Rooftop Wedding and Armory Extravaganza

Picture a plain rooftop transformed with billowing white material, golden-painted chairs and many people dressed in East Indian garb. The wedding was elegant, funny and very touching. Funny in that at the groom's entrance, his sister was instructed to secure his shoes when he took them off and keep them from the bride's family after the bride's mother annointed his third eye with kumkum and blessed him with a small sacred fire. Todd's sister Eliza was valiant and succeeded in securing the shoes - and put them on her own feet!

So when Eliza came up to read the poem by ee cummings, i carry you in my heart, she was uncontrollably laughing. She was wearing Todd's shoes and he was standing in light blue socks! The poem is one of my favorites and she did finally read it quite well.

The touching parts were: all four parents came up to the altar and all placed their hands on top of each other over Todd and Priya's. Her brother, who was orchestrating all the Hindu ritual, poured a small amount of water on top of all the hands. The water signified that the couple's love would overcome all obstacles. And, near the end of the ceremony, the couple walked over to each of their grandparents in the front row to receive their blessings.

And as Todd read their mutual vows, Priya welled with tears.

They chose to incorporate a sand and stone piece into the ceremony. Everyone present, having traveled from all over the country and from several foreign places, brought small stones from those places that they placed in an elegant, small vase as they entered the ceremonial space. Priya and Todd poured sand into this vase during the ceremony - sand from Ojai, Todd's childhood home, and Mombai, India - Priya's family's homeland. They now have a keepsake vessel to take home with them to Santa Fe.

The second floor of the Museum of Contemporary Craft was transformed by Artemis Caterers into a very elegant post-wedding cocktail hour - dimmed lights, several stations with tasty kinds of pesto, cheese, oysters, wines, fruits - large square glass containers filled with smooth white glass pebbles -

Pedicabs to the Armory.....

The second floor of the armory set up with tables named for all the streets Priya and Todd have lived on - remarkably delicious dinner - downstairs, the entryway transformed into a dance floor with a fabulous danceband -

Many of the women changed from their saris to easier dancing clothes.....

This was a "destination wedding" all planned from afar. They all stayed at Hotel Lucia. The group was just so warm, gracious, talented, thoughtful, genuine and so fun. I will post pictures here when they become available!

Hindu-Non-denominational Combo

Yesterday was Todd and Priya's rehearsal. They currently live in Santa Fe, New Mexico but met in Portland. They found me on-line and called to see if I was a suitable officiant for their wedding. They wanted to blend her Hindu background with his rich family traditions. Since I had co-officiated with a local Hindu priest a few years ago Priya felt comfortable with my taking on their ceremony. Her brother would help with all the Hindu pieces - all the rituals including the lighting of a small fire around which the couple would walk. We communicated back and forth for several months and today was the first time we met - at their rehearsal.

What a great group of people! Both families were amazingly warm and cordial. One of her aunts invited me to visit them in Calgary, Canada! The rehearsal itself took care of some last minute details and was sweet and swift as it started raining at the very end. A lovely after-rehearsal party followed, including everybody who had come from out-of-town, which was just about everybody. I did talk to one of Priya's friends who still lived in Portland. Todd's Dad sang a song he had written for the occasion, accompagnied on the guitar by his other son. Eliza, Pria's new sister-in-law, introduced a getting-acquainted game: she handed everyone a card with someone else's name on it and one had to go around looking for the person. It really did break the ice and more people were talking to people they didn't know up until that time. Very noisy, fun, social environment. I don't think I have been to a wedding party with such cordial, loving people. Even the groom's father kissed me when I told him what a great song he had written!

At 9 p.m. the women went up to the ninth floor for a Henna party - with champagne, chocolate-dunked strawberries and sweets. The men retired to the bar for male bonding time. The Henna party was a gas! Four Portland Henna artists drew elaborate designs on feet, hands, palms, arms. At 10 p.m. the bride's Mom arrived with saris for women to try on, but by that time I was leaving.

This morning, the day of the wedding, I looked through all my Indian garb and took out two saris I received as gifts probably 33 years ago. The blue one with a rich floral design fits me better than the fancier one with gold trim, so, in the end, I decided to wear it. Yehudah and I followed the instruction booklet and managed to garb me in this elegant sari and I am now sitting here typing while wearing it. It takes some getting used to - not to feel stiff and awkward in all the fabric, especially the piece draped on my left arm. But it could become a habit!

Off to the wedding - on the rooftop of the Museum of Contemporary Crafts!


Yesterday a woman called to ask if I was available to do a wedding today, Tuesday. Yehudah had married her daughter and son-in-law several years ago and she had remembered him fondly. She was looking for Yehudah to perform the wedding, but, as he is busy working at other jobs this week I told her that I was available. We planned a time to meet yesterday afternoon with both her and her fiance. In one and a half hours we basically planned their personalized wedding ceremony. That evening I worked on writing up a ceremony for them, looking on-line for symbolic connections about chocolate and a particular Jewish phrase, "Ani l' dodi v'dodi li". I will include here the piece I wrote about this as it excited me that they were choosing to get married in this particular time period. The woman is Jewish and the fellow comes from a Catholic background, but considers himself a universalist.

Well, he arrived this morning in his Prius to pick me up to go to their home. Her two daughters and one friend were their witnesses. She had set the table with lovely red crystal wine glasses, a large red box with chocolate and rings - the rings in a lovely, small box with Taj Mahal on the cover, champagne, other family heirlooms. It was just a lovely wedding!

So - if you are reading this and are considering an elopement - we are available!

Here is the piece I adapted from material I found on-line:

................, you have chosen to honor .............’s Jewish heritage in your choice of ring vows. Curiously, you are marrying in the early days of the Hebrew month of Elul and the Hebrew letters of the word [Elul] can be read as an acronym for the phrase “Ani l'dodi v'dodi li, which is from the Song of Songs. The Beloved, the tradition teaches, is one way of understanding Divinity; the acronym reminds us that Elul is a time to keep Adonai and love foremost in our minds. Each inbreath can be thought of as “ani l'dodi” and each outbreath as “v'dodi li” -- each breath a conversation with the Beloved, an assertion of that relationship which underlies everything we do. You are each other’s beloved and, as well, you are both in relationship to that which is greater than yourselves.

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009
entry by Joanie Levine

Summer Weddings, 2009

July 24th through 26th was a big wedding weekend for us! I officiated at three very different, unique weddings - the first, an early afternoon Native American wedding at a private home, the second a large lavender field wedding on Sauvie Island at the Blue Heron Herbery and the third again at a private home, very chic, tatoo-adorned crowd. Each one was special, highly personalized and went without a hitch - except if you call waiting for Grandma to arrive a tiny hitch in the last ceremony.

It was truly an honor to officiate at the Native American wedding. Drumming friends of the couple brought a large native drum and gifted them with two eagle feathers. We honored the directions, the elements of water, earth, air and fire - and the couple received blessings through the playing of the sacred drum.

The second wedding was highly personalized and humorous in parts because of the material. Large lavender beds adorned either side of the ceremonial area. Several sweet children threw petals before the wedding party entered. Lots of readings and the entire party of about 180 people all vowed to help and honor the relationship. They all blessed a rock or pebble and placed them in a very large glass vessel, into which the couple poured sand from places far away that were meaningful in their lives. And what a great party and food!

The third wedding of the weekend - and, by the way, this was the hottest weekend Portland has seen - was styled in black, white, with a touch of red. The couple's friends were mostly all tatooed - large tatooes across chests, down backs, small tatooes on faces, hands, ankles ....... people standing at tables, sitting at other round tables.....very yummy finger-licking food, great DJ - a touch of Jewish ritual - blessing over the wine, breaking the glass - and mostly a personally-honed ceremony, tear-jerking vows....the groom weepy as he read the sweetest, most heartfelt poem to his's a picture of the couple sharing wine....

We are now preparing for several weddings for the weekend of August 28th. Weddings seem to be clumped together this year.
I love officiating at weddings. I actually love the entire process of putting a ceremony together. It is such an honor to participate with a couple at such a special time of their lives.