Yesterday, French president Francois Hollande signed a bill making same-sex marriage legal in France. To mark the occasion, we’re revisiting our celebration of French wedding customs. The tone is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but our love of small, elegant weddings is real. Raise your glass of champagne and join us in a toast to croquembouche and dragées Read
Category Archives: Wedding Reception
Still, we’re not talking about the jello shots you’re probably used to seeing. These shots are very Martha Stewart. Very Pinterest. In fact, they look like they could have been created by sushi master Jiro Ono.
David Tutera might not be on board yet, but if I was planning a small cocktail or hors d’oeuvres reception, I’d consider serving one of these jello shots, especially if the flavor matched the sophisticated visual punch. But I wouldn’t serve more than one kind.
Yes, I lifted the photo from the article at The Huffington Post, because there’s no way to tell the story without a visual. Will trade traffic for image. You really should take a look.
- Persian Pomegranate Sangria (Kosher Recipe)
- Another Budget-Friendly Alternative to an Open Bar (With Recipes)
- Vintage Champagne Wedding Punch Recipe
- Summer Bliss Wedding Punch Recipe
Oh, Martha Stewart, THIS is an ice bar
Yesterday the BBC reported that French couples increasingly are abandoning traditional French wedding customs and adopting American and British-style wedding details. I find this alarming.
As a champion of small weddings, I like to know there are pockets of the world holding out against the big, bridezilla-inducing wedding machine. Traditional French weddings are intimate and elegant. Until recently, French couples typically have forgone bridesmaids, groomsmen, and the budget-straining trimmings that have become customary for American and British celebrations. That the French in particular, who generally are known for taking pride in their national culture, would now abandon their long-standing allegiance to elegant simplicity seems a fair reason for concern.
The BBC credits last year’s wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton for making the first significant cracks in the cultural defenses of France’s brides. When those blushing mariées saw Kate’s wedding dress of English lace, they deserted their silk dresses. Since then, French couples have been waving wildly in welcome as save-the-date cards, personalized wedding favors, and tiered cakes veritably march in victory along the Champs-Élysées.
Surely, this development is a net positive for France’s wedding vendors and the British vendors who are marching on Paris to take advantage of the trend. But couples around the world who want a small, elegant wedding are losing a style ally.
This was going to be the paragraph where I compared the traditional French wedding to an endangered species and made the case for the importance of preserving biodiversity in our wedding planning ecosystem. But at this point, I think we all want to move on to the pretty pictures.
So, like scientists who gather and protect species in danger of extinction, let us preserve here the details of a traditional French wedding, so they can be enjoyed by future generations — even if not in their native habitat.
Traditional French Wedding Details:
|Wedding Dress: Silk.
(Source: Alexandra King on Etsy, Bristol, England, United Kingdom.)
|Le Vin d’Honneur: A mini reception directly following the ceremony. Many of the ceremony guests, such as work colleagues and friends of the couples’ parents, attend this vin d’honneur but not the main reception. The expected beverage: Kir Royale.|
|Drinks: Champagne, coffee.||Dessert: Croquembouche
(Source: Fancy That Wedding Cake. Oxfordshire, England, UK)
Favors: Dragées (sugared almonds).
(Source: Milena Bertarelli, MilenaSupplies on Etsy)
Alanna and Joe showed how personal and fun a small wedding can be when they chose their favorite neighborhood hangouts for their wedding and reception. Both sites were within walking distance of their Williamsburg, Brooklyn apartment. The ceremony took place at the East River State Park, across the river from Manhattan, and the reception took place about a mile away at the East River Bar. The couple’s favorite neighborhood Italian restaurant catered the reception.
The entire event was informal and easy going. Guests who showed up at East River Park before the ceremony hung out and enjoyed the sun with other park goers or got something to eat at one of the food trucks adjacent to the park. Fifteen minutes before the ceremony, a party rental company appeared and set up chairs at a spot facing the river. A view of Manhattan on the far side of the river provided the backdrop for the ceremony. When a few guests arrived late, after the ceremony had already ended, the officiant, Joanna Fernandes, suggested that Joe and Alanna take the opportunity to renew their vows for the benefit of the late arrivals, which they did, a mere five minutes after the ceremony.
After the wedding, guests joined Alanna and Joe in walking to the reception. At midnight, the couple invited everyone back to their apartment for a star-gazing party on the roof.
In planning their laid-back wedding, Alanna and Joe focused on sharing things they love and a few special details. They claim that they fell into their sunny color scheme just by choosing the accessories they liked. The wide-ranging mix of colors came together because Joe’s boutonniere used the same yellow flower as Alanna’s bouquet, and Alanna’s sunglasses frames picked up the turquoise in Joe’s paisley tie.
Thank you, Alanna, Joe, and photographer Jacob Arthur for sharing.
Here are more details:
Colors: A sun-splashed mix of orange, hot pink, yellow, and turquoise anchored with a touch of navy.
The bride wore: A lacy sheath, wedge flip flops, sunglasses, and a feathery fascinator in lieu of a veil.
The groom wore: A navy seersucker suit, paisley tie, striped socks, and straw fedora.
Officiant: Joanna Fernandes
Flowers: A bridal bouquet and groom’s boutonniere DIY’ed by the BR’ide. Alanna explains that she put a shell from the beach where Joe proposed into his boutonniere: “Thank you, thousands of hours of cable wedding tv!” David Tutera would be proud.
Transportation: Alanna and Joe reserved a limo for a ride to the park before the ceremony, but the trip to the reception was by foot. Guests with mobility challenges took advantage of taxis available outside the park.
Reception decor: With the East River Bar’s evocative decor, Alanna and Joe didn’t need to do anything to create a festive atmosphere. The only element they added were tent cards on the tables telling guests they had found the right place and listing the reception menu. What more do you need?
Reception music: The jukebox.
Entertainment: Great conversation and the bar’s video games.
Food:: A buffet of Italian specialties by Patrizia restaurant. To keep the buffet fresh, as well as to refresh the energy of the party, Patrizia delivered the food in four separate courses throughout the reception.
Photographs: Brooklyn-based Jacob Arthur
Latkes are great dish to serve for a winter wedding, not just weddings at Hanukkah, because they are so satisfying on a cold day. You can serve them as an appetizer or with the entree as a tasty, creative alternative to baked potato or rice.
One year I had the pleasure of making latkes for a large group of American military service members. It was during Hanukkah in one of the four years I lived in Kuwait. This was between the Gulf Wars. My husband was the U.S. Defense Department’s designated lay leader for the Jewish service people who cycled through the country, which means that I was responsible for making holiday meals and parties for the Jewish service people in my home. It was a great time, we met a lot of really great people, and I hope they’re all now safe at home enjoying the country they’ve served.
On this particular Hanukkah evening, I was rushing to get ready for a crowd of service people who were coming for a party. I was in the middle of preparing the latke batter when they called on their way over to say that instead of the seven people that were expected, they were 16 people. I would need more latkes.
I started throwing all kinds of things into the bowl to bulk up the latke mix: more potatoes, more onions, more eggs, a couple boxes of dried latke mix that family had sent from the States, ricotta cheese, sour cream, and I’m not sure what else, maybe even some cream cheese. Of course, they were amazing, but because I didn’t keep track of exactly what went in them, I would never know how to reproduce them.
It’s OK that I don’t remember, because I want to give you a non-dairy latke that you can serve with any wedding meal, including meals that include meat. And I want to give you a version that is easy to prepare and can be made a day or two before the wedding. The recipe below is adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks for a Crowd: Recipes with a Vegetarian Emphasis for 24 or More, a book that I relied on heavily when serving large crowds in Kuwait. I raised the flavor profile a bit to create a more refined, wedding-worthy dish by adding sautéed leeks and a non-dairy sour cream with chives to serve on the side. Yum.
Recipe: Latkes for a Crowd (Parve)
Serves 24 (2 latkes per person)
- 4 ½ lbs. potatoes
- 4 lbs. onions
- 2 cups chopped leeks
- 24 large eggs
- 2 Tbsp. salt
- 1 ½ cups bread crumbs or matza meal
- 1 cup + 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
“Sour Cream” with Chives Ingredients
- 2 pints (4 cups) non-dairy sour cream
- ¼ cup chopped fresh chives
- Chop the leeks and sautée over medium heat for 3 minutes until just translucent. Remove them from the heat and put them aside.
- Grate the potatoes coarsely with a food processor or hand-held grater.
- Put the potatoes into a colander and squeeze them to eliminate excess water.
- Preheat the oven to 350º.
- Grate the onions and drain them in a colander. Squeeze out the excess water.
- In a large bowl, beat the eggs.
- Add the potatoes, onions, leeks, salt, pepper, and bread crumbs or matzo meal. Mix well.
- Pour ¼ cup of oil into the bottom of four half-size insert pans (12½” x 10¼” x 2″) and place them in the hot oven for 5 minutes.
- Pour the batter into the hot pans. Spread the oil smoothly across the top of the batter with a spatula.
- Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes, or until crusty and golden.
- While still hot, cut each pan into 12 latke squares.
“Sour Cream” with Chives Instructions
Make the sour cream the same day you intend to serve it. In a medium bowl mix the chopped chives into the non-dairy sour cream.
- If your serve the latkes pre-plated, put two latkes on each plate and two tablespoons of “sour cream” next to the latkes.
- If you are using a buffet, serve the “sour cream” in a bowl next to the latkes.
Make Ahead Options
You can make the latkes a day before the wedding. Cover them with foil and keep refrigerated. Reheat in 350º oven for 10-12 minutes.
Are you weighing the pros and cons of live music versus a DJ for your wedding? Are you considering a custom iPod music mix for the cocktail hour or dance party, like I wrote about in my previous post? Recorded music can really stretch your music budget, but few details elevate the atmosphere of an event more than live music, so if you don’t have live music for the dinner reception and dancing, try to find room in the budget to add an element of live music during the ceremony, and the cocktail hour, too, if you can swing it.
If you’re planning a Jewish wedding with a bride’s reception or you’re planning to sign the ketubah in front of all your guests, consider having live music during those events also. For my own wedding, we hired musicians to play klezmer music while escorting the groom from the ketubah signing to the bride’s reception for the veiling. It was a lot of fun and really ramped up the party’s energy as we prepared for the ceremony under the huppah.
You could go with a small trio or quartet, but even a single instrument playing during your procession can heighten the emotional intensity of the moment, taking your breath away and tugging at your guests’ tears.
Find musicians on wedding planning websites, the music departments of a local college, or through friends’ recommendations.
The musical world offers so many instruments, you are sure to find one that matches and enhances the feel of your wedding. Here are some options:
Am I missing your favorite?
Do you have a nano-size wedding music budget? Consider using your iPod to crank out the tunes. I recently talked to Patrick, owner of the Washington, DC-area Ipod Mix, which creates custom music mixes for weddings and other events. Patrick has been an event DJ for twenty years, and he now also offers iPod mixes through his internet-based service. The cost savings over live music or a DJ are amazing: as little as $100 gets you music for your cocktail reception and dinner/dance reception.
“For music and songs, we leave it completely up to the client to tell us what their style and tastes are, then we customize their mix to fit this,” Patrick says. “We try to make each mix as different as possible so it has a unique feel for their wedding day.”
But he brings his DJ experience to the custom mixes, adding what Patrick calls “dance floor packers”. “You want people to enjoy themselves and have fun, and these types of songs help people loosen up.” Still, it’s all based on the clients’ tastes. Ipod Mix has done mixes with all country music, rock oriented mixes, and mixes with a more vintage feel.
For amplification, you can connect your iPod or other MP3 player to your venue’s in-house amplification system, which sometimes requires a rental fee, or equipment rented from an entertainment company. Fees vary, but you can expect sound equipment rental to run in the neighborhood of $200. If you are renting your tables, chairs, or a tent, Patrick recommends asking the same vendor about including sound equipment in a package deal.
For couples considering the iPod option, Patrick recommends two points to consider. First, there’s no getting around the fact that the atmosphere will not be the same as at as when you have a live DJ. I would recommend thinking about the crowd you’re inviting and the space you’ll be in and considering whether they’ll help make up the energy that a DJ would otherwise bring to the cocktail hour or dance floor.
Second, and what Patrick says is “the absolute biggest thing to keep in mind”, is that not everyone at your wedding will share your musical tastes. Speaking from his twenty years of DJ experience, Patrick says, “If you limit too much the type of mix we create for you, most likely you will find people are not going to have a good time. The best, most successful and entertaining weddings are ones where all the musical styles are included, so everyone will be dancing and enjoying themselves all night long.”
Today’s guest blogger: Rick Ryan, Nashville Wedding DJ, Uplighting and Photobooth
It is amazing how quickly uplighting is becoming a “must have” item at weddings. No, it doesn’t surprise me that discerning brides are wanting this after all, when done correctly, it adds more “pizazz” than perhaps any other single decoration you can do. That said, as a wedding vendor who does this on a regular basis, I’d like to share a few bits of wisdom that will help you with your own uplighting.
1. Color Selection – I have to be honest, I generally cringe when a client says “We want a very subtle color.” The whole point in going to the time and expense of uplighting is to enhance the facility. Vibrant colors are what make your pictures jump off the page. They also, quite noticeably change the mood of your guests. It’s been proven in scientific studies that colors have a dramatic impact on mood and energy. If you’re really after a subdued vibe for your event, white or amber are excellent choices. However, aren’t most brides always the ones telling me they “just want our guests to have a great time”? Use color to your advantage! Magenta, Purple, Blue, or Red (or shades thereof) are some excellent choices.
2. LED or Incandescent? Incandescent cans/fixtures still are used fairly regularly by some lighting contractors. I believe it’s primarily because these fixtures are cheaper or perhaps it happens to be what the lighting vendor has in their stock. While we do also have some incandescent fixtures, we don’t typically recommend them for uplighting for several reasons: 1) They get hot and little ones are drawn to them like a moth to a flame. It’s a sure-fire recipe for little hands that get burned and that translates into wailing kids at YOUR event. 2) It takes a lot more power to run them and that means more and bigger extension cords to power them. 3) Limited color choice. These fixtures use gel paper to shade the bulb for whatever color you’re after and that means, no changes at the event. If your chosen gel paper color doesn’t mix well with the paint on the walls, tough luck as there’s no way to tweak the color shades on the spot.
LED fixtures are cool to the touch, use very little electricity and the colors can be changed quickly, at the venue. If the color you picked at your meeting gets changed by the color on the wall, your technician can often adjust the shading on-the-fly, prior to your guests’ arrival.
3. Table/Chair Placement – Uplighting is usually done by placing fixtures on the floor, next to the wall. We recommend a 3 foot buffer zone for all tables/chairs. This keeps guests from bumping, moving or even damaging the lighting fixtures. It also gives the lighting technician the ability to do a more even spacing between each fixture, improving the overall look of the presentation.
4. How Much Is Enough? One thing I tell all my clients is, “Don’t skimp on the number of fixtures.” When you run short on a color presentation, it’s very apparent to everyone in attendance. It’s better to slightly over-do it than to come up short. The biggest question I hear is “How many cans do I need?” As you would expect, it obviously depends on the size of the room(s), the number of guests, and what wall-space is available for lighting. What I can tell you is, for most of our jobs (125-200 guests), the magic number always seems to come up to 20. This is roughly a 1500-2500 sq ft room and is what comes standard with our “Diamond Package”. For rooms of 2500-4000 sq ft, I generally recommend 30 cans, sometimes more.
5. DMX vs Stand-Alone (LEDs only) – LED lighting fixtures have two modes they can be operated in: stand-alone or DMX. I won’t bore you with the techy details but basically DMX means the lighting fixtures can be controlled remotely (either wireless or wired). Of the jobs we’ve done, almost all have been non-DMX. Without going into specifics, basically DMX will add $200-$400 in labor costs, not to mention the fact that it will add tons of cable and tape to your setup. For the little bit of extra flexibility it gives, our customers have stated that it’s simply not worth it. Yes, we’ll be happy to make your entire venue “beat to the music” or “make the colors change between songs” but in our experience, it’s not something we hear on a regular basis.
6. Static or Color-Change – Most LED fixtures can be programmed to roll gently from one color to the other. This is known as “color change mode”. We do have a fair portion of our wedding clients that opt for this setup, but I’d place it as the minority. Practically all of our school dances or proms use color change but weddings typically will either go with a single (static) color or perhaps may use alternating patterns of color (“red – white – red – white”). Only you can decide what works best for your color scheme and venue. One thing I will add is that it also can be dictated by the wall space available. We’ve done a number of venues where they may have a patio area with temporary sidewalls installed. These types of setups will have minimal wall space to be colored and may work better with multiple colors, rolling constantly. A hotel ballroom typically will have a lot of open wall space and will get too busy with so many colors going on. Better to choose a static color, or pattern of statics and stick with that.
7. Chair Rails, How to Handle Them – When we do an install, one of the things we’re always trying to do is to keep fixtures out of the way and close to the wall. First, we don’t want guests tripping over our fixtures but also (to be transparent) we really don’t want guests stepping on (and potentially breaking) our expensive fixtures. One of the problems we regularly run into are chair rails. While these do a great job at preserving paint from chairs and tables, they also block off light as it travels up the wall area. The only way to overcome this is to set fixtures further away from the wall, usually about a half-foot. However, keep in mind table and chair placement (#3 above).
8. Uplighting Sets the Tone – One of the things that I regularly preach to my clients (most of our engagements include DJ service as well) is that we create great events by setting the tone from the very start. The moment a guest walks in we want them to do “the tilt-back” (as I like to call it). That’s where they walk in the entrance, then pause as their eyes widen and they take in all the sights and sounds we’re presenting. If we’ve done our job correctly, this raises the expectation of your guests. Once that expectation is raised, it’s much easier to push it on into “off the hook” territory. Uplighting is a tremendous tool for setting the tone of an event. When a guest walks into a room with bright, vivid colors all around, they can’t help but to expect a fantastic evening and expectation creates energy.
9. Do It Yourself or Pro? I know that everyone is looking for ways to save a buck, especially in today’s economy. While it’s true that fixtures can be rented, most people don’t realize what it takes to get power to all your fixtures. By the time you rent the fixtures, then buy all the extension cords needed, it often is the same price (or more) than just paying a professional outfit to do the install, not to mention the job of tearing it all back down and returning the fixtures. But even beyond the “hassle factor” involved, having a bunch of extension cords often creates a huge mess and that’s not something you want on your special day. We use special zip cord with add-a-tap outlets for our installs. These are long strands of cable (25ft & 50ft) that have an outlet every 5 feet. It puts a much cleaner line against the wallboard but, more importantly, it helps to keep spacing even between fixtures. There’s nothing that will ruin a lighting presentation faster than to have a 5ft gap, then 7ft, then 4ft, etc.
10. Children – I debated strongly whether to mention this or not and let me say it first, I LOVE kids. I have two of my own and kids hold a near and dear place in my heart. That said, for some unknown reason, a lot of parents have a tendency to not keep watch over their kids at weddings. Add uplighting into that picture and you have an almost guarantee that the kids will be messing with fixtures, expensive lighting fixtures. There’s nothing worse from a vendor’s perspective than to look up, as I did a couple of months back, and see some three year old walking along the wall, kicking your fixtures like a kickball. It’s a delicate subject but, if you’re going to do uplighting, please make your guests (with children) aware of the situation and ask their assistance to keep things in control. When things get broken, it’s the client who ends up paying.
I hope the above gives you some ideas in planning lighting for your own event. If there’s anything I may do to assist, please don’t hesitate to contact me anytime. Now, light it up!
About the author: Rick Ryan owns and operates a DJ, Lighting and Photobooth service company in the Nashville area. His company has become one of the fastest-growing and in demand wedding vendors in Middle Tennessee. For more info, please contact Rick below.
Nashville Wedding DJ, Uplighting and Photobooth
One of the goals of event planning is to never have guests asking each other, “What are we supposed to be doing now?”, or even worse, having to answer each other, “I don’t know.”
Help your guests have a wonderful time at your wedding by reducing the confusion that can creep into the proceedings during transitions. In my previous post I gave tips for easing transitions in space — moving from one place to another. Today, I’m giving you tips for guiding your guests through transitions in time — moving from one part of the event to the next.
During a Jewish wedding — for most weddings, actually — transitions from one part of the program to the next usually involve moving from one room to another. After the veiling ceremony, everyone moves to the place where the huppah stands. When the huppah ceremony is over, everyone moves to the next room, anticipating cocktails. Later, it’s on to the meal. In these instances, the tips that help people move smoothly from one space to another will also do most of the work of easing their transition from one part of the program to the next. But there are still more things you can do to make these transitions as smooth as possible for your guests.
Tips for Managing Transitions Between Parts of the Wedding
- Invite guests to move to the next part of the event. When it’s time to move from one room to another, and guests can’t be expected to know which way to go, don’t just open the door and wait for your guests to figure out it’s time to move. Invite them to do so. When the veiling ceremony is over, have the rabbi or a family member who doesn’t mind speaking up say something like, “Please join us on the lawn / in the sanctary / in the Steinsaltz Room for the wedding ceremony,” and hold out an arm in the direction people should move.” When the cocktail hour is over and it’s time for dinner, have a staff member from the venue, caterer, or wedding planner announce, “Please join us in the Roosevelt Room / terrace / ballroom for dinner.”
- When transitioning from a cocktail hour to a buffet meal, invite one person or couple to begin. When you have a large number of guests, opening up the buffet can create a chaotic rush. When the number of guests is small, no one may feel comfortable stepping up to serve themselves first. The solution: Invite one person or couple to be first: “Will you start the buffet for us?” If the group is small, start with a guest of honor, such as a grandparent or a guest who traveled an especially long way to attend, or the rabbi. Invite the person to start the buffet, escort them to the table, and hand them a plate. If the crowd is large, start with the group nearest the buffet, and let the rest of the guests follow on as they realize the buffet is open.
- Keep written programs short. A printed program can be a useful guide to guests who are not familiar with the ceremony, or to acknowledge people who have special roles, but keep the program short. You don’t want your guests spending a lot of time with their heads down reading. You want them watching and taking part in the ceremony they have come to share with you.
Following these tips will help produce a fabulously organized wedding. They’ll also do much more. The personal interactions that happen when people are welcomed and joyfully invited to the next part of the celebration, and when someone is nearby to answer their questions will impart a wonderfully personal touch that costs you nothing but will make your day more meaningful and memorable for your guests.
The big idea here: manage transitions.
You need to manage transitions in space — moving from room to room — and transitions in time — moving from one part of the program to another.
Managing Transitions in Space
- Mark entrances clearly. Give guests an indication of where the entrance is from as far away as is reasonable, given the space. Even if you think that the entrance is obvious, a large or colorful gesture tells guests that they are headed in the right direction and sets the tone for the celebration. The gesture can be as simple as having someone standing near the door or some decorative element. For weddings, hanging a garland above the door or a wreath on a garden gate are great ways to say, “Wedding this way!”
- Let people know they’ve arrived. Station someone at the entrance to each new space to say “Welcome” and hand guests a program, or offer a drink from a tray, invite guests to the hors d’oeuvres station on the far side of the room, point them in the direction of their dinner table, or just be available to answer questions.
- When the event moves from one space to another, station people along the route to point the way. Even if people are only moving through a small vestibule between the chapel and the social hall, have someone standing in that space to gesture in the direction people should move. Some people will still be looking for direction and assurance. Seeing someone point the way will put their mind at ease let their thoughts return to enjoying themselves. Using staff from the venue or the caterer for this role can be expensive, so if your wedding coordinator doesn’t have enough staff to do this, consider asking an outgoing friend or family member to do it.
- Signage, signage, signage. Good signage eliminates guests’ anxiety and helps the event run smoothly. One of my proudest event planning moments came when I lived in Kuwait and planned a large formal dinner attended by a large number of military personnel. As a protocol officer who was widely appreciated for his superlatively organized events arrived, he told me he liked my signage. I do pride myself on good signage.
As you approach the final weeks of planning your wedding, think through how guests will move through the event space, what they will be looking for, and where they might get confused. Create signs, preferably in a style that fits the venue and your wedding, to show people where to go or give them information they will need:
- “Bride’s reception in Dumont Room.—>”
- “Additional ladies room in upstairs lobby.”
- “Please have your coat check ticket ready.”
- Give special consideration to people with mobility issues. If you know that some of your guests have difficulty walking or need an elevator, be sure to scope out the ramps, elevators, and other accommodations that the venue offers for people with mobility issues. If you can, provide details about the location of these features to guests who will need them before the wedding. Advise your staff and vendors to be on the lookout for these guests, and make sure the staff can point guests in the direction of these features and know how to get any additional help the guests need.
Next post: Managing transitions in time…
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