Abby and Adam’s Egalitarian Jewish Wedding

I try to feature a fair amount of Jewish weddings on this site, because, well, we’re having one. If you are planning a modern-practical-egalitarian Jewish wedding, it sometimes feels like there is not a lot of inspiration out there for you. Abby sent me her wedding, and I fell in love. After you read this post, go read her Live Journal rundown as well. I’m on board with anyone who’s sassy enough to say that the theme of her wedding is “Jewish.” Right. And also? “Wedding.” Take it away Abby:
Our wedding was held in June 2008, at Congregation Beth El in Sudbury, Massachusetts. We joined a synagogue for the first time after getting engaged because we wanted to have a rabbi who knows us to perform the wedding. We’ve since gotten really active and involved in the community and really love being part of a synagogue for the first times in our lives. Getting married (after 8 years together) was part of a conscious decision for us to be more Jewish, and joining a synagogue has really been a positive change in our lives.What made your wedding creative: We had a really mellow, fun, relaxed wedding. I’m a teacher of Deaf kids (and a Yiddishist in my spare time), and he’s the ranger of a boyscout camp, and a forester, lumberjack, orchardist, and woodworker the rest of the time. We wanted to have a simple, reasonable, un-extravagant, and, well, practical Jewish wedding.Our theme was “Jewish,” and beyond that “in season.” I wore a cotton dress from j crew, and he wore a cotton seersucker suit, nice for a hot summer day. We wrote our own egalitarian ketubah text in Yiddish.
What made your wedding thrifty: We tried not to pay for things we didn’t want to have, despite pressure from the parents (but you simply MUST have a cake! etc.). We didn’t have party favors, but we did order personalized wedding yarmulkes (!!!) with our names on the inside. (<– so worth it!) I didn’t want a veil or an updo, but I did pay someone to blow dry my hair the morning of the wedding for ultimate smoothness.My dress cost $100, and his suit was $75 (bought on sale the August before!). We made our own invitations with our laser printer and cardstock and envelopes and rubber stamps. We saved a lot of money on food: Instead of hiring a full-service caterer, we went with individual vendors – a vegetarian Indian restaurant made the food, and we hired accomodators to serve and clean up. We bought the cake from a bakery and alcohol from a liquor store that delivers. A friend from the synagogue organized the cooking of an amazing array of appetizers, potluck style. We rented plates and silverware and glasses, but bought linens and cloth napkins because they were cheaper than renting. Doing things with separate vendors was a little more tricky, but we saved 60% at least over the cost of hiring a full-service caterer. We also saved money by having the wedding and reception at the synagogue, and by growing our own flowers, which our friends drunkenly arranged in vintage blue mason jars the night before the wedding. Having a Sunday lunch wedding didn’t save much money (the wedding books always say that off-peak weddings are cheaper) because most places charged an extra fee to deliver on Sundays. We hired a great Klezmer band, the Wholesale Klezmer Band, and they were worth every penny. Everything, including the wedding and reception for 150 guests, the venue, the alcohol, the band, our clothes, the honeymoon, my engagement ring (a vintage sapphire) and our wedding rings, cost a total of $12,000.

What made your wedding sane: My husband is the ranger of a boyscout camp, and most of our guests stayed at the camp in bunkbeds for the weekend of the wedding. It was so fun to have everyone there, and I think my favorite part of the weekend was getting back from the Aufruf on Saturday afternoon and blowing off my manicure appointment to just hang out at home with our friends and eat lunch outside and relax.
After the wedding on Sunday, everyone went home to change and then came over to our house with marshmallows and chips and beer for a spontaneous backyard barbecue that lasted all night. It was so nice to have that time to hang out and relax with friends.

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  • ah-mazing

  • Very cool! I love that you blew off your manicure appointment! :)

  • Whoa, I wish my egalitarian Jewish wedding was this laid back and awesome! “Jewish” is a perfect theme. :)

    LOVE the Yiddish ketubah–so cool. And love love love klezmer receptions. We are having a klezmer-ish band (a Balkan gypsy-style band) who play a mean hora and I cannot effing wait.

  • I’m relaxed just reading about your wedding! Thank you for sharing.

  • How beautiful! Looks like this was a perfect fit. I love how perfectly happy and relaxed you look in all the pictures. That’s what really matters.

  • the ranger of a boy scout camp!?
    boyscout camp has been in my family for three generations!
    mega insta super love. :)

  • Wow this is perfect! I love this blog — it makes me feel better about my very homemade wedding coming up this July and helps to keep grounded in the sea of wedding extravagance.

  • Can someone tell me more about the people you hire to “accommodate” setting up and taking away food, etc? we’re having a local teriyaki restaurant provide the food, but at this point, we’re doing all the delivery, setting up and taking down ourselves. any suggestions?


  • Meg

    One word for you: teenagers. Seriously. Local teenagers. They are responsable and cheap. And they like it when they know they are being trusted with a big task. Plus their mothers will clobber them if they screw up your wedding.


  • love the after wedding back yard bbq! our friends stayed the night and camped with us …

  • Beautiful! What cloth did you use for your chuppah?

  • Abby

    jesse – ask for recommendations for servers at your venue – they might have someone they have worked with before who they can recommend. or call caterers to see if they will do just the serving and clean up, or put an ad on craigslist.


  • gah, i love klezmer music! so jealous that i’m not jewish.

  • this may be trivial, but I LOVE brides that just wear their hair the way they would every day, perhaps a bit nicer. When I started wedding planning I felt totally pressured to do some intense updo and all I wanted was my simple straight hair because really that is what it does best.

    Some people say to me, “you are wearing your hair down?!” And finally, I can say “Yes, I AM!”

  • Abby and Adam are my heroes. I am in the midst of planning a cheap and meaningful Jewish wedding. My dress was $100, too ;)

  • This seems like it was a super fun and creative wedding. Mazel Tov to the bride and groom!

  • Erica

    SO happy to have found another couple who grew your own flowers. We’re doing this too!