I wore a beautifully fitted Amsale dress and floral veil, with pearl earrings, and my bridesmaids wore mix-and-match crinkle chiffon. Jaime wore a tuxedo from Indochino, and a kippah that a friend of his brought him from Israel (it’s hard to find a small, knit version in the US).
Our wedding venue already had a beautiful pergola that we used for the chuppah (traditional Jewish wedding canopy), and we had white cloth made in Kenya that we draped in the pergola to create the chuppah canopy.
I am Kenyan (my parents are Gikuyu, which is a Kenyan tribe) and my husband is Jewish. The Gikuyu and Jewish marriage ceremonials are deeply communal. Even beyond the uniting of two families, the wedding represents an event for the entire community. For the ceremony, in both of our cultures, there are traditions of having important elders speak during the ceremony. In both the Kenyan and Jewish traditions, the first stage of the marriage is a betrothal that is sanctified over wine - so we included Gikuyu and a Hebrew blessing over this first cup of wine, and drank it from a traditional Gikuyu drinking horn we brought back from Kenya.
In the Jewish tradition, the final stage of marriage is also sanctified over a cup of wine. These final blessings are at the heart of the Jewish ceremony and speak to the joy and jubilation that a marriage brings both to the bride and to the groom, as well as to their extended families and communities. They reference the “cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem” and we added the “lands of the Gikuyu and the surroundings of Mount Kenya” into the blessing to encompass both of our culture's’ central holy sites in the final wedding blessing.
We also wanted to continue to incorporate both of our cultures in the reception as well. We were so lucky that two of our best friends since childhood are now in a band together. My friend, Rachel Brown is the bandleader, and Jaime’s friend Marcus Miller plays saxophone. They were able to adapt traditional Jewish wedding songs, and we kicked off the dinner portion of the evening with circle dancing - and of course, we were both lifted up on chairs - and then surprised both of our mothers by also lifting them up on chairs. Then after dinner, the dancing continued with our amazing DJ - DJ OP! - who incorporated Kenyan music into the evening
My favorite part of our wedding was the dancing! We loved dancing to the band's rendition of "For the Love of You" for our first dance, and having that transition into joyful circle dancing with our friends and family. So much fun.
Bridesmaids Dresses: Mix-and-match crinkle silk chiffon
Purchased at: Amsale Flagship Salon
Photography: Nicole Lev
Venue: The Garrison
Flowers: Flowers by April
Band: Rachel Brown