Is there anything better than an outdoor Jewish wedding by the ocean in Israel? We’re betting on no… and so did Sophie, a primary school teacher, and Elliott, a financial advisor, who opted for an epic destination wedding at Caesarea’s always stunning Al Hayam. This is one seriously stunning day – you don’t want to miss the splendid photography and videography by Camellia Art (who used a drone to capture some seriously awesome landscape shots).
This is a venue that really speaks for itself, and these two let the natural beauty of the location speak for itself, timing their chuppah for sunset, and going for a beautiful green and white chuppah that made a statement yet didn’t distract from the natural splendor of the surroundings.
We love that the couple opted to follow the tradition of doing the badeken on the aisle, honoring Elliott’s Sephardi heritage, so that the groom AND all the guests all got their first look at the beautiful bride as she walked down the aisle.
Speaking of that beautiful bride – who totally smashed it bridal style-wise in Calla Blanche – we’re going to turn you over to her now for the rest of the story…
A Wedding in Israel
Sophie, the bride: Back in October 2016, Elliott proposed to me by the Bahai Gardens in Haifa which is his favourite place in the world. He is half Israeli and with his family living there, he would go there throughout his childhood to visit them, and so Israel is a very special place to Elliott. Getting engaged there, we knew straight away that was where we wanted get married. We got married at Al Hayam, Caesarea, Israel – the minute we heard about the venue we instantly feel in love with it.
A Fab Planner
We had a wedding planner – Natalie Abraham who we were recommended, and we would definitely recommend her to anyone who is thinking of planning their wedding in Israel. We met Natalie for the first time and we absolutely loved her. She is extremely talented and very organised and got to know Elliott and I very quickly. She knew exactly what our vision was and she did above and beyond to make our dream wedding become a reality.
Nothing was a problem for Natalie and she would be there whenever you needed her by email, WhatsApp or FaceTime no matter what I was worrying about she was always one step ahead. Natalie would always send updates and emails with what still needed to be done and what had been completed. She was literally there 24 hours a day whenever we needed her and she got back to us very quickly. She helped a lot of our family/friends with sorting out their accommodation and even got to know them too. She is a true gem who is now a friend for life!
We wanted an invitation design that was based on the style of our venue – open air with string lighting that joined the corners of the space together. We worked with Invitation London on the design, which was navy blue to represent the evening sky and gold string lighting at the top of the invitation. The rest was in white font, apart from our names which was gold foiled. This theme then followed throughout with the menus, welcome sign, grace books etc.
Hair + Makeup
I did some research online and spoke to a friend who had their wedding in Israel and got given some recommendations. I had both a hair trial with Karmit Reznik and a makeup trial with Jaquelyn Lawrence and was happy with them both. I thought it would be the hardest job especially abroad but they both got to know me very quickly and gave me great ideas that would suit the look I wanted and the heat of Israel. Jacqui made me feel so at ease on the day of the wedding and I am so glad she was part of making both my bridesmaids and I feel a million dollars.
A Calla Blanche Dress
My dress was Yasmine by Calla Blanche and I bought it from Morgan Davies. I went to a variety of different wedding shops and went to Morgan Davies last, before I went I thought I had worked out what style suited me. I was flicking through the dresses in Morgan Davies and the ivory/nude and chapel train caught my eye on my dress and Katie who served me in the shop said you keep looking at it go and try it on, before I tried it on she said this will be the one and it was!
The minute I tried it on I knew it was ‘the one’ and when I walked out both my mum and auntie said ‘Wow’ with tears in their eyes. As much as I loved the train I had it shortened as it was too long for an abroad wedding. I then used the some of the train which I had made into shoulder straps. I had a medium veil made there too with a scalloped edge. I bought a hair comb from Britten Weddings which was attached to my veil.
As we were in Israel and the weather was going to be hot I wanted to be comfortable so went for a pair of wedges. I had a look around and bought a pair of Christian Louboutins.
The handsome groom
Elliott wore a sky blue suit from Suit Supply, an open neck white shirt, a brown suede belt, and brown suede loafers from Gucci. His groomsmen wore navy chinos and white shorts with brown suede loafers.
Bridesmaids in Blue
The girls wore sky blue dresses from David’s Bridal to match with the groom. My mum liked the dress when we went to the shop (first one!) and when I took the girls they all noticed it in the window and all felt comfortable in it. Not bad 4 bridesmaids sorted in 1 shop after seeing 1 dress.
A Floral Chuppah
This was actually down to Elliott. He drew a design on his iPad for a wicker type structure, that was covered in white flowers in each corner. Our flower designer Yahav Green then took this and built it up to make it into a stunning creation.
We did the badeken on the aisle, which was extremely special as well as emotional as both my dad and I cried the whole way down the aisle! It felt like the longest walk ever but I finally felt at ease when I saw Elliott looking as handsome as ever. As Elliott is Sephardi he wanted to keep it a tradition to do the badeken on the aisle so that everyone as well as him could see me for the first time when walking down the aisle.
It was the perfect setting for a sunset wedding that was timed perfectly so the guests had the view of the sun turning all different colours before sunset. The ceremony was made especially emotional by the outstanding voice of Rabbi Itzhak Azran. To make it more special he surprised us by singing the blessings to the tune of various songs such as ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’. The ceremony was topped off by Calvin Harris ‘Feel So Close’ belting out as soon as Elliott smashed the glass. Our bridesmaids and groomsmen joined us under the chuppah to celebrate.
Our music choice
Elliott came in to a male version of ‘Boi Be Shalom’ to the tune of Andrea Bocelli – ‘Time to Say Goodbye’.
Sophie came in to ‘Ana Bekoach’.
Broke the glass to Calvin Harris – ‘Feel So Close’.
First dance – a surprise from Elliott as he picked it, Boyce Avenue’s version of One Direction – ‘What Makes You Beautiful’. It started with the slow version and went into the One Direction version and all our friends and family joined us.
The rest of the music was party music and the final song of the night was Take That – ‘Rule the World’.
We left the floristry to the very talented Yahav Green whose style is white/greens and golds. We were recommended him by Natalie our planner. We went out to Israel to meet him and loved him straight away. He was very knowledgable, very on trend, and gave us lots of ideas. Once we told him the colours we wanted to have as part of our theme, he took care of the rest and we communicated the rest over email and WhatsApp. We had to wait until nearer the time to see which flowers were going to be good for the heat and season in Israel.
Photographer and videographer
Elliott’s family were in the wedding photography and video business, so was really important to him that we got this right. There are so many talented and creative photographers and videographers in Israel, but we ended up going with Camellia Art who have a studio in Tel Aviv. They had several staff members on the day, and used a drone to capture some amazing shots. We did a photoshoot two days later in Old Jaffa to take some stunning creative shots in all different places.
Although not officially entertainment, Rabbi Itzhak Azran was very entertaining during the ceremony signings all the blessings in different tunes.
We had a live band called Legend, my parents went to see them play at another wedding and instantly loved them.
We finished off with a DJ and saxophonist until the early hours of the morning, because nobody likes a party to end early!
We wanted to give the venue something extra special, so we had fairy lights hung all over the dance floor, which completely topped off the way it looked when the sun went down.
One of the unusual things was that Elliott picked our first song and kept it a surprise from me. He had known for years that it would be the song that would be our first dance.
– Menu and place cards in one – titled ‘thank you for sharing our first meal as Mr and Mrs Winner’
– Signs in mens toilet – ‘Freshen up and meet me at the bar, Mr Winner’
– Signs in ladies toilet – ‘Freshen up and meet me on the dance floor, love Mrs Winner’
– Flip flop sign for those with tired feet – ‘ If your feet are feeling sore, grab a pair and dance some more’
– All of the above matched the theme of our invitation, so design flowed throughout.
We wanted to do something culturally different, so decided on Bali with Singapore and Hong Kong either side as you can’t travel directly. We travelled around Bali, so stayed in some stunning hotels, but the highlights were the Four Seasons in Jimbaran Bay in Bali and Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.
Advice to couples currently planning their wedding
To enjoy the build up and planning and on the big enjoy big day enjoy every minute as it will go so quickly and then it be an amazing memory that you can relive again and again and again.
Sophie & Elliott’s little white book
Photography and videography – Camellia Art
Wedding planner – Natalie Abraham
Venue – Al Hayam
Bride’s dress – Calla Blanche found and fitted at Morgan Davies
Bride’s accessories – Britten Weddings
Bride’s shoes – Christian Louboutins
Groom’s attire – Suit Supply and Gucci
Bridesmaids – David’s Bridal
Hair + Makeup – Karmit Reznik and Jaquelyn Lawrence
Flowers – Yahav Green
Band – Legend
Invitation – Invitation London
Honeymoon – Four Seasons and Marina Bay Sands