Jewish Couples Pivot to Microweddings

Molly Weinberg and Daniel Vessal with wedding masks | Photo by Yael Pachino

Wedding photographer Yael Pachino is not as busy as usual this summer, but far busier than she expected when pandemic shutdowns began changing nuptial plans in March. 

“Photography is one of those things that a lot of these couples feel like that’s one thing they can have,” she said. “So they can share it with their friends and their families and remember the good part of this pandemic.”

Rachael Lassoff, an event planner at Dream Day Events in Haverford, is helping clients pivot from traditional weddings to microweddings —  smaller celebrations that include immediate family and a few friends. During the pandemic, they are often held in outdoor venues like backyards or the beach.

“People who are having these microevents just really want to commemorate the day,” she said.

For one upcoming celebration, she is organizing gift bags with personalized hand sanitizers and face masks.

Many couples have opted to downsize their weddings rather than cancel or postpone.

Philadelphia natives Melanie Tepel and Michael Nourie met at an Eagles bar in Boston. They originally planned to get married in downtown Philadelphia during Labor Day weekend, near both their families, with a large reception for 150-170 guests.

They are still planning to get married Labor Day weekend, but at a smaller, socially distanced outdoor ceremony at the Abington Art Center in Jenkintown.

“We really didn’t want to postpone the wedding, which is what a lot of people kind of talked to us about, because we want to get married and we want to start our life together,” Tepel said. “We don’t know what the pandemic’s going to look like in a year.”

Sara and Mitchell Arch also decided against moving their wedding date. They married on Aug. 2 in a small outdoor ceremony in the courtyard at Vie by Cescaphe.

“Even though it wasn’t the wedding we had originally planned for, it was still our day,” Mitchell Arch said.

Cescaphe, their event planners, arranged for a videographer from Allure Films to coordinate the Zoom experience for guests.

“It turned out to be the best thing we could have done,” Sara Arch said. “Our guests on Zoom told us they really felt like they were there, I’m so glad we got to share that.”

Forty-four people attended the ceremony, and 30 stayed for the reception. Guests wore masks and danced at their tables.

“One thing that was really important for us was to do a hora — and we couldn’t do that — but we figured it out so that we could at least do a chair lifting,” Sara Arch said. “We had eight strong guys holding us in groups of four, from far apart.”

Molly Weinberg and Daniel Vessal moved their wedding date from June 7 to May 12 after reducing their 300-person guest list to 12.

“There was so much stress and planning that had gone into the big June wedding that by the time April came around all we wanted was to be husband and wife,” Weinberg said.

The couple switched venues from Hilton City Avenue to Chabad at Temple University. They met at Temple during the first week of their freshman year.

“My mom was extremely thoughtful in terms of abiding by corona rules, so rather than our 12-person reception being around one or two long tables she had it set up that each ‘family group’ had their own table and it was set up in a big rectangle so we could all see one another,” Weinberg said.

Sydnie Ciment and Jared Rosenbloom postponed their Aug. 16 wedding to Sept. 6. The couple originally arranged to wed at the Michener Art Museum in Doylestown but will now get married with immediate family only at Temple Emanuel in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Rabbi Jerry David will officiate. 

“We’re excited to get married, and that hasn’t changed, obviously, but it’s a little disappointing just because, although we are going to have our friends and other family members on Zoom, it’s not quite the same as celebrating,” Ciment said.

Ciment is the assistant preschool director at Temple Sinai in Dresher, and Rosenbloom is the senior regional director for BBYO.

“We both work in the Jewish field, so it was really important for us to get married by a rabbi,” Rosenbloom said.  “And to get married in a synagogue, which wasn’t originally our plan, is  something special for us.”

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