May-June 2021 | Weddings

A tale of two weddings

Sisters who grew up in Bethesda altered their plans when the pandemic hit, getting married on the same weekend in their parents’ backyard

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Alex Fick and Melissa Schefkind. Photo by Sterling Life Photography

Sisters Melissa and Rebecca Schefkind had always planned to be each other’s maid of honor—but not on the same weekend.

Prior to the pandemic, Rebecca and her fiancé, John Friedman, planned to wed in May 2020 in front of 150 people at Dumbarton House in Washington, D.C. Melissa and her fiancé, Alex Fick, had booked the Sequoia restaurant in Georgetown for Sept. 5, 2020, and started crafting a guest list for their wedding.

But when COVID-19 hit, the sisters decided to hold the weddings in their parents’ backyard in Bethesda on the same weekend, and to still be each other’s maid of honor. The back-to-back weddings meant their 91-year-old grandmother, who lives in Philadelphia, would need to make only one trip, and the tent they rented could stay up for the weekend. Melissa and Alex wed on Sept. 5, 2020, with 11 family members present. Rebecca and John were married the following day in front of 13 guests.

John Friedman and Rebecca Schefkind. Photo by Sterling Life Photography

“Maybe some sisters wouldn’t have liked that or [would have] felt like they were sharing the spotlight,” Melissa says. “But Rebecca and I never felt that way. It was very much a special thing that we could both be a part of each other’s day.”

Melissa says that she and Rebecca tried to incorporate some of their original plans into their smaller celebrations. The brides wore the dresses they had previously picked out, and they used the caterer that Rebecca had contracted. The changing situation did require some creative solutions. Melissa and Alex had planned to have a traditional chuppah, a canopy the couple is married under in the Jewish faith. They ultimately decided to have the four posts of the outdoor tent symbolize the chuppah. Through the adjustments, they kept the same spirit of the wedding—celebrating their love for each other and the start of their new joint life, she says.


Melissa with (from left) her mother, Sandy Schefkind, her grandmother, Lila Margolis, and her sister, Rebecca. Photo by Sterling Life Photography

Melissa & Alex

The couple: Melissa, 33, grew up in Bethesda and graduated from Walt Whitman High School. She is a family law attorney at Bethesda-based New & Lowinger, P. C. Alex, 33, grew up in Gaithersburg and graduated from Quince Orchard High School. He’s a network engineer for Palo Alto Networks. They recently bought a house in Bethesda.

How they met: The two connected on the dating app Bumble in 2018 and went on a first date at Gringos & Mariachis, a Mexican restaurant in Bethesda. Melissa remembers being nervous before meeting him but quickly feeling comfortable. Alex recalls their neighboring table eavesdropping and flashing him a thumbs-up sign after realizing it was a first date. They discovered they both went to the University of Pennsylvania, but they don’t remember meeting in college, though they may have been in the same chemistry class.

The proposal: In January 2020, Alex created fake tickets for a showing of My Fair Lady and told Melissa that they were going to the Kennedy Center to see the musical. On the balcony outside of the performing arts center, Alex proposed. Included on the fake tickets was a QR code that could be scanned to display a message asking Melissa to marry him.

Photo by Sterling Life Photography

The ceremony: The couple wrote their own vows. “When you do a pandemic wedding and everything is kind of compressed and more intimate, it was a nice way to make it even more personal,” Melissa says. The officiant led a nondenominational ceremony, but Alex stomped on a glass, a tradition in the Jewish faith, and the pair later made a picture frame with the glass shards.

The reception: A backyard tent had white chiffon drapery and twinkle lights strung from the fabric folds. Guests stayed outdoors and socially distant as they ate dinner.

The dessert: For their pre-pandemic wedding plans, Melissa and Alex had decided to order a flavor of cupcake Alex loves. But they felt it wasn’t worth the hassle for the smaller celebration. Melissa’s mom surprised them by ordering the Biscoff cookie-flavored treats anyway.

Photo by Sterling Life Photography

The toasts: The sisters delivered a maid of honor speech at each other’s wedding, and both dissolved into tears while listening. Rebecca spoke about how, as the younger sister, she always looked up to Melissa. She started by sharing her childhood experiences of stealing Melissa’s clothes and spying on her and her friends. She also spoke of how they became closer as they got older, saying Melissa is who she calls for advice. Melissa told of how she always looked out for and tried to protect her younger sister. She shared an anecdote from their childhood: A babysitter was tickling and playing too rough with Rebecca, and Melissa kicked the sitter as hard as she could.

The honeymoon: After the wedding, Alex and Melissa went on a mini-moon in Georgetown. They booked a hotel for the weekend, went kayaking on the Potomac, and indulged their tourist side with walks by the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and the Kennedy Center—the site of their proposal. Alex says they got to see the attractions that they often overlook.

Vendors: Catering, Susan Gage Caterers; cupcakes, The CakeRoom; dress, Rosa Clara; officiant, Joan Phillips; photographer, Sterling Life Photography; tent, Sugarplum Tent Company.


Photo by Sterling Life Photography

Rebecca & John

The couple: Rebecca, 30, grew up in Bethesda and graduated from Walt Whitman High School. John, 33, was raised in upstate New York. They live in the San Francisco Bay Area and both work in advertising, Rebecca as an art director and John as a copywriter.

How they met: Though Rebecca and John both went to Syracuse University, they didn’t cross paths there. They met in 2015 as colleagues at an advertising agency in Baltimore. They were paired on a project but didn’t want to pursue a relationship until they were no longer coworkers. After John submitted his two-week notice, they went out for drinks at Pazo Restaurant in Baltimore to celebrate finishing the project. John recalls realizing at the end of the date that he should be upfront about his interest in dating Rebecca. The feeling was mutual, and they soon became exclusive.

Photo by Sterling Life Photography

The proposal: They dated for about a year before moving to San Francisco together. Rebecca says the cross-country relocation was the true test of their relationship. They realized they could make it even as roommates, and were already acting like a married couple. “We’re just better together,” John says. “That’s when I think you know.” He decided to propose in December 2018. Their cat, Coby, a British shorthair, has amassed 1.8 million followers on Instagram (@cobythecat) and is an important part of the pair’s lives. John had a collar made that said “Please say yes” and hung the ring from it. When Rebecca had just fallen asleep, he woke her up, saying that Coby seemed like he needed something. Rebecca bolted up so quickly that she didn’t grab her glasses or notice the collar and ring until John asked her to marry him.

Photo by Sterling Life Photography

The ceremony: Rebecca walked down the aisle to the song “Clair de Lune.” She says she’s always loved the piano piece and thought it would be a good fit for the intimate setting. After their first kiss, they played “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours).” John says the pair could be more personal in their vows, as everyone present was family who knew them well. They each spoke about the other’s sense of humor—Rebecca’s quirkiness and John’s more silly nature. Rebecca also told the story of how they met, while John shared that Rebecca is one of the smartest and most driven people he knows.

The dessert: Rebecca says she wanted the cake to look like a classic wedding cake, so it was covered with white frosting despite being a chocolate cake with raspberry filling. They gave each guest a hand-painted Coby-shaped cookie.

The honeymoon: Prior to the pandemic, the couple had planned for a honeymoon in Thailand. With travel restrictions in place, they instead spent a weekend in California’s Big Sur. They have vouchers to make the trip to Thailand once they can safely travel there.

Vendors: Cake and catering, Susan Gage Caterers; cookies, Pinar’s Patisserie; dress, Pronovias; flowers, Darling and Daughters Floral; officiant, Annie Bornstein; planner, Something New Events; photographer, Sterling Life Photography; tent, Sugarplum Tent Company.