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When the Bride is an Artist

On the one year anniversary of her wedding, as she and her husband prepare for a long awaited Ireland honeymoon, Ketuv artist Aliza Lelah shares all of the lovely handmade, personal details of her Colorado wedding.

The Chuppah: My mom made the chuppah. It’s made out of her great grandmother’s table cloth, with pictures of my family ancestry printed on fabric and sewn on, their names and dates of their marriage embroidered underneath. My older brother got married in 2009 and used this chuppah, and then their photo was added to it. Justin and I used it in 2010, and now our photo will be sewn on, in anticipation of my younger siblings’ weddings. The chuppah was hung over Aspen trees that me, Justin, and two of our friends cut down here in Colorado.

The Ketubah: Our ketubah was something completely different than any ketubah I have ever made. The text was silk-screened onto an old piece of wood. The wood has clearly withstood the test of time, and is a symbol of our future. The image of Robin Hood and Maid Marion are painted on, and that image represents a special memory for me and Justin, dating all the way back to when we met in 2003.

The Centerpieces: The centerpieces were made by sculptor and friend Andrea Moon, and were inspired by Yoko Ono’s Wish Tree installations. The ceramic tree trunks were on every table, with wire as the branches. At each place setting was a note about Yoko Ono’s installations, a pen and a white tag, asking people to make a wish for us. After they wrote their wish, they hung it on the centerpiece. The place seem to sparkle after people began adding their wishes!

The Place Cards: The place cards were hanging on a few ceramic trees when the guests walked in. We had a small, intimate wedding of 60 people. Each place setting had an old photo on one side of either Justin or me with that person, and on the other side, there was a recent photo of Justin and me with them. There were no names– only photos.

What I Wore: Almost everything I wore came from our grandmothers. I wore Justin’s grandmother’s dress. I changed it only a little, by shortening the sleeves and removing the fabric that went up to the neck. My engagement ring was my maternal grandmother’s: a lovely opal. I wore my paternal grandmother’s pearls, and the earrings I wore were her mother’s. The earrings had even more significance, as they are the only thing my grandmother managed to save of her mother’s before she died in Iraq, just before they were kicked out for being Jewish. All three grandmothers were at the wedding, and it was so special.

Justin’s grandmother in her wedding dress

Me in the slightly modified dress

The Bouquet: I made my bouquet out of vintage buttons.

Breaking the Glass: Both Justin and I broke the glass. Justin is half-Jewish, and we sort of cherry picked the traditions that were important to us and who we are.

The Giveaways: These took literally all of last year to make. Justin and I compiled a list of lyrics by different artists that were meaningful to us. I hand and machine stitched those words onto fabric, stretched them, and built stained-wood frames. During cocktail hour, they were displayed in shelves I made, with a note on the highboy tables asking everyone to remember which frame spoke to them, and to take that one home at the end of the night. That way, each household got to take a piece of the wedding home with them. It’s been so magical this year, learning who took what and seeing them in the homes of our family and friends.

Happily: We got married outside at a venue in boulder called Chautauqua, at the base of the Flatiron mountains. Our reception was called the Community House. We were not allowed to take anything off the walls at the Community House because of its protected historic status, except for in one spot: above the fireplace. Justin and I decided on the one thing I would make to go there– the word “happily.”