Aruba.  Evelina was referred to me by Rita and Dan, and there’s a connection there – which I’ll tell more about when I get back.

In the meantime, I’m waiting for Michael to settle in from the trip, and send me his pictures, since I left my camera card in my laptop last weekend.  As soon as I get them, I will post pictures, and a review of the Sheraton Cable Beach, and then I will post about my 4 days in Aruba.

Stay dry, Florida!

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