There is so much wonderful individuality in this gorgeous Jewish wedding that I really don’t know where to start. Dena’s wedding report is wonderful, and my goodness is she a bride that knows her own mind.. and style!
She designed and made her own dress and says it was exactly what she had imagined it would look like since she dreamt about it as a teenager… And how gorgeous is that Belgian lace veil? It’s a family heirloom bought in 1926 by Dena’s great grandmother, and has been worn by her great grandmother, grandmother, mother, aunt and even sister before her at their weddings. How very special is that?
Dena is a make-up artist and CB is an actor, and they are both very involved in community theatre in Jerusalem. To reflect their shared love of theatre, they enlisted two musician friends to play songs from the Broadway musicals, including of course the ones they had both acted in.
Then, during the ceremony they integrated many songs from the movies, my favourite examples being the groom walking down to the Gladiator theme, and both of them walking into the theme from Ghostbusters for their wedding entrance!
And a first on Smashing The Glass, Dena and CB hired a live-streamer instead of a regular videographer, so that all their family and friends (mostly abroad) who were not able to attend the wedding, would still able to take part in the celebration. I wonder if we will start to witness more and more livestreaming now that families are so often spread far and wide all over the globe?
Here is their story from the perspective of their wonderful photographer and all-round Mr Fabulous, Herschel Gutman. Herschel is one of my much-loved Smashing Suppliers and is available to shoot weddings in both the UK and Israel. I highly, highly recommend him!
How we met
Dena, the Bride: I am a make-up artist for theatrical productions and CB is an actor, and we met during his first production in Jerusalem, HMS Pinafore, a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, in 2012.
I was making up another man and he told CB that there was a cute make-up girl that he should get his make-up done by. So he came into the make-up room and sat in my chair and that is how we met. At first we just started talking and then we started hanging out more and eventually decided to date each other. We broke up after a few months when CB decided to study acting in the US, and only got back together less than a year ago, after not being in touch at all for the three years he was gone!
It was just meant to be! Our proposal story is the sweetest thing, I think, and I loved it so much and it was perfect for us! It happened right after a show that we watched together. The producer of that show called CB up onto the stage and at first I had no idea what was going on. Then he started talking about me and about us and he then called up the cast of the recent RENT production (We started dating again during the recent production of Jerusalem’s RENT. I designed costumes for them and knew the cast well) to help him ask a question. The cast proceeded to perform Seasons Of Love, with CB singing the solo, and right afterward he got off the stage, down on one knee and proposed. By that time of course I knew what was about to happen, and he invited my best friends, my parents, and his family to be there for the proposal! It was absolutely perfect and magical!
Choosing to get married at Agadata
We got married in Agadata, a beautiful hall in the middle of nowhere, although very easily accessible, and right in between where we both lived. Actually, we were on the way home from looking at another venue when we saw this beautiful orange-walled place, and spur-of-the-moment decided to check it out and loved it immediately.
The venue also provided the catering and the food was fantastic!
A connection with New Jersey
CB and I both have lived in Fair Lawn, New Jersey during our childhood (I was born there and made aliyah from there and CB moved there before his Bar Mitzvah until he was 16) so we have a number of family friends in common from there, including the Rabbi of the community we both had belonged to. When we sent him an invitation to our wedding, he was so overjoyed and said he wouldn’t miss our wedding for the world and he flew in just for our wedding. That was really special to us both.
A grey and red colour scheme
Our colours were grey and red. Grey for all the bridesmaids, groomsmen, and family members, and red ties for all the guys, red flowers, red shoes. We did not use a wedding planner. I like planning events on my own. My mother crocheted matching kippahs for all the men in the family, with our initials on them (C and D).
We had our monogram designed by my sister-in-law. And one of the quotes heading the invitation is from Disney’s Bambi “Love is a song that never ends”.
20’s style hair + make-up
I got my hair and makeup done by Leah Neppe. She did hair and makeup for one of my best friends and I really liked her work, she was also highly recommended by many previous clients.
My overall look was 20’s style. I gave her artistic license on my hair do, firstly because I thought that would be cool, and secondly, I have short curly hair, so anything you do with it would look good. And my make-up I decided to go for a classic dark smokey eye and a deep red lip. I don’t often wear makeup on my day-to-day life, and so I figured, if I’m getting my makeup done already, it should stand out and be bold. I have blue eyes and the dark smokey make-up really brought out the colour.
A dress designed by the bride
I made my own dress, and it was exactly what I had imagined it would look like since I was about 15. Low scoop neckline, short sleeve, puffy skirt, fitted top. No lace, because of my veil. It was a simple and classic design, and everyone told me I looked like a princess (specifically Snow White). I’ve been sewing since age 12 and so I always knew I’d be sewing my own wedding dress. My brand name is DeBu, still not out there, but I’m working on it…
A family heirloom veil
My veil is a family heirloom, bought in 1926 by my great grandmother in the US. It is eight feet of Belgian lace. It was worn by my great grandmother, my grandmother, my mother, my aunt and my sister before me. And I decided to wear it the same way she did, back in the 20’s. My jewellery was made by a friend of mine, we went bead shopping together, and that too was exactly what I had wanted.
Red wedding shoes
My shoes were high healed, deep red, and peep toed, matching my nail polish, matching the lipstick color I wore, matching my flowers, and matching the lace up back of the dress.
The handsome groom
My very handsome husband wore a gray suit that we picked out together, a white shirt and a red and gray tie. Also, gray socks, brown shoes, and the hand made kippah with our full initials (CBDB). I asked him not to shave so he’d have a little scruff, which I love on him.
We decided not to see each other the week before the wedding, so no matter what he looked like, I swooned when I saw him. We were in a forest, surrounded by lots of trees and our closest friends when we saw each other. My back was to him and he was blindfolded. And when he came in front of me, with his eyes open, I opened my eyes and saw him. Right before that, when I heard him approaching I started crying out of excitement.
I had five bridesmaids, three of them have been my best friends since I was four and the other two have been my good friends since middle school. They all wore different shades of grey, matching our colour scheme.
We had a procession, which doesn’t happen often in Israeli weddings. We had the honour of having the Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi David Lau, be our Mesader Kiddushin.
Both our families are very musically talented and so we each had our siblings sing to us while under the chuppah. My husband had his two brothers sing to him Mi Adir a song and tune I picked, after the procession, right before I walked down. And while I was circling him seven times, my two brothers and sister sang to me Mi Von Siach a song and tune my husband picked. My brother had recomposed the music into a three-part harmony for them all to sing and the moment they opened their mouths I started to cry. Having our siblings sing to us under the chuppah was one of our dreams and I’m so happy that it was possible for it to come true!
Music from the movies for our ceremony
For the procession we chose to walk down to movie themes. CB, my husband walked down to the Gladiator theme. Then our grandparents walked down to the Lord Of The Ring Shire theme song, our siblings walked down to The Last Of The Mohicans theme and I walked down to the love theme of Braveheart. When we walked into the hall we had the band play Ghostbusters, because it’s an upbeat fun song that will get the crowd going.
I used a florist from my hometown, Beit Shemesh. I told her the colours I wanted and she made me a beautiful red and white bouquet. Red roses and an assortment of white flowers. The centrepieces on the tables were from the hall, which included lilies in some of the setting.
Our fabulous photographer…
Our photographer was Herschel Gutman a few people recommended him, so we met him and really liked his work and who he is as a person and decided to go with him.
He was great to work with and we all had a good time. He also kept calm when we were running late on some photos and that really helped ease the stress.
Livestream-ing the wedding
We decided to hire a live-streamer instead of a regular videographer, so that all our family and friends (mostly abroad) who were not able to attend the wedding were still able to take part in the celebration. We used Chai Stream.
Music from the Broadway musicals!
Both myself and my husband are very involved in community theatre in Jerusalem, and love all things theatrical. So we decided to go on a different route than the typical wedding. First of all, during the cocktail hour, we had a friend pianist, Haim Tukachinsky, and cellist, Maytal Kuchar, play songs from different musicals, including ones we both acted in, such as Hairspray and Next To Normal. We also chose songs from Fiddler On The Roof, and many others.
During the playing of Fiddler On The Roof‘s Sunrise Sunset I started to cry because it reminded me of my grandmother who loved that song. Three of my bridesmaids made us a video of our childhood photos and photos of us together now, including the clip of our proposal.
Also, all our theatre friends who came to the wedding (which were about 50 guests or so) choreographed a dance to the song Without Love from Hairspray, and danced it in front of everyone. It was so great that we ended up joining them.
Creating our own playlist
We were very careful in choosing the songs throughout the wedding to be played and decided not to go with a DJ for the end of the wedding. One of the best moments of the wedding was towards the end when one of the songs we had chosen for our playlist, Come What May was played and a close friend of my husband and his wife had that song at their wedding so we all danced together.
Creative ideas that reflected us as a couple
We mentioned that we planned the whole wedding ourselves, so everything we wanted was special and somewhat unusual to the typical Jewish wedding, like the movie themes, having our friend’s play during the cocktail hour, and the theater friend’s dance. One of the most unusual and cute ideas was done by one of CB’s sister-in-laws. CB is very into board games and he got me into the game Settlers of Catan so his sister-in-law created a whole Settlers of Catan board out of candy and had added a few letters to write out the name of the neighbourhood we would be moving to. She placed it on our table and it was a pleasant surprise to see that.
Also another friend who was into board games decorated the Bride and Groom table with cards from a game to make it look like we are playing a game at the table.
Attention to detail
Setting up the tables was very important to us and where people sat. So we painstakingly went over the seating plan to make sure everyone was at a good place. Another thing was the dance floor. We made sure that there would be enough space for dancing because there never seems to be enough. The hall kept telling us it is big enough but we insisted on moving tables around so it would be as big as we wanted and it worked out very well.
Advice to brides and grooms currently planning their wedding
I got ready at home, and had my makeup artist come to me. That was a nice relaxing atmosphere, being at home with my parents and good friends. Although I did originally want to go to a hotel to get ready, I decided to stay at home in the end. Something nice about that, getting ready for the last time in your childhood home before you go off to your wedding.
We picked a location for our photos close to our venue so we’d be less pressed for time before the wedding started. One last thing, instead of greeting people during the dinner we decided to eat dinner, which for some people may not be as important as greeting all their guests, but we felt it was important for us to eat with all the dancing we were doing, also because the food at our wedding was very good. Don’t worry about greeting people. Many of them came to our table to get a blessing or say goodbye towards the end of the wedding celebrations. It’s important to enjoy the food!
Dena & CB’s little white book
Photographer — Herschel Gutman Photography
Live Streamer – Chai Stream
Venue, caterer and desserts — Agadata
Bride’s Dress — made by the bride
Hair and Make-up – Leah Neppe
Pianist – Haim Tukachinsky
Cellist – Maytal Kuchar
Officiant — Rabbi David Lau