A few weeks ago, my dear childhood friend, Naomi, tied the knot with her partner-in-crime, Ben. They might have just about the cutest how-we-met story in the world. They were each others’ first kiss, when they were both around 12-years-old at Camp Ramah. Their relationship went the way of many a camp romance– Naomi dumped him the next day– but they were destined to reunite years later, when Ben was on business in Miami. He didn’t know anyone there, and decided to contact the only person he “knew”–his old camp flame (thanks Facebook!). Neither was expecting much, but the rest is history!
Their relationship began in Miami and developed in New York, where Ben returned soon after they met, and where they currently live. It may seem that these two places have nothing in common architecturally, but that’s not true: they both have a significant relationship to Art Deco. That was Naomi and Ben’s request from me: an art deco ketubah that featured New York-style deco and Miami-style deco.
I chose the Chrysler building for New York (much prettier than the blocky Empire State), and Miami’s New Yorker Hotel, which was actually demolished in the 80s, but I thought it would be a cute sign to highlight the Miami-New York connection.
Art Deco Ketubah by Arielle Angel
15″ x 16″, Micron pen, acrylic paint and gold leaf on paper, 2012
This is me with the finished ketubah, right before the signing. This was a special experience for me, because not only did I create the ketubah, but I was one of the witnesses as well. This was the first time I got to sign a ketubah that I made. It was very emotional. The groom blessed the bride at this point as well, and there was not a dry eye in the room.
The second witness, Michael, signing the ketubah.
I didn’t get a chance to document the ketubah before the wedding, but thankfully the wedding photographers from Glenmar Studios helped me out. If there was a detail shot, you’d be able to see my best attempt at an “Art Deco” Hebrew font.
Until next time…
On the one year anniversary of her wedding, as she and her husband prepare for a long awaited Ireland honeymoon, Ketuv artist Aliza Lelah shares all of the lovely handmade, personal details of her Colorado wedding.
The Chuppah: My mom made the chuppah. It’s made out of her great grandmother’s table cloth, with pictures of my family ancestry printed on fabric and sewn on, their names and dates of their marriage embroidered underneath. My older brother got married in 2009 and used this chuppah, and then their photo was added to it. Justin and I used it in 2010, and now our photo will be sewn on, in anticipation of my younger siblings’ weddings. The chuppah was hung over Aspen trees that me, Justin, and two of our friends cut down here in Colorado.
The Ketubah: Our ketubah was something completely different than any ketubah I have ever made. The text was silk-screened onto an old piece of wood. The wood has clearly withstood the test of time, and is a symbol of our future. The image of Robin Hood and Maid Marion are painted on, and that image represents a special memory for me and Justin, dating all the way back to when we met in 2003.
The Centerpieces: The centerpieces were made by sculptor and friend Andrea Moon, and were inspired by Yoko Ono’s Wish Tree installations. The ceramic tree trunks were on every table, with wire as the branches. At each place setting was a note about Yoko Ono’s installations, a pen and a white tag, asking people to make a wish for us. After they wrote their wish, they hung it on the centerpiece. The place seem to sparkle after people began adding their wishes!
The Place Cards: The place cards were hanging on a few ceramic trees when the guests walked in. We had a small, intimate wedding of 60 people. Each place setting had an old photo on one side of either Justin or me with that person, and on the other side, there was a recent photo of Justin and me with them. There were no names– only photos.
What I Wore: Almost everything I wore came from our grandmothers. I wore Justin’s grandmother’s dress. I changed it only a little, by shortening the sleeves and removing the fabric that went up to the neck. My engagement ring was my maternal grandmother’s: a lovely opal. I wore my paternal grandmother’s pearls, and the earrings I wore were her mother’s. The earrings had even more significance, as they are the only thing my grandmother managed to save of her mother’s before she died in Iraq, just before they were kicked out for being Jewish. All three grandmothers were at the wedding, and it was so special.
Justin’s grandmother in her wedding dress
Me in the slightly modified dress
The Bouquet: I made my bouquet out of vintage buttons.
Breaking the Glass: Both Justin and I broke the glass. Justin is half-Jewish, and we sort of cherry picked the traditions that were important to us and who we are.
The Giveaways: These took literally all of last year to make. Justin and I compiled a list of lyrics by different artists that were meaningful to us. I hand and machine stitched those words onto fabric, stretched them, and built stained-wood frames. During cocktail hour, they were displayed in shelves I made, with a note on the highboy tables asking everyone to remember which frame spoke to them, and to take that one home at the end of the night. That way, each household got to take a piece of the wedding home with them. It’s been so magical this year, learning who took what and seeing them in the homes of our family and friends.
Happily: We got married outside at a venue in boulder called Chautauqua, at the base of the Flatiron mountains. Our reception was called the Community House. We were not allowed to take anything off the walls at the Community House because of its protected historic status, except for in one spot: above the fireplace. Justin and I decided on the one thing I would make to go there– the word “happily.”
One of these things is not like the others: Me and the Howie sisters
You may have noticed, if you were looking closely, a rather large gap in last week’s blog posts. That’s because I had a little wedding business of my own to attend to. My dearest Alexandra Howie (now Howie Stark)– college classmate, roommate, travelmate–got married! And being a bridesmaid is time-consuming.
It was a beautiful event, and I’m not just saying that because I was a part of it. 20s themed– an antique car, a swing band and a photo booth with flapper/dapper props. It was on “The Neck” of Marblehead, Massachusetts, which means the wedding party arrived in a skiff while the guests cheered from the deck of the yacht club, the groom fired the cannon at sunset (yes, a cannon), and we were all privileged to an epic sunset.
This post is about gifts– me to the bride, and her to me– but first, some pictures of the event. (Keep in mind, the professional photos were not yet available to me, so these were culled from friends’ Facebook photos. I think you’ll still get the idea.)
Alex and Randolph next to the antique car that shuttled them around
The wedding party, entering on the dock
The bride and groom make their entrance. (Did I mention that dress is handmade by the bride’s grandmother?)
Marblehead at sunset, the view from the Corinthian Yacht Club, where the wedding was held
Too good to be true. (But it is!)
Spying on the bride and groom in the 20s themed photobooth. (You’ll noticed they’ve changed into Chinese garb.)
It really was a singular event, and these photos obviously don’t do it justice (the bagpipers! the swing dancing! the wonderfully designed table cards!). It made me realize a golden rule of wedding planning (which is also the golden rule of life): be mindful. Make sure you are reflected in all the details– try to express yourself and your values. Make it personal. Not only will it be the best night of your life, but your guests will be sure to love it too.
Ok, on to the point of this post: the gifts.
I’ll start with Alex’s gift the bridesmaids.
Each bridesmaid got a handmade piece of jewelry from our friend Collette Ishiyama‘s collection, inspired by “Egyptian burial jewels, samurai warriors and the omnipresent sliver of the Chrysler building.” The black is stingray skin. How cool is that?
Each piece was specially engraved (on the back, or in the case of the bottommost necklace, on the side) with the bride’s initials, the initials of the bridesmaid who was the recipient, and a heart. Kind of like a locket. It made the piece just that much more amazing. I’ve gotten so many compliments on it already!
Now, for my gift to her. Obviously, I wanted to do something special. The registry wasn’t going to cut it. Alex is a very generous friend– I’ve received scores of thoughtful gifts from her over the years–so I had a lot to live up to.
I started here: if there’s one thing I know about Alex, it’s that she really does appreciate the value of beautiful things. The first time I went into Evolution, a store in Soho that specializes in “unique natural history collectibles,” I was captivated by their butterfly collection. You could stare at those things for hours. Drawer after drawer of eye-popping colors and patterns. Alex and I went to art school together, and both of us concentrated in painting. Each of these butterflies seemed a masterpiece unto itself.
I went into the store a few weeks before the wedding knowing I wanted to get her a collection of butterflies under glass, but with hundreds and hundreds of species to choose from, I had no idea how I wanted to narrow it down. The drawers full of butterflies at Evolution are organized by location– Africa, Asia, etc. I slowly realized that I could choose butterflies that corresponded to locations that have some significance to Alex and Randolph.
Once that became clear, I chose the butterflies (in a painstaking, hours-long process) through a combination of symbolic and aesthetic value. I started with 12 butterflies and then whittled it down to nine. The resident entomologist removed the butterflies from the drawers and arranged them (with pins) on a slab of styrofoam. We spent some time together creating the best arrangement, figuring out how to balance all the individual colors.
The butterflies were framed with double-sided glass, so you can see the amazing, often completely different, patterns on the other side. My frame was ready in a few weeks time.
I had a purple butterfly to remind them of their wedding (purple was their wedding color). I had two Chinese butterflies, to honor Alex’s heritage. I had a butterfly from the Southeast United States, to honor Randolph’s. I had a butterfly from Thailand, where the Howie family often vacationed, to remind the couple of the importance of family. I had a Central American butterfly to remind the couple of their first trip together, to Costa Rica; an African butterfly to remind them of their South African honeymoon; and a Papua New Guinean butterfly to remind them to stay curious and open (and in anticipation of future travels). The “Painted Lady,” found all over the United States, was a reference to their shared future together.
The night before the rehearsal dinner, I made a card crudely depicting all of the butterflies as a sort of a diagram explaining the gift. I gave it to the couple privately after the rehearsal dinner. They loved it so much they displayed it at the Howie home the day after the wedding, when all the guests gathered for a BBQ. If you’re thinking of stealing this idea, be forewarned: it is NOT. CHEAP. But it’s something I know they’ll have forever, and when I saw how touched they were, it was entirely worth it.
Giving them the gift at the rehearsal dinner
The gift and the card on display at the Howie home, the morning after the wedding