We are totally in love with Esther and Yoni’s magical forest wedding venue, Neot Kdumim, which we’ve featured before on STG. Saying “I do” under the stars just sounds too dreamy and romantic — we can’t even!
Beautiful bride, Esther, couldn’t decide between a beautiful BHLDN number and a vintage lace boho gown by Mordechai Avraham – so she chose both! We are very much on board with this decision, and it perfectly tied together their laid-back-meets-formal vibe.
Esther accented the bohemian vibe with natural-look makeup and fresh flowers in her hair, making her the walking centerpiece of the whimsical forest wonderland. Guests were also adorned with flower crowns, which doubled up as favors, making everyone who attended a living part of the dà©cor. Divine!
Surrounded by natural beauty, Esther and Yoni kept things simple, with sweet floral accents adorning the chuppah and a much bigger focus on their egalitarian, highly personalized Jewish ceremony. We love these priorities, and it’s no secret that we’re always huge fans of consciously gender-equal weddings.
Phenomenal photographer, and much-loved Smashing The Glass Recommended Vendor, Ben Kelmer, captured the story of the day, and was met with absolutely glowing praise by the happy couple and their families. Looking over the stunning spread of images below, it’s easy to see why.
The vibe was also beautifully captured in the spine-tingling wedding video below, provided by Studio Polly.
It’s Esther’s turn to take over the blog to tell us all about her and Yoni’s unbelievably beautiful big day. Take it away, Esther!
Getting married under the stars
Esther, the bride: We got married in Tzel Hadumim; the wedding venue in Neot Kdumim. We wanted a place that was relaxed and fun, but also worked with the more formal direction our families were into, and this place perfectly combined the best of both worlds.
I also really wanted to get married outside and not in a hall. Tzel Hadumim has all the amenities of a hall, but it’s in the middle of a forest, under the stars. We also live in Jerusalem and it was only 40 minutes away, so it was pretty convenient.
A natural, informal theme
We didn’t have a color scheme or a specific style we were going for. We wanted a wedding that was relaxed and just fun, where we could really let go and celebrate without being held back by a too-formal setting.
We decided not to get a wedding planner. It’s a bit more work to plan the wedding on our own, but we had a few months, so we figured we would just save the money for a planner.
Trilingual Paperless Post invitations
We designed our invitation on Paperless Post. The have lots of really beautiful designs that you can personalize in so many different ways, so we browsed until we found something we liked. It was cheaper than physical invitations, and we saved using so much paper that would have just been thrown out anyways. And we just did it from the couch at home, which was great.
Between all the friends and family, we needed invitations in Hebrew, English and French, and their simple and fast technical support helped us to make it trilingual.
Leah Neppe helped me with my hair and makeup. She was fantastic! I don’t wear makeup in my day-to-day life and I wanted to look like myself, so she did simple, natural-looking makeup. It looked amazing and held up perfectly throughout the night, and she gave me an extra bag with bobby pins and tissues and things.
For my hair, I wanted a loose low bun, relaxed and casual, and she did a great job with it too. I wanted fresh flowers in my hair and she knew how to arrange them beautifully without them falling out the whole night.
Leah was flexible and professional, and very pleasant and attentive when we were getting ready. She brought a friend to help with my mom and sister, and everyone just looked great!
Two beautiful wedding dresses
I didn’t have a clear idea of what I wanted to wear, but I knew I needed a dress I would feel fabulous in and could really dance in!
When I started looking in the US, I found a really nice dress at BHLDN, Anthropologie’s wedding store, but I didn’t buy it yet, because I wanted to look around a bit more.
When I came back to Israel, I found an amazing dress by Mordechai Avraham that was made of vintage French tablecloths from the 1960s. It was flowy and embroidered with colored flowers — it was really beautiful and fun, and very non-constricting. I knew that I wanted to get married in it, but it wasn’t a very “formal” wedding dress and Yoni understandably wasn’t very enthusiastic about me wearing an old tablecloth to our wedding.
So, in the end, I bought and wore the BHLDN dress with lace and beads and tulle for the beginning of the wedding, and I changed into the flowy vintage dress after the chuppah. It was the best of both worlds – I got to wear two really beautiful dresses, and I felt great the whole night!
Simple and pretty accessories
I wanted flowers in my hair, something simple and pretty. So our florist put some flowers on the side for me the day of the wedding, and the hair stylist incorporated them into my hair. I also wore a golden bracelet my cousins had given me before the wedding and small earrings.
Our wedding was outside, with a little walk to the chuppah. I’m 176 cm, and I don’t wear heels often. I felt I should be festive at my wedding and wear heels, so I looked for low comfortable heels.
I bought some shoes on ASOS a few months before the wedding, but they were a bit uncomfortable. The week before the wedding, I was walking around a mall with a few minutes to kill, and I found these strappy beige sandals with a low heel.
I wore them for the pictures until the ceremony, and for the party afterwards I switched into turquoise flats that I owned before. The dress I wore for the party was shorter at the front, so my shoes added some fun color.
The handsome groom
Yoni wore a really nice blue suit from Ted Baker with a Hugo Boss shirt. He wore a blue bowtie, a brown belt, brown leather shoes, and for the dancing he switched to his own sneakers.
A color-coordinated family
I didn’t have bridesmaids, but our female family members wore different shades of green/blue/yellow.
We did it more so that the pictures would look cohesive and not a jumble of colors, but there wasn’t a specific dress/style/length/fabric etc. that they wore.
A simply beautiful chuppah
Since the outdoor setting was already so beautiful, we didn’t feel like we had to spend a lot of money on the chuppah, or overdo it with anything too grandiose.
We had Hofit Harush from Zer Prahim (who did all the wedding flowers) attach flowers to the top of the Chuppah, and that was it.
An egalitarian Jewish ceremony
The ceremony was very important to us. We wanted to have a religious wedding that abided by Jewish law, but we did not want to have the Israeli Rabbinate involved in our wedding. We wanted an egalitarian chuppah with men and women doing everything together.
Yoni and I both gave each other rings, had male and female witnesses, and the Sheva Brachot were said by both men and women.
We also tried to involve as many family and friends as possible in the ceremony. My sister read a chapter of tehillim in memory of grandparents and friends who passed away before the wedding, and we had friends do other small things.
We also tried to personalize the text as much as possible to reflect us and our values, and what kind of future we wanted together. Since the chuppah is the most important part of the wedding we wanted to make sure it would be right for us, and it really was a moving ceremony. Lots of friends also told us afterwards that it was really special and personal.
A very special ketubah
Our ketubah was decorated by a family friend, who did it as a wedding gift. It was really beautiful and very touching to have him be part of our wedding like that.
Walking down the aisle to Bob Dylan
Yoni walked down the aisle to Crazy Love by Van Morrison, and I walked down the aisle to Lay, Lady, Lay by Bob Dylan. We didn’t have a first dance etc. because I’m a bit more shy about that stuff…
A flower station for guests
Because the venue was already so green and lush, we didn’t have so many flowers, but for the ones we had, we hired the wonderful Hofit Harush.
She made small bouquets for the tables, the chuppah decorations, and a flower stand with headbands and boutonnieres for the guests. We just chose the cheapest flowers there were, chrysanthemums lisianthus and baby’s breath, but they were beautiful! Hofit was also very helpful and flexible during the planning, and her prices were great.
Our fabulous photographer and videographer
We hired Ben Kelmer to be the photographer. The photographer was the last vendor that we hired and by then we were both very tired of wedding planning. Our friend’s sister, who is very thorough and serious, was getting married before us and she hired Ben, so we heard about him through her. We looked at his website and his pictures were beautiful.
We wanted a photographer who took natural pictures that documented the night, without taking pictures that looked staged or too edited. We talked to Ben on the phone, but Yoni and I were both really busy and couldn’t travel to meet him. We decided to book him anyway and meet him the day of the wedding.
Through him, we were put into touch with Studio Polly, who did our video. They both were really wonderful! Ben’s pictures were absolutely beautiful, he captured something very special in our celebration. Ben was also really nice and brought great vibes during the day. He was unobtrusive but somehow he managed to be everywhere and capture incredible pictures of the day! My aunt put it best: “he was everywhere and nowhere at the same time.”
Polly also was very relaxed and pleasant to be with the whole time, and her videos were amazing. Both the highlights and the longer videos were beautiful, and I was really moved to get them from her after the wedding. In short, Polly and Ben are perfect candidates and we would recommend them to absolutely everyone.
Incredible live entertainment
Yoni really wanted live music. We had already been to two weddings with Eliran Sade’s band and they were really great.
We wanted a combination of popular American and Israeli music, songs from the 1960s and 70s, and mizrahit music, and we saw them do all that at the different weddings we were at. They understood what kind of songs we wanted and gave us a huge variety at the wedding. They were also great at keeping the party going and working the crowd, so the dancing was really fun because of them.
We made benchers using the company Benchers Unlimited, and we had a flower crown stand at the wedding.
Hofit Harush had a stand where she made crowns and headbands and boutonnieres with fresh flowers. Our guests were covered in flowers the whole evening. With the trees and outdoor setting, it was really beautiful and festive!
Advice to couples currently planning their wedding
When we were getting married, everyone had different ideas and requests and demands of us, and at some point I felt like we were losing track of what we wanted and who we were, and what this day was actually about. So I would say definitely talk to people and include friends and family in the wedding planning process, because it really is very special, but remember the core things that really matter to you and work to make them happen.
That being said, it’s really just a day. The things that really matter to you are important, but all the tiny details don’t actually make a difference in the long run. For example, the ceremony was important to us so we spent a lot of time meeting with the rabbi and researching/building it. I wanted flowers and Yoni wanted a good band, so we both put effort into that. But neither of us cared about benchers or how our families were dressed or favors or lots of other things, so we didn’t waste our energy on them as much. And we enjoyed the engagement and wedding much more because of it…
Esther & Yoni’s little white book
Photography – Ben Kelmer
Videography — Studio Polly
Venue – Neot Kdumim
Bride’s dresses – Mordechai Avraham and BHLDN
Bride’s shoes – ASOS
Groom’s attire – Ted Baker and Hugo Boss
Hair + Makeup – Leah Neppe
Flowers – Zer Prahim
Band – Eliran Sade
Invitation – Paperless Post
Benchers – Benchers Unlimited