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Our shotgun wedding

13 February 2012 2,904 views 40 Comments

Most of you know that Adam and I went to Europe last September on an amazing trip I won from Whole Foods Market after making this video; and that we got engaged in Paris. You also may know that we spent a lot of time last October and November looking at venues. We planned to get married in October 2012.

Our lock at the Pont des Artes in Paris

Our lock at the Pont des Artes in Paris

In the midst of all this excitement, Adam’s 100-year-old Bubbe, who was the last person to leave her 200-person birthday party last summer, started weakening. She was very frail over Thanksgiving, and had to spend much of the weekend in the hospital. We kept telling Bubbe that she had to stay strong for our wedding the next fall. She would say, “honey, I’d love to be there, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it. It’s up to the big guy,” and then would roll her eyes upward. After Thanksgiving, neither Adam nor I could deny that even if Bubbe got stronger, she wouldn’t be able to travel to Austin to be with us at our wedding.

Sassy Bubbe making chicken soup in 1983

Bubbe INVENTED the Blue Steel look (1983)

My parents were coming to Texas during the Christmas holiday, and Adam and I decided to plan a small wedding then, in hopes that Bubbe could be there with us. My wonderful brother Jeff was the only immediate family member who had to book a last-minute plane ticket, which he did without hesitation.

At first, the wedding was going to be held at Bubbe’s Jewish nursing home, which had a small chapel. However, she continued to decline, and by the second week in December, she had been moved to the Houston Hospice. Her condition would improve for a few days, and then she would be sleeping deeply and impossible to wake up for over a day. In the meantime, we discovered that we could have a wedding ceremony at the hospice — either in Bubbe’s room, or in the chapel. We also spoke with a local rabbi on the phone who agreed to officiate for a Sunday morning ceremony on Christmas Day.

Aunt Mary and Bubbe reminiscing

Aunt Mary and Bubbe reminiscing

Eight days before the planned event, Adam and I drove down to Houston to see Bubbe and to meet with the rabbi to discuss details. Bubbe was in good spirits, and was mostly aware of what was happening that Saturday. She had about six different visitors in her room at once, she was eating, telling stories, laughing, and grabbing hold of our hands tightly. It was such a hopeful, lovely day.

The next morning, we went to see Bubbe before driving home to Austin. She was sound asleep and didn’t wake up all day. We began to worry again about whether she would make it a whole week. The roller coaster continued as the days leading up to our wedding ceremony crawled forward. The day before the ceremony, Bubbe was sleeping all day. I began to wonder if we should go through with it. There would be many beloved friends and family who could not join us, and I wondered if we would regret going through with the ceremony if Bubbe wasn’t truly aware of what was happening.

mom, me and Paula at Whole Foods

mom, me and Paula at Whole Foods

Adam spent the day with my dad and brother shopping for a new tie and pocket square. I went with Paula, Adam’s mom to pick up my bouquet — which we had made at Whole Foods for $14 — and Adam’s boutonniere. They dropped me off at my parents hotel so that I could have a nap. When I woke up, Adam and I talked on the phone and discussed whether Bubbe’s condition the next day would inform whether or not we had the ceremony. We decided that we would go through with it regardless, so that when she had a good day, we could show her the pictures and tell her about it. I felt relieved that we had made a decision.

Rehearsal Dinner

Rehearsal Dinner

That evening, the families went out to dinner at Houston’s beloved Jewish deli — Kenny & Ziggy’s — a fitting “rehearsal dinner” location as it was one of Bubbe’s favorite restaurants, and a favorite of the Holzband family for many years. Later, Adam and I spent the evening with a group of our friends — some who were visiting family for the holidays, some who had driven in for the ceremony. It was a very laid back “bachelor/bachelorette party” without a stripper in sight.

Pre-wedding relaxation

Pre-wedding relaxation

As we were leaving our friends house at around midnight, I got a call on my cell phone from my mom — the power had gone out in the hotel and I had planned on staying there with her there. She told me that it was dark and cold — the temperature was below freezing — and she was worried about what we would do for hot showers and electricity to get ready the next morning. I decided to stay there anyway — all of my clothes were already in her room — and told my friends Ilyse and Jessica that if the power was out in the morning, we would drive over to their house to get ready.

I barely slept that night due to my anticipation, inability to warm up, voices of the electric repair crews outside the building and concern that we would oversleep. In the middle of the night, the power was finally restored and I managed to get a couple hours of rest.

Personal stylists Ilyse and Jess

Personal stylists Ilyse and Jess

It was a lot of fun getting ready with my mom, and even more so when Ilyse, Jessica, my dad, and my brother all joined us in the room.

At the hospice, Adam went with his parents to get Bubbe ready. Lenny described the scene in an email he sent later that week:

“When we arrived at the hospice, Mom was not totally responsive, but as soon as Adam walked in the room, she put out her arms and her face lit up and she told him she loved him.”

Paula and some of the nurses got Bubbe dressed and in a wheelchair. She was brought down to the hospice chapel. In the meantime, Adam and I greeted the couple dozen friends and family who had gathered in one of the sitting rooms. There was a Christmas tree in one corner which was very appropriate in that it was Christmas morning. Rabbi Pam Silk gathered together me and Adam, and the three friends we had asked to join us to sign our ketubah — David L., Jessica, and Jen S.

Signing the Ketubah while Adam and Jen look on

Signing the Ketubah while Adam and Jen look on

After the ketubah signing ceremony, everyone went into the chapel, led by Rabbi Pam Silk and Cantor Vadim Tunitsky of Houston’s Congregation Emanu El. My brother Jeff and our friends Kenny P., Jill S., and Ilyse held the chupah while our friends David and Aaron took pictures and video. Bubbe was in her wheelchair right in front of the stage, surrounded by her dear friend Evelyn, and her granddaughter Melanie.

My parents walked me down the aisle, and Adam waited for me to join him at the end.

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Ceremony Photo Credits: David Lobel

Both of our parents surrounded the chupah on the stage, and Adam and I circled each other, and then walked under the chupah together. We looked over at Bubbe and smiled at her, and could tell that she was happy to be there, and able to focus for much of the ceremony, but it was clearly a great effort for her.

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The rabbi and cantor led a beautiful ceremony, and the cantors gorgeous voice added another layer of emotion to the day.

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After the ceremony, we each gave Bubbe a big hug and kiss, and she told us she loved us very much.

She was pressing her head to mine so strongly

She was pressing her head to mine

We snapped a few family photos, and I gave Bubbe my bouquet to hold. She started joking around, and was waving the flowers around a bit, making everyone smile.

Our first family photo!

Our first family photo!

Paula then took Bubbe back up to her room, and with the help of the nurses, got her tucked into her bed, where she immediately fell asleep. Adam and I joined her in the room, and sat next to her bed while she slept.

I felt a mixture of joy and sadness, realizing that this was both our first quiet moment as husband and wife, and also our last visit with Adam’s beloved Bubbe. We cried and held each other, kissed Bubbe’s forehead, held her hand, and told her we loved her. As we were saying our last goodbyes, her eyes fluttered open and she looked directly at Adam, telling him she loved him.

Thank you Aunt Sharon and Marsha for the champagne!

Thank you Aunt Sharon and Marsha for the champagne!

We then went to the house to enjoy bagels and lox, chocolate cake, champagne, and time to visit with those who came to celebrate with us. That afternoon, we drove back to Austin with my parents — them in the front seat, us in the back.

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Adam and I hosted my parents and brother to dinner at the Four Seasons lobby lounge, and we shared a bottle of champagne that a group of our friends from New York City had sent to our room.

Bubbly at the Four Seasons with Adam and Jeff

Bubbly at the Four Seasons with Adam and Jeff

It was a beautiful and unforgettable wedding day.

The next day

The day after

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  • http://adamholzband.com Adam Holzband

    I love you babe! Happy Valentine's Day!

  • http://adamholzband.com Adam Holzband

    I love you babe! Happy Valentine's Day!

  • edel

    Can't wait to see you guys in a couple of weeks and toast your sepcial wedding in person. Fabulous account and you had me in tears xx

  • edel

    Can't wait to see you guys in a couple of weeks and toast your sepcial wedding in person. Fabulous account and you had me in tears xx

  • edel

    Can't wait to see you guys in a couple of weeks and toast your sepcial wedding in person. Fabulous account and you had me in tears xx

  • edel

    Can't wait to see you guys in a couple of weeks and toast your sepcial wedding in person. Fabulous account and you had me in tears xx

  • ApronAdventures

    Oh how lovely! Thanks for sharing so many little stories and photos from your special day. I'm glad it worked out – you two are such a gentle couple :)

  • http://www.idontbelieveindiets.com Cara Thielvoldt

    What a great story. I am so glad you could share all of that with Bubbe!

  • Kristina W

    Oh my goodness my eyes are blurry from the tears. Such beautiful heartfelt love. This is a true testament not only for the love you have for each other but the love you share with your family.  This is the kind of Love that lasts a lifetime. A very Happy Valentines day to you and Adam. Thank you so much for sharing this story.

  • Daniel Smith

    Wow, what a great story.  I miss spending Friday night Shabbat with your Bubbe.  She made such wonderful food and her home was always so warm and welcoming.  You two look so beautiful together.  Josh, Jen and myself wish you a happy and loving marriage!  Mazal Tov!  Kol Ha-kavod Adon veh Gveret Holzband!

  • http://texasonthames.com/ Laura

    Congratulations and big lovely delicious wishes to you both. <3

  • Epsteindana

    Great story to read on Valentine's Day. Glad Bubbe got to be there. What a wonderful family story to have forever.

  • marcoskirsch

    You did the best thing. Mazal tov!

  • Margaret Christine

    Well, now.  I’m just a wreck.  
    I would wish you the best of luck in your marriage, but with that kind of beginning, who needs luck?

  • Pam Picard

    Jodi, that is so touching. But then, I always cry at weddings. Thank you for sharing it.

  • Rue Linnee or Mom

    I am sitting here with a smile on my face of a beautiful memorable day. Thank you for sharing this in your post on this Valentine's Day. It is a tribute to you, Adam, and to dear Bubbe.

    I love you and Adam so very much. Wishing you a loving Valentine's Day!

  • Jenna Noel

    Congrats! Great story. Thanks for sharing and Happy Valentines Day!

  • Rue Linnee or Mom

    I am sitting here with a smile on my face of a beautiful memorable day. Thank you for sharing this in your post on this Valentine's Day. It is a tribute to you, Adam, and to dear Bubbe.

    I love you and Adam so very much. Wishing you a loving Valentine's Day!

  • aunt sharon

    Okay guys … you are making me cry ..with tears of joy and sadness.
    Beautifully said and done.
    Anxious to celebrate with both of you and family in October

    lots of love,
    aunt sharon

  • Aunty Marsha

    I cried the first time I read it and am crying again.It is a beautiful, true story. I hope all your Valentine's days are beautiful just like the two of you.

  • aunt sharon

    Okay guys … you are making me cry ..with tears of joy and sadness.
    Beautifully said and done.
    Anxious to celebrate with both of you and family in October

    lots of love,
    aunt sharon

  • linda

    an incredible & beautiful celebration of love & life. 
    you & adam are amazing people.beautiful inner strength & great sense of family.

  • laura h.

    you're both amazing, and i agree with your mom — your sense of family is an inspiration. i love every word of this post. i love bubbie's “blue steel” look. i wish i'd gotten to meet her, but knowing you and adam is surely the next best thing ;-) love you both!

  • Jaclyn

    Beautiful story! I wish I was there – but as I was reading this I felt like I was. Love ya!!

  • Sandy Brand

    Jodi and Adam… Wedding days are always special but yours will be one that really lasts a lifetime. Marriage is so much more that the big hoopla so often associated with the celebration. It is obvious that the two of you deeply understand the meaning of sharing, of love for each other and of family. How lucky for you two to have found each other in this crazy world. Mazel Tov to you and both your families from Myron and Sandy Brand

  • Sandy Brand

    Jodi and Adam… Wedding days are always special but yours will be one that really lasts a lifetime. Marriage is so much more that the big hoopla so often associated with the celebration. It is obvious that the two of you deeply understand the meaning of sharing, of love for each other and of family. How lucky for you two to have found each other in this crazy world. Mazel Tov to you and both your families from Myron and Sandy Brand

  • Bgoldinbecker

    Such a beautiful beginning to a beautiful union of two of my most favorite people.  Thanks for sharing the love for those of us who couldn't be there. 

  • Bgoldinbecker

    Such a beautiful beginning to a beautiful union of two of my most favorite people.  Thanks for sharing the love for those of us who couldn't be there. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1267871883 Mary Helen Leonard

    Congratulations!  It looks like it was a beautiful day.

  • jodibart

    Thank you all for reading, and leaving such sweet comments. xoxoxo

  • jodibart

    Thank you all for reading, and leaving such sweet comments. xoxoxo

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=691716510 Steve Crossland

    Awesome story. Congratulations.

  • Sylvia

    Fantastic story! It reminds me of our wedding where my beloved grandmother “Sada” sat in the front row. 

  • Sylvia

    Fantastic story! It reminds me of our wedding where my beloved grandmother “Sada” sat in the front row. 

  • a.Lou

    Everyone is wondering why I am crying in my office. Beautiful. Beaming. Everlasting Memory!

  • a.Lou

    Everyone is wondering why I am crying in my office. Beautiful. Beaming. Everlasting Memory!

  • a.Lou

    Everyone is wondering why I am crying in my office. Beautiful. Beaming. Everlasting Memory!

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