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Today we’re featuring the wedding of a very special Smashing The Glass Brides Club member Jenna! You see, way back in the Before Times, Jenna hosted the very first NYC Brides Club meetup – a challah bake at her place in Brooklyn, which, as a mega-talented baker, she also led!
During the pandemic, she and now-husband Mat (who’ve got a super cute how-they-met story, by the way) relocated from NYC back to their shared hometown of Tucson, Arizona, where they also held their wedding – and while I know the New York Brides Club crew misses Jenna’s generosity and baking prowess, after taking a look at the gorgeous landscape featured in She.We Studio’s photos, can you really blame her?!
Even before Jenna and Mat’s move back to the Southwest, they always knew they wanted their wedding to reflect the beauty of the region where they met and grew up. Their main requirement in a venue was epic mountain views, their ketubah featured watercolor mountains reminiscent of Tucson’s, their invites featured prickly pear cacti – Jenna’s bridal bouquet even featured succulents! And she found the perfect lightweight gown for Arizona climate at Grace Loves Lace, too.
There’s so much more to say about this wonderful wedding, and we’ll let Jenna tell you all about it in her own words – but before we do, we’ve got to share her kind words about her time in Brides Club:
“I joined the Brides Club because Smashing the Glass really is the only resource out there for modern Jewish weddings. The Brides Club was a way to have that same community I was seeing from other wedding resources, but with the added bonus of people actually understanding questions related to a Jewish wedding. What I didn’t know was that I would meet so many wonderful women and make so many amazing friendships, which was especially helpful when Covid hit and caused so many of us to change or cancel our plans. I honestly couldn’t have weathered two postponements without being surrounded by my friends and having Karen there for mental and emotional support.”
Awww! Doesn’t get much better than that, does it? Take it away, Jenna!
How we Met
Jenna, the bride: I am a data analyst, currently working in retail, & Mat is a customer success manager in tech. We actually met back in 1994 (we weren’t even two years old yet) at a tumbling class at a local park’s rec center. We reconnected throughout life, as we both grew up in Tucson, AZ and belonged to the same synagogue (I even stole Mat’s birthday for my Bat Mitzvah date), but we happened to both be at a mutual friend’s high school graduation party (who ended up being our wedding videographer) one summer.
It turned out that Mat was going to be in the same freshman business mentorship program at our local university I had been in the year prior (I was a grade ahead of Mat in school) and was planning to attend the orientation that following week (University of Arizona is a large school with multiple orientation dates). A few days later, I got a Facebook message from Mat saying “I got your book.” Somehow, Mat got the book we read in the business mentorship program that I had signed – out of 60 from my year and 60 in his incoming year and of all orientation dates, he got my book! When school started, I invited Mat to our school’s Chabad welcome back barbeque for free kosher food, and the rest is history (although, it would take us until March of the following year to start dating).
An Arizona Wedding
We got married at The Lodge at Ventana Canyon. As Mat was a former DJ & we had been to events at most of the venues in town, we knew what our options were, but still made sure to reach out & try to tour everywhere we could (well, actually, my retired parents helped us out on the tours, as we were living in NYC at the time and they had much more free time). Our main request for the venue was mountains. Tucson is a valley surrounded by four beautiful mountain ranges, so we wanted to embrace the desert beauty and have the mountains visible for our wedding day! The venue also has great food, so we knew the wedding food would taste amazing.
What ‘Smashing The Glass Brides Club’ Did For Us
I joined the Brides Club because Smashing the Glass really is the only resource out there for modern Jewish weddings. The Brides Club was a way to have that same community I was seeing from other wedding resources, but with the added bonus of people actually understanding questions related to a Jewish wedding. What I didn’t know was that I would meet so many wonderful women and make so many amazing friendships, which was especially helpful when Covid hit and caused so many of us to change or cancel our plans. I honestly couldn’t have weathered two postponements without being surrounded by my friends and having Karen there for mental and emotional support.
Our theme was really just us…and the desert. We wanted a modern romantic feel to our special day, featuring the place where we met and grew up! Our original save the dates used a photo of us at the Tucson Desert Museum with the mountains and cacti behind us, our ketubah featured watercolor mountains, our invites and wedding website had prickly pear cacti on it, and our floral also featured succulents in my bridal bouquet and cacti at our chuppah. We also incorporated our colors – burgundy, navy, rose gold, and ivory – in the wedding from the floral, kippot, groomsmen and bridesmaids attire, and even the table linens!
Invitations / stationery
For our invitations, we used Minted. We found the most beautiful simple design that featured prickly pear cactus, and we just so happened to love the matching website design that we used for our wedding website! We were able to include our Hebrew names on the invitation, which was important for us. We then matched card stock to our invitation and printed the inserts ourselves, as we opted for online RSVP only.
Hair + Make-up
We went with freelance hair and makeup artists for the big day. Our MUA, Amanda Nolden, was recommended by a close family friend who had used her before. I had my trial back in October 2019 and went to an outdoor Zumba and Pound class with my mom’s gym – it was the perfect way to test the makeup, which did not budge and still looked amazing. For hair, we had a last minute change and I was recommended to Marie Isabella Hair by an instructor at our kickboxing gym, who used her for her wedding. All my bridesmaids had their makeup done, along with both moms, and just my mom, my sister/Maid-of-Honor, and I had our hair done. It was a long day, but so worth it, and our stylists were just the best!
A Grace Loves Lace Dress
My dress was from Grace Loves Lace and I still wish I was wearing my dress at this very moment!! I am 5’0” so it was important to find a dress that didn’t overpower my petite frame. I hate to say that mom is always right, but she was the one to pick out my dress! I was looking mostly for lightweight, as a wedding in Tucson, AZ needs a lightweight dress. While I was thinking A-line, my mom spotted this lace number on the GLL website (I initially went shopping alone in NYC and then my mom and sister flew out when I had narrowed down the selection), but I was not a fan.
I just didn’t like the fitted silhouette and nude lining, but when I tried it on in the boutique with the ivory lining, I was sold. The dress is three layers total: lining, one layer of a geometric lace, and then another layer of lace with roses embroidered into the lace, and is fitted through the top of the hip, where it flares out into the most stunning of trains. The train is what sold me on the dress. And the low back, which was a feature I love and wanted to highlight in my wedding dress.
I should also point out that the dress has zero buttons or zippers, is made of a stretch lace, and is completely custom cut to my body. I love that it required no alterations, other than having a bustle put in. I am still in love with my dress, and best of all – I could dance all night in it!
My jewellery was all from Kendra Scott. I wore a necklace, bracelet, and earrings in silver with iridescent druzy stone. I definitely needed a necklace with the cut of my dress, and the earrings and bracelet added some more sparkle to the ensemble, as my dress was all lace. In my hair, I had a simple hair vine I actually purchased off Amazon! It was rose gold wire with little pearls in it. I felt like it was the perfect touch to add a little something to my hair, and my sister matched with some pearl hair pins in her braid as well!
Shoes were so hard to find! I have very small feet – I’m barely a US women’s 5 (EU 35). Looking online, I would search for ivory or cream with block heel or wedge (ceremony would be outside on grass), and as soon as I filtered to my size, there would be only one or two options. I finally stumbled across the Kate Spade Radiant Wedges and knew they were perfect! Not only did they come in my size, but they were a wedge, just the right amount of height (just under 3”), and had glitter on the heel! They did come in above what we had budgeted, but I know I will wear them again. My sister was also the best in that she included flip flips in our bachelorette bags, so I had those for backup when my feet needed a break dancing all night long.
The handsome groom
My husband is very stylish and knows what he likes, so his suit was an important decision for him. The day my mom, sister, and a close family friend were going wedding dress shopping with me in NYC (mostly so I could show them the Grace Loves Lace dress), we made Mat an appointment at The Black Tux, where he had decided would be the spot for the men’s attire. It was nice getting to show off what he’d be wearing with everyone in town.
We both liked the more modern tapered cut to the men’s suits, and decided on their blue suit, as navy tends to photograph black, and this would photograph like navy. He had even already purchased the shoes he planned to wear (brown Cole Haan dress shoes)! The groomsmen and my dad also wore the same suit, just with the rented shoes and belt. Mat really did look amazing in his selection of blue suit, new white dress shirt, brown belt and shoes, burgundy tie, socks, and kippah, and just for the groom, a crisp white pocket square to compliment his boutonniere.
I had four bridesmaids in total: my sister and maid-of-honor, my sister-in-law, my sorority grand little, and my best friend from grad school. They were absolutely the best group of girls! For dresses, I let them select any dress from Birdy Grey in the color Rose Quartz (now Dusty Rose) and in the mesh or chiffon fabrics (at the time, they only had those plus a tulle fabric). Each girl was able to then pick the dress that made them feel most comfortable. Birdy Grey is quite reasonably priced (with sales making dresses even more affordable), and the dresses all have pockets!
We started off our ceremony with the ketubah signing and bedeken (veiling) beforehand. It was so special having our family and friends to start celebrating before the actual ceremony! Our ceremony was kept fairly traditional for a Jewish ceremony, but we made sure to add in some special touches. First was our music. My husband being a former DJ, we picked out our music quite quickly!
The groomsmen, my husband with his mom, the bridesmaids, and our ring bearer all walked down to an altered version of Boi V’Shalom from my summer camp’s CD Kolot Ramah. This song and the song we had played as the last song prior to the ceremony, Dodi Li, were special as my siblings and two of our cousins all went to this summer camp, and my sister had two good friends who sung on both of the songs we used.
I, along with my mom and dad, walked down to a string instrumental version of ‘Erev Shel Shoshanim’, which was fitting with my dress having embroidered roses on it! I then completed my seven circles under the chuppah to the song. Our officiant was also a special touch for our day. I have known Rabbi Billy since he moved to Tucson, and I grew up in class with his son, as well as attending the Jewish day school where Rabbi Billy was Judaic Studies Director and taught. Mat knew him from DJing events at the school (as well as Bar and Bat Mitzvahs). Another special touch was to honor Mat’s father, who passed, by draping ourselves in his tallit during the Sheva Brachot.
Directly after when we removed the tallit, we had a recording of my grandfather, who was a cantor, chanting his Y’varechecha (Priestly Benediction). We had converted the cassette tape recording of my parents’ wedding, so it was a meaningful way to include both my grandfather and the prayer he would chant at all our lifecycle events. And lastly, right after Mat smashed the glass, we chose a Matisyahu song, I Believe in Love, to play for our processional, keeping the upbeat excitement for the party to come!
Picking our ketubah was very important to us. We wanted something that felt like it really represented us as a couple. I did a lot of looking online at many of the artists listed on our Brides Club discounts, but nothing really stood out until I stumbled upon our ketubah on Etsy. I found an artist by the name Susie Lubell, who is based in Israel. This particular ketubah just felt right. It was modern, with just a simple watercolor of mountains on the top of the text with a reflection of the mountains below the text.
The colors just screamed Tucson desert – these were the colors of our Catalina Mountains, but also the same colors as our beautiful desert sunsets. We also customized our ketubah text, choosing the traditional Aramaic with Lieberman clause for the Hebrew side, and an English version that quoted the Song of Solomon. It is also very special, as my brother and sister gifted us our ketubah.
We were very fortunate to have borrowed the most beautiful chuppah topper from a family friend. It had been made from her wedding dress and used for her daughter’s wedding, and I just loved how it looked. It was made for a copper chuppah, which was perfect for our theme and colors, however, the family friend’s husband had cut down the chuppah he built for the topper, so Mat, my dad, and I built one ourselves to fit the topper! It was absolutely beautiful, especially with the mountains and trees behind and the floral in front (our florist even had a cactus rib that was stunning in front of the chuppah).
One important factor to our chuppah was to also make sure it was tall enough that with the overhang from the topper, we didn’t cut off Rabbi Billy’s head – definitely something to keep in mind if you have a tall officiant!
Our Music Choice
Music choice was one of the first things we had figured out with Mat being a former DJ! Our processional songs were ‘Boi V’Shalom’ (Kolot Ramah) and ‘Erev Shel Shoshanim’ (International String Trio). Recessional was ‘I Believe in Love’ (Matisyahu). Grand entrance was ‘Ants Marching’ (Dave Matthews Band, Full Tilt Remix) for the bridal party, followed by the intro to ‘Baba O’Reilley’ (The Who) for our big entrance.
The first dance was ‘Here On Out’ (Dave Matthews Band), Father-Daughter dance was to ‘Over the Rainbow’ (Eva Cassidy), and Mother-Son dance was to ‘Your Mother Should Know’ (The Beatles). Cake cutting was ‘You & Me’ (Dave Matthews Band) and ‘Beyond’ (Leon Bridges), and for the best last song, ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ (Queen).
Our DJ, Fantastic Five Entertainment, was absolutely amazing and kept the dance floor packed the whole night. Mat shared his Hora medley from his DJ years, which we followed with Tel Aviv (Omer Adam). Our Hora was a highlight of the night, with guests coming up and raving about it!
We had a late florist change and wound up with Eastland Alley Co., who brought our vision to life! I had no specific flowers I wanted, but rather the feel and color were what I was going for. For my bridal bouquet, I requested a succulent and all the colors from rose gold to burgundy, adding in some rust/terracotta tones, ivory, greenery, and if possible, some navy (which was achieved with the centers of some of the flowers). I also requested a more petite bouquet, with open stems, asymmetric natural shape, and a long ribbon to match the bridesmaid dresses.
The rest of the floral from the bridesmaid bouquets to the centerpieces played off the same floral as my bouquet. We also had some gold accents in the table centerpieces, with cacti and candles. One thing I really liked was how they did three different styles of centerpiece to change up focus throughout the reception space. They also provided the most stunning floral for our baker to add to the cake!
Photographer and videographer
Photograher was Shelley Welander of She.We Studio. I can’t begin to say how amazing she is! We were looking for someone who kept the photos more natural and had a photojournalistic style, as we didn’t want to look stiff and posed. Our videographer was Tad Sallee of TSCinema (this is the high school friend of mine who had the graduation party Mat and I reconnected at). He is truly amazing at the work he does and I couldn’t have thought of anyone else but him for our wedding videography. At one point, Mat stood next to him, watching him capture my nephew tearing up the dance floor!
Food and Cake
Catering was through our venue. And they have such amazing food!! Our tasting left us so full, we couldn’t even have dinner that night. They were also very accommodating with our request for no dairy in the sides, as we offered chicken, salmon, or vegetarian and wanted to keep the food kosher-style, as well as being considerate of the sealed kosher meals we had for a few guests. We had our rehearsal dinner by the resort pool at the venue, and they even allowed us to bring kosher wine and challah for Shabbat!
Our cake was by Annie of Ambrosia Cakes, and since we had done our tasting back in October 2019, I have been dreaming of our wedding cake. We chose vanilla almond cake with lemon curd filling and her amazing buttercream. The design was inspired by a cake a friend who’s a baker in Portland made – I just loved the simplicity of the design, while still being so beautiful. We went with a smaller two-tier cake, brushed with rose gold at the base of each cake, textured tops, and three offset bunches of floral. The rest of the cake was kitchen cake to be cut up an served for guests, leaving us the top tier to save!
We chose to have a DJ for our wedding, which seems like the obvious choice with my husband being a former one himself! We wanted a DJ for the main fact that they can really do anything – they can play any genre, any song, any artist. And that was what we wanted. We have such varied taste in music, that we wanted to be able to have it all, and we also just prefer they style of a DJ to a band. And music was hugely important to us, as all we wanted with postponing our wedding twice was to have a full dance floor all night long.
We did do favors, but I wanted to make sure they would be easy for our out of town guests, so we went with something edible. I came up with the idea to do his, hers, and theirs popcorn favors and it worked out perfectly! I don’t even know if we had any leftover. We purchased the popcorn from a local shop that makes local flavors. His was a cheesy jalapeno popcorn, hers was a churro popcorn, and theirs was the mix of the two. I got two super large family sized bags (about 123.5 cups per bag), along with two small bags for us to munch on while packing the favor bags.
We used clear cellophane bags I got from Michael’s, using the included twist ties to seal, and had cute rose gold foil saguaro stickers on one side of the bag (made by a fellow Brides Club member for me) and a flavor label made using printable Avery kraft labels on the other side! One of my bridesmaids was there to help, along with my sister, my mom, and a family friend, and the Thursday before the wedding, we put together all the bags (munching happily along the way). Since the popcorn shop isn’t far from where Mat and I live, we are definitely making our way over to try more flavors as our wedding flavors were amazing!
One thing that was a meaningful touch for our wedding was having a Shabbat rehearsal dinner. As our Rabbi is Orthodox, we wouldn’t have been able to hold the rehearsal on Saturday until it was dark outside, so we opted for a quick Friday afternoon rehearsal followed by Shabbat dinner! We lit the candles, said kiddush, my great aunt (who flew all the way from Jerusalem) blessed us, and we said Hamotzi over the challah. It incorporated an important part of our Jewish lives with all our guests there.
Due to Covid, we haven’t even begun to plan our honeymoon just yet. We did take a quick minimoon to Sedona, AZ right after the wedding. There we went hiking, took a sunrise hot air balloon ride, stayed at a cute bed and breakfast right in the red rocks, ate lots of yummy food, and just relaxed together. We also brought a bottle of champagne with us to enjoy looking out at the view, and the B&B even gave us shirts (they have a whole closet of shirts they’ve made for guests)! We can’t wait for when we get to take our real big honeymoon trip sometime in the near future.
Advice to couples currently planning their wedding
My biggest piece of advice is to learn to let the things you can’t control roll off. It took some time at the start of planning, but once I just let people be and things happen that I couldn’t control, I found I was much more level headed when coming at issues that arose. We had two vendor changes we made late in the game, as well as losing the venue coordinator a few weeks before our wedding and quickly thinking on our feet to hire a day of coordinator. We navigated some difficult times where everything was out of our control, so we made the decisions we felt were best for us and to enable us to take control back where we could.
What also helped immensely with all the changes with postponing and just general planning was two things: a wedding email address (anything wedding related all went to that email, so it was always easy to find things, as I also set up filters and organized my inbox with labels for each vendor) and using Google Drive to organize everything.
Google Drive was super helpful, as both my husband and I had access, as well as my mom, to everything from contracts (if paper, I would scan and upload), venue packets from touring venues, spreadsheets for keeping track of guests, addresses, RSVPs, meal selections, welcome bags, etc. It was really handy to have it all in one place that could be so easily accessed as needed.
JENNA & MAT’S LITTLE WHITE BOOK
Photography – Shelley Welander, She.We Studio
Videography -Tad Sallee, TSCinema
Day of Coordinator – Jane Castle Events
Venue – The Lodge at Ventana Canyon
Bride’s dress – Grace Loves Lace
Bride’s shoes – Kate Spade
Bride’s accessories – Kendra Scott, Amazon
Groom’s attire – The Black Tux
Bridesmaids – Birdy Grey
Hair + Makeup – Marie Isabella Hair, Amanda Nolden
Flowers – Eastland Alley Co.
DJ – Phil Montes, Fantastic Five Entertainment
Catering – The Lodge at Ventana Canyon
Cake – Annie Matlick, Ambrosia Cakes
Ketubah – Susie Lubell
Stationery/Invitation – Minted
Rabbi – Rabbi Billy Lewkowicz
Smash The Glass Pouch – Smashing The Glass Etsy Shop or join Smashing The Glass’s Brides Club and get one for free!
If you’re a Jewish or Jew-ish bride-to-be, you’ll want to join Smashing The Glass’ Brides Club. Guided by the world’s number 1 Jewish wedding expert, Karen Cinnamon, Brides Club is the private community for Jewish and Jew-ish brides that removes wedstress and indecision and gives you what you need to plan with confidence during these uncertain times. Join our Brides Club here.