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Rebecca of Princess Max & Her Interfaith Wedding


I’m thrilled to introduce Rebecca’s beautiful beautiful interfaith wedding, and her wise advice. (And can we talk about her dress? I know that’s a little shallow, given all the beauty at hand, but girlfriend, WOW). You can read more about Rebecca and her wedding planning at Princess Max, but now, I give you the girl herself:
Rebecca of Princess Max & Her Interfaith Wedding | A Practical WeddingThis was my second wedding and my partner’s first. I can’t tell you that I would do it again for myself but it was so important for our family relationships and for my husband. We are still very new to one another (we only dated 6 months before we got engaged) and so this ritual act turned out to be very important, both in the relationship dynamics that it made us examine and as a milestone to look back upon and measure our growth from. I wrote a wedding program with footnotes (one of which cited this website) so I wanted to share what I learned from the wedding event.Rebecca of Princess Max & Her Interfaith Wedding | A Practical WeddingThe best advice I can give for your wedding is to spend the hour before the ceremony grounding yourself in something that defines you. We modified a Jewish custom and spent the hour separately with our families. My grandma, aunts, uncles, cousins and nuclear family did a Bible study, sang hymns and prayed like we do every year at our reunions. This involves much laughter and reflected something I have done regularly for my entire life. For you it might be knitting or being with your partner or playing basketball. Do it. You want to be yourself when you get married, not some stressed-out stranger in a bride costume.

One of the best things we did was to give people permission to buy things that were not on the registry. Using alternativegiftregistry.org and really encouraging second-hand or personally-chosen gifts made people feel much more engaged in our celebration. We gave generally types of things that we needed (crock pot, drying rack, 12 ounce stock pot, etc) and explicated asked people to search their cabinets or to choose the brand that they liked best.

Along the same lines, I would encourage you to make your wedding site an actual blog. In addition to logistical details, we wrote stories about how we felt when we were first dating, vignettes about how we were reminded that this love was worth it even amidst the fighting, anecdotes about excited conversations with friends and descriptions of how we decided that both of us would hyphenate our names. Wait 24 hours before posting anything that you write so that you’re not using the blog as a passive-aggressive tool but don’t be afraid to mention that you have had struggles while leaving out ALL gory details. This isn’t the place to work out any of your feelings but if you are authentic about the fact that you had them, it will help the people who don’t know you yet feel closer to you on the actual day of your wedding. I got so much positive feedback for doing this.Rebecca of Princess Max & Her Interfaith Wedding | A Practical WeddingHowever, It’s OK to not meet your guests every need. Obviously, do this politely, but I found myself in such a defensive state because of the pressures of many of the people involved in the wedding that I had to give myself permission to do this. If you are having an intimate affair or have planned a giant party because you have followed the great advice to choose two or three things that are important to you and one of those things is seeing everyone you have loved all in one room, this advice is not for you. If you have arrived at an event that has quite a few new-to-you guests through compromise with your partner, it’s OK not to make the rounds. I never attend a wedding expecting more than to say more to the couple than, “You look so beautiful! Thank you for including me.” So I wasn’t expecting the number of people I barely knew who wanted to buttonhole me for ten minutes when I wanted to be dancing or just being with my family and so I gave myself permission that this event did not have to be the time when I sat down for heart-to-hearts with every person who wanted it. This event would be a shared experience that would feed our growing relationships. It’s OK to do this. I have not had one repercussion in the six months since the wedding.
Rebecca of Princess Max & Her Interfaith Wedding | A Practical WeddingThis leads me to my next insight, which is that you and your partner may not be on the same page about what makes a perfect wedding and that’s OK, too. I remember feeling so frustrated with the wedding blogs I was reading because it seemed like every writer had a partner who was absolutely just like her because s/he was passionate about letterpress, too. My husband and I have very different aesthetic styles, very different socializing styles, very different relationships with our families, very different personal histories and very different religions. Each and every one of these differences had to be hashed out and that was exhausting. It was made worse by feeling like every other couple out there just needed to figure out whether they would have a rockabilly fiesta or gnomes-and-buttons campout because both were integral parts of their relationship. I had to remind myself constantly that loving someone is not reliant upon liking the same things they do.

This has been said before but you do not need to DIY the hell out of your wedding, even if you are crafty. People are there to witness and celebrate your joy and fear as you make this preposterous commitment together. Everything else – and I mean everything else – is extra. Do only the things you actually want to do instead of the things that you want to have done. I wanted to make all the yarmulkes out of thrift store dress shirts and custom fabric because I wanted to do the work, not because of what it would contribute to the event. I found a great organization that employs developmentally disabled people to sew the handkerchiefs from the custom fabric because I didn’t want to do that work. Be deliberate about your crafting choices to maintain your sanity.Rebecca of Princess Max & Her Interfaith Wedding | A Practical WeddingIf you are enlisting the help of friends AND forgoing traditional bridesmaids, give people titles. It honors the relationship you have and empowers them to take ownership of the project. I watched a friend be really disappointed because although she had a large friend base, none of them wanted to step on each other’s toes so not much got done. She says now that if she had told them they were the Bridal Brigade, like I did, and explicitly given them permission to communicate with each other without going through her, she would have felt less burdened.Rebecca of Princess Max & Her Interfaith Wedding | A Practical WeddingIf your wedding is existing in a non-traditional paradigm and you have adequately prepared folks for this, expect that your guests will act non-traditionally, as well. You have no idea how this will manifest. We communicated such egalitarianism that no one stood when I entered the auditorium. My parents and I were flummoxed but laughed and continued forward because there was nothing else to do. As it was an afternoon wedding, we only offered appetizers and champagne while we were in yichud, but didn’t realize this would mean people would also eat the cupcakes we wanted to cut ceremonially. My partner and I shrugged, laughed and fed each other with not one spectator but the photographer.

Finally, don’t put off your honeymoon planning. We were so overwhelmed with sorting out the relationship and family implications that come when planning a wedding that we figured we would just wing it when we arrived in our honeymoon city. However, we were so tired that we couldn’t generate the energy to be adventurous and then felt bad that we were wasting the trip. We talked through this and realized that watching lots of Cartoon Network from the hotel bed was actually OK. Also, while you’re on your honeymoon (and you should go on a honeymoon, even if it is in a cabin on a lake, like we should have done), write down your memories. Tell the whole story of your wedding to your journal. The pictures you get back will be of someone else’s perspective. Record your own perspective to cement it in your memories.Rebecca of Princess Max & Her Interfaith Wedding | A Practical WeddingPhotographs: J Wiley Photography

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10492742369183661449 Katherine

    Awesome wedding and awesome real advice.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11575834126606152875 miss fancy pants (the bride)

    Great advice! Especially the idea of writing down wedding memories in a journal, I would have never thought to do that. And of course, many of us need to learn to DIY a little less sometimes. Great post! Congratulations to the happy couple!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02101332998284482183 Amanda

    This is a great one. I love Rebecca's thoughts and perspective – I'm forwarding this to my fiance right now. And I love the alternate wedding registry. I'm wondering where Rebecca had the handkerchiefs sewn because I was thinking of doing that too but my sewing projects are starting to pile up and I don't want to end up stressed about stuff that really doesn't need to be stressful!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09197008991622181061 PrincessMax

    Thank you, Meg, for posting our wedding. It was such a huge event (isn't it hard to imagine that our marriage is even huger?) and it's nice to give it just another oomph of meaning by sharing the lessons learned with others.

    Also, I don't care if it's shallow, thanks for the compliments on the dress. I just couldn't have looked myself in the mirror at 32 years old for my second marriage in a ball gown. I know that's not everyone's experience but it was mine. My friend Camilla has a degree in fashion and two degrees in costume and would be happy to work with other brides. Y'all can email me and I'll send you along to her.

  • http://mylittlebiglife.wordpress.com marianne @ mylittlebiglife

    "I had to remind myself constantly that loving someone is not reliant upon liking the same things they do."

    Yes yes yes yes. We went through a lot of this too, where my husband wanted one thing and I wanted another, and that is totally okay.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09197008991622181061 PrincessMax

    Hi Amanda. I used CARC, which is a Chicagoland charity. Their website is http://carc.info/business/Default.aspx and I worked with a woman named Adrienne. I'd check at fabric stores and quilting stores in your area for references, too. Even if it's not a non-profit, there might be some regular ladies looking to pick up a little piece-work.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02189637917666578405 Allison

    I love how confident and grounded you are and yes, let's talk about that dress!! LOVELY!

  • http://accordionsandlace.wordpress.com accordionsandlace

    Best post! Love Rebecca, and love the honest reflections. Especially re: honeymoons. :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12465660658541486360 Rachel

    "It was made worse by feeling like every other couple out there just needed to figure out whether they would have a rockabilly fiesta or gnomes-and-buttons campout because both were integral parts of their relationship. I had to remind myself constantly that loving someone is not reliant upon liking the same things they do."

    Just — Thank you for reminding me of this. I was having a hard time figuring out what exactly was discouraging me about bridal blogs, and this was it, so thanks for articulating it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01927302567837372316 Brunhilda

    I love the idea of doing something to ground yourself and hour before the ceremony. I'm going to stash that one away. I think I'll take a walk in the park where I'm getting married to ground myself. I do not want to be a stressed out stranger in a bride costume, love that line btw.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06514322580923739407 neen

    I haven't even finished reading the whole post, but there's one thing I noticed and loved!

    "this event did not have to be the time when I sat down for heart-to-hearts with every person who wanted it"

    Is that ok? That is great!! I don't want to feel bad if I am dancing instead of talking to my fiance's great uncle..right?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08169407356570837365 D-Day

    I also like the idea of grounding yourself before the ceremony. I'll have to pack my cribbage board! ..is it weird that I feel defined by cribbage?? haha.

    anyway thanks so much for sharing, tons of great advice – and that dress–! so awesome, and love your partner's suit as well.

    I thought about adding a blog feature to our wedding site, wish I had pulled it together! a bit late now, as we're just over 3 weeks away..

  • emma discovery

    Rebecca, I have copied and saved your first bit of advice to my ever-growing wedding stuff Google doc – thank you. I really want to take some time to figure out what that hour would look like for each of us. Great advice.

    Also, yes, gorgeous dress! And also, where did your husband get his suit? We're looking for a 3-piece, and they can be tough to find. Thanks!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06985820953743653787 Ms. Bunny

    "The pictures you get back will be of someone else’s perspective. Record your own perspective to cement it in your memories."

    I never thought of it that way but you are definitely right. Regardless of how good and awesome you think your photographer is, it's still their perspective of the wedding not yours. I'm sure you and your partner will have experiences and memories from that day that are not captured on film but more intimate and intangible. Journaling sounds like a great way to preserve them.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08319826756310643106 Mary Kay

    I liked the portion about not visting every table. We didn't and I felt bad for a while but I have come to realize it wasn't that ig of a deal. No one has complained in the last four months.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09197008991622181061 PrincessMax

    What I love most about so many of your comments is that you are highlighting the sentences that I am most proud of. Thank you all.

    neen, totally fine. You'll see him again at someone else's wedding and be able to talk with him then.

    D-Day, I love the idea of cribbage. What a perfect opportunity.

    emma discovery, we got the suit at Banana Republic online. We ordered two sizes and considered the return postage part of the total cost. We love it because Jacob can wear it to every summer wedding from here on out.

    Again, thank you all for your encouraging responses.

  • emma discovery

    Thanks! I just saw that one this morning, not an hour before reading your post! Very cool.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06008386302876377978 Lyssachelle

    Yay, another beautiful wedding and another stunning dress!! (THIS is why I wish we would have balls and events like people used to. Because you shouldn't have only one instance in your life where you get to wear an amazing dress…)

    And THANK YOU for pointing out the differences in opinion with you and your fiancé. It’s very nice to see that recognized because although no one actually SAYS it on wedding blogs, it’s implied. And now that I think about it, it’s probably not entirely true. Because is he REALLY in love with moustaches on a stick? Or does he just say that because he doesn’t care and it makes you happy?
    My biggest problem was with the boy going, “Do whatever, I trust you, I don’t care….wait, you’re doing that? I don’t like that….” Did you run into that a lot, or was it just straight aesthetic differences from the get-go? Because mine nearly lost a limb or two over a few of our decisions…
    But amazing advice and a beautiful wedding! I especially like your advice about blogging on your wedding site and recording the honeymoon; I REALLY wish I had done that. I think those details will come in handy one day when you have those, “OMG, if you don’t stop doing that thing you do I will go crazy!!” moments. Then you can peruse over the time when you were a wee bride-to-be and smile.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15476685712009770101 Stephanie

    "If your wedding is existing in a non-traditional paradigm and you have adequately prepared folks for this, expect that your guests will act non-traditionally, as well. You have no idea how this will manifest. We communicated such egalitarianism that no one stood when I entered the auditorium. My parents and I were flummoxed but laughed and continued forward because there was nothing else to do. As it was an afternoon wedding, we only offered appetizers and champagne while we were in yichud, but didn’t realize this would mean people would also eat the cupcakes we wanted to cut ceremonially. My partner and I shrugged, laughed and fed each other with not one spectator but the photographer."

    Here's the thing…you know how you're going to do things differently, but your guests had no warning. I'm assuming there wasn't a little sign that said something to the effect of "don't eat yet" or "these are for later" near the cupcakes? Did the pastor or rabbi motion or ask the guests to rise? Don't expect your guests to be mind readers. They're going to do what they feel they should do. You probably had more than one guest debating whether they should stand or not, but decided not to, because then they'd be the only one standing, or maybe you didn't want people to stand. You can take the questioning and uncertainty away from your guests' experience if you help them a little bit with some guidance by people in charge or small informative signs or info in the program. It can't hurt! And mazel tov on your wedding from a current rabbi-in-training!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09197008991622181061 PrincessMax

    Vee, you make me blush.

    Lyssachelle, I would say emphatically that this was Jacob's wedding when we started out. He had very specific opinions about what it should be like. He didn't know the practical implications of some of those implications but that got solved quickly when he took on full responsibility for booking the venue.

    Actually, I was pretty catatonic (literally, I would go fetal and stare at the ceiling whenever we had to talk about the wedding during the initial logistical phase) early on because the event was turning out to be so much like my first wedding in form. Big hall. Lots of extended family. High school friends on guest list. Once, I worked through my reactions to the macro level, we got down to the micro level of decorations and such and Jacob didn't have a lot of opinion on that, with a few exceptions. The best decision I made was not to fight his desire to wear his favorite kippah even though it didn't match the ones I made. The service and the ketubah were entirely born of collaboration.

    I love these questions! Ask more.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01742014923723401199 Marisa

    Your wedding made me really happy. Thanks!

  • http://bettybetwixt.wordpress.com bettybetwixt

    I love your advice, especially about the guests' comfort not being your #1 concern. Don't guests have to feel a little uncomfortable if they are doted over too much? like "geez, they're catering to our every possible need with these free flip flops for the dance floor and that huge welcome basket that was at our hotel room….were we cheap for getting them a $50 set of hand towels? Do we need to step it up when we have them over for Thanksgiving Dinner and send them home with a harvest-themed goodie bag?" I felt like doing a tap dance when I decided to not worry about how our out-of-towners would get around the area. Their problem! Just chill and take care of the wedding and, like you say, the guests will figure it out.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    @lyssachelle
    "My biggest problem was with the boy going, “Do whatever, I trust you, I don’t care….wait, you’re doing that? I don’t like that….” "

    Yeah, that's totally normal. I think part of the problem for guys is that many of the wedding questions are things they never *considered* before… and many of us have strong opinions, so I'd be like "Do you like THIS or THAT?" And He'd say THAT?" and I'd go, "Nu-uh, I like THIS" and he'd be like, "Um, ok?" So since he hadn't thought about alot of stuff it makes sense that he had the right to change his mind ;)

    @All
    We didnt' get our pictures back for 3 months (as those who were reading then know), and I thought it was great. It was time to firmly establish things in our own mind.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    @bettybetwixt
    Right. Because they are adults, they will manage.

    We din't make the rounds eaither… we had a picnic the day before to meet and greet, so we could just party the next day. And you know what? We ended up talking to all but about 3 of the geusts… and those were friends my parents spent all day with, so they were just fine.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09197008991622181061 PrincessMax

    Stephanie, you make a good point. I think what I was trying to say was that BECAUSE I had prepped my guests with little cues like signs and blog posts with 5 YouTubes of examples of how easy it is to dance the hora, it became even more difficult to predict what else they would need guidance on.

    I guess I hoped my point would be not necessarily to prepare better but to laugh when it happens.

    Also, you need to choose your battles when it comes to directing your guests. I chose to help them feel comfortable with the hora and didn't mention shtik at all because I didn't want the to feel so overwhelmed that they forgot to have fun. The delightful consequence was that my guests felt empowered to join in when some of the Jewish guests started the shtik spontaneously.

    Thanks again for your perspective.

    Nina, please start talking it up. Your friends are your friends because they love experiencing life with you. If they get annoyed, they'll 1) deal with it 2) say something. Or, consider saying to them: "I'm nervous that I'll get annoying but I really want to start sharing this joy with you. To help me do that, will you promise to tell me lovingly if I go off the deep end?"

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18182268757502634911 sera

    Thank you so much for this. You have touched on things I have thought about ever since my wedding: my man not wanting to be involved until he didn't like something, and how much is enough "guest time."

    And yes, your dress is gorgeous!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00950111880632312677 Kate

    This was great. The part about not agreeing with your fiance on every aspect of the planning and that being okay especially spoke to me. I actually feel secretly guilty about that all the time. Even though I know better, I worry it has some broad implication for our marriage.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14741882232795105204 Laura

    Such good advice… and lovely photos.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11941247148803819536 Tess

    Such good advice, so many things I relate to, especially:
    "My husband and I have very different aesthetic styles, very different socializing styles, very different relationships with our families, very different personal histories and very different religions."
    Add into that our parents, who were very involved in the planning. Even now I sometimes think how if I had been the only one invested in the wedding it would have been quite different – but if I was the only one then it couldn't have been a wedding! And yet as a collaboration it came together more beautifully than I could have imagined.

    On the issue of "doing-the-rounds", I do feel it is important. It won't be the deepest conversations you ever have, but I think it is an important gesture. Like you Rebecca, I wouldn't be offended as a guest if we didn't get to talk to the couple, but on the other hand, I would be really touched if they did make the effort. And we had quite a few relatives who travelled so I guess it depends on your guests as well. We allocated about an hour to visit with our 100 guests at 11 tables, and then we went around again in the half hour before we were due to leave. So not a whole lot of time, and I still have the gnawing guilt that it should have been more, but I feel it was better than nothing. Though I must say, Meg's solution of the day-before meet-and-great is perfect. I wouldn't have been able to handle one more event though!

    Thank you Rebecca for taking the time to talk about such relevant, and often stressful issues that somehow don't make it into the wedding-planning discussion enough.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00811942860512021126 kahlia

    Thank you for the wonderful advice, and you look SO happy in that last picture.
    Congratulations!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    @Tess
    I will say that people follow the lead of the bride and groom. So if you are partying and having a good time, they take that as their licence to do the same. If you are doing the rounds and NOT enjoying it much, the party simmers down.

    I think, in a way, it comes down to the guests. Do you need to spend tons of time with people you don't know at all who your parents invited? I would say no, as long as your parents spend time with them. They are there to honor your parents, and you by extension, not the other way around.

    Though yes, meet and great was great for us… though I did a fair amount of gabbing with old friends there too ;)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09197008991622181061 PrincessMax

    Tess, thank you so much for your input. I think your experience is totally valid and important for a lot of people. Like I said, this advice isn't for everyone.

    However, we had 200 people at our wedding and we only had the band and the hall for 4 hours, including the ceremony. In light of that, I still would say that sometimes it's OK to let go of the sense of obligation and simply be experience the moment in a way that makes you feel joyful, even if we hadn't had the meet and greet the day before.

    Your wedding sounds like it was grounded in what was important to you: family and community. That is SO crucial to a good experience. Thank you for sharing.

  • Vee

    Hands-down one of my favorite wedding graduates. This advice was perfect. Thank you.

  • Nina

    Thank you so much for all that great advice – because honestly, I can feel myself on the verge of making most of those mistakes!

    I really relate to the story of being disappointed by friends in the planning process. I feel that way sometimes and it is likely all my own doing – to avoid being the gushy bride who can't stop talking about her wedding, I think I have swung the pendulum too far to the point where I feel bad even bringing things up about the wedding. Must communicate better. That's why I love all you guys!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03367631935043016430 Mrs T

    I loved the you took an hour before the ceremony with your family. What a wonderful idea, and I am sure a wonderful hour of your life.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03367631935043016430 Mrs T

    Oh, and I forgot to say – totally feeling you on the lay in bed and watch tv thing. We were wiped out after the wedding and wanted to sleep for the first three days of our honeymoon. But I guess that's the point of the honeymoon – just being together and relaxing!

  • Meghan

    I love the advice to do somrthing grounding prior to the ceremony. I went on a walk with a few of my girlfriends and it was one of the best things that I did.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04914400071808547755 Sarah

    "…rockability fiesta or gnomes and buttons campout…" had me snorting out loud. Hilarious.

    And a very wise post. Thanks!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04969442660664176005 KWu

    I really appreciated the insight that it's ok if there are disagreements in vision with the partner. I've definitely felt envious of the many wedding blogs who seem to have partners that are right in sync with them and it's led to unnecessary additional frustration for me at time.

  • ChinaDoll

    I am new to APW, trying to find answers to all of the questions I have had about weddings and marriage, reading graduate stories for inspiration. When I saw your photos, I was about 95% sure that I knew your now husband, and when I read a comment where you called him by name, I was sure. I was good friends with Barry in college and happened to meet your main man a few times. The world is small! Thank you for sharing reflections about your marriage celebration. I, too, love your dress!

  • http://www.princessmax.blogspot.com Rebecca

    Chinadoll, that’s hilarious. Thanks for letting me know. Good luck with your own celebration!

  • http://www.windows7-key.biz Clé Windows 7 Serial

    Which leads me to the fourth reason I’m excited: because I have a 6-year-old daughter who will love this wedding too. She will love it because she’s a romantic at heart who loves the Disney sort of princesses and their Prince Charmings and happily-ever-afters. She’ll watch this and think, like I did, What a life. A perfect life.