Like many other girls, I began dreaming about my wedding at a young age. I always knew what kind of dress I wanted, what color flowers—the usual sort of idyllic musings of a teenager. However, growing up in a very secular Jewish household, I never anticipated that the actual day would entail a full Orthodox ceremony, a traditional ketubah and four Chabad-Lubavitch rabbis. But sometimes, G‑d has different plans for us.

My husband and I met in Fort Collins, Colo., a place where many in the Jewish community are college students living there temporarily. Fortunately, for us, Rabbi Yerachmiel and Rebbetzin Devorah Leah Gorelik of Chabad of Northern Colorado work tirelessly to make every Jew feel welcome and cared for.

For both my husband and me, this was our first experience with Chabad. For the first time, we felt we had found our rabbi and felt at home knowing that we could go to him with any question or problem, and good or bad news, without judgment. He gave us guidance and Jewish perspectives to our problems. And so, it only made sense to ask him to be the one to marry us when the time came.

In order for Rabbi Gorelik to do so, there were certain things we had to agree to, including extensive genealogical family research, premarital counseling; kallah (bridal or marriage) lessons; having our ketubah proofread and edited by three rabbis; kosher food at the reception; and mikvah for me. Considering our backgrounds, this was asking a lot. Along the way, many people questioned why we were “jumping through so many hoops” when we didn’t have to. Despite the questions (and utter disbelief from some), something told us that we were doing the right thing.

The day before our wedding Rabbi Gorelik invited us to join him and some of his closest friends at the shul they attend for Shabbat services. My fiancé (now husband) and I didn’t really know what to expect, as the only experience we had with Chabad services were in our small, multi-purpose Chabad center in Fort Collins, where most of the community is pretty secular. It was our understanding that a lot of people in attendance would be rabbis themselves—and I’d be lying if I said we weren’t somewhat intimidated about going to a synagogue where we expected to be the least observant people there.

We could not have been more wrong about our initial hesitancy. Every person came up to us offering hugs, blessings, advice and well wishes, and to share in our joy. Our families were blown away from the genuine outpouring of love and happiness exhibited from people they’d never met. The experience was unforgettable, and I cherish those memories.

Throughout the process, Chabad was a guiding light that provided us with support from every angle. Rabbis and rebbetzins from every part of the country, complete strangers to us, played an integral role in making this wedding happen, simply because of the love that they hold for every Jew.

We were married in Chicago by a rabbi who sent me to Bracha Sara Leeds, co-director of Chabad Jewish Student Center at UC Berkeley in Northern California, for kallah lessons. She then put me in touch with Chanie Hertz, associate director of Chabad of East Lakeview in Chicago, who helped me find the mikvah and held my hand through the most spiritual experience of my life.

I had kosher catering done by Rabbi Aron Musat, who also signed our ketubah as a witness along with Rabbi Raphael Jaworowski, both of whom went to yeshivah with Rabbi Gorelik. Rabbi Baruch Hertz of Chabad of East Lakeview and Congregation B’nei Reuven even delayed his personal travel plans so that he could oversee our ceremony.

The love and support of the community was more than we could have ever imagined, and we felt such a deep connection to the oneness that connects all Jewish people.

While it wasn’t always easy for us to go the observant route, it was rewarding to do everything as traditionally as possible. We brought Judaism back to the center of both our families. For some of our friends and relatives, our wedding was the first time in years that they had been to a Jewish event. I had never seen one of my uncles wear a kippah—let alone speak Hebrew—but he got up and chanted a bracha (“blessing”) in front of G‑d and all of our 130 guests during the ceremony, and I could feel my grandparents smiling down at us.

It was a special day, and we were lauded by our guests for how touching and spiritual our ceremony was. There is no better feeling than inspiring pride in other Jews, and that is what so many told us we had done that day.

Now, more than ever, the world needs love and peace, and for us to stand up for our Judaism. No matter what challenges we face, our ways and our faith have sustained us for thousands of years and will continue to do so as long as we open our hearts to tradition and make time for what is genuinely fulfilling. We should never forget who we truly are: proud Jews.