Groom and local attorney Danny Wasserman fondly recalled his Labor Day Zoo Atlanta wedding – the first kosher event there – to Jennifer Snow, whom he met on JSwipe while she was a dental hygienist in Boone, N.C.
“During the month of Elul, we had elephants and giraffes on the double-decked venue at the new Zoo facility. We had masks during the ceremony, and guests considered it a welcomed ‘date night out’ as a safe solution during the pandemic. Open bar, dancing, outdoor patio, terrific kosher food. I had previously worked with kosher caterer Eli Brafman and knew his food was top notch.”
Visible from the back terraces of the Carlos Ballroom, three Zoo Atlanta elephants roamed the African Savanna while bluegrass music played during cocktail hour.
The couple planned in December for a May wedding, which was pushed back because of COVID to September, with only 80 guests. “Plans had to shift gears,” the new bride said. “We had some nail-biting months not sure if it was even going to happen. I started researching and planning myself. Once Danny saw how much went into it, he stepped in and we worked together. I made a checklist and binder to keep everything organized. Planning with my fiancé was challenging, but it also brought us closer and gave us a mutual goal, which made the event even more special.”
On Sept. 6, Zoo Atlanta hosted the Snow-Wasserman’s event, its first kosher wedding in its newly opened Savanna Hall, with Proof of the Pudding leading the event’s culinary direction as Zoo Atlanta’s sole catering partner. Eli Brafman was a culinary and kosher consultant for this Labor Day event.
Built in 1921 and known as a historic Atlanta landmark, Savanna Hall (which once housed the Cyclorama painting) opened in February as part of the Zoo’s Grand New View transformation, a three-part project that includes the new African Savanna and the new Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation Plaza.
“The Proof of the Pudding team and I are very excited about our new kosher kitchen at Zoo Atlanta,” said Adam Noyes, the catering company’s president. “This new venue is truly amazing and gives us the ability to serve our community the finest and most innovative kosher cuisine for all types of events and gatherings.”
Raymond King, president and CEO of Zoo Atlanta, said, “While these are challenging times for gatherings, we are very proud to have been able to put together an event that was not only beautiful and memorable, but also designed with impeccable attention to detail to ensure and promote wellness.” All CDC’s COVID-19 safety precautions and guidelines were strictly enforced and exceeded, he said.
The menu included themed appetizers such as Thai jungle meatballs, apple smoked chicken and vegetarian empanadas with chef-attended stations: a taco cantina, grits bar, and a more traditional station offering grilled rosemary salmon, white asparagus and vegetable risotto pilaf, alongside a dessert destination. Zoo Atlanta operations and animal care teams were also onsite to ensure guest and animal safety throughout the event.
Here are some other visuals:
The bride wanted a comfortable gown to be able to move effortlessly without fear of tripping. She purchased one with a sheer lace, three-quarter-length top, a soft tulle skirt, and hemmed off the train for dancing. She carried an asymmetrical cascade bouquet with English tea roses, white larkspur, lilies, blue delphinium, silver dollar eucalyptus and hydrangea entwined with jasmine. The chuppah had a natural organic design with curly willow and jasmine surrounded by floral clusters at the base. The table centerpieces had potted plants of a variety of herbs and succulents. The couple wanted guests to bring a plant home instead of using cut flowers. Jennifer said, “I didn’t want to put too much emphasis on large floral center pieces, so guests could focus on live animals right outside!”
She continued, “Rabbi Pinny Andrusier, a friend family came from Florida to officiate. Emotions were not only high from feelings that a wedding stirs, but some were nervous about being in a public space during a pandemic. The rabbi reminded us that our people of Israel have been through so much, and that we really needed something good to happen this upcoming year, that we were blessed to share and bring something good (our wedding) into 5781. Since it was days before Rosh Hashanah, he blew the shofar and for that moment, everything stood still. It was cathartic.”
Danny’s children enthusiastically participated. Yaakov, 13, carried the ketubah; Avi, 11, carried the ring; Asher, 8, carried the shofar; and Chana, 8, laid out a ring of rose petals under the chuppah.
Jennifer offered this advice to future brides.
“Balance yourself. It’s a lot of pressure to plan and organize a wedding. Take breaks to spend quality time with the person who is there for you through it all, your fiancé. What really matters is that you two are together, and everyone is there to support your love.”