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Sunday, October 16, 2005

The Meaning of Arpy

"ARP! ARP! ARP!" Many people ask, "What the heck is arpy?" True it is a confusing term, rarely heard before unless you have hung around Jen and Ron long enough to know that it is a kind of pet-name, or a term of endearment. With that said, you may still be asking, "Yes, but where did the word arpy come from?" This is a more complex question with an even more perplexing answer. To understand its origin, one must go back to when Ron and Jen's friendship first blossomed. To arp is simply a silly gesture of love, like kissing someone's nose, for example. This is something Ron liked to do a lot - so much so, that Jen began to call Ron arpy. This caught on over time to the point that Ron and Jen no longer call each other by their real names.

Recently, Ron and Jen were shopping in a department store. As they each kept refering to each other as arpy, little did they realize they were about to learn something new about their little nick-name: Suddenly, a fellow shopper turned around and said, "I feel like I am shopping with my daughter as I keep hearing her name called, and I turn around and keep realizing I didn't bring her with me today. Who keeps saying arpy?"
"We do!" proclaimed Jen. "It's what we call each other...why, is your daughter's name Arpy?"
"Yes!" said the other shopper.
"How do you spell it?" asked Jen.
"A-R-P-I" answered the woman.
"REALLY!!! What nationality is that? What does it mean?"
"It means sunlight in Armenian." she answered.
"How appropriate!" said Ron.

Jen and Ron were very happy to learn that this is in fact a very popular girl's name with a beautiful meaning in Armenian culture.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Lyman Estate

Our wedding took place outdoors in the Gardens of the Vale, at the Lyman Estate. Here is a little history about this beautiful site: In 1793, Boston merchant Theodore Lyman and his wife Lydia purchased land in Waltham for their country estate. The Lymans hired the prominent Salem architect Thomas McIntire to design their mansion. The Lyman Estate, also known as the Vale, was completed in 1798 in the Federal style. The elaborate 24 room summer mansion represents a lifestyle that has all but vanished. The grand ballroom, with its high ceiling, decorative frieze, large windows, and marble fireplace, was the center of Lyman family entertainment for more than 150 years. The more intimate oval room was used for smaller family gatherings.

The beautiful grounds of the Lyman Estate included a deer park, ponds, greenhouses, and flowing lawns. The earliest greenhouse was constructed before 1800 and is thought to be the oldest in the United States. The family donated the Vale to the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, which continues to operate the estate and its greenhouses. In 1974, Theodore Lyman Storer, grandson of Robert Treat Paine, gave the Paine House with acreage to the City of Waltham.The Robert Treat Paine House has been meticulously restored by the city to its original condition.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Fluffy Stuff

The Aufruf refers to the calling up of the bride and groom to the Torah on the Shabbat before the wedding. It is an opportunity for the community to publicly recognize, congratulate, and share in the joy of the bride and groom's wedding to come. In some communities it is customary to throw candy afterwards to send the bride and groom wishes for a sweet marriage. For the sake of safety and amusement, the congragation at Temple Reyim threw cotton candy at Jennifer and Ron's Aufruf.

Friday, October 07, 2005

The Ketubah

In Jewish tradition there is a marriage contract called a Ketubah that defines the relationship in terms of life-long commitment. The word Ketubah literally means, “that which is written.” It is a contract that a man makes with a woman, obligating the Chatan (the groom) to serve, cherish, sustain and support the Kallah (the bride) in truth. Traditionally, it is interesting to note that although the entire ketubah is written in Aramaic, the language of the Babylonian Jews, the date is written in Hebrew. In particular, the Hebrew word for month, Chodesh, is used. The word Chodesh is derived from the word Chadash, meaning “new,” and it therefore denotes renewal. Every wedding may be seen as the beginning of a new world.

Also interesting to note, the month of Elul is the Hebrew month of Ron and Jennifer's marriage. Elul, when spelled in Hebrew letters, is the acronym for the words, "I am to my beloved, as my beloved is to me" (Ani Ledodi V'dodi Li - also inscribed on Ron's wedding band). The month of Elul is a time of heightened spirituality as it is a time of introspection and preparation for Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year). The signing of the Ketubah took place before the ceremony, and was attended by immediate family. Dan Goldman and Richard Martinoff acted as witnesses of the acceptance of the terms by the bride and groom by signing the ketubah. The Ketubah itself, entitled Song of Songs II was created by the artist Howard Fox. As its name suggests, this Ketubah is framed by beautiful verses from King Solomon's Song of Songs. Its richly colored outer border, reminiscent of a Persian tapestry, is complemented by a lighter inner border featuring delicately illustrated flora, fauna and musical instruments.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

The Bedecken

Immediately following the signing of the Ketubah by two witnesses for the bride and groom comes the Bedeken. The Bedeken is a ritual based on a tradition which requires that the groom see the bride before the ceremony and cover her face with the veil. This custom dates back to the Biblical episode in which Jacob was deceived into marrying Leah instead of his chosen bride, Rachel, because she was hidden behind the veil. Ron was brought before Jennifer for the veiling, ensuring her identity. This of course became a humurous event which took place before the main ceremony and was attended by immediate family and close friends.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Chuppah

Here is the newlywed's handmade chuppah: made of embroidered silk, duchess satin appliqué, antique lace and trim. The embroidered panels read, "Ani Ledodi V'Dodi Li," meaning, "I am to my beloved as my beloved is to me." This chuppah was designed by the bride with help from the groom, and crafted by hand by the bride herself. The florist helped put the finishing touches to it by adding grapevine, willow, berries and fall flowers. This chuppah is now a family heirloom that will be passed throughout our new family.

According to tradition, the Chuppah is open on four sides welcoming family and friends. Jennifer and Ron were led to their Chuppah by their parents who later stood beside them under the Chuppah. Gennifer Geller, Jennifer Gentry, Richard Martinoff and Jennifer Brumbaugh acted as Chuppah holders, standing at the four corners, not only to support Ron and Jennifer in marriage, but to join them in uniting their families. After Jennifer arrived at the Chuppah, she circled Ron seven times. The number seven is significant in Judaism because the number seven is found throughout the Torah and Jewish life. The seven circles are representative of the seven wedding blessings that were recited during the ceremony. Hence, Ron is encircled seven times by Jennifer symbolizing her vow to love him. Also, her circles symbolically represent a new family circle, establishing the space that Jennifer and Ron will share. After Jennifer finished circling Ron, she stood at his right side and the ceremony began.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

A Touch of Glass

Being savvy with her hands, Jen wanted to make one-of-a-kind handmade jewels for her bridesmaids and chuppah holders. While not illustrating in the studio, Jen often metalsmiths with silver, glass and gold at the Cambridge School for Adult Education in Harvard Square. Jen created each bridesmaid's necklace using dried Queen Anne's lace on a background of silk from her own gown. Each piece was embedded in glass that was set with sterling silver bezel and strung to a necklace made of glass and crystal beading. Each chuppah holder was given a matching bracelet.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Hora or Horror?

As Jewish tradition goes, none is more synonymous with Judaic celebration than the Jewish Folk dance called the Hora. Dancing and singing in large group circles is a wonderfully fun and popular past-time at weddings and B'nai Mitzvot. Even more unforgetable is the experience of being hoisted up on chairs, high above family and friends. Sometimes, a bride and groom would be tempted to swing from the chandelier... LITERALLY! As an attendee at many weddings, I always thought how fun and wonderful it must be to be carried around a grand ballroom, as loved-ones celebrated one of the most meaningful moments of one's life. Not so as a bride, however. Ron and I were hoisted high. Though we appreciated our family and friends good intentions, the experience was scarier than I had imagined: Ron and I both fell from our chairs at least once. I can only remember seeing the beautiful antique crystal chandelier in front of me as I slipped out of my chair, and had to keep telling myself not to grab it, or we would be seeing a huge bill from the Lyman Estate the next day. Fortunately, the fall was not far and we were both caught by those below. But of course, just as soon as we both insisted we were ok, we were hoisted up again. Sounds like fun, eh?

Tossing the Bouquet(s)

In keeping with Victorian tradition (Ron and Jen's favorite period style), Jen tossed her bouquet after the cake tasting. Tossing the wedding bouquet is an age-old tradition that originated as a bridal self-defense technique. Since getting married was pretty much the luckiest thing that could happen to a woman, guests wanted to share in that luck by taking a little bit of the bride home - literally. At the end of the wedding reception, guests would often tear off pieces of the bride’s dress, veil or flowers as take-home tokens of good luck. To escape unscathed, the bride would toss her bouquet into the throng and run away. Luckily, Jen had scraps of her dress that she embedded in glass pendants for each of her bridesmaids (see "A Touch of Glass").

According to wedding folklore, tradition states that the lucky lady who catches the bouquet will be the next to wed. Both Ron and Jen viewed the bouquet toss as a fun and lighthearted part of the wedding reception, and wanted to share their luck with the rest of their guests. However, Jen herself has never caught a toss bouquet at other weddings. Considering the original toss-tradition a bit outdated due to its surrounding folklore, Jen prefered to spread luck a little further: Jen made her own bouquet that broke into seven smaller arrangements. Each mini-bouquet had two fortunes of good wishes tied to it. Hence, Jen asked that both men and women who wanted to participate, stand behind her as she untied her arrangement.

Additionally, Jen's florist had made an extra bouquet that was meant to be tossed. Jen decided to honor and present this bouquet to her good friend, Chris Lee Gerardi, as a token of thanks for her role in assisting with the making of a smooth and stress-free wedding day.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

The Wedding Tree

As with every memorable event, having a guest book of some sort keeps the warm memories of a wedding alive for yeras to come. However, instead of using a traditional book, a Fall-themed wedding tree was made from a bush in Ron and Jen's front yard that needed serious pruning. The branch was cut, pruned and painted white by the bride. the groom then planted it ina terracotta planter with pretty marble stones. Jennifer's sister-in-law, Samantha, punched the leaves using a large leaf-shaped paper punch and multi-patterned and colored art papers Jen had in her collection.

The tree along with paper leaves made with patterned paper and ribbon were placed in the Oval Parlor with pens for signing. Each guest wrote a "wish" or a "hint for a happy marriage" or just a simple good-luck thought. Guests then shared their thought for the bride and groom by tying their leaves to the branches of the tree. Ron and Jen are currently enjoying their tree as a centerpiece in their dining room. Eventually Jen will place all the leaves in a wedding scrapbook.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Carnival Carioca

In Brazil, Carnival is always a big occasion to feast with mockery. From North to South Brazil, streets and clubs are coloured and decorated with Carnival's symbols such as masks, pierrots and colombines. Wherever you are you can dance and participate to carnival parades. Even in Jewish tradition, a wedding is seen as an occasion to make a bride and groom feel like King and Queen for a day, with court entertainment.

As Ron's maternal side of the family is from Argentina, we decided to have our own Carnival Carioca, as is the tradition of most Argentinian celebrations. Ron and I had attended our good friends' wedding in Buenos Aires last summer where I was introduced to this custom of Carnival for the very first time. Essentially, at the end of the wedding reception, tango and samba music is played, masks and noise makers are handed out, and everyone dances and celebrates. It is just plain FUN! So we brought "mardi gras" items to the reception for people to enjoy. Ron liked his "Milo" hat so much, he insisted we save it as a wedding keepsake.