Happy Monday to all of our fabulous readers! We are excited for another great week of inspiration, including today’s Baltimore Maryland wedding at the fabulous Four Seasons. Don’t forget to head back later this week as we have a great DIY ceremony backdrop and glam rock inspired wedding! In this gorgeous all white Four Seasons ceremony and reception, Laura and Matt utilized the inner harbor backdrop for a show stopping event. We love how chic the all white color story is and with the use of floral textures by Blue Vanda Designs, they prove that you don’t have to have a myriad of color to create a luxe wedding. A big thank you to Jonathan Hanson Photography for sharing this beautiful wedding with us today and best wishes to the newlyweds!
Congratulations to Laura and Matt! Thank you for sharing your Glam Four Seasons Baltimore wedding with us!
Did you love seeing the various cultural celebrations within DC wedding ceremonies this week? We absolutely are in love with the South Asian multicultural wedding by Engaging Affairs from Monday! Etsy is an amazing source for all things wedding, especially when outfitting the most personal parts of your wedding ceremony traditions. We have rounded up a few of our favorite finds from Etsy designers across the world to cover various cultural traditions!
Planning a Jewish wedding and not quite sure where to start? Maybe only one of you is Jewish and you are trying to mesh together two different faiths, day-of. We know that there are numerous Jewish wedding traditions that you might want to incorporate into your big day, but sometimes it can be hard to know exactly which ones will fit you as a couple. Keeping in time with our cultural wedding week, we’re here to help with some explanations of the common customs utilized in all types of DC Jewish weddings. Mazel tov!
Aufruf – A traditional Jewish wedding celebration actually begins on the Sabbath before the wedding day, as a way to publicly announce the forthcoming nuptials. It is a centuries old tradition for the groom or bride and groom to be called to the Torah and recite a blessing, called an Aliyah. This ceremony is called an aufruf, which, in Yiddish, means “calling up.” After reciting the blessings, the rabbi usually offers a blessing for the couple. In conclusion, as the groom or bride and groom return to their seats, they are showered with candy, nuts and raisins symbolizing sweetness and fruitfulness.
Kabbalat Panim – A traditional Jewish wedding day begins with time for guests to greet the couple before the ceremony. At a more traditional kabbalat panim, the bride and groom sit in different rooms and guests greet them individually. Each participate in their own receptions
The Tisch – The groom participates in a tisch, which is Yiddish for table. During this portion of pre-ceremony festivities, the groom attempts to present a lecture on the week’s Torah portion, while his male friends and family heckle and interrupt him, often with lively singing and rhythmic clapping. The bride is not often included in this ceremony in orthodox communities, but in a more modern Jewish wedding, the bride and groom may lead the tisch together.
Bride’s Reception – The bride’s reception is usually the livelier one! It is an old tradition for the bride to sit on distinctive, ornate, throne-like chair. Surrounded by her family and friends, she receives guests, heartfelt wishes and words of encouragement. The bride may also offer a special blessing in return. During this time, the mother of the bride and the mother of the groom together, break a plate. This symbolizes the seriousness of the commitment of marriage – just as a plate can never be fully repaired, so too a broken relationship can never be fully mended.
The Ketubah Signing – After the kabbalat panim, the ketubah (Jewish marriage contract) is signed by the bride, groom, rabbi and chosen witnesses. In a traditional orthodox community, this is only signed by the groom and male witnesses. Despite the ketubah’s testimony that the groom has “acquired” the bride, the ketubah actually outlines the bride’s rights and her willingness and desire to enter into the marriage. This contract is hers to keep as proof of her rights and the groom’s responsibilities to her under Jewish law.
The Bedeken – In an Orthodox wedding, this is the first time a bride and groom see each other on the wedding day, sometimes after a week long separation. It is one of the most romantic and significant moments during the wedding day. This ceremony is based on the biblical story in which Jacob was presented with an already veiled bride; he discovered only after the ceremony that she was not his intended bride and love Rachel, but instead her sister Leah. The bedeken, or veiling of the bride, involves both families; accompanied by both fathers and all of his friends who joyously sing and dance, the groom is led to the bride, where both mothers and all the women surround her. The groom lowers her veil over her face, sanctifying the bride to be his wife, a commitment to clothe and protect his wife. The bedeken also symbolizes an added level of modesty and conveys the lesson that however attractive physical appearances may be, inner beauty, the soul and character are paramount. This relates back to when Rebecca saw her groom Isaac coming toward her, “she took her veil and covered herself.” This is not often performed in more modern Jewish weddings.
The Chuppah – The chuppah is the wedding canopy under which couples say their vows; it dates back to the tent-dwelling Jewish nomadic days in the desert. Jewish wedding ceremonies were held outdoors, and the chuppah created an intimate, sanctified space – symbol of the new home the bride and groom will soon be starting together. Traditionally, the bride’s parents will walk her down the aisle to the entrance of the chuppah where her groom, who was also walked down the aisle by his parents, will meet her, the circling will begin, and once completed they will enter the chuppah together. The bride stands on the groom’s right side. The chuppah is a great way to insert your own design and aesthetic into the wedding ceremony. The only requirement is that it is open on all sides, and covered on the top.
Circling – Upon reaching the chuppah, the bride circles the groom seven times; this is a representation of many things in the Jewish faith such as the seven blessings, the seven days of creation, and the number of times Joshua circled the walls of Jericho when they finally came tumbling down and in circling her groom, a bride brings down any wall that may remain between them. To make the ancient ritual reciprocal, many couples opt to circle each other or split the circling with the bride and groom each making three circles on their own and one together.
Kiddushin – Once the bride and groom have entered the chuppah together, the kiddushin, or the betrothal ceremony, takes place. It begins with greetings and a blessing over the wine where a sip is taken by both the bride and groom. The second part of this custom is the ring exchange; in Jewish law, a marriage becomes official when the groom gives an object of value, such as a plain gold wedding band (without blemishes or ornamentation, just as hoped that the marriage will be one of simple beauty), to the bride. In Orthodox Jewish ceremonies, only the bride is given a ring, but in modern ceremonies rings are exchanged between both the bride and the groom. First, the groom places the ring on his bride’s right index finger- the finger believed to be directly connected to the heart – as he may recite, “Behold, by this ring you are consecrated to me as my wife according to the laws of Moses and Israel,” then the bride does the same as she may recite a biblical phrase. In modern ceremonies, the couple may also choose to recite their own vows as an added personal touch.
Sheva B’rachot – The sheva b’rachot, or seven blessings, is the heart of the Jewish ceremony and is recited for the bride and groom over a second glass of wine. The theme of these blessings link the bride and groom to God, as well as the creation of the world, survival of the Jewish people, a prayer for peace in Jerusalem, and good wishes for the couple and raising of a family. In many weddings, before the sheva b’rachot are recited, the parents wrap the couple in a tallis, prayer shawl, binding them together. These blessings are recited by the rabbi, or other special guests, the couple wishes to honor. After the seven blessings are said, the couple take a sip from the second cup of wine.
Breaking of the Glass – Most people are highly familiar with the end of a Jewish wedding ceremony based on the breaking of the glass. Depending on who you ask, the breaking of the glass is a symbol of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, a representation of the fragility of human relationships, and a reminder that marriage changes the lives of individuals forever. In modern weddings, a lightbulb is often used in place of a physical glass as it is much easier to actually break in the moment and makes a loud noise! After the glass has been broken, generally by the groom, everyone yells “Mazel Tov” and in non-orthodox weddings, the bride and groom share their first kiss as husband and wife!
The Yihud – Immediately following the marriage ceremony, the bride and groom take at least eight minutes together privately to reflect on the vows that they have just entered into together. These moments of seclusion also signify the new status of living together as husband and wife. Traditionally, the bride and groom choose an individual they wish to honor who will guard the locked door in order to ensure they are not bothered. Alone, this is a great time to take a breath and spend some quality time with each other as well as a great way to get away from the crazy of the day, if only for a few minutes. This practice has gained recent fame and is being taken up by brides and grooms of all faiths! Even though this time was originally used to consecrate the marriage – although this is not the practice now – many couples also take this time to eat a little food together as well as exchange gifts, before joining their friends and family at the reception.
One wedding ceremony custom that we love seeing is a beautifully crafted Sofreh Aghd. A traditional Persian wedding spread, the Sofreh Aghd is a combination of legal marriage and ceremonial traditions that come together to unite the couple. Having been practiced for years, each Sofreh (meaning “spread”) and Aghd (meaning “ceremony”) is personalized to fit the couple and their own unique style. Today we are sharing a warm romantic Stone Manor Country Club wedding with Nat Wongsaroj Photography. The couple married in the rolling hills of the Maryland wedding venue estate followed by dinner and dancing under a peak pole tent. We love the soft color story of lavender, blush, and cream that ran throughout the day!
Most Sofreh designs are based around the same objects and meanings, but can be as elaborate or simplistic as the couple’s taste desires. Designers often take inspiration from the overall wedding aesthetic and create a unique platform that embodies the soul of the couple and years upon years of cultural traditions. Traditionally the base of the Sofreh is a raised platform or stage which sits off of the natural ground with two stools or chairs for the couple behind it called Mokhadded. A ceremonial cloth is layered over the platform with the spread of items to be placed on top. Some of those items include the following:
Ayeeneh : A Mirror which represents bringing light into the future for the newlywed couple.
Shamdoon: Candelabras and candles that symbolize energy and clarity in their new life together.
Khoncheh : Seven specific herbs & spices are placed on the spread to guard against the evil eye. The mix of herbs and spices include poppy seeds, wild rice, angelica, salt, nigella seeds , black tea, frankincense.
Noon Sangak: Flatbread display that symbolizes prosperity for the couple’s life together.
Tokhmeh Morgh: Eggs represent fertility for the couple.
Badoom, Gandom, and Gerdoo: Almond, walnut, & Hazelnut also represent and symbolize fertility for the newlyweds.
Meeveh: Seasonal fruits of pomegranates + apples to represent a joyous future.
Shahkheh Nabat: Rock or Hard candy to symbolize the sweetened life for the newlyweds.
Sekkeh: Coins are place on the sofreh to represent wealth & prosperity
Asal:: Honey is placed on the sofreh to be consumed as the ceremony is concluding. The couple ip pinkies in the honey and shared together to represent sweetness for life.
Golaab: Rose water is used to perfume the air.
Holy book of the couples Faith: A Koran or Bible is placed on the sofreh aghd to symbolize God’s blessing for the couple. The book is usually opened from the middle and placed on the spread in front of the couple as a symbol of faith
Sheereeni: Sweets + pastries are out and to be shared with the guests after the ceremony concludes.
Tooreh Ghand: Sugar Cloth is a delicate fabric which is held over the couple’s head throughout the ceremony by various happily married female relatives and friends
Kaleh Ghand: Sugar cones are rubbed by happily married woman together over the “ghand cloth” while held over the couple’s head to shower their life and marriage with sweetness.
Soozan Nakh: Needle and Thread rest of on sofreh to symbolize the ritual of two families becoming one.
Congratulations to Rachid and Olivia! Thank you for sharing your romantic Maryland Wedding ceremony with us!
The following Washington DC area wedding professionals contributed to their wedding:
Continuing on with our cultural wedding week, today we are bringing you some of our favorite cultural wedding ceremony celebrations! We love that there are so many different faiths and cultures in this area; this makes sure our wedding ceremonies are always unique and interesting. Whether you want to incorporate your family’s history into your big day, or want to celebrate your faith as a couple, there are so many different ways you can do so. We have outlined and explained some we have seen on United with Love below!
Korean Pyebaek – Originally, the pyebaek is a patriarchal tradition that brought a new bride into the groom’s family fold. The bride would bestow gifts upon the groom’s family and bow in subservience, symbolizing her transition from her own family to the groom’s. Modern Korean weddings, however, incorporate the pyebaek as a means of celebrating the union of two families and is often held either a few days before the wedding ceremony or immediately following with only family present.
The pyebaek begins with the older couple(s) seated on cushions behind a table in front of a painted screen with the newlyweds opposite them. The bride and groom then perform a very deep bow and after, the bride will present the elders with gifts of jujubes (Korean dates) and chestnuts to symbolize children and fertility. The elder then shares wisdom and guidance on married life with the bride and groom. Finally, they will throw the jujubes and chestnut backs to the bride who will catch them in her wedding skirt.
Chinese Tea Ceremony – A Chinese wedding tea ceremony is like the pyebaek in that it also is the formal introduction of the bride to the groom’s family and was created as a show of respect for the bride’s entrance into a new family; it is usually hosted post wedding ceremony. In modern Chinese tea ceremony’s, many couples choose to involve and honor both sides of the family. The order of service is usually parents, grandparents, grand-uncles/aunts, uncles and aunts, elder brothers/sisters, elder cousins.
If two separate ceremonies are hosted, traditionally the groom’s family will be honored first. Likewise, if there is an all-inclusive ceremony performed for both sides, the groom’s family would be served first. The couple (groom on the right, bride on the left) serves sweet Chinese tea to the elders in order of seniority and after each sip, the couple is handed a lai see – a lucky red envelope – which usually contains money or jewelry. The ceremony is then repeated for the bride’s side of the family, if necessary. The tea ceremony is also the time when a Chinese wedding contract is signed with a traditional seal or a personalized stamp.
Hindu Baraat – A Hindu Baraat is the groom’s wedding procession and in generally a very grand affair. The groom is led to the marriage venue on a Ghodi, or white horse, while upbeat drum music plays. He usually carries a ceremonial sword and is accompanied by a young brother, nephew or cousin. Family members adorn the Ghodi with embellishments that match the groom’s. The groom’s family and friends accompany him to the venue in the large procession and are called the baraati. They are then received and welcomed by the bride’s family members and in some cultures the groom is greeted with the Aarti upon his entrance to the venue. While this procession happens the bride generally watches from the venue but does not take part, as the Baraat is solely to welcome the groom and his family to the marriage site. The bride then joins the groom as both families are introduced in a Milni ceremony and remains for the Varmala, where they exchange garlands to signify the start of their marriage rituals.
Filipino Veil, Cord & Coin Ceremony – A traditional Filipino wedding ceremony often involves several smaller ceremonies within it with deep spiritual meanings. The Veil, Cord and Coin are included most often of all. Ceremonial sponsors are chosen by the bride and groom to take part in the ceremony. Multiple pairs of godparents are customary.
The veil is specially made to go over the groom’s shoulders and the bride’s head (placed by a sponsor) to represent everyone and everything that will protect them, their home and their family and can signify the transformation of two individuals into one family. The cord (lasso) is long and in the shape of a figure 8 to symbolize infinity and often has a rosary attached. It is put around the couple’s shoulders by another sponsor to symbolize the couple’s intimate union and bond to each other for eternity. The coin ceremony involves the bringing of 13 coins to the altar by a small child, generally a ring bearer. The coins are given to the bride from the groom as a promise to financially support their new family and the bride accepts as a promise to build a loving home.
Iranian Sofreh Aghd – This cultural ceremony is generally celebrated by Persian couples that takes place in a specially decorated room with an elaborate spread on the floor or the table that contains many symbolic items that represent an element of the couple’s new life together. These include a mirror, two candelabras, an assortment of seven symbolic herbs and spices, flatbread, eggs and nuts (almonds, walnut, hazelnut) to symbolize fertility, seasonal fruits (usually apples and pomegranates), rock candy, coins to symbolize wealth and prosperity, honey which the bride and groom feed to each other off of their pinky fingers, rose water, a bible, wild rue, needle and thread, coal, a ceremonial cloth or rug, sugar cones, etc.
When the bride enters the room, she has a veil covered her face. Once she is seated next to her groom she can remove the veil and the groom peers at her through a mirror, the Ayaneh, making his wife the first thing seen in the mirror. The Ayaneh represents life and truth and remains on the table throughout. Traditionally, in the days of arranged marriages, this first glimpse in the mirror was often the first time that the groom was able to see his bride.
Celtic Handfasting – A handfasting is an old Pagan custom that dates back to the ancient Celts. It originated as more than a ceremonial act during a wedding ceremony, as it is today, and spanned an entire year serving as a “trial marriage.” If all was well after one year and one day, the couple would then get formally married. If the couple was unhappy, they could split up as if they had never been married in the first place. This has often been compared to a modern-day engagement period.
Today, handfasting is much more literal and takes place during the wedding ceremony. After the bride and groom declare their intent to marry, their hands are bound together with a cord (or cords) to symbolize their connection and the union in which they are entering. The wrapping of the cord forms an infinity symbol and the knot that is tied is a representation of oneness between the two. In a show of unity, they become bound to each other.
Feet Washing – This custom, which is typically practiced at Christian weddings, stems from the story of Jesus washing his disciples feet after Judas’ betrayal. It symbolizes a bride and groom’s humility and willingness to serve the other for the rest of their lives.
This is often done with a pitcher, a bowl, and a sponge right up at the altar. The bride and groom each take turns taking off their shoes and having their feet lightly washed by the other and then dried with a towel, just as Jesus washed and dried his disciples feet on the last day of his life.
Stay tuned for a full post dedicated to Jewish wedding customs and traditions coming on Thursday of this week! For more cultural wedding inspiration, check out some of our DC area real weddings!
I am so excited for this week as we are bringing you cultural wedding information and inspiration coupled with some amazing real DC multi-cultural weddings! Incorporating traditions and cultural heritage is such an important part of planning a wedding ceremony for many couples. The ceremony is the foundation of a wedding, and choosing to incorporate traditions passed through generations brings a heartfelt meaning to such an important part of the day. Today we are sharing Mona and Ryan’s stunning South Asian wedding at Castle Hill Cider to kick off a week of culturally inspired ceremonies.
The couple worked closely with Christine from Engaging Affairs to plan a memorable rustic meets chic outdoor ceremony. We absolutely love Mona’s beautiful red and gold Lingha that was donned for the ceremony before her change into a lighter airy western bridal gown for the reception. Leading into the ceremony, Ryan was joined by his family, groomsmen, and friends for a traditional Baraat. This fun and dance filled start to the day brings the groom to meet with the elders of the brides family traditionally on a horse, elephant, or in Ryan’s case a perfect Audi convertible! A dohl player joins the processional encouraging dancing and builds excitement between the families! The groom is bestowed garlands from the bride’s entourage before heading to the wedding ceremony that ward off any evil spirits.
During the wedding ceremony, the couple is joined under the Mandap, a traditional wedding structure, by the parents of both the bride and groom. For Mona and Ryan, a cord is tied around the couple by their elders to ward off evil spirits and in lieu of wedding rings the bride is gifted a Mangala Sutra. This pennant necklace is tied in three knots to symbolize the binding of two souls together for 100 years and also to declare that she is a married lady. The number seven is important in South Asian weddings, as the couple circles the fire and recites 7 vows to each other to symbolize their commitment. We love how each moment is deeply rooted in tradition and taken with love and absolute sincerity.
After a meaningful and lovely wedding ceremony, the couple had a quick dress change and joined their guests for a rustic chic celebration on the Castle Hill Cider property. How fun is their L-O-V-E Marquee sign at the stage? Thank you so much to Greg Gibson and Engaging Affairs for kicking off our cultural ceremony week and best wishes to the newlyweds! Do you have a beautiful cultural ceremony or reception to share? We would love to see it, send over to us at Submissions@Unitedwithlove.com for an opportunity to be featured on the blog!!
Also, you wont want to miss their wedding day highlight film from the always talented Josh Gooden!
Thank you so much Mona + Ryan for sharing your beautiful wedding ceremony with us! The following Washington DC area wedding professionals contributed to their wedding:
We hope you have had a wonderful week and enjoyed our behind the scenes look at the fun of NY Bridal Fashion Week from Astrid Photography. We love all of the stunning high fashion bridal gown trends we see coming in 2017! Today we are sharing a quaint downtown Bel Air Maryland Engagement Session with you from Be Photography. Scott and Christina knew that they did not want a run of the mill photo location, so they chose a spot that had special meaning to them and their families. Years ago, Scott’s grandparents owned a local business in the same downtown strip that their photos were taken! The newly engaged pair also own a home in Bel Air and hope to raise a family in the same area the groom’s family grew up in! Thank you to Be Photography for sharing their adorable engagement session with us and stay tuned next week for more DC wedding inspiration and weddings!
We love the look and overall ambiance of Merritt and Sean’s tented Virginia wedding in Upperville. From the romantic Sperry tent to the unique racing homage centerpieces that nodded to the couples history on the race track, this wedding gives us all the feels! Janice of Bellwether Events worked with the couple to plan long distance as they lived in California during their engagement, but knew with certainty that they wanted to marry on the bride’s family estate. We love being able to share this classic beauty with you, and we will let the stunning photos by the always talented Katie Stoops do the rest of the talking!
Congratulations to Merritt and Sean! Thank you for sharing your beautiful tented Virginia home wedding with us!
The following Washington DC area wedding professionals contributed to their wedding:
Today we want to discuss one of the most important aspects of wedding planning – without this item, the wedding just won’t happen! What can this uber important element be? The invitation suite and paper goods, of course! We have teamed up with the super talented team at Basic Invite to bring you some amazing invitation tips and inspiration. And don’t forget to check out all of our amazing local DC area wedding couples who have some amazing paper goods of their own!
First and foremost, you must know that an invitation suite does not just include a simple invite asking guests to attend your wedding. There are so many different items that are included in the suite that cannot be forgotten! The save the date generally goes out first and alerts your guest that a special event will be happening on such and such date and that they should block off that day (or weekend!) on the calendar. Generally, this is the first glimpse into your wedding for your guests so it’s a good idea to have it fit the overall theme and aesthetic of the day. A lot of couples like to go with a photo save the date – created from those amazing engagement photos we know you took – with a more formal invitation to follow. If you want to go with a cohesive set for your entire wedding suite, Basic Invite’s items are all part of a set, making it super easy on you! You can find everything from save the dates to wedding invitations and enclosure cards, wedding menus, wedding programs and even matching thank you cards to finish it off! They make it simple – you won’t have to pick each item individually and hope that the work together – you know that each element will fit together perfectly.
Once you get to the actual wedding day invitation you want it to fit both your personalities and the day. If a couple is having a super modern wedding, they will want their invitations to fit the design plan so they might utilize a modern font and clean lines as opposed to a couple with a barn wedding who might include rustic elements like a burlap tie or a lacy accent. Whatever design you choose, Basic Invite has a set for you! They have almost unlimited colors with instant previews so you can see how everything is coming together throughout the process. Still not so sure if the design if right for you? No problem! They provide you with the ability to order a printed sample of your own invitation so you can see just what it will look like, even down to the tiniest detail, before you have to place your big order. You may think that seeing your invitation before you order hundreds isn’t a huge deal breaker, but it is. With so many options and details to pick out, you can never be too sure!
When it comes to your suite as a whole, don’t forget to include an RSVP card, an envelope for the initial send off and one to include for guests to respond back with, and any other wedding enclosure cards; these would include directions, rehearsal dinner info, registry info, and hotel room blocks. There are so many things to remember and we are so thankful that Basic Invite makes it easy with their incredible sets.
When the wedding day comes, sometimes couples forget how many paper items they might need. Don’t forget to consider menus, escort cards, ceremony programs, guest books and more! When the day is over and you are officially married to the love of your life, you might want to consider your thank you cards. If you would like for your thank you cards to match the rest of your set, Basic Invite has those too, and although they won’t relieve you of the task of writing all of those thank yous, you won’t have to worry about how they look! You know they will fit perfectly in with your all-around design plan.