A Vera Wang bride for a spectacular rustic-glam Jew-ish destination wedding at a private villa in Phuket, Thailand

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From the introductory image above, it’s fair to say that Melissa and Ishay’s Jew-ish wedding is going to be seriously swoon-inducing… and it doesn’t stop with that extraordinary ceremony setting either. Their entire W Day is dazzling from start to finish with a beautiful back story of love crossing continents and eclipsing expectations.

Thai-American Melissa, and Israeli-born Ishay met in an Irish pub in Uganda (yes, really!) and everyone told them they were crazy to think their relationship could last.

As Melissa says, “After our time in Africa, and a year and a half of Skype video chats and international flights around the world, to and from Uganda, Israel, Thailand, and San Francisco, we embarked on a new adventure together – The East Coast. Then one evening when I was on call, Ishay decided to surprise me in my new apartment in New York City with over 400 candles. Who knew Ishay could be so romantic? Of course, I said yes.”

Oh I do love a good international love story (did you know that both my parents’ and my brother’s marriage are the culminations of long-distance relationships?) and the incredible story behind their relationship is told in their own words in one of the most moving wedding films I’ve ever watched – tears in my eyes. You absolutely have to see it – it’s just below.

Super stunning Melissa married the love of her life in a breathtaking Vera Wang gown, and if there is one word to describe this gorgeous couple’s big day then it’s WOW. From the show-stopping fireworks to those beautifully decorated long tables at dinner, to the exquisite displays of flowers and that chuppah on the infinity pool set against the backdrop of the Indian ocean, it all looks spectacular.

But that carefree shot at the end of both of them jumping into the swimming pool in their half-dressed wedding attire? That’s my favourite.

Enjoy this Tuesday treat of a wedding with words by the bride, images by Julian Abram Wainwright and the must-watch film below by David Pritchard from Imageforge Asia

Destination wedding Thailand
how we met

Melissa, the Bride: It started in an Irish pub in the middle of Uganda. I know, right? Ishay moved from Israel to Uganda to pursue a new life adventure. I took a year off from medical school to engage in medical research in Uganda. True to ex-pat living in East Africa, all good things came out of the regular go-to hang out place, the “local” Irish pub known as “Bubbles.”

It would be nice to say that it was love at first sight for both of us. If you asked Ishay, he would probably say that Melissa just never met anyone like him before. If you asked me, I would probably say that I initially was just not that impressed. Luckily, Ishay is persistent or, at the very least, stubborn. On the second meeting I became intrigued. By our first date, we were both hooked. We just couldn’t get enough of each other. Six months after spending time together in East Africa, what appeared to be the most unexpected love story was expected, by everyone, to end.

I moved back to San Francisco to finish medical school. Ishay stayed in Uganda to continue working. In less than a year, Ishay moved back to Israel to finish college. After a year and a half of Skype video chats and international flights around the world, to and from Uganda, Israel, Thailand, and San Francisco, we embarked on a new adventure together – The East Coast.  And then on one fall evening when I was on call (shocking for some but, dermatology residents do take call), Ishay decided to surprise me in my new apartment in New York City with over 400 candles. Who knew Ishay could be so romantic? Of course, I said yes.  Over the next two years, we had a civil ceremony in New York City at City Hall, had a traditional Buddhist ceremony in Bangkok, and finally, we had our wedding in Phuket. 
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Jenny & Gareth | Super awesome Jewish beach wedding + pool party at Grand Satis Villa, Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Jewish beach wedding + pool party at Grand Satis Villa, Phang Nga Bay, Thailand
Jenny and Gareth are one seriously hot couple. I’m talking hot with a capital ‘H’ folks and I just know you’ll think the same once you see their delicious destination wedding imagery by D-Image Plus.

But WAIT. It gets better. Their ceremony took place on the sand, footsteps away from the water’s edge with whales dancing in the sea behind the chuppah! And after the ceremony The Kardashians (yes, The Kardashians) photo-bombed their portrait shots on the beach!!

Their wedding planner, Jeanette Skelton, told me, “The Kardashians turned up on the beach in front of the villa, after the ceremony, during the photo session.  They were staying at the nearby Iniala Resort and had their film crew on the beach to film for Keeping up with the Kardashians.  Of course they wanted to film Gareth and Jenny for their show and what luck for them to run into such a fabulous bride and groom!”

Jenny, originally from Melbourne, and Gareth, from Sydney, met in Thailand which is why getting married there was so significant for them. Jeanette from Luxury Events Phuket (liaising mostly with Gareth, as Jenny was studying for her chartered accountants certificate in the run up to her wedding) created an all-sorts-of-brilliant day for this special couple and told me “every wedding is special and unique but there are some weddings that truly stand out with incredible energy and this was one of them.”

I have to agree with Jeanette – the energy is palpable! And after their intimate beach ceremony came a pumping party complete with pineapple and lemongrass infused vodka martinis, watermelon mojitos, pina coladas, long island ice phi phi’s live music, obligatory crazy Jewish dancing, Thai sky lanterns, fire dancers and an insane pool party with falafel and pitta for a midnight snack. Divine exotic perfection!

Ready for a goooooood time? Over to the beautiful Jenny….

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Kardashian wedding
Khloe and Kendall Kardashian taking the opportunity to pose with the gorgeous Jenny and Gareth!

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Gabby & Gareth | Super-stylish and relaxed Jewish wedding at Katathani Beach Resort, Phuket, Thailand

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This afternoon we are off to Thailand! I’m not exaggerating when I say that this wedding totally and utterly takes my breath away. The incredible natural scenery, the use of light, the feeling of warmth and joy that radiates from Hilary Cam’s delicious imagery… it’s all so very stylish yet wonderfully informal.

Gabby’s bridal style and her mermaid-esque colour palette of turquoise,navy, purple and lime green are a dream, and there are lots of lovely personal touches to be inspired by too. My favourite is that at each table the couple placed an extra two chairs so that they could actually sit and eat or drink up close and personal with everyone of their guests. I’ve not heard of that before and I think it’s a really lovely idea.

Gabby and Gareth met over 13 years ago at a house party in Sydney, Australia. She was on holiday from South Africa and they both new as soon as they set eyes on each other that they had met their match. Gabby says. “Gareth always tells me as soon as he saw me walk through the door he knew I was the one. I went back to South Africa and we kept in contact until I eventually immigrated a year later.”

Why not pour yourself a cup of Asian tea and savour this gorgeous W-day… oh and if you’re a destination bride-to-be, make sure you take in Gabby’s excellent device right at the end.
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A ‘HOLIDAY’ VENUE AND A SENSE OF RELAXATION
Our wedding was at the Katathani Beach Resort in Phuket Thailand. We chose this destination for a few reasons. One being we both are originally from South Africa and still have lots of family and friends there. We also have family and friends in the UK, US and Israel. We wanted to be able to not only share our magical day with them but thought it would be an amazing opportunity to get people together who haven’t seen each other in years and have a holiday at the same time.

We wanted it to be relaxed like the beautiful surroundings and in terms of a colour scheme I took inspiration from my bridesmaids dresses (turquoise,navy, purple and lime green)

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