Written by Paula Jones Last updated: August 11, 2006
How did you meet?
I had just moved into my first flat and had a house warming party. I used to work with Adam’s brother so he was invited to the party and he brought Adam along. Two days later we all met up for drinks as it was Adam’s brother’s birthday. At two o’clock the next morning, 9th July 1996 (what would have been the 28th birthday of the brother I never knew) the relationship began with our first kiss.
Describe the marriage proposal.
On 31st October 1999, we went up to London with both our mums as I was converting to Judaism and it was the final stage. I was questioned by three Rabbis and they agreed that I could be accepted into the religion. We then went down to the Mikveh – the ritual immersion. After the immersion I was officially Jewish. When I came out of the Mikveh, Adam turned to my mum and asked for her daughter’s hand in marriage. When she said ‘Yes’, he turned to me, got down on one knee and asked me to do him the honour of becoming his husband! He quickly corrected himself to ‘wife’ – if he hadn’t told us, none of us would have noticed as we were so caught up in the moment, it was so perfect.
How long did you spend preparing for the day and how was it?
We had been talking about it for a few years, but always agreed that we didn’t want to start the plans or get engaged until I was Jewish. However, two weeks before we went to London, I had already sorted my dress out and Adam and I went to a Wedding Fair to start getting the details together. From the date of the engagement, we had eight and a half months to plan everything. The wedding date was set for 9th July 2001 – exactly five years to the day since our first kiss, and the ceremony was at 2pm – exactly 12 hours on!
I also had to learn to listen to other people’s ideas – this wasn’t just my wedding day, it was my partner’s – and it also seemed to be our parents’ too! I had grown up with ideas for my day and all of a sudden, other people had other ideas. At first I would reject their idea straight away, but then go away and think about it and decide theirs was a much better idea! I had to take hold of everything Adam said and grasp it. At first he wasn’t too bothered with details, but when he did make an input, I made sure I took it on board and incorporated it into the day so that it became our day.
What type of wedding ceremony did you have and where?
We had a Jewish ceremony at the synagogue where I was converted and we are both members. We had a new Rabbi who had only officially joined the community a month earlier. We met him in the February and discussed everything with him. He was very receptive as I had certain ideas that I wanted. I wanted to have a traditional Jewish wedding but one that our non-Jewish relatives and friends could follow. He completely understood and did not let us down. He explained every custom before it was performed for example the unveiling of the bride by the groom to check it is his bride – this is normally done before the ceremony begins in private but he allowed us to do this as part of the ceremony so that all the guests could see and understand this custom.
Where did you hold your reception and what was it like?
We chose the Jarvis Norfolk Hotel on the Brighton seafront. The reception was very relaxed with a fork buffet and then a disco in the evening. Adam’s father made a brief speech before the meal and then the speeches that followed were a little different – like us! My Mum made the ‘father of the bride’ speech and she was amazing, Adam and I were both gobsmacked especially as she really didn’t want to do it when I first asked her! She even effectively pulled off using a prop – a ream of continuous listing paper which she let unreel to the floor as she said ‘its only a short speech’!
Adam made the traditional grooms speech and I joined him for the thank you’s – another shock for Adam as he never believed I would really get up & speak! We then said a few words to each other as we didn’t get to say any vows during the ceremony. Then the best man made his speech.
The evening reception went well. We started it off with the traditional throwing of the bouquet, and the tradition of the groom removing & throwing the bridal garter, which went down very well! Then we went straight into our first dance – also different! We had ‘Live for Loving You’ by Gloria Estefan – a fast Latin number that we had learnt a few steps to including some rock ‘n roll twirls for the chorus. We had the floor to ourselves and everyone was shocked at the first chorus and then when we twirled on the second chorus everyone clapped and whistled – we felt so special! We had a CD of Jewish music so that the DJ could do some traditional Jewish dancing – the DJ had never done a Jewish wedding so was unsure about what to expect, but handled it very well. Everyone had a really good time and it all went without a hitch.
Is there anything you’d change, with hindsight?
There is absolutely nothing I would change. Throughout all the planning, I was so particular about what I wanted. I gave the photographer a detailed list of the photos I wanted (reportage and fun as well as traditional included). I gave the videographer a detailed plan of what I wanted on the video. I designed the stationery myself and followed the theme right through. I designed the cake and gave the cake designer some drawings. She did change it slightly – but I had left it to her to do what she felt best. It took months to find my matron of honour’s dress as I was so particular about the colour and style.
It was all so worthwhile as the photos and video really do bring the day back fully and the smaller details that I was so particular about made the day so perfect as it was all just right.
What advice would you give to couples currently planning their wedding?
My advice to other brides would be don’t start to plan too soon – a year is probably the max, otherwise it is just too long to wait for the day to come. Grooms – listen to your bride, she has probably been planning this day in her head for her whole life. Brides – listen to your groom, it is his day too. If he doesn’t show too much interest ( he really does care!) grab anything he says and use it. Try to use his favourite colour or flower (my flowers were orchids and lilies – orchids being my husband’s favourite flower). Don’t let the parents get to you. Take on board what they say, think about it and then go back and tell them what you decide – especially if they are paying for it!