Emily Levy (right) and Lizz Litteral say their vows under the chuppah at Bayview Opera House in San Francisco (Photo/Eduardo Hueck)
Emily Levy (right) and Lizz Litteral say their vows under the chuppah at Bayview Opera House in San Francisco (Photo/Eduardo Hueck)

99 percent compatible, 100 percent committed to love

Lizz Litteral of San Francisco and Emily Levy of Santa Cruz were deemed 99 percent compatible by the online dating site OKCupid.

They’re both Jewish. They’re both parents. They’re about the same age (Litteral is 58, Levy 57). They are both into crafting.

So what’s the 1 percent? They’re still trying to figure it out.

Litteral is a nurse in the bone marrow transplant unit at UCSF Medical Center. Levy is a consultant for “world-changers.”

Their first date, in July 2013, was at a taqueria. Litteral had not been out on a date for a long time after the dissolution of a long marriage. She was nervous, and shy.

“I’ll make sure you have a positive first step back into dating,” Levy reassured her. She brought a pad of paper and pen should Litteral have something to share but not the courage to say it out loud.

“I think I slid at least one note across the table,” Litteral said.

That date turned into another, and another, and within a few weeks, Levy asked Litteral not to date anyone else.

Not everything fell into place as easily. They lived 75 miles apart, and both had teenagers. Levy’s youngest daughter had not responded so kindly to other people her mom had dated. So moving in together was off the table for the foreseeable future (which didn’t quite square with the oft-told lesbian joke: What does a lesbian bring on a second date? A U-Haul truck).

Emily Levy (right) and Liz Litteral cut the cake.
Emily Levy (right) and Lizz Litteral cut the cake. (Photo/Eduardo Hueck)

“I couldn’t have come to Santa Cruz,” Litteral said, “My job was too good.” Said Levy, “I didn’t want to share the last part of raising my daughter with anyone else.”

So they waited three years, until August 2016, before moving in together in Pacifica.

Levy was gratified when she heard her daughter laughing with Litteral one day as they baked a cake together. Eventually, her daughter would send Litteral a text: “I think you’re a really good match for my mom. Welcome to the family.”

“I’m astounded every day that Emily sees me and hears me, that I’m not just a ghost wandering through the house, whether it’s by asking ‘did you have enough to drink today?’ or saying ‘I love you.’ She really connects in this way that keeps me bound to her,” said Litteral. “I can’t not be with her. She’s so present and wonderful.”

“Lizz is an extremely kind and thoughtful and generous person who keeps surprising me,” said Levy. “She knows how to fix anything, cook anything, and make it look beautiful. We’ve done some outrageously creative projects together, and she’s so much fun to do that with.”

While Litteral knew she wanted to get married, Levy was less sure.

“Even though I believed in marriage equality, I don’t believe in state-sanctioned marriage at all,” she said. “But on the other hand, we’re in this historic time for same-sex couples. How could we not be part of it?”

Friends helped change Levy’s mind.

She knew that Litteral would propose only when she knew the answer would be a “yes.” By August 2017, Levy was ready, but she wasn’t sure how to let her beloved know.

I think you’re a really good match for my mom. Welcome to the family.

She decided to tell her in a way that was not quite … literal. Because Litteral had had two knee-replacement surgeries, and getting down on one knee would be painful, Levy bought cushy kneepads at the gardening store and put her crafting skills to work, decorating one with faux roses, hearts and ruffles. A strap around the back looked like a garter. She gave it to Litteral as an “anniversary” gift.

“It was so decorated that it didn’t look like a kneepad anymore, it looked like a fancy hat,” said Levy. Litteral was baffled. It took a few hints before she finally got it.

They married on March 4 at the Bayview Opera House in San Francisco, beneath a chuppah Litteral had made years ago when she was thinking of starting her own chuppah rental company.

Litteral’s stepmother and Levy’s mother broke plates to signify their engagement, in a traditional Hasidic custom.

The guests were seated in a spiral around the chuppah; Levy wanted that walk to last, so she could truly be present and acknowledge each guest. The brides were walked down the aisle by their children.

To decide who would say their vows first, they did it the old-fashioned way: rock-scissors-paper.

Litteral said, “I will never, ever drop your hand from mine should we find the need to flee the scene of a crime or an oncoming zombie apocalypse.” Levy said, “I commit to listening to your dreams … and not selling the movie rights without your consent.”

They each broke their own glass.

Guests were treated to toasts by long-ago exes of each woman, and a disquisition on the history of same-sex marriage given by a law professor. That touch, Levy explained, was meant to “acknowledge those upon whose shoulders we stand.”

Unions features a recently married couple with an interesting story. If you want to share your tale, or want to nominate a couple married within the last year, contact laura@jweekly.com.

Alix Wall
Alix Wall

Alix Wall is a contributing editor to J. She is also the founder of the Illuminoshi: The Not-So-Secret Society of Bay Area Jewish Food Professionals and is writer/producer of a documentary-in-progress called "The Lonely Child."