Heading Back to Camp… to Get Married

December 17, 2018
Jeremiah Levine and Rachel Light. Photo by Jimi Dava

When Rachel Light and Jeremiah Levine were planning their wedding for March of this year, there was no question about where they would tie the knot: Camp Ramah in Ojai. 

Light, 39, and Levine, 37, met at IKAR on Simchat Torah in 2015. However, it was Light’s parents who first met Levine, at an IKAR Shabbaton at Camp Ramah in 2014, and felt he was the perfect match for their daughter. So it was only fitting that their wedding took place at camp.

“We decided the greatest place we could imagine getting married would be at camp,” Light told the Journal. “Anyone who’s looking for an opportunity for their friends and family to come together and actually be together, camp takes the destination wedding to an extreme.”

Their celebratory weekend with 350 of their closest family and friends began with Shabbat services on Friday night. Following Shabbat morning services, the couple held a nonsense Olympics after lunch. “People competed to decide whether our last names would be Light-Levine or Levine-Light,” Light said. Light-Levine won.

“The nonsense Olympics people were dressed in crazy costumes,” she added. “A friend built a human foosball setup. There was a big kickball tournament. It was perfectly hilarious when one of my friends turned to me and said, ‘Is it OK if I show up to the wedding rehearsal dressed like a unicorn?’ Magic like that only happens at camp.”

“Anyone who’s looking for an opportunity for their friends and family to come together and actually be together, camp takes the destination wedding to an extreme.”

— Rachel Light

On Friday and Saturday night, guests slept in the camp’s bunks or at nearby hotels.

“Seeing my adult friends staying in a bunk together and loving it more than they ever could have imagined was a life-changing experience,” Light said. “I constantly feel like I have a competitive advantage in life because I went to summer camp. I feel like it taught me so much and it really helped me develop my identity. To be able to offer that experience to people, no matter what age they are is incredibly special.”

Camp also allowed the couple to navigate their families’ religious requirements, allowing everyone to be within walking distance on Shabbat. Light said it was amazing to see their friends put away their phones for the 24-hour Shabbat period. “I don’t think any of them had ever done that before,” she said.

On Saturday night, there was a talent show at the outdoor amphitheater. By the time the actual wedding took place on Sunday, everyone had developed an incredible bond.

“We renamed all of the buildings at camp so they all had meaning to us,” Light said. “The outdoor amphitheater where we got married we called Dodger Stadium. My husband had always dreamed of getting married at Dodger Stadium.” 

Rachel Light at her Camp Ramah wedding. Photo by Ryan Jesena @ Lush Photography

For the wedding itself, the couple brought their own flowers. “We purchased these oversized gigantic roses that people came down the aisle with and later became the centerpieces on all of the tables,” Light said. 

The camp catered all the food and was responsible for much of the support and organization. And guests also pitched in.

“We had friends who ran the nonsense Olympics and other friends who organized the talent show,” Light said. “I’m lucky to have multiple rabbis in my family (IKAR Rabbi Sharon Brous is Light’s sister-in-law) who helped out with the services. It basically became a really big group effort of love to help plan it.”

She added that since their wedding, “We’ve been hearing nonstop from people that it was one of the best weekends of their life, which you don’t expect other people to say about your wedding.”

If someone is thinking about a camp destination wedding, Light said they should consider what kind of experience they are looking to create. “And if they are kids at heart, it’s a no-brainer.” 

Read more from the 2018 Chuppah Edition here. 

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