Two Families Become One

Every wedding, to some degree, must involve the community of a couple, whether this means bringing together their two families of origin or celebrating the chosen family they’ve found together. Their “community” is essentially just the guest list: The family, the friends, the colleagues, and the various other relationships that make up the supporting roles in a couple’s story. But the really magical weddings – the unforgettable ones – tend to be those where “community” is the idea from which everything else takes shape. It’s at the center of every planning decision and when done with intention, the results are breathtaking. 

Today’s real wedding is an excellent example of this idea in action, and we’re delighted to have images created by the lovely Holly Shankland to share with our community of Tahoe couples. 

When asked why they chose Lake Tahoe for their wedding destination, Rachel and Billy said, 

“When discussing our wedding, the most important thing to us was community; quality time with the people who love and guided us to where we are today, and bringing together our two communities into one. A single day didn’t feel enough to us, so we opted for an entire wedding weekend in the mountains. We wanted the weekend to help us create our new, merged family and community, demonstrate our gratitude to our guests and commit to each other wrapped in all of their love and joy.”

With the help of planner Pomegranate Occasions, they nailed it. Rachel and Billy’s wedding day was brimming with charming personal details, unique family heirlooms, and a deep sense of tradition. The colorful and joyful decor popped against the backdrop of their venue, Palisades Tahoe, and was complimented perfectly by florals from Sweet Roots Floral. Guests enjoyed both the stunning lake views during the Skylandia State Park welcome party and the sweeping mountain vistas surrounding their ceremony and reception spaces. Read on for more inspiration from this magical day with notes from the bride, and peruse the Fantastic work by from Holly Shankland. 

Every piece of the chuppah was symbolic:

  • The top of the chuppah was a tablecloth from my nana
  • The Hebrew across top was embroidered on one of my grandma’s linen napkins by my mom, and has the same phrase, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine,” that was on my parents’ chuppah at their wedding
  • The embroidered pillowcase on the table was one of the only items that survived the Holocaust and we have from my grandma’s home in Poland
  • We were wrapped in my husband’s grandpa’s tallit for the 7 blessings

Billy and I wrote our own ketubah, the Jewish marriage license, because we wanted it to reflect us, our relationship, and the life and home we want to build together. A close family friend then painted the ketubah for us as a wedding gift.

My mom and I collected over 80 vintage candlesticks during the year before the wedding to use as centerpieces, inspired by a set my great-grandparents brought from [Russia] when they immigrated to the US. 

I wore Tevas to our first date, and Billy wore them to our second. My friends couldn’t believe we found each other. I made my own pair of bridal tevas complete with pearls and our initials and wedding date on the back. I gave my bridesmaids all their own tevas to change into for dancing. 

I love the story of our invitations. Our invites were drawn and printed by a local Tahoe artist, the talented Ayla Corrigan at The Presserie, [whose] art we discovered in the local Alice’s Market on a wedding-planning trip to Tahoe. We loved the idea that our invitations would be made by a local, sister-owned company and would be entirely unique just for us. The mountain on the top of the invitation is the exact mountain and view we got married in front of! The flowers on the bottom are the state flowers of California (the poppy) and of Illinois (the purple violet), the two states that we are from and the two states where we have lived together as a couple. Ayla was amazing to work with and creating our invitations together was such a joy.

At our welcome party, we made “wedding guest bingo” cards for our guests to get to know us and each other better with questions like, “Has eaten Billy’s famous challah,” “went to summer camp with the bride,” and “was on a sports team with the bride or groom.”

We [also] did a Jewish ritual called Havdallah, where you “wake your senses” back up after Shabbat and welcome the new week. Part of the ritual is smelling spices, so we made custom spice bags with our logo for every guest to take home. 

Music Shamati Music (welcome party, ceremony, hora) and Lucky Devils (hora and reception)/ Florist Sweet Roots Floral / Photographer Holly Shankland / Videographer Brendan Day / Rental Camelot, Red Carpet Events, and Celebrations / Venue and catering Palisades / Bartending at Skylandia Dusty Bottle / Catering at Skylandia Big Blue Q of Tahoe / Tahoe R&B Cookies at Skylandia Tahoe Love Bakery / Hair and makeup Megan Cary / Planning Pomegranate Occasions / Invitations, programs and place cards The Presserie / Dress Ari Villoso from Bridal Breeze / Veil Lamnhi Bridals on Etsy / Bridesmaid dresses Revelry / Groom’s suit suit supply / Jewelry Yifat Naymark