A wedding often features traditions that bind a couple with their ancestors, who followed similar traditions. Jewish weddings are certainly not an exception to this rule, with elaborate and meaning filled traditions and rituals dating back hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Beth Poliakoff met Greg Nikolayevsky in a traditional yet modern manner, at a Jewish Singles Professionals mixer in Denver, Co. where they both currently live. When they decided to hold their wedding in Beth’s hometown of Columbia, they knew living so far from the wedding site would cause difficulties. So they, along with Beth’s parents Sandra and Ed, opted to use the wedding planning services of Rachel Barnett.
Rachel helped pull together the ideas that incorporated the couple’s interests, including their little chihuahua Lulu, their love of the natural beauty in Colorado and a cocktail-length aubergine-colored bridesmaid dress that was one of the first items bought in preparation for the event. Bringing together these potentially dissonant ideas is where Rachel’s expertise came in to play. She helped Sandra find a starting point on which to plan the rest of the details, an unusually sumptuous piece of table linen in a creamy off white adorned with hand-stitched rosettes. From there, the floral details of the wedding done by Chad Ridenour, owner and designer at Rosewood Florist, played a large part in setting the tone and personality for each successive stage of the day.
Festive hot pink gerbera daisies and squares of lush green wheatgrass brought an air of whimsy and the promise of spring to the pre-function room of the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. Beth and Greg’s closest friends and family members mingled and enjoyed a cocktail hour while waiting for sundown to signal the end of the Jewish Sabbath. Several stations of impressive and colorfully arranged appetizers and canapés, including sushi rolls, miniature grilled cheese sandwiches and soup shooters, kept guests moving around the room.
From there guests flowed into the main hallway at the Convention Center – certainly an unconventional choice of places to have a ceremony, but the sun setting in the West behind the Adluh Flour building provided a warm, promising glow. White garden chairs, sofas and pillows to complement the wedding colors were brought in to transform the space from everyday convention center to a gorgeous place to be married. The focal point of the ceremony was the Chuppah, a marital canopy that the couple stands under during the ceremony. A Chuppah symbolizes the home that the newly wedded couple is building together, and the sides are open to signify that their new home will always be open to friends and family. The greenery and hundreds of blooms intricately woven into the legs of the Chuppah brought to life the natural elements that the couple enjoys in their life in Colorado, while the roof made from prayer shawls that belonged to Beth’s late grandfather and Greg’s late step-grandfather kept memories of loved ones alive.
The ceremony began with the wedding party’s walk down the aisle. Bridesmaids carried striking chartreuse hydrangea bouquets. The groom’s parents escorted their son, then the bride’s parents walked her too down the aisle, a rite that is considered a parent’s greatest joy. Beth then circled her groom seven times to symbolize the creation of the new family circle and the allegiance of the children shifting from their parents to one another. “At the end of the ceremony, Greg broke a glass, which is a symbol of the destruction of the temples in Jerusalem and also a reminder that marriage, like glass, is fragile and must be handled with care,” says Sandra.
Immediately following the ceremony, the doors were opened to the ballroom for a formal, seated dinner. The tables were set with lively conversation in mind using low glass bowls on pedestals filled with airy, angelic hydrangea and softly toned Virginia roses. A three-course meal was served while the band, the Mighty Kicks, of Orangeburg played in the background.
Changing the lighting in the ballroom from standard florescents to flattering pink toned up-lighting shining from the floors illuminated the walls to match the aubergine wedding color. “It didn’t look like a convention center in there. The lighting changed the whole look!” says Rachel. After dinner, Beth and Greg joined their friends in celebrating their nuptials by dancing the night away on the dance floor. For the horah, the couple was hoisted on chairs into the air, where each held onto an end of a white cloth, signifying the binding together of themselves and their families, and linking with the generations before them who took part in these very same special rituals.