There is no better introduction to Israel than a good Israeli wedding – and that’s exactly how Molly and David lured their friends and family out to the Holy Land!
Their Mediterranean-themed big day combined the laid-back Israeli attitude with some of the more formal elements of an American wedding, and perfectly married the two cultures. So much so, that they managed to source peonies for Molly’s bouquet – in December – in Israel!
As you all know, at STG, we LOVE a twist on tradition, and we adore gorgeous bride Molly’s choice to have her own Tisch, a great way to get pumped up and energetic before the ceremony.
And STG Recommended Vendor Caliente rocked the party to perfection with their live music entertainment with everything from Jewish music to Latin Jazz to Israeli pop – we love these guys — they are SO good!
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Jewish wedding without a few surprises, and thoughtful groom, David, surprised his lovely bride with a flashmob, getting friends and family involved to honor her favorite musical! Superb!
The sensational spread of pictures was taken by none other than our wonderful STG Recommended Vendor and top Israeli photographer, Idan Milman, for whom the couple had nothing but gushing praise.
Bride Molly loves the lost art of letter writing, and that shines through in every word of her articulate and moving writeup below. We’re you’ll enjoy reading it as much as we did!
How we met
Molly, the bride: I had been working as a fundraiser and program planner at Boston’s Jewish Federation for years before David got a job there, also as a fundraiser.
When he came in for an interview, a friend said, “Oh Molly, your type just walked in the door!” We became fast friends especially when the office cubicle rearrangement put our desks right across from one another — our coworkers assumed we were dating long before we were.
In the years since, we’ve taken family to Israel, started new jobs, built a life in Tel Aviv and are now moving back to Boston for the next few years to get second degrees.
A few years ago, before I convinced my then 82-year-old grandfather to come to Israel (getting my cousins on a Birthright trip at the same time was key), he had said to me, “Molly I’ll only come to Israel if you get married there!” A few years later, challenge accepted!
David and I had both spent time living in Israel before we met and when David found a job here that he loved, he convinced me to move here too. We got engaged in Israel and, even though we’re both from the same suburb outside of Boston, we knew we wanted to get married in Tel Aviv.
A rooftop Jaffa venue
We got married at Beit Andromeda in Jaffa. We had been living in Tel Aviv for a year and a half, and once we decided to get married in Israel, we knew we wanted to get married somewhere central.
With so many first timers and friends and family coming from abroad, it was important to us that the location be convenient. We love Yafo, and looked at all of the venues in the area.
We picked Beit Andromeda because with a rooftop, private garden area, wine cellar style room, and Italian and Greek themed bars it felt like a Mediterranean paradise!
The staff was incredibly warm and professional from our first meeting with them. Guests commented on the beautiful views of the Tel Aviv skyline and, of course, the spectacular food.
A picturesque venue
We didn’t go with a wedding planner, although a perk to getting married in Israel is that the venue staff truly act like wedding planers day of. Nave at Beit Andromeda was amazing.
We also picked a venue with amazing dà©cor built in, so we didn’t have to do much. For bridesmaids and groomsmen, we picked navy, and I got the girls pale pink wraps for the ceremony.
The lost art of letter writing
David makes fun of me for being the last person to still write letters. I love finding unique cards, and a few years back, I found my favorite designer: Albertine Press.
Shelley runs an old-fashioned letterpress outside of Boston, and their featured designs included cityscapes and custom designs.
When we started planning, I reached out to Shelley right away to see if she could design something special for us. We had a few requirements: we wanted to showcase the Tel Aviv skyline and to incorporate both English and Hebrew wording.
We decided on a two-sided invitation, with one side in English, and the back in Hebrew. The Hebrew wording was written by David’s grandfather, taking the lines of the sheva brachot as the base for the invitation. It was so special to have a design that felt personalized and unique.
Natural-look hair and makeup
I really wanted to look like me – just the most photogenic version of myself.
I had asked around, and it seemed like a lot of makeup artists in Israel do amazing work with contouring, which seemed a bit too intense for my style. I ended up with Avital & Avital and absolutely loved their stylists.
I was a bit nervous, because in Israel there is a ihiheh beseder – it will be okay/don’t worry attitude, which contrasted so much with my friends in America who did trials for hair, makeup, flowers, you name it. But I had seen their work, liked their vibe and trusted them.
On the day of, they were an amazing team. I loved my makeup and the hair and my mom, mother-in-law and bridesmaids looked so beautiful and, most importantly, like themselves. They have native English speakers on their team, which was a bonus.
Finding the perfect dress
Since we live in Israel, I started trying on dresses in Tel Aviv. While I found a few that looked good, I couldn’t find any that really felt like me. I was originally drawn to the big princess dresses, but at 5’1 I looked lost in those.
Finally, when I was visiting in Boston in the fall, my mom and I went to Vows, a discount wedding-gown store with overstock and sample dresses. After trying on a few dresses, the saleswoman suggested a different style dress and when I tried it on, I had this feeling of comfort, like, oh yeah, this is the dress.
I had it tailored and hemmed and the train bustled — shout out to Lyudmila at Best Fit Tailoring for making the best bustle in the game.
I borrowed David’s cousin’s veil from her wedding a few years back. I would have borrowed shoes too, but my feet are too small.
Even on my best days, I’m 5’1 to David’s 6’4.
When I went to get the dress tailored in Boston, the seamstress implored me to get high heels and an ankle strap for support.
They were comfortable and I loved how they added some sparkle. I brought an extra pair of heels to the venue but the adrenaline had me dancing all night!
The handsome groom
David and I had traveled to Thailand the year before, and he got his suit tailor made there before we were engaged.
Bridesmaids in navy
Even though Israeli weddings don’t normally have bridesmaids, I wanted to include some of the women I love most who made it Israel.
Two of my best friends from childhood were my bridesmaids, along with my two cousins and David’s brothers’ significant others.
We used navy on the invitations, which was one of our colors so I asked them to dress in navy in any length dress they wanted.
A floral chuppah
When it came to our chuppah, our florist took care of everything. Since we were getting married during winter, we wanted it to be warm and lovely and it was just that.
A traditional Orthodox ceremony with a twist
Even though we’re both Jewish, David grew up religious and I grew up secular. We decided early on to have a traditional Orthodox ceremony, which meant that we had so homework to do to make sure my people were up to speed.
It was important to me that I feel at home, and since home is being with people you love, we planned accordingly. We put together a “cheat sheet” booklet that we emailed out in advance for all the different parts of the wedding (I had looked at the Smashing the Glass site for tips!), taught my family the words to Od Yishama over Thanksgiving, and David’s groomsmen created English and transliterated lyrics for the songs during David’s tisch.
We started off the ceremony with two tisches — a traditional tisch for David at the venue in the space dubbed the wine cellar and for me on the rooftop. David’s tisch clearly had a lot more whiskey and they signed the Ketubah there too, but mine included quotes from Beyoncà©, with the view of Tel Aviv in the background. I loved having this part of the wedding and recommend it wholeheartedly — it’s like a great pre-game to pump you up before the ceremony.
David and I hadn’t seen each other for a few days before, so the first time we saw each other was during the badeken. A few people asked me if I was nervous and I really wasn’t — I was excited to see David! My mom, mother-in-law and I were sitting with my best friends behind me, greeting people, when we started to hear the singing coming up the stairs. It was a crazy feeling, and we were both so emotional. There was some humor too when he missed the memo about how to put on the veil.
The ceremony was really special. We went with the Rabbi from David’s community back home who taught a class I had taken. It felt really good to have a mesader kiddushin who knew us. A few weeks before the wedding, he got our parents together to share with them how the ceremony would work which was so helpful, especially for my parents who had never been to an Orthodox wedding.
Two of my best friends and two of David’s held up our chuppah and since the rooftop was small, we felt like we were embraced in a big hug by everyone there. There was an impromptu sing-along to Lu Yehi with the band providing backup in honor of David’s savta who couldn’t make it, and David’s brother did a great job mc-ing. There were tears and lots of laughter and when it came time to break the glass David smashed it so hard that there were pieces all over the ground.
To top it all off there was a spectacular sunset!
Traditional chuppah music
For the processional, we went traditional, with the first half accompanied by vocals and the second instrumental.
Our first dance was to Ray LaMontagne, You Are The Best Thing — it’s a little overplayed, but we wanted something upbeat and easy to dance to.
Flowers to take things up a level
While we were planning the wedding, I met another girl who had gotten married at the same venue and she recommended her florist, Lihi Oring Designs.
David and I met with Lihi, who was surprised to meet him, normally she only meets with brides, and we both teased him since he had many more opinions on flowers than I did.
Because we were getting married during the winter, it was important to us that the venue feel warm and light.
We picked the venue in part because it felt very stylized to begin with, and so Lihi was tasked with taking everything up a level. I really wanted peonies for the bouquet, which are not easy to find in December in Israel. Lihi came through morning of with peonies for the bouquet, and put together really beautiful arrangements on all of the tables.
Our fabulous photographer
Idan Milman was one of the best decisions we made when it came to our wedding. He was recommended to us by a friend who had gotten married at the same venue, and her repeated tagline was “he captures moments!” And he truly does.
We met him before the wedding to talk about our vision and to plan the day. Since we didn’t have a wedding planner, Idan ended up advising us on the schedule day of. Idan also radiates joy and a sense of calm, which are two of the key characteristics you want in vendors on your wedding day.
Our families loved working with him, and while we’re happy to have the formal shots to send to grandparents, we’re most thrilled with all of the moments he captured throughout the night.
When we first started planning, David was insistent on a live band, and so we started meeting with Tel Aviv-based bands. Because we got married on a Thursday during Chanukah, we knew we had to book someone quickly. We found Caliente, a local music company that offers a number of live band/DJ options.
Initially, we thought that we might need to work with a few bands to make our wedding music work as we had varied needs ranging from pop to more traditional Jewish music (what in Israel they call Hasidic music) and we were relieved when we found Udi at Caliente who promised his team could do it all. He also gotten married at Beit Andromeda and named it as one of his favorite spots.
Since we had a few different parts of our wedding, we worked with Udi to have the music match. That meant starting with a Latin jazz set during the Kabbalat panim/cocktail hour, live music during the chuppah with vocals, traditional circle dancing music, old time standards during dinner, pop hits and then finally transitioning to a DJ when it really got time to party. Udi and his team were very flexible, took requests for songs and totally got our vibe
They also do an amazing act to kick start the dancing, where they start a slow sing-along to Yachad. David went to camp forever, as did so many friends and it felt like the start of the best kind of camp party.
A surprise flash mob
David knows that I love Newsies (the musical) so much, and he surprised me with a flash mob. It started with my cousin, who is a cellist, playing my favorite classical music piece, and then it turned into a choreographed dance with all of our friends!
He recruited the bridesmaids and groomsmen early on, and through Skype tutorials and practices early in the week, had the team ready to go.
I remember it was right after a speech, and David got up to thank them – I got up too and he lightly motioned for me to sit back down. I should have noticed that he had tucked his pants into his socks, but I didn’t get it.
My cousin transitioned to playing Seize the Day from Newsies, and David started singing and I still didn’t get it! I thought that David was just inspired by the music and wanted to sing, but then people started dancing with him.
I was genuinely shocked (as you can see from the picture) and it was an amazing surprise!! Friends of his had picked up those hats in the Carmel Market earlier in the day and they proved a perfect accessory.
We also planned tours and programs for first-time visitors so if anyone wants advice on that, feel free to send questions my way! Same with putting together a program guide/cheat sheet for an interfaith wedding.
Advice to couples currently planning their wedding
Try not to see each other before. I was not into this idea at first. I thought it was a little weird to share this emotional reunion with all of the wedding guests, but it felt incredibly meaningful and special. I think even if you see each other before to take pictures, it’s still worth to some time apart. David and I lived together before, and so I moved into my mom’s AirBnb for a few days, and it was nice to have the time with her and to have the time apart. We sent each other notes through friends and family and it really helped to make it special.
Cut down on the formal pictures before. This one is controversial, but I think the formal photos can be overrated. First, because they can mess with the momentum, and also because everyone looks so much more relaxed, comfortable and happy after the ceremony. I wouldn’t stress about getting all the pictures in beforehand. A friend and her husband put on their wedding clothes a week later, and took formal and fun photos all around the city.
Don’t stress. This one is easier said than done, but one thing I really appreciated about planning a wedding in Israel was that the vendors were so good and that I could really trust them to their thing. We spent time on a list for the band/DJ, and if you ask me now I can’t single out too many songs they played. All I remember is that the dance floor was full all night, which is the important part!
Molly & David’s little white book
Photographer – Idan Milman
Venue – Beit Andromeda
Dress – Vows and Best Fit Tailoring
Shoes – Nina
Makeup – Avital & Avital
Flowers – Lihi Oring Designs
Band – Legend Band from Caliente
Invitation – Albertine Press