We were totally blown away when we first saw the photos by Mama from this gorgeous Jewish corona wedding. When Beth, a special education teacher at an American school in Israel, and Mattan, a lawyer at a high-tech company, realized they were going to have to overhaul their wedding plans due to COVID-19, they turned to Smashing The Glass Recommended Vendor Michal K. Events Israel to plan the micro wedding of their dreams.
With only fifty guests legally allowed to attend – and some VIPs, including the groom’s parents, were sadly unable to fly in from the US – Beth and Mattan’s wedding looked pretty different than the one they’d originally planned. But after swapping out their original venue for a friend’s backyard and implementing some creative measures to make sure everyone could celebrate safely, it was just as beautiful and memorable a day as any big pre-COVID bash.
With some clever touches – like serving each guest a boxed kids meal from a local burger place (planner Michal’s idea!) – and plenty of socially distanced dancing, this wedding was one for the books. And those who couldn’t be there in person were able to watch the ceremony on Zoom (you can catch the recording here).
If you’re planning a micro wedding of your own, you won’t want to miss the masterclass that their planner, Michal, is leading inside Smashing The Glass’s Brides Club tomorrow, Thursday July 9! She’ll be covering everything from platform options and tech to how to make a socially distanced Hora fun and beyond – and based on this incredible wedding, there’s no one we’d trust more on the subject!
There’s lots more we could say about this joyous wedding, but we’ll leave it to the bride – who looked lovely in Michal Taylor – to tell you the rest of the story…
How we met
Beth, the bride: We met through a friend. Mattan had just gone out with her, and I was friends with her. However, we had both lived in Washington Heights, NY, at the same time and had similar social circles. We even had Shabbat meals in each other’s apartments when the other wasn’t there.
A Backyard Wedding
Our plan was to get married at a beautiful garden venue in the hills outside of Jerusalem. Instead we got married in our Jerusalem neighbourhood, Katamon, in a family friend’s backyard. The family friend offered their yard and we accepted it excitedly.
Their own son, who also had to rearrange his wedding because of coronavirus, got married in their garden a few weeks before. We saw the pictures and liked how the flowers and trees reminded us of our original venue.
Our wedding was on Lag Ba’omer and we originally intended on giving out s’mores as the guests left. One touch we did use to make the wedding about us was in the design of the chuppah (more on that below). We also had a good mutual friend who is also a rabbi officiate which created more of a personal touch.
We didn’t really have a theme, but our colours were pastel, and we kept that in the new location with the chuppah and the brides chair and also with the bride bouquet. Our invitation for the wedding was in gold and our planner, Michal K. Events Israel, happened to have gold tablecloths that she used in the garden.
We wanted our 50 guests to eat, but due to the virus we had to find a creative way to feed people without them touching each other’s food. We talked with Michal about how to do it and she suggested that we order everyone a kid’s meal from a local burger place, Burgers Bar. They come in an enclosed box with French fries and a drink. This way people could take a box and a drink and sit around the garden after the ceremony.
Our original invitations had the background of the Old City on it in gold. Once we realized most guests would be watching on Zoom or livestream, we made a new invitation with a picture of us wearing masks.
Hair + Make-up
I wanted a simple hairdo with a braid down one side. Eliana Gasner did both my makeup and hair.
A Michal Taylor Dress
I tried on a dress from Michal Taylor and fell in love. The problem was that it was literally ten sizes too big. Therefore, I helped design my dress based off of the original. I loved the pink tulle that made it very different from any other dress I had seen. Michal added more pink tulle to give it more colour. The lace and sequins covered the top of the dress in a unique design. The trumpet style fit my body perfectly.
The veil was long and simple, as I didn’t want it to take away from the dress. Michal Taylor provided the veil.
I ended up just wearing white platform sneakers. I am glad I did, as the wedding was filled with tons of social distanced dancing.
The handsome groom
The suit that my husband intended to wear never made it from America, as his parents were unable to come to the wedding. By the time we realized, all the stores in Israel were closed due to the virus. Therefore, he ordered a suit online from Charles Tyrwhitt in London over the internet.
Our rabbi was a good friend of both of us. After each sheva bracha and at other transition points we danced without holding hands but with much excitement. A lot of the people watching told us that this was the highlight of the ceremony for them and we agreed!
We are going to have a ketubah designed by an artist, but for now we just used the standard one from the Tzohar Organization that organizes user-friendly weddings in Israel.
The parochet (the material above the chuppah) was designed by Mattan’s mom. The 7 foot by 7-foot piece of material was different coloured materials with seven stars. She sewed it all by hand.
Around the top edge was Beth’s grandfather’s wimple, a traditional German cloth given at birth and then used to bind a sefer Torah and displayed at other life cycle events.
The combination of Mattan’s mom’s artwork plus a piece of tradition from Beth’s family from over 100 years ago was beautiful.
Our Music Choice
All traditional Jewish wedding songs for the chuppah and for the dancing. Since we knew that we weren’t going to have a lot of people, we asked the Rimonim band to pick upbeat songs to help keep everyone’s energy level up. This worked really well and the wedding dancing, despite the social distancing, was way more fun than we ever expected.
We had pastel flowers for the bride’s chair and bouquet by Kim Bulow to help bring out the pink in my dress. And small flowers for the chuppah just to add some festivity.
Photographer and videographer
Burgers Bar. We needed to have individually wrapped food, so kids meals in individual boxes was a fun choice. Everyone loves burgers and fries at a wedding!
The only official entertainment was the Rimonim wedding band, who provided high-energy musical background to everything that went on. Other than that, we basically just had the happiness and fun brought by ourselves and our 50 guests. Our friends did an amazing job enhancing our happiness by dancing like crazy and generally creating a great atmosphere.
Also, several people took initiative and collected videos of friends and family dancing and doing shtick from around the world. We got to watch some of the compilation at the wedding and just after and it made us feel that we were celebrating with a lot more people than were physically there.
Given the Corona situation in Israel, we knew we had to change our wedding plans. Luckily, about a week beforehand, the government announced that fifty people would be able to attend weddings. Also, Beth’s brother and parents received permission to fly to Israel, even though they were not Israeli citizens. Unfortunately, Beth’s other two brothers and Mattan’s parents, sister and brother-in-law could not attend.
With fifty people attending we were ecstatic, given that we were expecting the limit to be only twenty people. However, we wanted to include more friends in a creative way. Therefore, we invited friends to join us outside our wedding garden whenever possible. Beth was getting ready just a three-minute walk from the wedding location, so friends joined her singing and dancing to walk her there.
Then when they arrived, they continued dancing with her. Using Israeli flag and blue ribbons that were two meters long, everyone held onto them and danced. The intention was to use this half hour time before Kabbalat Panim for pictures with Beth’s family, but since there was so much excitement from the dancing, we decided to keep dancing.
Mattan’s chattan’s tisch was in a courtyard also three minutes away, and then once again friends joined him to sing and dance to the wedding. There was so much excitement in the air. People stopped to sing and dance.
Also, since the wedding was in our neighbourhood close to where we lived, we were able to walk home (still in our dress/suit). On the way back, a lot of neighbourhood people out for walks and sitting out on their balconies, or cars driving by, spontaneously shared in our celebration by shouting their mazal tovs or honking their horns. One cab driver even stopped his car and gave us a long blessing.
We were going to go hiking in the mountains in Banff National Park in Canada. Given that we aren’t traveling any time soon, we are not sure when that will happen.
Advice to couples currently planning their wedding
Considering we got married during Corona, there was a lot of stress and uncertainty before the wedding, on top of all the usual stress that goes along with planning the wedding. To anyone in a similar situation, we would first just say that it is totally valid and normal to be upset, sad and feel cheated when a day that is supposed to be so special and that you have planned for is ruined or changed like this. There isn’t any reason to feel guilty about those feelings.
At the same time, it might sound like a cliché, but from our experience we saw that at the end of the day, what matters isn’t the hall, the food or all of the other physical things that surround the wedding. The important things are ultimately the love between you and sharing your happiness with the family, friends and community who are celebrating with you.
It really is true that these things have the power to break through the obstacles. Focus on them and everything else falls into place.
BETH & MATTAN’S LITTLE WHITE BOOK
Photography – Mama
Wedding planner – Michal K. Events Israel
Bride’s dress – Michal Taylor
Bride’s accessories – Michal Taylor
Groom’s attire – Charles Tyrwhitt
Hair + Makeup – Eliana Gasner
Flowers – Kim Bulow
Band – Rimonim
Catering – Burgers Bar
Ketubah – Tzohar Organization
Rabbi – Avi Narrow-Tilonsky
If you’re a Jewish or Jew-ish bride-to-be, you’ll want to join Smashing The Glass’ Brides Club. Guided by the world’s number 1 Jewish wedding expert, Karen Cinnamon, Brides Club is the private community for Jewish and Jew-ish brides that removes wedstress and indecision and gives you what you need to plan with confidence during these uncertain times. Join our Brides Club here.