On my flight home for the turkey holiday, I thought to myself, “there’s quite a bit of progress I can make on my wedding list this weekend.” Truth be told, I ended up devoting my energy to a wedding completely separate from mine. I hope that sharing my experience will help others brides-to-be put their overwhelming to-do lists in perspective.
One of my favorite memories of returning home this past Thanksgiving was curling up on my grandmother’s couch with old family albums. When I asked my grandmother, Esther, if she had wedding pictures, she pulled out a white, beautifully aged album, which took us back to September 13, 1947.
Here’s an unconventional love story that will inspire every bride-to-be…
As we turned the pages of the album, I watched my grandmother press her fingers against every picture with her groom, Motek. She had fallen in love with my grandfather at the refugee camps in Germany, just days after being liberated from the Holocaust. In desperation to reunite with both of his sisters, Lola and Andzia, Motek searched the liberation camps finding not only his siblings, but also his future wife. It was instantaneous, Esther explained, “He was my Motele, my biggest love.”
It was love at first sight, followed by a painful separation. Not long after meeting, Esther, who survived the war with two of her sisters, traveled to the United States, while Motek awaited his trip. Esther turned to me and said, “I was besides myself when I had to leave him. I remember crying the blues. But even though my heart ached, I knew we would be together.”
One year later Motek, who was renamed Martin, embraced Esther with plans to marry right away. I found every aspect of their wedding stunningly simplistic. They married at a small venue in Atlantic City, inviting their loved ones and fellow survivors to an intimate dinner party. I was particularly inspired by my grandmother’s vibrant red nails and velour gloves. She had been starved of life and color for so many years, yet in this moment she was the most radiant bride.
Over the past few months, I have spent far too much time reading about celebrity weddings, that I overlooked a monumental union within my own family. Although there were many pictures in my grandmother’s wedding album, I have chosen to share just one photo, which captures much more than the potential of my own words.
Esther’s wedding to Martin in 1947 was a celebration of marriage, and a toast to life.
This post was inspired by my grandmother, Esther Drew. At 89 years old, she remains the most beautiful bride, representing strength, happiness and perspective for all brides-to-be.