The big fat Jewish family weddingOnce in a while, there’s a love story that resonates more than most. For me, it was my brother Clive and his wife (and my now sister-in-law) Tamara’s. Meeting at almost exactly the same time as my fiancé and I, the four of us have shared many family occasions, nights out and nights in together, the boys becoming like brothers and the girls like sisters. And then, in Edinburgh, they made it official. We were all going to be family.
It gave me great happiness to watch Tamara and Clive get married. There’s something quite unique about being part of a huge family wedding – people were coming up to me and thanking me! Not that I did anything. Moreover, this was my first full-on, bells and whistles Jewish wedding and it certainly lived up to expectations.
Tamara and Clive got married on Bank Holiday Monday, 25th August 2014 at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park. In true English August fashion, the rain was torrential, and there was a small matter of a street-long blackout, but on the day nobody cared.
For those unfamiliar with the Mandarin Oriental, it’s where William and Kate had their rehearsal dinner and where the rich, famous and royals often frequent. In short, it’s a spectacular, opulent venue, fit for a timeless, classic wedding.
Tamara wore a dropped waist, modified A-line from Confetti and Lace, with lots of lace, tulle and sparkle – perfectly in keeping with her love of classy bling. Her jewellery was her ‘something borrowed’ and came from her mum, Michele. Peeping out from beneath her dress were crystal-embellished Benjamin Adams shoes with ‘Mrs Harris’ embossed under each sole.
Her look was designed by Beauty Call. She wore her raven hair half-up, half down, her signature fringe framing smoky eyes, her lips pink.
Tamara wore a lace bolero to cover her shoulders for the Orthodox ceremony, which took place under a chuppah (a canopy of sorts), conducted by Rabbi Gordon from the New London Synagogue. No tradition was overlooked: the bride circled the groom seven times while the Hazzan (singer) sang the service to a captivated audience in Hebrew. There was a moment’s hesitation as the groom lifted his foot to smash the covered glass before the cries of “mazel tov!” rang around the room.
The groom was in black tie, while all the ushers wore leopard-print socks as a nod to Tamara.
The colour scheme was purple – right down to the groom’s kippah (religious head covering), while lavish hydrangea centrepieces and mauve, lilac and purple bouquets, buttonholes and wands for the two flower girls (all designed by Wildabout Flowers) brought the colour theme together perfectly.
The guests enjoyed kosher catering from Michael Rose, a crêperie and cocktails. The couple decided against a wedding cake – their Choccywoccydoodah engagement party masterpiece had been enough to satisfy their needs.
It has to be said that one of the highlights of any Jewish wedding (or any Jewish occasion for that matter), apart from the food, is the Israeli dancing. Israeli dancing is mental. I mean, bonkers. You throw yourself around like a lunatic, circling the bride, running in and out at record speed. Then the bride and groom are lifted on chairs and bounced up and down while they clasp on for dear life. Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, the groom is thrown up and down on a sheet. My brother came dangerously close to smashing into the sparkling dance floor below (which was actually shaking from the vigour of the dancing), while I believe a few ankles were sprained and many bruises were acquired.
A big shout out has to go to the eight-piece band Pure Orange who sang in flawless Hebrew throughout the various rounds of Israeli dancing, and who also continued to sing acapella while the power was being restored later in the night. The groom also sang – a complete surprise to Tamara – while the bride’s brother, Gideon, stole the show with a drumming solo. Who needs power when you have such musical talent in the room?
Aside from the crazy dancing and blackout madness, there were some tear-worthy moments. Clive’s speech to Tamara, including hand-penned poem about how they met, was wonderful. The first dance to Alicia Keys’ If I Ain’t Got You was expertly choreographed, and the ceremony itself, complete with haunting Hebrew singing, was mesmerising, even for non-Jewish guests who could just enjoy the unique atmosphere.
The night ended with the bride doing the ice bucket challenge (tipping icy water all over herself for charity) because…why not?
Tamara and Clive’s wedding was a day I’ll never forget: a lavish production, a crazy party and a beautiful celebration of the love story of a couple who (in addition to being the best brother and sister-in-law in the world) are absolutely made for each other.
Most images by Source Images and published with the bride’s permission.
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