And it will be perfect for us, because it's ours. But, now that I'm farther along in this wedding journey, I realize that the synagogue-and-social-hall wedding would have been perfect too. I've tried to tell myself time and time again that Love wins out over Pretty every time. I know it's true. But I don't really know it in my core. I've held tight to our outdoor wedding plans to the exclusion of several simpler options. And then, I saw this wedding photographed by Kelly Prizel, and I finally really understood.
I generally stay away from photo-heavy posts, because you can turn to 1000 other wedding sites for visual inspiration. But sometimes, pictures are exactly what I need to make my musings feel real and connect me back to our own personal truths. In a highly professionalized, photo-heavy online wedding world, church and temple weddings get short shrift. The "details" at these weddings are about connecting to thousands of years of tradition instead of "branded" aisle runners (though you can certainly have both, of course, if that's your, um, thing). Thousands of years of history don't really fit in with the blog crush over the newest trends.
So today, I thought it would be nice to have a visual reminder that these weddings matter too, and that they are special and stunning for reasons that are hard to capture on detail-focused blogs. This wedding is probably more akin to the way my parents or grandparents probably got married - in family-focused, non-detail-centric, religious* events - and these rituals and joys deserve more blogland celebration. This wedding showed me that I would have been just as happy getting married at our synagogue and with a plain social hall reception. This wedding reminded me that any wedding celebrated in a simple, unadorned basement (temple owned, or otherwise) can be alive with love, ritual, joy, revelry, beauty, emotion, and everything that really matters to me about a wedding.
D'Alizza and Lonny met at salsa club in Miami. After they fell in love with each other, D'Alizza (who is Dominican) also fell in love with Judaism and had an Orthodox conversion. She was really excited to showcase to her friends and family what an Orthodox wedding was, and to showcase to her religious community how vibrant and rich Dominican culture is. D'Alizza and Lonny got married at Sixth and I Historic Synagogue, an amazing non-denominational Jewish space in Washington, DC. Their Orthodox community helped them plan and execute the wedding. It was truly a communal affair.
And their reception in the temple basement is the most stunning burst of joy and love and dance I've seen captured in ages, and their intercultural Dominican and Jewish party seemed to be just about perfect. Although our ceremony will be Reform (which is a more progressive line of Judaism), seeing these photos by the incredibly talented Kelly Prizel immediately linked me to why we're having a Jewish wedding and to the beauty in our shared traditions and rituals. They reminded me that the party is in the people and not in a pretty location or elegant decor or perfect dress**. These are things I know. But these are the sort of photos I turn back to again and again and again to really remind myself that our wedding only needs to be about our truths: the ritual matters, the love matters, the people matter, the joy matters, and that I really want our photography to capture the story of the day and not the details.
Photos by Kelly Prizel Photography
And, because I completely fell in love with the photos posted on Wedding Yentas, I contacted Kelly to find out more. In Kelly's own words,
"While they did have a beautiful ceremony venue, they partied it up in the synagogue basement. Yes they had pretty things but it was the intense connection and joy and forever commitment that blew me away. Plus, between the Orthodox and the Dominicans they know how to party. I was happy all day photographing it because they were both just so happy to be marrying each other, having a Jewish ceremony, and you can't fake that. There's a lot you can fake, but honest joy is not one of them."
And, as an extra treat, please go take a look at the full slideshow here. I've gone back to it at least ten times, and it's made me tear up each and every time. Kelly also sent the links to videos from the wedding that capture celebration and joy at their purest. These snippets hit the core of something so much more essential about weddings than we generally have the chance to see here in weddingblog land, and I've been reveling in the ceremony and joy bursting out of each moment. These pictures are keeping me sane and keeping me focused on what matters.And these photos are making me yearn for our own wedding to happen right now, and for all the important parts and emotions that I'm looking forward to most of all.
*in my family, you probably have to go back to my mother's parents and my father's grandparents to find serious religion, but the rituals, traditions and visual symbols of Judaism have framed my progressive Jewish upbringing and are incredibly emotionally and culturally resonant.
**although yes, can we all take a moment to gasp about that dress and the way it came alive with D'Alizza's dancing? I truly think there's an entire party in that dress too. Da-yum.