Becky & Etan

It’s hard to tell if it’s the New Yorker in me that loves today’s wedding (Shake Shack! Madison Square Park! A BBQ place I used to frequent!), or the Jewish convert in me that loves it… or if I just love it because it’s so exactly right. Becky talks about how you won’t remember the details, but you do have to fight for what’s authentic for you. And that’s why I still write this website, passionately, two years after our own wedding. Because I believe in weddings and the way they usher us through something fierce and powerful. But regardless, this could not be a more perfect wedding to usher everyone back to work after Labor Day. And now, Becky herself:

Being married has been so wonderful in itself, I almost hate to go back and dwell on the details of the wedding. So I won’t, but I do want to say a little bit about how it felt, the spirit of it all, and what I remember of the blurry beautiful weekend.

Our wedding was the culmination of seven years of getting to know each other, one and a half years of engagement, and over a year of being wed in the eyes of the civil government. It also celebrated my conversion to Judaism, and the joining of our families and our cultures (I’m apple-pie American with roots in Pittsburgh and Alabama, he’s Jewish with roots in Morocco and Scranton). But mostly, it was a celebration of two people who were madly in love and so excited to begin their lives together they just couldn’t keep it inside!

Our wedding represented “us” perfectly. The best compliment we heard afterwards from numerous people was how authentic it felt. We had originally booked a lovely waterfront Italian restaurant in Jersey City. It would have been nice, just nice, and we were mainly just thrilled that a place was booked. Then we went to see a friend’s band play in the basement bar of Hill Country, a TX-style BBQ joint in Manhattan. Done and done.

We re-booked, upset some traditional-loving family members in the meantime, and searched ravenously for a ceremony space. Good thing Manhattan has parks. We ended up holding the ceremony in the lovely Madison Square Park, one and a half blocks from the restaurant, praying for no rain. This made the logistics much more difficult, but in the end, it felt exactly like us. Not too fancy, rough around the edges, just raw love.

The moments that stand out? Parading down Madison Ave in my dress and cowboy boots with my sister on the way to the ceremony. Holding hands under the huppah—a lace tablecloth made by my great grandmother—and seeing the sunshine trickle through on us. Getting a free milkshake and cheers from the workers at Shake Shack. The BBQ bibs. My girlfriends helping me change into the party dress my best friend made for me (God bless double-sided tape).

The cheers and screams after the backflip in our first swing dance. Seeing my Alabama-bred military-minded father lifted up in a chair above our heads, something I never could have imagined in my wildest dreams!

Dancing all night, and turning around on the dance floor and always seeing someone else I know and love. My husband singing to me, in front of EVERYONE we know. Seeing my loved ones laughing, dancing, raucous and ecstatic!

And of course I don’t remember where people were sitting, even after spending days on the seating chart. I don’t remember people complaining about the heat, after fretting anxiously about the unpredictable weather on an August Sunday. I don’t remember the fact that jackhammers drowned out most of the ceremony, despite our last-ditch efforts with a small PA system, because I heard every word between the Rabbi, my husband and myself. I don’t remember worrying if the hora would offend my non-Jewish family, because I felt so much love from everyone on the dancefloor circling with us!

The lesson in all this is don’t give in because it’s easy. Try to make conscious choices that represent who you are. A great wedding isn’t great because it’s in a fancy place, or on a pretty beach, or surrounded by gorgeous flowers. It’s great because it authentically celebrates the two people standing in front, shamelessly pouring their love out.

We’ve been married about a year now, and I’m so happy that our wedding was what it was. It was the opening celebration of our marriage, plain and simple. I’m glad it wasn’t classier, more expensive, bigger, smaller… It was a celebration of us, of love.

The Info—Photography: Junenoire Photography + family and friends / Venue: Madison Square Park & Hill Country BBQ / Dress: JCrew / Suit: Custom made at My.Suit

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