Sarah + Yoni

Ceremony + Reception: Round Table Club

Hair: Juliet – Snipps

Makeup: Meaghan – Aveda

Florist: Meade Wenzel

Cake: Swiss Confectionery

Band: Royal Dukes

Videographer: Bella Productions

Second photographer: Catherine Masters

Yoni and I met in Paris while I was studying in the beautiful city. I had every
intention of soaking up the best of the historic, love-drenched place that I had always
dreamed of. I ate in cafes, explored museums with friends, and walked the streets with
rose-colored glasses. But I never actually expected to find my future husband there! I
met Yoni in a small, inconspicuous bar celebrating with friends. The brief, fun romance
that followed centered on discovering gems of Paris together. But it also held moments
of deep connection—telling Yoni all about my family on our first date, visiting the
garden of Monet and unveiling the possibility of a longer future together, and spending
my final evening at the ballet and then a lingering dinner that felt like a fairytale.

But we had to be practical. I was returning to New Orleans for the end of my studies,
and there were so many barriers to a long-term relationship—differences in age,
geography, religion, culture and language. So we ended our relationship with
“bisous” and the promise of friendship over email. But Yoni surprised me, our
emails continued and he took a leap. He flew to New York the same week that I was
visiting friends in the city, and we rekindled the feelings that had never truly gone
away. But we agreed, again, that it did not make sense.

I have begun to realize that many things that don’t ‘make sense’ are precisely the
things that quietly tug on your heart. While Yoni and I continued exchanging emails and
stories, our lives continued in our different worlds. But there was a draw to one
another even though the barriers had not budged.

How did he propose? Yoni proposed through a poem. It was so perfect for us. We had spoken about marriage, and agreed that it was the direction that we wanted to move in. But we had not shopped for rings or anything that signified a proposal was coming. Then we celebrated our anniversary—a nice dinner before Yoni had to leave town for a long business trip. To remain close and not just giving the perfunctory ‘what I ate’ emails back and forth, I suggested that we co-author a poem called a “Tonka” for a poetry contest. It would be a way of having a more intimate dialogue as we worked on the poem. He loved the idea too, but then we didn’t end up drafting anything and skyped instead. When Yoni was arriving back to the US, we agreed that I was going to meet him at his apartment for dinner. I didn’t think anything of it when he suggested I wait downstairs for a few minutes, because I assumed he just wanted to tidy up and wash his face before our date night. Little did I know that he was struck by an idea on his return flight and had worked on our Tonka as his proposal. With a few candles lit and his suitcase still packed, he insisted on reading it to be right then. As he read each short line extremely slowly and deliberately, he looked deep into my unassuming eyes. Finally, he finished, and then after waiting a few beats, asked, “So…?” And I totally did not comprehend. “So what?” He replied nonchalantly, “Will you marry me?” It still did not strike me that this was actually a proposal since we had spoken of marriage before. Then he got down on one knee and asked again. I was utterly speechless and could only hug him to me before getting down on my knees too. Then we both stood up and I was able to say, “Of course, yes, of course.” We agreed to keep our engagement private until we had the opportunity to share the happy news with my parents in person at Christmastime in a few weeks. But the following morning, I composed the companion half of the Tonka as the ‘reply’ that the poetic form calls for.

Our Tonka—“The Proposal”

Share my Life, Sweetheart,
Be the spark of this journey,
Here’s my hand, open
To live happy together,
Let’s seize the moment with Love.

Yes, of course, my Love,
Simply because I’ve known it
Would be you all along,
Hand-in-hand, we watch the dawn,
Of a life spend side-by-side

Why New Orleans? A few reasons all made New Orleans the perfect choice for our wedding. First, I grew up in New Orleans and the majority of my family still lives there. We have deep family roots in the historical society. Second, Yoni and I visited New Orleans together in October of 2011, and—on a bench looking out over the ducks swimming by—we decided that our budding relationship was worth working for and changing our lives for. Yoni agreed that he would start searching for a work opportunity that would bring him to the United States. We considered this commitment in Audubon Park very significant and referenced it as a turning point in our relationship and our future anniversary date. Third, we felt that the city represented and celebrated the type of mixtures that our wedding and our marriage would be built upon. The strong French influences, the confluence of cultures, the side-by-side-ness of religions. It all felt like the right backdrop for starting this next chapter through an interfaith, intercultural, multi-lingual wedding.

What were some of the most memorable moment of your wedding day? Oh where to start! The sweet time with my mom, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and bridesmaids before was so precious. I got the chance to walk around and get comfortable in our venue throughout the morning and early afternoon—letting the anticipation rise as the flowers arrived, cake was delivered, and chuppah raised. It was so special to put little touches in place that made the Round Table Club feel like our home—photos of our two sets of parents on their own wedding days, a shot of our ‘commitment’ on the park in Audubon Park, etc. Each part of the ceremony was so special because we really created it ourselves, blending Jewish and Catholic traditions and words in English, French and Hebrew. In particular, the moments of circling Yoni under the chuppah were a chance to be truly in the moment, especially since I had to walk so slowly not to trip or ensnare him in my veil! Then, of course, our alone time in Audubon Park. Being on our bench together on our wedding day having just made a totally different sort of commitment felt so inspiring, magnificent and thrilling. We had said we would do this and then we did—through work and trust and believing that it was worth it. It was a good, early reminder in our marriage that we have the strength to make things happen together.

Then of course during our first dances, especially with my dad. He is usually not very chatty during dances, and hardly ever dances at all. The night before he had given a touching speech, which had meant a lot to me personally because he had always been quick to point out the challenges that stood in our way—distance, religion, culture, etc. We never disagreed; he had good points! Marriage is tough and there’s no sense in signing up for extra challenges just because! We just knew that we agreed that the true heart and core of each of us had more in common than not. And we took the time to share this with each of our parents because we wanted them to feel secure and excited about the future ahead of us rather than fearing what might divide us. My father’s rehearsal dinner speech touched on the many things that we and our families have in common. But during our father-daughter dance to ‘What a Wonderful World,” he brought up that he had forgotten to say one thing the night before. “Love conquers all.” It was such a true and simple thing to share in that often rote dance and conversation that it brought tears to my eyes.

To see different friends and family dancing, laughing, and eating together. To see my father-in-law (Leon) grab my mom and pull her onto the dance floor. (By the way, they are birthday buddies—both May 31st!) To watch our friends from different places and times all mingling was such a joy.

And how can you forget the Horah (aka Hava Nagila)!? Such pure joy and a good bit of terror, ending with breathless excitement and the knowledge that a group of family and friends can indeed support you (physically! as well as in all the other ways). It really was a huge blast, and to see people who had never done these traditionally Jewish dances together jump in with fervor and joy was amazing. In particular, to have my sister-in-law Orna grab me and take me into the middle of the circle to spin. It just showed that we are already family and I may not know what I’m doing sometimes but others who do will help me along. And then to see my father with the biggest smile I have ever seen grab me and dance almost wildly. Well, I’ll just say I have no words.

The night ended with sparklers and all of our loved ones forming a lighted path guiding us and encouraging us towards what lays ahead—love, life, and many more memories. Walking hand-in-hand out of the house and watching each smiling face gathered there was so special.

Where did your guests travel from to attend your special day?
New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, California, Texas, Florida, Arkansas, Georgia, Portland
The Hague
Strasbourg, France
Paris, France

Other family and friends from DC, Israel, London, Hawaii, France, and many more places were with us in spirit.

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