When Stephanie and Jonathan first met in Acapulco on Spring Break nine years ago, the two college students were like the proverbial ships passing in the night: an admittedly intoxicated ship, in the case of Jonathan, and an underwhelmed (if not disdainful) ship in the case of Stephanie. As luck would have it, the two were destined to meet again—this time almost eight years later in New York during a night out at the Jane Hotel. “I was immediately smitten,” remembers Jonathan, “but had no recollection of our paths having crossed in Acapulco.” Stephanie, however, did and proceeded to fill Jonathan in on her detailed memories. Fortunately for our story, Jonathan was able to show the skeptical Stephanie that he had matured considerably while still retaining the enthusiasm and vigor of his youth—especially on the dance floor. “Jonathan’s energy is incomparable to anyone I’ve ever met,” admits Stephanie. “I had never been spun and dipped so many times before in my life!”
Flash forward a year or so, and the romance is on. So on, in fact, that Jonathan makes elaborate plans to propose to Stephanie at the site of their first date, the legendary West Village jazz club Smalls. The only hitch in his plan: a persistent pain in the abdomen that he thought could be nerves but found out that morning was actually appendicitis. The burning in Jonathan’s heart was greater than that of his stomach, though, and the intrepid lover took to his knee that evening in a proposal that had Stephanie screaming with surprise. “It was pure joy,” says Jonathan. “A true lovefest!”
Despite their somewhat rocky start, it seems that Stephanie and Jonathan specialize in lovefests. Not surprisingly, their wedding was the definition of one, filled as it was with a beautiful blending of friends, families and traditions. More than the stunning venue, gorgeous gown, heartfelt vows and raucous reception, though, the couple’s day was notable for a palpable positive charge in the atmosphere. “There was a certain energy and air of joy that seemed to take over,” says Stephanie. “I honestly have never had so much fun in my life.”
What was the first wedding planning decision you made?
Stephanie: The location. We originally were planning on doing a destination wedding but soon realized that New York was the best fit for us. We had a lot of guests coming in from Europe, Israel and the West Coast so it made the most sense to keep it central. It’s also the city in which we are starting our lives together, so it felt like the right decision.
Did you incorporate any personalized components into your ceremony?
Stephanie: Jonathan comes from a more observant Jewish background than I do, so the ceremony was officiated by his rabbi, Rabbi Morgenstern, who did an amazing job of tailoring the ceremony to our needs. We had a mix of orthodox traditions as well as some more personal moments. I think the most personal touch was that we had each written our own vows for each other that were so true to our relationship.
Jonathan: Writing vows for each other was definitely the most personal aspect. The Rabbi called them “blessings for each other.” It’s scary how similar they were—we must be made for each other! We had also chosen our kiddush cup and our ketubah during our second trip to Israel, which made it even more special.
It was way below 20 degrees outside but somehow Ira convinced us to go out onto the balcony. I wrapped myself up in my mom’s fur coat until the second Jonathan walked out. As soon as he walked on to the balcony his smile and sheer joy completely made the cold melt away.
Which aspect of your wedding was the most unique?
Stephanie: There was a certain energy and air of joy that seemed to take over. I honestly have never had so much fun in my life.
Jonathan: The love in that room created such a unique energy and once the celebrations started, they didn’t stop.
The Chatan’s tisch is a tradition I have always loved. Ours was so special because we had men and women present as well as our closest friends. That’s where all the energy, love and passion of the night really started.
Describe any specific traditions that were important to you during your wedding planning.
Stephanie: In the Jewish tradition, when you are married under a chuppah your wedding band needs to be plain. All of the women in my family have been married wearing the same gold wedding band, originally from my great grandmother Rae. It really meant a lot to me to feel connected to my mom—and to all of the women in my family who had worn it before me.
Jonathan: The Seven Blessings were really important to me, and the Chatan’s tisch is a tradition I have always loved. Ours was so special because we had men and women present as well as our closest friends. That’s where all the energy, love and passion of the night really started. It meant a lot to me that we got married under my bar mitzvah talis, which my late grandparents got me. We also used a kiddush cup that my family managed to get out of Poland during the Holocaust. Our future is important, but remembering the past is so special.
What moment from your day stands out the most in your memory?
Stephanie: What really stands out to me was our First Look. It was way below 20 degrees outside but somehow Ira convinced us to go out onto the balcony. I wrapped myself up in my mom’s fur coat until the second Jonathan walked out. As soon as he walked on to the balcony his smile and sheer joy completely made the cold melt away. I have never felt more loved or beautiful as I did in that moment.
Jonathan: I had no idea what to expect and there she was looking like the most beautiful princess. I was totally smitten and in awe. Another very special moment was when we went to the bridal suite right after the ceremony. It was just the two of us letting it all sink in together before the cocktail hour. At that point, we re-read our vows to each other and that felt so special.
Did anything surprise you?
Stephanie: I was surprised by how calm I was on the actual day. The only time I got nervous was right before I walked down the aisle, but other than that I was just amazed by how my excitement took over. I just kept looking at Jonathan and when I look into his eyes it always makes me take a deep breath.
Jonathan: What surprised me the most was how fast the night went and how I only went through two shirts. I had planned for four but maybe I was just too busy having the best night of my life. I was totally and utterly in awe at how magical the night was.
The only time I got nervous was right before I walked down the aisle, but other than that I was just amazed by how my excitement took over. I just kept looking at Jonathan.
Would you do anything differently?
Stephanie: Honestly, I wouldn’t. I just keep looking back at the photos and trying to replay all of the memories in my head.
Jonathan: It was honestly the best day of my life—with a little bit of memory loss due to euphoria! If I could do one thing different it would be to elongate the day so that we could get more time with our bridal party, hang out with my groomsmen, and get more pictures with close family.
What is the best relationship advice you’ve ever received?
Stephanie: My parents have been married for almost 40 years and I look up to them for a lot of advice. In terms of marriage, they have always told me that compromise is key. We aren’t always going to see eye to eye on everything, but as long as we listen to each other and don’t judge each other’s opinions we should have a long, happy marriage.
Jonathan: To always talk to each other, listen and communicate openly. We have been doing this since day one, and I strongly believe that is why we are so in love. Stephanie is not just my wife but my best friend who will always be there for me—and vice versa. No one gets me better than she does!
The love in that room created such a unique energy and once the celebrations started, they didn’t stop.
Jonathan's energy is incomparable to anyone I’ve ever met.