Lacey & Jason’s feminist Jewish mountain feast and dance party

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The Offbeat Bride: Lacey, Senior Field Organizer

Her offbeat partner: Jason, Medical Student

Date and location of wedding: The Pavilion at Shenandoah Woods, Stanley, VA — September 13, 2014

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: My partner is Jewish and I am a Unitarian feminist. It was important to him and his family that a rabbi marry us, and it was important to me to have a gender-neutral ceremony that was inclusive of all religions. We found a fabulous rabbi who did exactly that for us. The ceremony embraced the Jewish wedding traditions, but we put our own spin on them. We each walked down the aisle with both parents, we circled each other, we both stomped on our own glasses, and we were pronounced “bride and groom and life partners” at the end.

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Instead of traditional bridal parties, we decided to have entourages instead. This was a way for us to recognize our friends without forcing them to buy special clothes and shoes or awkwardly walk down the aisle in front of over one hundred people. Instead their job was support us and help keep us laughing in the months, days, and hours leading up to that big walk down the aisle. In return, the men got super cool matching socks and handmade ties that were all the same color, but had designs that matched each of their individual interests. The women got handmade clutches with flowers on them that matched the colors of the dresses they had decided to wear.

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We named each of our tables after places that were important to our relationship. While we were trying to figure out table names, we started thinking of funny things we did or said at those places. The quotes that came out of our remembrances were too good not to incorporate somehow, so we put them on luggage tags tied around the napkins at each place setting.

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To save money, we decided to make our own wedding invitations. Luckily I have an incredibly talented college roommate who worked with us to develop a wedding watercolor. It was so awesome, and captured us so well, that we also used it for our website, thank you cards, programs, table names, and gifts sign.

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We love to eat, so the food was a very important element of the wedding to us. We also wanted to make sure that all of our vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and lactose intolerant guests could enjoy the food as much as we did. With that in mind, as well as our “omnivore with a preference for veggies” lifestyle, we developed a veggie-forward menu with lots of great, fresh flavors that all of our guests could enjoy. We had a chicken dish for the dads, but everything else was vegetarian and most was gluten-free. The menu reflected our tastes, allowed everyone to enjoy the meal, and ended up being really cost-effective.

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My partner and I decided within the first three months of our relationship to quit our jobs and trek to Everest Base Camp together, and we actually did it. At the time we were living in the Washington, DC area, so the best place to train for the trek was in the George Washington National Park. On those practice hikes, we fell in love with each other, but also with the gorgeousness of the area. So what better way to celebrate our next big adventure together than to get married at a venue overlooking the very mountains where we fell in love? We couldn't have asked for a better place to tie the knot.

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Tell us about the ceremony:
We decided to write our vows together to take the pressure off, and this is what we came up with:

L: I promise to always sing silly songs while we're cooking together.
J: I promise to always bring you coffee and kiss you goodbye each morning.
L: I promise to always make sure we have cuddle time, even when you say you're too tired.
J: I promise to rub your feet after a long day, no matter how stinky they are.
L:I promise to try not to say anything when you drive like a reckless old lady.
J: I promise to pick out the poppy seeds that get stuck in your teeth.
L: I promise to keep laughing with you, especially when everything goes wrong.
J: And when everything does go wrong, I promise to be by your side figuring it out together.
L: I promise to take care of you when you're sick no matter how grumpy face you get.
J: I promise to comfort you back to sleep when you wake up from a night terror, even if you think I'm an elk.
L: I promise to never stop going on adventures with you.
J: I promise to never stop dancing with you.
L: I promise to always remember how special you are and to always love you with everything I've got.
J: I promise to always remember what a catch you are and to always show how much I love you.
L: I Lacey take Jason to be my husband.
J: I Jason take Lacey to be my wife.
L: Forever.
J: Forever.

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Our biggest challenge:
Rain! The weather was beautiful the week before our wedding. And there were only clear skies predicted for the week after our wedding. But the weather channel called for rain on our actual wedding day. Our mountain wedding with an uncovered, outdoor ceremony site. When I found out about this, I immediately freaked out. Then my partner freaked out. And then I read this Offbeat Bride post. And I took a breath and felt better. But I still bought about 20 umbrellas, because if it was going to rain, I was going to get some damn cute umbrella pictures!

I worked with our day-of wedding coordinator to make a rain plan that was actually feasible (note to all couples: this is probably best done more than two days before the actual wedding). We ended up rearranging the tables in the reception venue so that there was an aisle down the center and we could place the chuppah with the view behind it. We would just do the wedding dinner theater-style.

But I still hoped above all hope that we wouldn't have to resort to this plan B. Ever optimistic, we even rehearsed in the uncovered ceremony space. But sure enough, I woke up on the day of our wedding to gross, cold rain. I gathered my entourage for advice and comfort, talked to my partner, and decided that we would go with plan B, our dinner theater-style wedding. After a few mimosas, I was fine with this.

And you know what? It went perfectly. Even better than it would have if we had used the outdoor space. The rain stopped an hour before the ceremony started, and the sun actually broke through during our vows. A flock of birds rose up from the cornfields behind us and swooped around throughout. And the venue looked gorgeous in the just-after-it-rains light. Seriously, it looked like we orchestrated everything.

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My funniest moment:
The glass that was specially made for stomping on and breaking to signal the end of a Jewish wedding did not break. My partner managed to break his glass in two tries. I finally got mine after three. Quite a cheer went up when the job was finally done.

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The third: Every Jewish wedding has a hora, or chair dance, where the bride and groom are lifted up in chairs by the crowd. It's really fun… to watch. When raised up in the air on a folding chair by about ten drunken guys, it's one of the most terrifying things ever. And I've jumped out of an airplane before. In all the pictures from the hora, I have a look of terror on my face and my partner has his hand raised so that our enthusiastic guests didn't hit his head on the ceiling.

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My favorite moment:
We loved every moment of our ceremony — from walking down the aisle with my parents to our siblings' readings, from our vows to the kiss and smashing of the glass. It was a magical 20 minutes that felt like a single moment.

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After the ceremony, we jumped into a waiting shuttle and went to take pictures at this gorgeous barn down the road. It was the perfect time to laugh and kiss and let the enormity of what we had just done wash over us.

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We love to dance, and we didn't want to box step our first dance as a married couple, so we invested in some dance lessons. Even though we had been practicing the steps for months, we had never practiced with a live band before. That we were actually able to pull of the dance, lifts included, is still amazing and wonderful to me.

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Since we had our venue for the entire weekend, we just kept the party going after the official reception ended at 11pm. Sitting around the campfire, roasting marshmallows, and just chatting with our family and closest friends until the wee hours of the night was a truly special way to end our big celebration.

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Comments on Lacey & Jason’s feminist Jewish mountain feast and dance party

  1. I couldn’t have loved every bit of your wedding any more than if it were my own. I teared up reading your vows and again within minutes of watching the video. I love the colors. I love that both of you walked down the aisle with both parents. The setting is completely gorgeous! Congrats to you both! Many wishes of a long, happy, healthy life together.

  2. I love everything about this wedding and am Pinning this link for inspiration. I am also planning a feminist Jewish wedding for later this year and LOVE LOVE LOVE your take on these traditions. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful, beautiful event!

  3. This happened in valley where I live! I wish I could be friends with these lovely people.

  4. Thank you all so much for the kind words! We had such a fun time at our wedding, and it’s so great to get to relive it with all of you! Please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions. I got a lot of inspiration and tips from, so I’d love to pay it forward! Also, for those that are interested, here’s a highlight video that my awesomely talented friend and entourage member made for us:

  5. I just wanted to say that your dress is one of the most beautiful ones I’ve ever seen and it looks amazing on you.

    • Awww! Thank you so much! I found it on etsy and fell in love, but it was way out of my budget. Then I found it in my size secondhand on for half the price! The fates were totally with me!

      • Can I just say that dayum, your calves looked ahhhmazing, and that dress was absolutely perfect on you!!!

  6. AHHH!! Sooo beautiful and amazing!!! So much happy in all these pictures- and those SHOES! Congrats and Mazel Tov!!

  7. My favorite part of this was the “omnivores with a preference for veggies” line 🙂 I would love to see Lacey’s menu! We’re trying to make a paleo menu and want more veggies in it!

    • Thanks for your interest in the food! Below is what our menu looked like. Let me know if you have any questions.

      hors d’oeuvres…
      Mediterranean Cheese Platter with assorted cheeses, spreads,
      fresh fruit and pita bread

      buffet dinner…
      Rosemary roasted chicken with pommery mustard sauce

      Couscous salad with tomatoes, scallions and cucumbers with a

      Imam Bahildi – eggplant with tomatoes, onion, garlic, raisins, pine
      nuts and parsley (this was my absolute favorite! LOVE this dish!)

      Sliced garden tomatoes with fresh basil, mozzarella cheese,
      extra virgin olive oil, and balsamic vinegar

      Marinated green beans with garlic, mint and hazelnuts

  8. I just got engaged this weekend but wondering what the rabbi’s name is if you’re willing to share. Thanks!

  9. May I ask if you can share the rabbi? I am looking to get eloped in that area and we are from Illinois. Looking for an inter faith elopement ceremony in SNP area.

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