It’s Spotlight Tuesday, where we introduce you to incredible Orlando wedding vendors and share the stories behind these companies who help Wedding Venue Map couples have their best wedding day.
Hiring the right wedding officiant is so important on your wedding day. The officiant guides the ceremony and helps couples customize their special day.
It gives us great pleasure to introduce this week’s venue spotlight, Rabbi Sanford Olshansky from Wedding Rabbi Florida.
When people ask “what do you do?” how do you answer?
I’m a rabbi, semi-retired. I teach part-time at the University of Central Florida (UCF) and perform a lot of weddings.
What did you do before you did this?
I worked for 35 years in sales and marketing, first in the electronics industry and then in the advertising industry.
When and how did you get into the wedding industry?
I started performing weddings as the second rabbi at a large synagogue in New Jersey. At first, I performed synagogue member weddings that were scheduled during the senior rabbi’s vacation. Soon non-members started asking me to perform weddings.
How long would you say you’ve been doing what you do today?
I began my rabbinical studies in 2007 and performed my first three weddings in 2010.
How did your work evolve to get you to where you are today?
In New Jersey, I was not allowed to marry interfaith couples because my senior rabbi was Conservative and was not allowed to do so. When I moved to Florida, as a Reform rabbi, I started marrying interfaith couples, who make up the great majority of Jewish weddings. There are few Reform rabbis in Central Florida and many weddings of interfaith couples, so I’m kept pretty busy, which I appreciate.
What is your favorite thing about what you do? What’s your WHY?
I enjoy getting to know couples who have come to me to be married and helping to create a beautiful and meaningful experience for them. I love the creative process of customizing and personalizing the wedding ceremony so it works for the couple and their families.
Tell us about your most memorable event so far and why it was.
My most memorable wedding was a Hindu – Jewish wedding on a Sunday. It began with a Hindu ceremony that lasted all morning. That was followed by lunch, an afternoon break, my Jewish ceremony, and the big evening party. It was especially interesting to see the Jewish family participate happily in all the Hindu customs and the Hindu family participate happily in all the Jewish customs.
What’s the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is seeing how couples smile at each other and often laugh when I deliver personal remarks about them.
What motivates you to do this every day?
I love hearing from couples, their families, and their friends how beautiful the ceremony was. It tells me that I made a difference.
What fun fact would people be surprised to learn about you?
I got the idea to meet with out-of-town couples by Skype from my weekly Skype conversations with my grandson (and his parents).
What is the best compliment you’ve received from your clients?
One couple told me after they had been married for a while that they often read my wedding remarks about them to each other!
How did you decide on the name of your company?
I created a website and tried various combinations until I found one that was still available.
What is important for clients to know about your company before they book you?
I could have retired in 2007. I perform weddings because I want to, not to pay my mortgage.
What is the most unique service/product you offer?
I give each spouse six index cards that say “Remember (other spouse), you love me anyway!”
What types of events do you specialize in?
I specialize in ceremonies that are mostly Jewish, yet make people of other backgrounds comfortable.
What makes your business stand out from others in your category?
I meet with couples three times so that I can speak about them personally and customize the ceremony.
Tell us about your favorite type of engaged couple.
My favorite couple is one that wants to understand all the ceremony options and make informed choices.
Why do couples hire you?
I believe most couples hire me because I make it clear that I understand the wedding is about them and for them.
What does your most popular package include?
My most popular package includes the ceremony, three meetings (in person or by Skype), and rehearsal participation.
Why do you think your business is successful?
I make every ceremony personal and unique because each couple is unique. I don’t do “cookie-cutter” weddings.
Wedding Rabbi Florida shares some helpful information for engaged couples…..
What are the most common questions you get asked by brides and/or grooms?
Do you have a portable chuppah (wedding canopy) we can use? I do. I built it. I don’t charge for it.
Do non-Jewish male guests have to wear a kippah/yarmulke (skull cap)? No, it’s entirely optional.
Do we have to wait for sundown on Saturday? No, the late afternoon will show respect for the Sabbath.
What do you think are the biggest misconceptions that people have about your vendor category?
The biggest misconceptions people have is that all rabbis do the same ceremony, that we rattle off a lot of Hebrew without translating or explaining, and that we are very rigid in our requirements. None of this is true. It depends very much on the individual rabbi.
Name three unique venues that you enjoy working at and why.
The Abbey/The Mezz — theatrical, very cool
Bella Collina — Tuscan beauty and elegance
Luxmore Grand Estate — modern antebellum
What some of their previous couples had to say….
“Rabbi Olshansky married my husband and me this year. We are an interfaith couple (my husband is Jewish and I am a Christian). From the moment we met the Rabbi, we knew we were in the best of hands. We met with the Rabbi three times before the wedding to go over every single detail of our ceremony to make sure it was perfect. He took the time to get to know both of us and our families and really made us feel so special. Our wedding day was absolutely perfect and Rabbi Olshansky was a big part of that. His words were so sweet and kind, light and funny, and so touching. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house 🙂 I cannot recommend Rabbi Olshansky enough for your wedding. We are forever grateful for the service he provided for us and are so happy we have him in our lives. I wish I could give more than 5 stars! “- Charlotte and Mitchell, Bella Collina, Montverde
“Planning a wedding is full of really hard decisions, but after meeting with Rabbi O for the first time, selecting our officiant was one of the easiest to make of the whole event! At our first meeting, talking with Rabbi O was super comfortable. He put both me and my new husband at ease, asking us questions about how we met, about our upbringings, all without judgment. We had three meetings total before getting married, but Rabbi O made himself available for any and every question we had throughout the whole process, from elements we wanted to include in the ceremony all the way through clarifying traditions having to do with rings and ketubot. I grew up in the conservative movement, but when I realized that a conservative Rabbi wouldn’t marry me and my Christian fiance, I was sad. Rabbi O took all of that away. He made my dreams of having as traditional a Jewish wedding as we wanted come true!” Danielle and Jonathan, Omni, Champions Gate
“Rabbi Olshansky was great! We live in Tampa but got married in Orlando. Rabbi O went out of his way to drive over to Tampa to meet with us, twice. He really cared about getting to know us as a couple. He did a wonderful job of combining who we are into the ceremony and personalizing it. My husband isn’t Jewish but it was important to me to have a totally Jewish ceremony. Rabbi O did a great job of making sure it was a fully Jewish ceremony without stepping on anyone in his family’s feet. Our ceremony was perfect, personal and the right level of Jewish. I would definitely recommend Rabbi O!”- Leah and Tanner, The Abbey and The Mezz, Downtown Orlando