Mom Knows Best! This Couple Says Their Dream Wedding Came Together with a Little Urging from Their Mothers
"The things you do in six months, we planned in six weeks," says Jenna Nortman of the pivoted celebration she and her husband, Daniel Kaufman, threw on August 14, 2020, in Orchard Lake, Michigan. It was a grand departure from the Tel Aviv bash the pandemic made impossible: The intimate event (one of many held over the course of the weekend) took place at Daniel's family estate, and the couple says that it never would have happened without the urging of both their mothers. "Daniel and I were convinced that we would still be able to have the big wedding of our dreams in the near future," explains the bride. "Like the rest of the world, we had no idea how much longer the pandemic would go on, and, because of this, we tried to make it a simple, quick weekend with our families. If it wasn't for our moms' pushing for a more over-the-top and memorable wedding weekend, we wouldn't have the beautiful and special memories we do now. They always say, 'Moms know best.' In this scenario, that has never been more true!"
Built in 1928, the private Michigan residence, part of which resembles a French chateau, set the elegant, romantic tone for the pair's nuptials. "We could have been anywhere in Europe with that atmosphere," says Jenna, adding that piecing together the remainder of the event was a breeze thanks to their mothers, who dreamed up, planned, and executed their nuptials. "Trusting that our moms would fulfill the vision we wanted," says the bride, was the easiest part of the process. The hardest? "Letting go of the dream wedding we worked on for many months and embracing the new concept of what the wedding would be. It was difficult and devastating to let go. The moment we turned the page, however, we embraced the process wholeheartedly and hit the ground running," she says.
With the help of close friend and party planner Melissa Feldman of Melissa Vitale Events—who coordinated the celebration and the remaining events that unfolded over the course of the weekend—the couple's intimate, traditional celebration, complete with a meaningful Jewish ceremony officiated by their rabbi, was seamless. And while they missed a grand portion of their nearest and dearest on the big day, they did what they could to include their friends ("Making the decision to have a private Zoom for our friends to watch us get married was the best decision we ever made," notes Jenna). One pal in particular, however, said he wouldn't miss it for the world—and showed up on big day simply to watch the service from a safe, respectful distance. "Sandy told us that he would be hiding in the trees during our ceremony—'You won’t even know I’m there.' During the ceremony, I spotted him and I whispered to Daniel to show him where Sandy was standing. It was such a fun moment, but overall, so special, as he represented all of our friends who do not live locally."
Meant to Be
Jenna met Mira Zwillinger on a retreat in October 2018. "From that moment on, I knew I wanted to wear one of her wedding dresses," says the bride. "She is the kindest, most beautiful, and elegant woman I have ever met." She remained true to her word: Jenna chose the "Mati" gown—a fitted lace number with hand-contoured 3D floral appliqués and an open back—for her big day. "It was one of the first gowns I tried on and, to be honest, I knew right away that this was it. The open back was my favorite part," she reflects. "When our wedding in Israel was cancelled, this was already the gown I had decided on. I knew I would still marry Daniel in this dress, regardless of how big or small our celebration was."
The bride took a moment to pose with the couple's puppy, Seki, on the morning of the wedding.
Slice of Sparkle
"I wanted to keep my accessories to a minimum—and simple," says Jenna, whose elegant Jimmy Choo pumps offered just a touch of sparkle to her ensemble, as did the rest of her adornments. "I wore my mom's diamond stud earrings, my engagement ring, and a diamond tennis bracelet gifted to me by my in-laws."
Orchids and Eucalyptus
Jenna's bouquet, which was artfully arranged by Gerych of Gerych's Flowers and Events, was "a play on our chuppah," says the bride, "with simple greenery and white flowers."
Groom in White
"I purchased a cream, crushed silk Caruso tuxedo five years ago. At the time, I knew it was a crazy purchase and that I had no idea when I would wear it—but I knew it was too special to pass up," says Daniel. "For the next four years, I tried endlessly to wear it to other weddings, but I was always convinced that it was not appropriate. It was depressing to have this awesome tuxedo just waiting to be worn."
He'd never considered it for his own wedding, he says—he was going to have his big-day ensemble custom made in Israel before COVID-19 threw a wrench in their plans—and even attempted sourcing other options, looking high (via luxury fashion designers) and low (he considered some accessibly priced suits, too) for the correct tux. "After ordering and having about 15 options at the house four days before the wedding, nothing felt right—and I decided to try on the crushed silk tux from years prior. It was instantly clear how much better it was than all the other options that I had been searching far and wide for. It was perfect. From there, I got it resized by my amazing tailor who actually made alterations for me the day of. It was a full-circle story."
Ladies in Floral
Jenna's bridesmaids were all family members (a mix of sisters and brothers' significant others); they donned light-hued floral gowns in the brands of their choice "to keep with a summery vibe," says the bride.
As for the groomsmen's attire? Daniel wanted to have fun with it. "My plan was to allow my groomsmen a lot more flexibility than normal," he explains. "When thinking about fun ideas for my family, I came across a salmon-colored suit from Sandro Paris. I immediately knew I had found the one." His brothers, father, and—most importantly—grandfather loved the ensemble just as much. "Envisioning my grandfather in that salmon-colored suit put a huge smile on my face. Seeing it in the flesh was even better than I imagined," he adds.
A Musical Moment
The bride began her processional solo. Once she reached the aisle's half-way mark, she was joined by her mother, who escorted her the rest of the way. The music was an important component of this part of the service, notes Jenna: "It was important that our ceremony featured Jewish melody, as well as hand-selected songs to set the right atmosphere. One of Daniel’s favorite movies is Top Gun, so naturally he walked down the aisle to the theme song. I walked in to 'Here Comes the Sun,' which felt sweet, special, and like it would bring on some tears! For our siblings, we chose songs like 'Bittersweet Symphony (Instrumental)' and 'Jubel (Instrumental).'"
Clustered seats allowed for social distancing and gave guests uninterrupted views of the service (and the private lake just beyond the altar!), which took place underneath a massive chuppah adorned with greenery and studded with roses.
The Importance of Tradition
The couple's Jewish ceremony—which began traditionally, with the bride circling her soon-to-be-husband—was led by their rabbi. "It was important that our rabbi truly understood our relationship and our bond," says Jenna. "We had weekly meetings to discuss everything from the significance of the ceremony's traditions to the meaning of the commitment of marriage and starting a family."
To the Future
"During the ceremony, we used my grandparents' prayer shawl to cover us when the rabbi was blessing our union. We also did a blessing on the wine using Daniel's grandfather's kiddush cup," continues Jenna, adding that, just before Daniel smashed the glass, they exchanged hand-written vows. "We shared our cherished memories, our love for one another, and our promises to each other for our future and our future family."
"Before sundown on August 14, 2020, Daniel and I got married under the chuppah of our dreams, surrounded by our loving families," reflects Jenna. "We couldn't have imagined it being any other way. We felt incredibly lucky to have the love we share together, and in that moment, we knew that was most important."
Post-ceremony, the newlyweds posed around Daniel's family's estate. "There was no better option than to get married at my in-laws' home," reflects Jenna, noting that the original house was built 1928 ("There are still parts of the home kept up from that era!" she says).
Raising a Glass
During the cocktail hour, the bar served up a myriad of offerings, from tequila, vodka, and whiskey to red and white wine; Daniel's parents' are avid collectors, says Jenna, and had hand-selected several beautiful varietals for the evening.
On the Table
A rose-and-greenery garland cascaded off the edges of the single black table—positioned on a patio just off the lake—set for the intimate reception.
Take a Seat
Tied cushions ensured the cross-backed chair were comfortable and added some tonal depth to the dark wood table.
Decorative chargers in a brilliant shade of gold were accentuated by amber goblets. A mix of pillar candles, housed in see-through hurricane glass, and tea lights brought warmth and light to the table as the sun set; classic cutlery and crystal stemware were the finishing touches.
"I knew I wanted a naked wedding cake to go with the overall vibe and theme of a garden wedding," explains Jenna. White flowers flowed down the vanilla confection's many layers, which were iced to perfection by Quality Kosher Catering.
Following a light salad dressed in a vinaigrette, attendees were served their choice of grilled chicken or filet of steak with potatoes and grilled vegetables. A violinist serenaded the celebrants well into the evening.
A New Way Forward
NuClassica kept the small group on their feet during the dance party that followed the meal; guests were also treated to a photo booth (a total hit, says the bride). It was a memorable evening even for those not in attendance: "After our wedding, so many people reached out to us to let us know that we completely changed their perspective on weddings and that they were changing their plans based on what they saw us do," shares the groom. It made them happy, he adds, to know that they were part of these re-plans—and that they could help others feel more comfortable in finding another way forward. "There are so many ways to have your 'perfect wedding,'" he affirms.
Photography, Blaine Siesser
Videography, Visi Productions
Wedding Planning, Lori Page and Shari Feber Kaufman
Wedding Coordination, Melissa Vitale Events
Event Design, Flowers, Lighting, and Rentals, Jon Gerych of Gerych's Flowers and Events
Officiant, Rabbi Yisrael Pinson
Bride's Gown and Veil, Mira Zwillinger
Shoes, Jimmy Choo, Amina Muaddi
Hair, Aimee Gupta
Makeup, Jill Sollars
Groom's Attire, Caruso Menswear
Menswear, Sandro Paris
Music, Sonia Lee (ceremony), NuClassica (reception)
Catering, Chef Joseph Gillbert, Chef Michael Trombley
Cake, Quality Kosher Catering
Favors, Perfect Trading Co. (hats)
Share the Gallery
- Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Shared an Adorable New Photo of Archie in Honor of His Second Birthday
- Ahead of Mother's Day, John Legend Shared What It Really Means to Be a Supportive Husband and Father
- The Day After Their Nuptials, This Duo Treated Guests to an Al Fresco Brunch and Pool Party
- Kate Middleton and Prince William Just Launched a YouTube Channel