BOSTON – Brooke Patkin and Joshua Kay met on a blind date in 2016 at the Delux Café in Boston, and quickly discovered all sorts of coincidences. They both attended the University of Pennsylvania at overlapping times, and had a number of mutual friends. Their fathers, Randall Patkin and Jonathan Kay, attended Camp Manitou in Maine together. Their grandfathers, Stanley Patkin and Marshall Sloane, did business together. After further digging, Brooke and Josh even discovered their great-grandmothers were close friends who used to travel together.
“It was really kind of amazing that it took us that long to meet,” said Josh, 31, who grew up in Chestnut Hill and is now vice president at AEW Capital Management, a real estate investment management company in Boston.
But their instant connection was based on more than just an unusually successful game of Jewish geography. The two shared many important personality traits as well.
“A lot of people say opposites attract, but I think we are very similar, and I think that really attracted us to one another,” said Brooke, 30, who grew up in Swampscott, attended Epstein Hillel, and works in corporate marketing at WS Development, a real estate firm with locations around Greater Boston. “What truly brought us together was our shared values. We both care a lot about family, our Jewish identity, and giving back to the community. We’re also both very hardworking people who care a lot about their careers. We love to have fun and keep each other laughing.”
The two began spending more time together. About four months in, they met each other’s families, who quickly rekindled a generations-old friendship. “Our parents really developed a love and mutual respect for one another,” said Brooke about Linda and Jonathan Kay, who she said also welcomed her as a “third child.”
“It’s the same on my end,” said Josh about Brooke’s parents, Marjorie and Randall Patkin. “Our visits with our respective families both became pretty frequent, and I think both of us really enjoy spending time with the other’s families.”
One of the extended clan’s most memorable get-togethers happened on Memorial Day weekend of 2018 to honor an event two years in the making: Josh’s proposal to Brooke on the rooftop of their shared apartment in the South End. After Brooke accepted, and they celebrated with their families, the two embarked on a celebratory trip to France.
Once they returned, they began planning a wedding that Brooke said they wanted to be “traditional Boston,” to honor their deep local roots. They chose to have both the service and the reception at the Fairmont Copley Plaza, where Brooke’s paternal grandparents, Phyllis and Stanley Patkin, were married in 1951.
Brooke and Josh worked together to plan their dream wedding. “We were both heavily involved in making all the decision-making – of course there were some things I cared about a little bit more and some things that Josh cared about a little bit more, but I think it was a true partnership,” said Brooke.
On May 18, 2019, they celebrated an aufruf ceremony at Congregation Shirat Hayam in Swampscott, where Brooke’s family belongs. Then, on June 15, 260 friends and family members gathered at the Fairmont to watch Rabbi Elaine Zecher of Temple Israel in Boston, where Josh’s family has belonged for generations, officiate a traditional Jewish wedding. Under a chuppah lined with the tallis of Brooke’s maternal grandfather, Brooke and Josh exchanged vows they had written themselves, recited the Seven Blessings, were wrapped together in the tallis from Josh’s bar mitzvah, and smashed a wine glass.
The ceremony was followed by a reception in the Grand Ballroom. Guests enjoyed the music of a live band, and Josh, Brooke, and both sets of parents were lifted up in chairs during a 20-minute hora.
Two days later, the couple left for a two-week honeymoon in Hong Kong and Thailand, which they selected because it was a part of the world neither had ever seen. Now that they’re back in Boston, the newlyweds say not too much has changed.
“It’s great to be married – nothing really feels different, but it’s nice to spend time together, and relish what the past month and year have been,” said Brooke. With wedding planning behind them, the couple can devote their time to their shared interests: trying new restaurants, working out, traveling, and seeing friends and family.
“It’s important to allow each other to have independence, but also have common interests,” said Brooke on what makes a marriage work. “Our wedding was an incredible day and we feel so lucky to have been surrounded by so much love. In the end, we know it’s about the marriage, not just the wedding, and we’re excited to start our life together.”