Monday, April 25, 2011

Building their own traditions under the apple trees at Little Dog Orchard: Tahneer and Jon’s Wedding

Tahneer and Jon  photo:  MCV Photography

Tahneer and Jon are good friends with my son Aaron and daughter-in-law Melissa. It was exactly a year ago this week, that I first sat down with them to talk about their ketubah. To get the ball rolling, I asked them about their wedding plans. I can’t remember who spoke first but it was clear to me from the first words, that this was going to be a very special wedding. They started by telling me about the venue – An apple orchard, near New Paltz, New York.

Don't you love it when things just fall into place? Tahneer began to describe how they found their venue. “I met up with my friend for dinner when I was at a conference in Philadelphia, and I mentioned that we were thinking of getting married in an outdoor space – like an orchard or a vineyard.” Tahneer explains, “Then my friend said, — I don't know if this will help, but I have a friend from grad school who now lives and works on an apple orchard!” This story/person so appealed to Tahneer, that she knew she had to look into this further.

Wedding Ceremony at Little Dog Orchard  photo:  MCV Photography

Little Dog Orchard had never been rented out for a wedding (or anything else for that matter), but the owners were keen to find new ways to utilize their property. “We contacted Julie and we drove up there and met her and her partner Jody” Jon explains, “They took us around the property and we knew immediately that this was where we wanted to have our wedding.”

Besides caring for their organic apple trees, Julie and Jody’s other talents lent themselves beautifully to wedding planning. “Julie is a DJ and Jody is a sound engineer” Jon began. First they hooked them up with The Big Shoe, a local cover band. “We loved their vibe and music and they became our Wedding Band”. Then the creative duo found them a caterer, a florist, a restaurant for the rehearsal dinner, and even helped with parking and technical arrangements the day of the wedding. “Julie and Jody were awesome and we love them for everything they did for us” Jon says with emotion.

The Big Shoe  photo:  MCV Photography

But the venue was just one aspect of the unique personality of this wedding. When we got down to discussing what elements they wanted to include in their Ketubah design, they related their experience at a friend’s Quaker wedding. They were intrigued with the wedding certificate. “In Quaker tradition, it is not one individual that marries a couple. The board of elders agrees to allow them to marry and the entire congregation certifies the marriage by signing the certificate” Jon explains. This suited Tahneer and Jon’s inclusive and egalitarian sensibilities, and they wanted to incorporate this tradition into their ketubah. “How many people will be at your wedding?” I asked sheepishly, trying to calculate how I would have space on their Ketubah for hundreds of signatures, Ketubah text in English and Hebrew and an apple orchard ...

Ketubah: Naomi Broudo  photo: MCV Photography

When there is a will, there is a way and working with Tahneer and Jon was amazing. A true collaboration.  “I remember (the ketubah design) as one of our earliest wedding projects” Tahneer reminisces, “looking at the early drafts you sent us of the Ketubah, and deciding together how we wanted it to look, what would make it most symbolize what we wanted it to symbolize!” The final result several months later, was a double apple tree design with 180 signature lines superimposed over the intricate root system. I think we were all pleased with the final result! And so were all of their friends when it came time to sign their Ketubah at the wedding.

photo: MCV Photography

I asked them recently, what they took away from this beautiful tradition they created. “We felt very loved and supported”, Jon began. “And I love the idea that instead of some ordinary sign-up guest book that we will never look at again, we have the signatures of everyone who attended on one beautiful sheet.” Tahneer added.

Personal touches  photo: MCV Photography

This wedding has a personality all it’s own because it is personal. “I think both Jon and I appreciate things when they relate to people we know and love, so we really tried to integrate friends and family into as many aspects of the wedding planning/execution as possible” Tahneer explains. For example, there was home brewed beer by Jody, hand drawn invitation artwork by Tahneer’s little brother Mo, Wedding dress alterations by a friend of the family, makeup and hair by Jon’s barber in Jersey City, assembly-line candy-jar-filling by the Oskman family, to name just a few of the personal touches. “It really felt like we were supported by a whole community of friends, family, and in some cases even strangers!” says Tahneer.

Hand picked flowers from Shoving Leopard Farms  photo:  MCV Photography

Even the flower arrangements were a group effort. Months before the wedding, the couple scoured flea markets to find 25 different glass vases for their center pieces. The Saturday of the wedding they drove to Shoving Leopard Farms to pick fresh flowers in the farm’s “flower maze” with an intimate group of friends and family, who then filled decorative baskets and created the center pieces for the wedding. I can’t imagine anything more meaningful!

I spent some time going through their wedding album recently and thought their photographer Mike Vasiliauskas, really captured the essence of their special day. It felt so real! I asked them to summarize their wedding concept in their own words. Here is what they had to say: “The main focus of the wedding was to make people feel relaxed, and at one with nature (in the most tree hugger way) ... The flower picking, Ketubah signing, and the apple orchard all contributed to our focus. People felt involved, and having the wedding at our “new” friends orchard, really made people feel welcome ... People picked apples, felt the warm hospitality of the orchard, and really felt comfortable enjoying themselves.”

I only experienced their wedding vicariously through their wedding photos and their descriptions, but I think you will agree that this is one wedding, where the dream and the reality are one in the same. Thanks Tahneer and Jon for sharing your incredible story.

photo:  MCV Photography

Oh – and in case you are living in the New Paltz, NY area, Julie and Jody have a lease-a-tree program which you can find out about here. You can help tend your own tree and reap the benefits of your labors! And if you want to have your wedding under their organic apple trees, I am sure they will be happy to hear from you!

Wedding Photography: MCV Photography | Venue: Little Dog Orchard | Music: The Big Shoe | Ketubah: Naomi Broudo | Flowers: Shoving Leopard Farms |

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