As the 200 guests entered the wedding hall at the Marriot hotel in Kansas City, Missouri last month, they had to wish the bride and groom mazel tov twice; first, to Brittany Choikhit and her groom, Max Margolies, and then to Brittany’s sister, Ashley, and her groom, Daniel Held.
“We always wanted a double wedding, because we’re glued at the hip,” Brittany, who is 25, told the Forverts. “We were in the same classes in preschool and elementary school, and did practically everything together.”
Although the invitation explained that this would be a double wedding, or a “twedding” as they called it, some guests weren’t sure what to expect. “I imagined that both couples would stand under one chuppah,” or canopy, said Max’s aunt, Malka Margolies, who came from New York to attend the event. “Instead, it was two parallel chuppas. At first glance, I thought I was seeing double!”
In fact, there is a halachic reason for marrying the couples under separate canopies. “In the Talmud it says: One does not mix one happy occasion with another,” explained Rabbi Ari Goldberg, Max’s brother-in-law and the director of the Pittsburgh branch of NCSY, an Orthodox Jewish youth group. “Usually, this doesn’t come up because most people want their own wedding day anyway. In this case, since both brides specially requested to celebrate it together, there is a legal precedent. As long as the ketuba, or wedding contract, is read to each couple separately, and the sheva brachos, or seven blessings, are recited separately, there shouldn’t be a problem.”
The two canopies served as a reminder that these were, indeed, two separate ceremonies.
The bedeken — the ceremony when the groom approaches his bride to ensure that he’s marrying the right woman, and then places the veil over her face — took on added meaning here, since marrying the wrong bride is actually conceivable. “That’s why they did the bedeken next to the chuppah, right before the ceremony,” said Cheryl Choikhit, the mother-of-the-brides.
Other parts of the ceremony — like the bride’s walking around the groom seven times, and the groom’s breaking of the glass — were enacted simultaneously.
The wish of the sisters to celebrate their wedding day together reflected their unique lifestyle, in which the sisters were practically inseparable, especially during their childhood. “My parents had us in our own bedrooms, but we always snuck into each other’s room and squeezed into bed together,” Ashley said. “We’d whisper about what we want to dream about.” They had to keep their voices down, though; otherwise their mother would separate them once again.
After graduating from high school the girls went to spend a year in Israel, at the program Netiv. There, too, they were placed in separate dorm rooms. “They wouldn’t let us room together because they thought we would intimidate people,” Ashley said. “So we were assigned to separate rooms. But we always had sleepovers in each other’s rooms anyway. Our roommates didn’t seem to mind because we included them in the fun.”
Today, the girls are almost 25 and are still best friends. Despite this, there wouldn’t have been a double wedding if their fiances hadn’t consented. As luck would have it, Max and Daniel get along very well, too and often play tennis and video games together. “Daniel is one of my best friends,” Max said.
Today the two couples rent apartments in the same building and have dinner together once or twice a week.
Everyone still remembers the day that Max proposed to Brittany because unexpectedly, it was a day fraught with tension. Max had already planned all the details for popping the question on Sunday, April 13, but on that very morning, a gunman killed three people at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City and at Village Shalom, a Jewish retirement home.
“After hearing about terrorist attack, I definitely thought of cancelling,” Max said, but his friends insisted he do it anyway. “Don’t let this horrible thing affect you,” their good friend Jessica said. “Let’s show this guy that he can’t ruin the happiness of the Jewish community.”
Ultimately, Max decided to carry it out. Brittany’s mother, Cheryl, a real estate agent who was in on the surprise, told Brittany that she wanted to show her a condo on sale in Brittany’s building. The plan was that Brittany would go back to her own apartment to tell Max about the condo and bring him over to see it with her. But just as Cheryl was about to get the keys from her office, she fell and sprained her foot, so as a result, Brittany ended up coming to Max 45 minutes late.
“I knocked on the door and when he opened it, I saw candles and flowers everywhere,” Brittany said. “It must have been 100 degrees in there because the candles had been burning for so long. He was sweating and shaking, but he got down on his knees, and asked me to marry him.”
Five months later, Daniel proposed to Ashley, and soon after the sisters decided to celebrate the two weddings together.
Although the wedding has come and gone, the honeymoon has been postponed to the winter because Brittany and Ashley are about to open a preschool for the arts, and are very busy with all aspects of signing the lease and registration.
“We’re not sure yet where we’re going, but preferably a spot with lots of sunshine, where they bring you drinks,” Daniel said. Responding to the inevitable question, whether the four newlyweds would be spending their honeymoon together, too, Daniel laughed.
“Oh no, we’ll be doing that separately!” he said.