I’m not a girl who can claim she has a lot of wedding experience. As far as I can remember I have only attended 3 weddings in my whole life; a friend of my ex boyfriends, the aunt of my ex boyfriend, and my father’s wedding. 1 of those weddings was not Jewish, and the other two were very small affairs, and very Ashkenazi. Needless to say I was thrown in to a complete and total culture shock when I attended my first Sephardic, Israeli wedding. One of Stephane’s many, many cousins was getting married and I was so happy that I could be there to experience this amazing event with Steph and his family.
When we arrived at the event hall I was immediately struck by how beautiful it was. We had been driving through industrial Ashdod and then all of a sudden there was this beautiful, almost tropical looking, paradise stuck in the middle of industrial shopping malls and car repair shops. When we entered we found ourselves in this beautiful foyer where the Chupah (Wedding canopy) was located surrounded by tables and tables of delicious food. I was so happy I was previously forewarned about the gargantuan amounts of food, so I was sure to come to the wedding very hungry. At the buffet there was pizza, Asian food, meats, sushi, and what felt like a thousand other dishes. I wanted to try everything, but still wanted to keep room for the inevitable 50 courses that would follow the ceremony. After an hour or so of schmoozing, meeting relatives I have yet to meet, and catching up with the family members I did know, the ceremony began.
Before the Bride and Groom made their grand entrance (together which was very interesting for me), the families of the bride and groom situated themselves around the canopy to receive their soon to be married children. Aside from the obvious differences such as the entire ceremony being done in Hebrew, seeing the bride and groom walk down the aisle to a gorgeous Hebrew song, melted my heart and made me a million times more excited for the day I will be walking down the Aisle to some gorgeous, inevitably Sephardic, Hebrew song :-). The ceremony was beautiful, the prayers were chanted so hauntingly, the Ketubah (marriage contract) was signed, and then the glass was broken, and bride and groom to their first steps as husband and wife. It was amazing. I’ve never really had wedding fever, but attending this event did the trick. It will be interesting to see how I pull off an Israeli wedding with a non Hebrew speaking family, but we’ll make it work!
After the ceremony it was time to enter the big dining hall which was decorated to the nines! I couldn’t believe all of this was pulled off so quickly seeing as the wedding was only announced about a month ago. I guess us Jews just know how to plan our events quickly and efficiently 🙂 When everyone was seated it was time for the Bride and Groom’s first dance as a new couple. Of course it was a gorgeous Mizrahi song and I was in heaven. I’ll make sure to let Stephane know that if we get married our wedding song will have to be either Mizrahi or Arabic…However, with his entire family being Moroccan and Tunisian I don’t think that will be a problem :-). After the first dance the party began and then it became a blur of eating, drinking, and DANCING! My favorite part was seeing Stephane’s 80+ year old grandmother tearing apart the dance floor surrounded by all of her children and grandchildren! It was amazing. Since Stephane, Michael (his little brother), and I had to wake up early the next morning, we didn’t stay too late, but we stayed just long enough to thoroughly enjoy all of the festivities. I think we missed about 20 courses, but we ate enough so it was fine!
When we returned home to Tel Aviv it was right to bed for everyone because we would all be waking up very early the next morning to help Stephane with his eye clinics the next morning. Now that Steph is a big shot 3rd year optometry student he has to perform his exams on actual patients, so his little brother and myself had the honor of being his first two victims! The exam was a bit harder on his brother who was so mesmerized by all of the machines he had a hard time sitting still, but Stephane still got a very good grade on the exam. When it came to me, however, not only did Stephane perform outstandingly well, but once his professor (an American) discovered I was American, he paid a lot of extra attention to Stephane’s exam, had him do extra tests (including dilating my pupils and testing my eye pressure), found out he was fluent in English, and gave him a 95%! I felt like I had profoundly contributed to Stephane’s new found relationship with his professor :-). It was a good day.
Passover is soon arriving so stay tuned for posts on Leila Seder! I will be experiencing my first Moroccan Seder so I should have some good stories to tell!
Until we meet again <3,