Home is Where the Heart Is
Jessica & David
Words and music combine for wedded bliss for this talented Bangor couple.
By Clare Marcussen
Photography by Blush Imagery
Former Bangor Daily News
reporter and dating columnist Jessica Bloch had almost given up on love in the Queen City when David Whitehill moved to town. David was the new executive director of the Bangor Symphony Orchestra, and he arrived in the fall of 2007. Soon after, a mutual friend asked David what he was looking for in a mate.
“I have two requirements,” he said. “She has to enjoy holding hands and read The New York Times
The friend immediately thought of Jessica and set the two up. After a brief date at Starbucks, followed by a four-hour dinner at Panda Garden, in Bangor, David and Jessica were inseparable. Almost a year later, David proposed by the ocean at Schoodic Peninsula, Jessica’s favorite spot in nearby Acadia National Park.
Since Jessica and David both hail from southern states—Virginia and Florida, respectively—they wanted to introduce their relatives to their new home state of Maine. They planned a wedding in Bar Harbor, where they knew their guests would find plenty to do over their wedding weekend.
“We tried to keep in mind that our out-of-town guests were considering this a destination wedding,” Jessica says. “A few months before the invitations went out we sent a letter with lots of information about traveling to and staying in Bar Harbor. We also included some dining and shopping suggestions. We wanted to make sure everyone was comfortable.”
In an effort to include as many Maine vendors as possible, they chose the Bar Harbor Club, Queen Anne’s Flower Shop in Bar Harbor, and Maine’s most famous disco band, Motor Booty Affair. Jessica wore a chiffon gown with beading and ruffles from House of Brides in Bangor, and David had a suit custom-made at Peter Renney’s Fashions in Portland.
Jessica and David had a traditional Jewish wedding. The rabbi and male guests wore a skullcap, or yarmulke, and Jessica’s mother spent many hours needlepointing a special yarmulke for David. The yarmulke pattern was a Star of David with a cityscape of Jerusalem. There was also a matching needlepointed bag for the prayer shawl, or tallis, given to the groom as a traditional wedding gift from the bride.
Before the ceremony, they signed an ornate and colorful ketubah, or marriage contract, designed by artist Lee Loebman. The outdoor ceremony overlooking the sandy “bar” of Bar Harbor was held under a white cloth chuppah, an open canopy symbolizing the home that the new couple will build together. The ketubah was a focal point of the ceremony that Jessica and David had framed to display in their home.
“The ketubah is an important religious document, but we also wanted to include some elements of Maine,” David says. “The background of the ketubah is based on a photograph of the ocean view off of Schoodic, which we took the morning we got engaged.”
As is the custom during the ceremony, Jessica walked around David seven times, signifying the bond that the marriage establishes between the bride, groom, and their families. Rabbi Steven Schwarzman of Congregation Beth Israel in Bangor recited the seven blessings, another Jewish custom. David placed on Jessica’s finger a simple gold ring—the same ring Jessica’s mom was married with. The couple used David’s father’s Kiddush cup, a sterling silver wine glass, from which they drank wine used to symbolize joy and abundance. At the end of the ceremony, David used his right foot to shatter a glass wrapped in cloth, an act that indicates the fragility of human happiness and reminds Jews of the destruction of the Holy Temple of Jerusalem.
Afterward, Jessica and David followed another Jewish custom known as yichud, by spending a few moments alone together in a private room inside the Bar Harbor Club, where they shared challah bread from Bangor Brick Oven Bread Co., signifying the sharing of their first meal together. At that time, David and Jessica exchanged modern wedding bands.
“It was important for us to have a traditional Jewish wedding while incorporating elements of Maine, where we met and fell in love,” Jessica said. “We’ve also fallen in love with Maine, and we wanted to share that with our family ‘from away.’ We were so happy with how everything came together.”
Guests enjoyed a sunset cocktail hour on the patio overlooking the harbor. Dinner was served in a Tudor-style ballroom. Halibut and rack of lamb were special food requests from the father of the bride, and dessert included a raspberry-filled chocolate layer cake by Janice Strout and chocolate-dipped strawberries. Favors for guests were truffles from Safe Harbor Confections decorated with tiny sailboats, pine trees, and snowflakes, which echoed the Maine theme.
Motor Booty Affair played late into the night, and their ’70s leisure suits and Afro-style wigs were as popular as the music. They included in their set list the hora, a lively Israeli dance in which the bride and groom are encircled by family and friends. Jessica and David even joined the band for a final song.
In Her Words
We asked the bride more about their special day. Here’s what Jessica says . . .
I’m so glad that
. . . our out-of-town guests had a chance to explore Mount Desert Island. Some spent time in downtown Bar Harbor, others went to Acadia National Park, and we heard of a few who drove as far as Bass Harbor.
One of my favorite moments was
. . . when Motor Booty Affair took the stage. Everyone hit the dance floor immediately.
I really liked
. . . our ceremony music. We had a horn quartet of Bangor Symphony Orchestra musicians play a theme from the fourth movement of Brahms First Symphony during the processional. Immediately after David broke the glass, the quartet launched into a medley of famous Jewish celebratory songs that David had commissioned just for the occasion.
My advice to other brides is
. . . find a photographer with whom you're comfortable. Our photographer, Beth Fitzgerald, even helped me get into my wedding dress!