Warning: HUGEEEEE blog post ahead.
“They say a good love is one that sits you down, gives you a drink of water, and pats you on top of the head. But I say a good love is one that casts you into the wind, sets you ablaze, makes you burn through the skies and ignite the night like a phoenix; the kind that cuts you loose like a wildfire and you can't stop running simply because you keep on burning everything that you touch! I say that's a good love; one that burns and flies, and you run with it!”
I met Masha a handful of years ago. She is beautiful, kind, gentle-hearted, and a warrior. Anyone who is privileged enough to know her knows that. They probably also know that she has a heart that just wants to love and be loved. Her story is not mine to tell, but I will tell you that she's overcome things that a regular person would have let destroy them... but she's in love with our Creator and he's clearly her strength. When she facebooked me and asked me (a week and a half before her wedding) if there was any way for me to come to Brooklyn to shoot her ceremony, I knew I had to do it. I rarely travel alone, but I wanted to be able to be a part of her adventure and do this for her. To see her again and to meet the man that makes her so happy. As long as I've known her, I've heard about her praying and yearning for love from the right kind of guy. The "good love" ... and let me just tell you, after meeting Tolik - I can whole heartedly tell you that she's found it.
I wasn't able to meet Tolik until the day of the ceremony - they live in Israel and had an Israeli wedding ceremony, but wanted to have the legal ceremony stateside with their small families (including Tolik's amazing cousin Anya and her wonderful husband Julian) and a handful of friends (who were my lifesavers, love you ladies!) - but as soon as I met him, I loved the guy. Watching him walk into town hall in Brooklyn, and seeing this huge grin plastered on his face as he walked past everyone and straight to Masha as he took her in his arms and gave her a kiss on the cheek, telling her, "You look beautifulll!" -- let me just tell you, I wouldn't trade that for a thousand first looks. It was like we didn't exist! And once they had had their moment, we got to know each other. He's a comedy sketch writer in for Israeli TV and has his steady confidence and humor about him. I also noticed that he always has to touch Masha - not in a PDA sense, but in a "hey, I'm here, and I love you" way. Whether it's a hand on her shoulder, or a light kiss on her cheek, he's constantly affirming his love for her. It's beautiful and honest and I love it.
From the bride: We met at a shabbat dinner in Jerusalem during a trip I took in order to hug old people and pack food in storehouses. By that point I had already realized God was calling me to live in Israel. Three days after I said "Fine, okay God," ... I met Tolik. Then, through mutual friends, Tolik happened to end up at this dinner (which was 2 hours away from where he lived). We talked for 5 hours straight and he took a 4 hour bus ride the next week to see me. He proposed to me in a bookstore 3 days after I immigrated to Israel :] Aaaand we're soulmates. Just saying. :]
The details: These two were married at Brooklyn town hall. We then walked down and had a deliciouslyyyy greasy lunch at Shake Shack. After that, we braved the FREEZING weather and walked down towards Dumbo and were able to take some pictures in an awesome carousel. Her sweet friends who own Cafe Grumpy shut the place down and had an awesome, coffee filled reception to end the night. The next day, there was a traditional Russian reception to include Masha's extended family (who I could write a huge paragraph of amazingness about right now, but this blog post is already ridiculously long.)
To the newlyweds: I adore you two. Thank you for allowing me into your moments to be a part of your special time. Masha, you're undeniably beautiful and I'm so happy to call you friend and sister. Tolik, keep being the awesome guy that I was blessed to get to know, she loves you to the moon and back. Put God first, don't let that passion die and your love will last a lifetime.