I tend to view reception or catering halls as “evil necessities.” They hold lots of people and are cheaper than hotel and historical landmarks. Except the Westbury Manor. If I ever had to plan an affair on Long Island with 100 – 120 guests or less, I would choose this beautiful location.
I had the pleasure of visiting the Westbury Manor again this weekend to marry Samantha and Tom. An intercultural and international couple, they live and work abroad. They even met in Geneva. But they decided to marry on Long Island, where I believe Samantha spent the first part of her life, before processing the paperwork formally to live in Europe.
The Westbury Manor, which feels more like a bed and breakfast or an intimate inn, was quite festive, yet not overdone at all. Holiday lights and other decorations graced the site, and the staff was as friendly as usual. Like many of my couples today, Samantha and Tom ignored the old “not-seeing-the-bride-before-the-wedding” routine — a wise decision, as they could then take photos before guests arrived. The staff led a quick rehearsal and then thirty minutes later, the ceremony began as the best women and best men — looking very elegant and joyful — walked down the aisle before Samantha’s parents escorted her.
Worldly Samantha and Tom opted for a sweet and simple civil/humanist ceremony that lasted about sixteen to eighteen minutes long. They only added two special touches. First, they opted to exchange extremely heart-felt personal vows: Samantha described how much she appreciated the gift of finding her best friend and soulmate in one person, and Tom expressed how much he loved Samantha for her kindness, adventurous spirit, sense of humor, and warmth. And, at the end, Tom broke the glass.
Below are sample texts for the breaking of the glass, which is actually both a Jewish and Italian tradition. The third text suited Samantha and Tom beautifully.
a.) As we all know, the world is not a place of shalom — of wholeness and peace. The world has been shattered into fragments by violence and injustice. As we watch this glass shatter, we are reminded of this shattered world, and of the power your love has to make the world a better place to heal some of those fragments.
b.)For many reasons, it is customary for a glass to be broken at the conclusion of the wedding ceremony. Symbolically, the breaking of the glass reminds us of the fragile nature of life. The custom has also come to symbolize the shattering of the old and the beginning of the new. Since this is an interfaith ceremony, let us envision the breaking of glass as mirroring the breaking down of barriers. As this glass shatters and thereby seals this marriage, you create a more unified, hopeful, and loving world.
c.) The breaking of the glass is a reminder that joy coexists with sorrow. As we celebrate the happiness this marriage will bring, we also express concern over the sadness felt by others. Name will now break the glass with our prayerful wish that this marriage bring more peace into the world. Know that once the glass is broken, this promise and this union are as irrevocable as the ability to once again render the glass solvent and whole…On the count of three…1-2-3…Mazel Tov!
d.) X and Y, as you celebrate the start of your marriage and your future together, you also honor the fragility and suffering experienced by many. And so, today, our groom and bride will break the glass as a reminder to constantly work toward repairing any pain in their lives and the lives of others. Once the glass is broken, know that your bond is irrevocable. You will be responsible for making your union in to a channel for healing and growth.