“It was pretty uncharacteristic of him to kiss me in front of so many people,” admits Tali Kweller of Jordan Weiss in reference to their wedding day. “Plus, we had never even talked about it beforehand,” she adds. And yet, right on cue – and despite 300+ witnesses – the groom delivered a fairy-tale moment without a single hesitation. “He broke the [ceremonial] glass, lifted my veil, and gave me the best kiss ever!” Tali beams. “It was a great surprise.”
The breaking of the glass and the time-honored first kiss were just two of the traditions the pair observed with aplomb. Before the service for their autumn nuptials began, Tali and Jordan took part in a revised version of the kabbalat panim, a Jewish wedding custom in which the bride and groom greet the female and male guests respectively at separate receptions.
“We modified the tradition by holding a pre-ceremony cocktail hour where Jordan and I received our guests together,” clarifies Tali. “It was fun and exciting to see everyone, and I loved having the opportunity to say a few words to each guest before the ceremony.”
A special area of the event space was decorated for the bedeken, a ritual that calls for the groom to lower the veil of the bride prior to the ceremony. Tali, her mother, and grandmother were seated in a row of upholstered chairs, the bride’s seat designated by a delicate fall of orchids. Framed mosaics of fresh flowers and greenery were mounted on a backdrop of silky white fabric.
“Jordan was escorted by friends and family members to meet me,” recalls the bride, “and after the bedeken, we signed our marriage contract surrounded by our guests.”
The event that followed was a lovely combination of earthiness and elegance. “My sole demand for the wedding was that it not be black-tie – I didn’t want anything about it to feel stuffy or overly formal,” asserts Jordan. The exposed brick and wooden beams of a former bookbindery reflected character without feeling excessively rustic. Wedding invitations were designed to feature book covers, and programs were typed and bound to resemble antique manuscripts.
Towering trees constructed of moss-wrapped branches and thousands of glossy green leaves enlivened the ethereal mood of the ceremony space. Two of the structures flanked the entrance to an aisle lined with snowy long-stemmed roses, and four more stretched to form a canopy above the ceremonial altar. Additional greenery and a veritable garden of white flowers completed the tableau.
Escorted by their respective parents, Tali and Jordan walked down the aisle to musical selections they’d chosen together. “A 10-piece orchestra played classical string renditions of ‘90s rap songs,” Jordan smiles.
“It made us so happy!” the bride affirms. “And our friends appreciated it, too.”
The couple exchanged vows beneath the prayer shawl once owned by Tali’s grandfather. “Our four brothers supported the chuppah by holding the four posts attached to the tallit,” the bride explains. “We were surrounded by our family – it was really beautiful.”
A beer garden featuring brands personally selected by the bride and groom kept guests entertained during the cocktail hour. “Jordan is very into old-fashioned sodas, so we also had a variety of those available as well,” adds Tali. The lounge area was outfitted with a custom bar and offered upholstered sitting areas in addition to cocktail tables and chairs. A decorative partition with a cutaway door connected the lounge to the reception space. Seating cards were arranged on a wheel-shaped table from the center of which sprang an immense floral sculpture.
The reception area had been exquisitely transformed from a vast blank canvas to a vision of elegance. Crystal chandeliers in an array of styles and sizes were buoyed overhead by exposed wooden beams. An assortment of stylish seating options surrounded tables that ranged from rectangular to round. Distressed settees mingled with cane-back chairs, and upholstered seating stood alongside draped chiavari chairs. Neutral tabletops featured colorful accents of cornflower and emerald contributed by the couple, who spent approximately a year collecting vases at flea markets for the tables. “Jordan’s cousin also helped us collect vintage books with covers in beautiful shades of green and blue that helped tie in the book theme.”
A live band drew attendees onto a custom dance floor, and Eddie Wakes, a crooner reminiscent of Nat King Cole, made the ladies present swoon. “More than anything, I wanted to make sure our guests had a great time,” asserts the groom, who was very hands-on when it came to the music.
At midnight, the guests who remained (“Mostly our friends!” Jordan quips) moved from the reception area to a room where an after-party was enjoyed. “A DJ took over for the band, and there were couches near the dance floor for people who wanted to lounge,” shares the groom. To fortify late-night revelers, made-to-order mini-donuts and ice cream floats made with Guinness instead of root beer were on hand. “It was a great way to end the night.”
The couple freely admits that having a party consultant in the family was a priceless asset. “We were obviously insanely fortunate to have my mother-in-law plan the wedding; there are not enough words to describe her generosity, and the generosity of her friends and colleagues, in making every detail of our day absolutely incredible,” shares Tali.
The décor was dazzling, the traditions touching, and the venue perfect for the eclectic event. However, amid all the memories generated by the flawless day remains the moment most cherished by the beautiful bride: The instant Jordan surprised her with that magnificent kiss.
“I married my best friend and soul mate,” sums up Tali of the true meaning of the day. “And that’s so much more important than anything else.”