Masada’s wedding wisdom

By Masada Siegel, Special To The Dayton Jewish Observer

Masada Siegel on her wedding day

Mazel tov to you, bride to be! You might have been waiting for this day for a long time and finally it has arrived. Get ready for your entire world to change, because with the word “yes,” the whirlwind of happy, excited energy has just begun.

There are a million and one things to think about, and it’s hard to know where to start. Here are a few helpful hints to organize your special day in as stress-free a way as possible.

1. Buy a cute wedding notebook or daily planner type of book. Take it to all meetings and keep all your notes in it and you can also attach business cards in it and informational papers. This way everything is in one place regarding all your vendors.

Weddings get out of control regardless and somehow you will find yourself on email lists and will receive invitations to bridal expos. These can all prove to be helpful provided you remember when to go and where they are. The key to your wedding being fantastic is being organized.

2. Try to be realistic. Is that somewhat possible? I know it’s your special day and you want everything perfect. Make a list of what the most important aspects of your wedding are and decide where you want the money to be spent.

3. Come up with two words to describe your wedding. For example: Elegant and Fun. Perhaps you want the ceremony to be elegant. When you speak to your rabbi, this word will help him or her come up with meaningful ways to organize the ceremony. The word fun could be used to describe how you want the reception. Picking descriptive words will help assist your vendors help you create your dream wedding.

4. How to pick your ketubah (Jewish marriage contract). Check with your local synagogues and also look at the many online websites. If you plan way in advance you can even create a ketubah using your own designs or photos.

Make sure to talk to your rabbi and see exactly what kind of ketubah you need. For instance, some rabbis might ask you to find one that includes the Lieberman Clause, which provides for the possibility of a get (Jewish divorce), if it should ever become necessary.

5. Consult your Jewish calendar when you are planning your wedding. There are a number of Jewish holidays such as Sukkot and Shavuot or the days of the counting of the Omer when many rabbis will not perform a wedding. So before you pick the date, be sure to check the Jewish holidays.

6. Make it personal. So what does that mean? The best weddings have elements of your personality in it, so be creative. For example, if you are a world traveler, instead of having an arrangement of flowers where your seating cards are, use a globe. You don’t have to follow modes that are not meaningful to you: it’s your special day to design what feels right.

7. Signing the ketubah. Most people sign their ketubah in a small room with a few family members and friends. Perhaps incorporate the signing into part of your ceremony and turn everyone attending your wedding into your witnesses.

8. Under the chupah. One of the most meaningful and best ways to include all of your family and friends in your wedding ceremony is to face the crowd. Have the rabbi stand to your side, so everyone can watch your emotions. Friends and family may have come from all over the world perhaps to be at your wedding; allow them a front row view of your most intimate moments. Not only will you make the wedding more personal, but your photos will be even more magnificent.

9. Turn on the camera in your head. You will have spent months, maybe years planning your special day and it flies by. Try to focus your mind and notice as much as you can. Pretend you have a video camera in your head and try to record the magic so you can replay it.

Many people forgo a wedding video and often it is a huge regret. See if your budget allows for someone to record your special day. If not, find a good friend who is talented with a camera, and ask him or her to record at least your ceremony.

10. Don’t start the ceremony until you have five minutes to yourself to focus and relax. It is your day and you are the boss. Give yourself a few minutes to concentrate and be able to enjoy the moment, as it will be over before you know it. Make sure to drink in the energy and remember it as all these people have come out to be with you.

Feel the love that surrounds you, whether it is 10 people on a beach or a ballroom of people cheering you. Savor the magic and the love. Your wedding day should be one of the most fantastic, beautiful, meaningful days of your life. If you don’t want the added expense of a wedding planner, then plan it yourself but choose vendors you really trust so the day of your wedding you can just let go and enjoy yourself.

The truth is no one will ever know if the flower arrangements were not as perfect as you imagined. If the music was not as planned, it is doubtful that it will make a difference. Your guests are there to celebrate you and your love. So enjoy every single minute, and have as much fun as possible.


Gifts for the couple

A great present involves a great deal of thought about the happy couple. It’s always good to check out the registry and consider giving cash. But here are some options that are sure to make any bride and groom smile with delight.

Something meaningful
Do some investigation on how the couple spend their time. Do they enjoy shows, the philharmonic, art museums? If so, buy them a membership to a museum or tickets to a performance. It’s an out-of-the-box-office idea but one that will create meaningful memories.

Something positive
Help repair the world in honor of the couple. Whether it’s to a synagogue, the Federation, Friends of the IDF, JNF, or Jewish Braille International, making a donation in a couple’s name is a win-win. It’s a great way to send positive vibes out to the world about the upcoming happy event.

Something travel related
Purchase a Rosetta Stone ( software package so the newlyweds can brush up on their Hebrew before a honeymoon in Israel. Perhaps they are headed to Italy, so it might help them learn the language of love. It’s a fun way to help the newlyweds haggle at the markets and travel more safely.

Something useful
A fantastic option for a wedding gift is cutlery: it’s useful and long lasting. For a modern look with an elegant feel, check out Knork’s designs ( Also look into Robert Welch knives (, which are both useful and stylish. These selections are sure to please.

A Kiddush cup by Carrol Boyes

Something Jewish and pretty

The South African designer Carrol Boyes ( has spectacular Kiddush cups and challah boards. Her items are artistic, excellent quality and unique. One of her best sellers is a “water jug” with a man on the side as the pitcher handle. It is a perfect gift, because it is useful and beautiful as it looks like a work of art in the middle of a table.

Something relaxing
Weddings are extremely stressful to plan. Give the gift of relaxation to the happy couple. It can be an experiential gift, one which is difficult to find before a wedding. A get-away weekend to a sunny location such as Tucson might be perfect. Look into a day pass to a nationally-acclaimed spa such as Miraval ( Spending time there will simply melt the stress away.


Masada Siegel, a freelance writer based in Scottsdale, has written for The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and The Jerusalem Post. She is a frequent contributor to The Observer.

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