Wedded: Jessica Agus and Ben Bregman

July 21, 2013

Her story: Jessica Agus, 27, grew up in Chevy Chase. She teaches ninth-grade history in San Jose, Calif. Her parents, Robert Agus and Rochelle Helzner, live in Chevy Chase.

His story: Ben Bregman, 33, grew up in Bethesda. He is a psychiatrist and the medical director for mental health for the South Bay clinics of the Palo Alto health care system. His parents, Doug and Brenda Bregman, live in Bethesda.

Their story: Jessica and Ben first met in 2001 at Camp Ramah, a Jewish summer camp in New England. Ben was Jessica's pottery instructor.

"I thought he was really cool, but we were just friends," says Jessica.

Nearly 10 years later in 2010, Jessica saw Ben's name in an email list about pre-wedding festivities for a mutual friend. At the wedding, which was in California, Jessica found Ben, reintroduced herself, and they spent time catching up. Three weeks later in D.C., where they both lived at the time, they had their first date — picnicking and watching fireworks from the rooftop of Ben's apartment building on the Fourth of July.

The proposal: In May 2012, Ben took Jessica to Bayfront Park on the Eastern Shore, a place he'd been wanting to show her since they had started dating two years earlier. Under the threat of thunderstorms, Ben had to persuade Jessica to stay at the beach long enough for him to carry out what he had planned.

"I duck behind a log and drop down and pretend to pick up a beautiful shell, run back whooping and hollering, 'I found it, I found it, I found it,' and I get down on one knee," says Ben.

He then proposed, and Jessica said yes. The rain held off, and the two spent time sitting on the beach and taking in their newly engaged status.

The venue: About 200 guests, who came from as far as Canada, Mexico and Israel, attended the traditional Jewish ceremony and reception at Beth El Congregation of Baltimore, located in Pikesville. Jessica's grandfather, Rabbi Jacob Agus, was the founding rabbi at Beth El. Her parents and all of her dad's siblings were also married at the synagogue.

Flowers: Emily Harmon, owner of Loveblooms floral design studio, created the bouquets using white chamomile and feverfew flowers. The boutonnieres and escort cards were made using yellow craspedia balls. The centerpieces were gerbera daisies in shades of pink, orange and yellow arranged in patches of wheatgrass.

Her dress: The bride wore a strapless, tea-length gown with a lace, sweetheart bodice and an A-line tulle skirt by Enzoani from Betsy Robinson's Bridal Collection in Reisterstown. Jessica's veil was decorated with lace taken from a headband that her mother wore on her wedding day.

Groom's attire: Ben wore a black tuxedo from J. Crew. During the ceremony, he also wore a kittel, a white linen robe traditionally worn by Jewish men on high holidays and special occasions.

Music: The reception started with circle dancing to Jewish simcha music played by the Mark Novak Band. The Philadelphia-based Bachelor Boys Band played for the remainder of the reception, beginning with Jessica and Ben performing a swing dance to "You Are the Best Thing" by Ray Lamontagne.

Special touches: Following Jewish tradition, Jessica and Ben were each given a sendoff before the ceremony. Since Jessica loves musicals and performing, she and all of the female guests gathered to sing love songs from Broadway musicals during her ceremony, called the Kabbalat Panim.

During Ben's celebration, called the Tisch, he and the male guests gathered for wine and light fare.

Ben's mom made both the chuppah using bamboo stalks from her garden and Ben's prayer shawl.

With hopes of resurrecting a defunct Jewish custom in which a ceremonial ring —often in the shape of a house or temple and used only at weddings — is passed down through generations, Ben had his mother make a special ring for Jessica.

Customary in traditional Jewish weddings, several of the guests performed comedic skits during the reception for the bride and groom's entertainment.



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