In many ways, it looked like a typical Jewish wedding ceremony. Yet neither bride nor groom is Jewish.
The inclusion of so many Jewish traditions in the ceremony uniting Melanie, raised Episcopalian, and Michael, raised Catholic, was their way of making their wedding special, they said.
A Jewish wedding was “a refreshing departure from what everybody that is close to us is used to,” Melanie said.
Drawn to symbols
It all started with the huppah.
Melanie came across a picture of a wedding canopy while she and Michael, who were introduced by friends, were looking through photographs of other ceremonies that had been held at the Washington Marriott at Metro Center. “It was the most beautiful huppah I’ve ever seen,” she said. “I thought, ‘What am I going to do to set up the front of the room? A huppah would be perfect.’ ”
Adding Block to the ceremony also happened by chance after Michael, who was searching for an officiant online, came across Block’s site, rabbionthego.com. He was pleased by Block’s philosophy that a wedding should be about the couple, no matter their faith, sexuality or background. The rabbi even did themed ceremonies, such as a Dr. Seuss wedding.
“I showed Mel the site, and we were like, ‘This guy is awesome!’ ” Michael said.
“So, now, at this point, we have a huppah and a rabbi,” Melanie said. It seemed only natural to add other Jewish elements: the ketubah, the Kiddush, the seven blessings and the breaking of a glass at the end of the ceremony.
What had begun as a question about room decorations had evolved into a way to incorporate meaningful symbols into their wedding and create a more community-centric ceremony. “I’ve . . . been to a Catholic wedding, and they just seem boring. It’s just like church,” Michael said.
The couple considered including some traditional Chinese wedding traditions, such as a tea ceremony, but that would have been primarily for Melanie’s Chinese grandparents. “My parents raised my immediate family and [me] pretty Anglicized,” Melanie said. Besides, she added, a Jewish wedding was neutral territory.
The Pezzulas were already open to Jewish traditions. Michael, a computer software consultant, had been in the Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi, which accepts members of all faiths, at the University of Virginia. Melanie, a technical writer, hadn’t encountered Jewish culture until moving from the South to attend the University of Maryland. She became intrigued and had even considered converting.