J E S S I C A H E N D R I C K S Y E E & P A T R I C K Y E E
Zahava founder Jessica Hendricks Yee shares with us some of the most meaningful elements from her and husband Patrick's Western Jewish Palm Springs Wedding Ceremony, and traditional Chinese Banquet and Tea Ceremony in Boston.
"Weaving in traditions from both my Jewish culture and Patrick's Chinese culture was really important to us.
At our Jewish wedding, we signed a 'Brit Ahuvim' or 'Lover's Covenant' in the spirit of a Ketubah signing, were wed under a Chuppah, drank from my grandparent's Kiddush cup from Israel, and Patrick broke a glass at the end of our ceremony.
Jessica and Patrick at their Chinese Banquet on the right, and Patrick's parents at their Chinese Banquet 50 years earlier on the left.
At our Chinese Banquet, we ate -- like twenty courses! -- bean curd, 5 spice beef, even jelly fish, all of the delicious traditions dishes. We also did a Tea Ceremony to ritualize my becoming part of his family. I love this ceremony because it not only honors our parents and grandparents, but we also poured tea in honor of his ancestors who are no longer with us. I wore a gorgeous (and very heavy!) hand-embroidered traditional red dress called a Qi Pao that my mother-in-law's best friend had worn at her banquet, along with gold and jade bangles for luck and prosperity.
The hardest part was in the beginning when I was trying to reconcile all of the puzzle pieces of both of our ancient cultural heritages and our modern relationship. It was so daunting. The process of reimagining our complex and layered identity as a new family, where we could build any rules we chose was an incredibly liberating and powerful awakening.
The coolest part was definitely seeing my in laws up in the chairs for the Hoora -- they did not see that one coming!
My advice for couples looking to weave together multiple traditions: It doesn't have to be either or! You don't have to choose between one tradition or another, and you don't have to forego tradition entirely to create a modern experience. Don't force your combined identity into a box it's not made to fit in, but embrace and celebrate all of the elements that are important to you, because there's room for all of it."