KAREN + GRAHAM
We met at Newark airport on the way to Israel in 2008. We were on a Birthright trip, so it was a very stress-free, no-pressure way to meet. We didn't really start chatting much until about halfway through the trip. Turns out he was allergic to rum because during our first conversation he was bright red like a tomato and ran away from me because he could feel how hot his face was. We ended up trading iPods on the bus one day and discovered we had really similar taste in music. I'll never forget the look he gave me when we were getting off the bus. Then he asked me if I wanted to share a camel ride with him in the desert. I guess I’d say that was our first date.
When I first met him, he seemed very familiar to me, not like anyone in particular but someone I should know and felt like I knew. I was struck by what a positive outlook he had on life, even though he’d been through a lot. He told me he wanted a “big life” and something told me that we had the same idea about what that meant. As far as love, for some reason I've always said it first. It's always been something I've needed to just spit out. He’s a musician, and it was after the first time I saw him perform, at maybe four in the morning, that I said “I love you.” I was really scared and shaky and he thought I was going to say something really bad. I spit it out and luckily he said it right back.
We were together for about five years before we got engaged. We had our wedding at the Race Brook Lodge in the Berkshires. It was really the perfect venue for us; it felt like summer camp and had so much character. It rained both Saturdays before, and was freezing the night before at the rehearsal dinner, but somehow the day of the wedding was a perfect seventy degrees. We had 145 of our closest family and friends attend — small enough to feel intimate and big enough to turn into a big dance party.
The ceremony was so much more intense and surreal than I anticipated. Our Officiant (my childhood cantor) had only one requirement — that we write our own vows. I'm so glad because it pushed us to be vulnerable and share that with our friends and family who came from all over to support us.
Our friend played keyboard to Bon Iver’s “Beth/Rest” while Graham and our immediate families walked down the aisle. I lost it as soon as the song started playing. Then my parents walked me down the aisle to Cat Powers version of "Sea of Love." For the recessional, we walked back up the aisle to The Ronettes “Be My Baby.” We were very strict about the playlist, scrutinizing it for months leading up to the wedding. It had to be perfect.
We chose not to have a bridal party, but instead have different people be involved and help out in various ways. We enlisted so many people’s talents, from decorating the chuppah, to making signs, to performing music. It was so touching to see how people chipped in and bonded over our wedding weekend. The whole thing was really unforgettable.