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Now Playing: When Eli Wed Ariella
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Now Playing: When Eli Wed Ariella

Love at the drive-in: Ariella Segal and Eli Shapiro on their wedding day. Tricia McCormack Photography
Love at the drive-in: Ariella Segal and Eli Shapiro on their wedding day. Tricia McCormack Photography

The first time Eli Shapiro and his girlfriend Ariella Segal went to the Jericho Drive-In movie theater in rural Glenmont, N.Y., near her hometown of Albany, a “Star Trek” movie was playing. Shapiro doesn’t remember which one.

The next time the couple went to that drive-in was more memorable. The Los Angeles residents were married there on Sunday.

Shapiro and Segal, both 29, met during the first week of their freshman year at New York University a decade ago. They arranged for their traditional Jewish wedding in such an untraditional setting when it became apparent a few months ago that a large ceremony in May — “a big hotel weekend” in Albany — was out of the question. Guests couldn’t travel there, and large social gatherings were banned.

The wedding was postponed. Then Segal asked Shapiro, “what if we get married at a drive-in movie?”

Shapiro, who grew up in West Orange, N.J., immediately said yes.

Both work in the entertainment field — he as a screenwriter; she as a content creator for an experiential marketing agency.

“We are always looking for creative ways to do things,” Shapiro told The Jewish Week on Monday.

How creative?

With bride and groom standing under a chuppah in front of the giant movie screen. With all 150 guests sitting in their cars. With the sound of the ceremony piped in over the cars’ radios. With catered kosher meals provided in boxes. With the guests honking their car horns to express their joy at the simcha during the 45-minute ceremony. With out-of-town people watching via a livestream.

Rabbi Roy Feldman of Congregation Beth Abraham-Jacob officiated.

After Shapiro broke the glass at the end of the ceremony, usually marking the start of spirited singing and dancing, he encouraged the guests to “dance in their cars.” Some stepped out to dance at the side of their vehicles, properly socially distanced from other celebrants.

When Shapiro and Segal went on their original date at the drive-in, their car engine died; they had to ask a stranger in a neighboring car for a jump.

No mishaps at their wedding there on Sunday, he says — no one needed a jump.

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