A local family celebrates the engagements of all three siblings in less than a year

The Goldberg siblings and their partners, from left: Eric Goldberg and his fiancee Keren Khromchenko; fiance Aaron Goodman and Jennifer Goldberg; and fiance David Garofalo and Michael Goldberg. Photo / Andrew Werner

By Amanda Koehn

The Goldberg family has had a busy year of travel, engagements and soon will embark on a stretch of three weddings for each of the three siblings in the family. All three Goldberg siblings, Michael, Jennifer and Eric, became engaged in less than a year’s time.

Cleveland Heights residents Susan and Steven Goldberg are letting their kids take the lead – in each planning very different weddings – while excitedly being there for them in the process. 

“They each are doing what they want to do and what works for them,” says Susan, a congregant of Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple in Beachwood. “They aren’t the kind to compare … they are pretty excited for each other and will be open to each others’ experience in the way they plan it.” 

The Goldberg siblings, who all graduated from Solon High School, each got engaged in a unique way and location, and share their stories of the proposals, wedding planning and this special time for their family and partners.

“We are just excited to go through the next phase with all of them,” Susan says.

Michael and David

Michael Goldberg and his partner, David Garofalo, were planning a “low-key” engagement with their families all together on vacation at Rosemary Beach, Fla., in December 2022, Michael says.

Michael and Garofalo, both 32, both attended Emory University in Atlanta for their undergraduate degrees, but ran in different social circles – Michael was president of Hillel and Garofalo was soccer team captain. However, after they graduated, they ended up at brunch together with a mutual friend in Atlanta. Michael and Garofalo, who is from Georgia, became friends and eventually started dating. 

About a month later, however, Michael says he had a moment where he thought they should stop dating because Garofalo wasn’t Jewish and didn’t want to move to New York City. But, their relationship worked. 

“He’s still not Jewish, but we do have Shabbat dinner and stuff, and it’s more about family values and less about the religion,” Michael says. “But I did get him to move to New York.”

Both ambitious professionally in their respective industries, Michael says there was no rush to get engaged. But, after dating more than five years, they thought it would be fun to seal the deal while their families were on vacation together that winter. The couple spent time at the beach on the gulf coast of Florida during the COVID-19 pandemic, seeking to get away from New York City, and now own a place there. 

Although the plan was to do a mutual proposal, Garofalo – whose parents grew up in Canton – surprised Michael and his family with a party. 

“We reached it mutually but there was a surprise engagement party that he organized,” Michael recalls. 

The couple is now planning for a spring 2025 wedding – likely on the smaller side but very nice, Michael says. 

It has been a special time for his family – particularly that all the siblings have a partner for life now, he adds. And, everyone is taking a different approach to wedding planning, as Jennifer is planning a comparatively larger, traditional wedding in Cleveland this year, while Eric is looking toward a destination wedding. 

“In some ways, it’s a release of pressure because my parents can have that … traditional wedding,” Michael says of Jennifer’s upcoming wedding. “I don’t have that pressure to have the traditional wedding because my sister is doing the traditional wedding in Cleveland.”

Jennifer and Aaron

Jennifer Goldberg was the second of her siblings to get engaged, and will be the first to get married this June. She and her fiance, Aaron Goodman, currently live in Philadelphia, but they first met during a Cleveland Hillel internship program. 

Jennifer, now 30, then reconnected with Goodman, 31, while they were both living in Boston in 2019. He was in graduate school while she was recovering from cancer treatment which required her to be “living a COVID lifestyle the year before COVID” and to keep her in-person social circle small, she says. When she found out Goodman was also in Boston, she reached out to him seeking friendship. Soon after, they started dating.

“It speaks to Aaron’s character, the fact that he took the time to get to know me, to spend time with me in spite of everything that I was recovering from,” Jennifer says, adding he showed patience regarding her social restrictions. “I felt like he was a really kind person.”

Fast forward to May 2023, the couple was living in Chicago after they both finished graduate school – she’s now a speech-language pathologist and he’s an economist – and talked about getting married and rings. On Saturday mornings, Jennifer usually went to the farmers market while Goodman bicycled, so she thought it was odd when he told her he instead wanted to go with her to the farmer’s market the next weekend, she says. 

At the farmer’s market, she continued to be suspicious and asked him about buying different perishable foods they passed for dinner that night, just to see how he reacted.

“I was messing with him a little bit, and then he proposed to me on a quiet park bench in Lincoln Park afterwards,” she says.

Shortly after, Jennifer’s best high school friend showed up and took photos of the couple, and their parents were both there for a celebratory brunch. 

While Jennifer says it wasn’t intentional that she and her siblings all became engaged in such a short time frame, it made sense because they are all close and in similar life phases. The timing has its perks though.

“Sometimes if I’m doing wedding planning things and I’m like looking at things that wouldn’t really fit in with my wedding, I’ll send it over to my brothers and be like, ‘Oh you guys should check this out,’” she says. 

With her wedding coming up at Shoreby Club in Bratenahl in June, she says she’s lucky both her parents and Goodman’s parents live in Northeast Ohio and helped scope out venues. Susan notes her husband Steven has taken charge of helping organize vendors and everything has flowed well so far, despite the many decisions that had to be made. Goodman’s sister, Alison Goodman Gross, and his brother-in-law, Aaron Gross, were also recently married and shared advice with the pair. 

“There’s lots of decision-making that I didn’t realize would be so difficult, but it’s been fun and we’re really excited,” Jennifer says. 

Eric and Keren

Eric Goldberg closed out the chain of family engagements when he proposed to Keren Khromchenko on a surprise trip to Paris in September 2023. 

Eric, 27, and Khromchenko, 26, first met in high school at a summer tennis camp at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. A year ahead in school, he attended Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., for college. Khromchenko, who grew up in New Jersey, joined him there a year later and they started dating, Eric says. 

Now living in New Jersey, Eric is an account manager and Khromchenko is an OB-GYN resident physician. As such, she rarely has time off from her residency, but when she does, the pair prioritizes traveling. So in September with a weekend off – and around her birthday – she told Eric she wanted to travel with him and her family. 

“We did just that, however, we left the family behind and I surprised her with a trip,” Eric says. “She didn’t know anything. It was completely blind to her until there was no choice but to go.”

He notes both of their families helped him make arrangements to pull off the surprise 36-hour trip to Paris, adding many family and friends knew beforehand and kept the secret well. He made sure to pack the right clothes for her, and had their suitcases ready to go. 

“I even have a video of her at like 8 p.m. right before our flight,” he says. “She’s like, ‘I have no idea where we’re going.’ We surprised her. She was a trooper about it – the only question she asked me is, ‘Am I going to be back in time for work on Monday?’” He assured her she would. 

Eric proposed a scenic block away from the famed Louvre Museum in Paris. They went on a river cruise for dinner and walked under the Eiffel Tower. The next day, they went to a food fair and visited local parks before flying home. The entire engagement  left Khromchenko “totally stunned, but I think that’s exactly the way it should be,” Eric says.

Cleveland Heights residents Susan  and Steven Goldberg. Photo / Andrew Werner

“Our thing is travel,” he says. “… Every time (Khromchenko) has time off it’s, where are we going? What are we doing? Let’s go see some part of the world. So, I thought it was very fitting.”

Eric says seeing his siblings – who all had dated their partners for a shorter time than him and Khromchenko – get engaged helped create a sort of lightbulb moment that they were ready to take that step, too. 

“I think it’s very fitting because the three of us like to stick together very much – we are constantly chatting, planning things on the phone together, and it ended up being very fitting,” he says. 

Also fitting for this particular couple: they are looking to do a destination wedding, likely in October 2025 around their 10th dating anniversary. Eric says they are considering spots in Mexico – where checking out venues is another vacation in itself. 

He recognizes the “beautiful timing” of going through such a major life event together with his siblings and their partners. 

“A piece I think I’m excited about is it’s a really great way for us to bond, all six of us, to share this feeling at such a similar point in our life,” Eric says. 

His mother, Susan, echoes the sentiment. 

“I think it’s fun,” she says. “We’ve all been through a lot, so we were excited to have happy things to think about and have fun things to enjoy together.”

And, although all the wedding plans are vastly different, Susan notes she’s content about what they all have in common.

“They each found great people to marry, so I’m excited for them and their futures,” she says. 

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