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Archive for July, 2018


The Willows Radnor Township.jpg

The Willows historic mansion is visible in the distance. A bridge connects the park to a small peninsula that juts into the lake, shaded by a gorgeous willow tree. It’s the perfect spot for an intimate wedding ceremony.

If you are looking for a short and sweet wedding ceremony with just you, your beloved, and a handful of guests, The Willows is one of the most perfect, picturesque places to do so in Philly’s western suburbs.

Radnor Township has a park called The Willows (430 Darby Paoli Road; Villanova PA 19085). If you type the address in Google Maps, and select Satellite view, you will see that the park is centered around a small lake with a view of a historic mansion.

Jutting out into the lake is a small piece of land with an enormous flowering willow tree (hence the park’s name, presumably!) It’s all the space you need for a group of 3 to 10 people to stand in a semi-circle and watch you become married!

Here is The Willows on  GoogleMaps.

The Willows park is a 47.5-acre estate purchased by Radnor Township in 1973 from the Zantzinger family. Situated at the end of a long, winding driveway is the beautifully restored three-story mansion. The mansion was built in 1910 by John Sinnott Jr. and Rose Garland.

The mansion still contains many of the original architectural features that add to the historical value of the property. The cottage (or gatehouse) was a multipurpose building. It housed estate employees, stabled horses and other animals of the estate, as well as cars. It was the first point of contact visitors made to the estate.

Today, the property also contains a nature trail, picnic areas, and restrooms open to the public.

For more information on visiting the park, as well as information on reserving the park for a larger more-formal event, visit the township website here: www.radnor.com/Facilities/Facility/Details/The-Willows-29.

 

The Willows Radnor Township.jpg

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chuppah2As a wedding officiant, one of the first questions couples ask me is where they can find a chuppah — the wedding canopy that is used traditionally in Jewish weddings.

Chuppahs remain a popular element in Jewish weddings, including interfaith weddings, and for very good reasons.

For starters, they are beautiful! They create a picturesque “frame” around the couple and carve out a visual space for the ritual events to unfold.

Secondly, the meaning of a chuppah works in so many different types of weddings. Although it is clearly a Jewish tradition, there is nothing Jewishly “exclusive” about it — meaning, it works perfectly well for Christians too.

The idea of a chuppah is that you are symbolically creating the new home that the couple is making together. Like a home, it has a cover, to provide shelter, but unlike a home, it is open on all sides. This symbolizes the idea that all couples need the help, love and support of the people around them; by keeping the walls open, they are inviting all of this love inside.

You may have noticed that there is nothing theistic about anything I have just said. The majority of weddings I officiate are for couples where at least one person self-identifies as an agnostic, atheist or secular humanist — and chuppahs work perfectly with these kinds of ideologies too! Inviting in the love of friends and family into your new home has nothing to do with an omnipotent being.

How To Find a Chuppah: The Nuts and Bolts

All of that said, allow me to return to my previous point, which is the literal question: Where do I find a chuppah? Here is some advice that I have culled from couples whom I have married:

1) Start with your wedding venue. They may have chuppahs they can rent you, or they may have an “arch”-type piece of decoration worked into their grounds, which you can use as a symbolic chuppah.

2) Next stop is a florist. Many florists also rent chuppahs. If you have a florist and they don’t offer chuppahs, move to point 3.

3) Third stop is looking for vendors who are strictly in the business of renting chuppahs. Keep in mind, the closer the vendor is located to the location of your wedding, the better the price they can offer. Travel time is often the biggest time drain for every person you are hiring to do your wedding! You will also pay more on a Saturday in May, when folks in the wedding business are booked out to the hilt, than you will on a Thursday in December.

4) Last idea: For those crafty inclined — or for those on a budget — or both, buy a chuppah starter kit (about $125 from one website I like, called www.galleryjudaica.com) and get handy. These kits will give you the basics of what you need, and you will usually need to figure out the polls.

I officiated a wedding for a couple who chose Organza Chuppah Silver for $125, free ground shipping, from Gallery Judaica. They invested a fair amount of time making polls with matching fabric and gold ribbon hanging off the end; I loved it!5-27-12 Alanah & Scott (5).jpg

Another couple I married went the super-simple route and just bought four matching poles and then tied a tallis (prayer shawl) over the top. The tallis they used was an old one, which had been passed down in the family. Here is a picture of how theirs came out (at right). As you can see, it’s gorgeous! You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a chuppah, especially if you are willing to work with the type you hold.

One of the best chuppah-making secrets I’ve learned about of late is a guy who sells on Etsy full-sized birchwood polls, fashioned to hold a fabric top on one end. The price? $51 for four polls! (How he makes any profit at that price, I have no idea!)

Buy some birchwood polls on Etsy, add a family tallis on top, and you’ve got yourself a gorgeous handmade chuppah for under $100! Right off the bat, you’ve carved $900 off your wedding budget; not too shabby, I’d say!

Below I have listed a few vendors that have been recommended to me personally, and at prices that strike me as reasonable. Keep in mind, you can pay upwards of $1,000 for a chuppah, depending on how fancy you want to get.

** Philly Event Rental (http://phillyeventrental.com/) offered a price quote of $450, with an additional $50 for lights. Their warehouse is located in the NE Philly / Port Richmond area. “We were very happy with how it turned out.”

* A florist in South Philly, Baileflor, recently offered a price of $350, which included draping, flowers and hanging crystals. But she was also being paid separately for larger floral work at the ceremony, so it’s not a straight comparison in the price department. “She can also customize depending on your budget,” my source told me, and the couple “seems to be very pleased with her thus far.”

Her contact info:
Leah Reinhard Albarouki
MD wedding (3).JPGbaileflor
www.baileflor.com
484.557.8010

Of course the best place to go these days to just scope out ideas is Pinterest. There, you will find thousands of pictures of chuppahs that people have uploaded to the site.

For example, check out this beautiful chuppah one of my couple’s made, overlooking a lake in Delaware. It is nothing more than unadorned tree branches, with a large piece of lace draped over the top. Simple, yet perfect!

Have you rented a chuppah in the Philly area and liked the service you received? If so, please email me the name of the provider, the price you paid, and whatever other details are helpful to know, and I will add them to this list!

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