By the time Tamar and Bryan got engaged, they were well aware that COVID was going to be a factor in planning their Jewish wedding. The couple – Americans who made aliyah to Israel and are both currently studying for their master’s degrees in biotechnology at Bar Ilan – made sure to pick a pandemic-friendly venue (a winery with ample outdoor space) and negotiate their contracts to be as corona-proof as possible (thanks to the planning prowess of Events by Shani).
Even so, 10 days before the big day, a new lockdown was imposed, meaning wedding halls, restaurants, and other businesses started to close their doors. Even tougher, travel was limited to within 500 meters of one’s home. All of this meant Tamar and Bryan needed a new game plan – and fast. Luckily, a generous friend offered the couple the use of her beautiful backyard in Beit Shemesh, and from there everything fell into place as the duo, their families, and their planner scrambled to pull togethera 60-person wedding in full compliance with the Health Ministry’s guidelines.
Since the 60-guest limit meant lots of friends and family couldn’t be there in person, Tamar and Bryan opted to live stream the entire wedding – and it worked out so well that some virtual guests remarked that it was even better than being there in person because they were able to see things up close that they never would have been able to see because of the crowd.
The couples’ parents also surprised them with another special way to include members of their local community who couldn’t be at the wedding: a drive-by parade! And not just any drive-by parade – Tamar and Bryan’s families surprised them with a ’67 red Mustang convertible in which to cruise down the street while neighbors cheered them on. This was a totally unexpected touch, and it turned out to be one of the most joyous moments of the night.
And that’s saying a lot – this wedding was just chock full of joyous moments, and Smashing The Glass Recommended Vendor Herschel Gutman captured each and every one so perfectly in his wonderful photos. After seeing photos he’d shot at friends’ weddings, Tamar and Bryan were such fans they “practically planned our wedding date around when he was available” – and post-wedding, they report that his calm demeanor, patience, and flexibility, made him an absolute pleasure to work with.
We’ll let the couple tell you about the rest…
How we met
Bryan, the groom: Tamar and I met in university…it seems like a classic story but there’s an interesting detail that I can’t help but reveal. We started off the beginning of our second year as lab partners. I knew Tamar was an excellent student and we studied really well together. After a short time, I was certain our chemistry went beyond the realm of the laboratory. I waited patiently until after finals of the first semester to ask Tamar out.
One might say that I had a certain sense of urgency considering I asked her out approximately 10 mins after she exited the test. She was flattered but promptly turned me down. After insisting and refusing to take her “no” as final, Tamar agreed to think about it. In my book that was a huge win…she’s way out of my league so a “maybe” is pretty good 🙂
Tamar got back to me two days later after consulting with some role models that Tamar trusts implicitly and looks up to and she agreed to a date where “I would have a lot of explaining to do.”
The rest is history.
A COVID Wedding
Tamar, the bride: Bryan and I went to Memphis to spend some time with his family and meet his community. We got engaged there and were able to celebrate with family and friends that couldn’t make it to the wedding. We returned to Israel and went straight into two week quarantine, in different cities!
It was hard to sit at home and not go venue viewing but knew that we couldn’t book any vendors without having a set date and venue.
My mother and Shani (our wedding planner you’ll read about soon) had a good understanding of what we were looking for and went searching on our behalf. They saw multiple beautiful venues, but Shani kept pushing to look at the brand new Psagot winery. Due to the location we didn’t want to consider it as an option. Knowing our style, budget and Corona concerns Shani continued to encourage us to agree to visit Psagot. Despite our concerns we fully trusted Shani who went with my mother (and brother) to see Psagot.
Thanks to today’s technology, facetime, we saw every bit of the space as we sat in quarantine. It was love at first sight! In addition to being stunning it is well equipped with different areas and lots of outdoor spaces making it perfect for a Corona wedding. Shani ensured that the contract protected us in the event of needing to reduce our guest count (again!). As long as Psagot was allowed to be open we would safely have the wedding there even with as few as 20 guests.
Fast forward to 10 days before the wedding- wedding halls, restaurants and businesses started to close their doors due to the lockdown, and travel was limited to within 500 meters of one’s home. We needed to plan a new wedding from scratch. Around the time that we got engaged my mom was sitting around with a bunch of her friends and one of her friends had just recently hosted a wedding in her backyard. In an off the cuff way she said, “If Tamar and Bryan need to get married here in our backyard the offer is on the table…” NEVER did my mom think that that would come to fruition.
Well guess what, 10 days before the wedding date in the middle of the lockdown my mom reached out to that same friend and took them up on their offer. We quickly shifted gears, started measuring the space, ordered tables and chairs, a Chuppah and everything needed for the wedding. We planned a 60-person wedding in 3 gorgeous backyards with full compliance to the Health Ministry’s guidelines. The intimate venue gave us the special opportunity to celebrate with our tight-knit community in Beit Shemesh.
These 3 families opened their home and hearts to us in a way we will forever be grateful. We took this opportunity to add creative touches that would not have been possible in any other venue. We are so thankful that our wedding turned out the way it did and cannot stress enough how beautiful, elegant and special a small wedding can be.
Planned to Perfection
We had an incredible party planner, Shani Falik Roth who runs Events by Shani. Shani has planned many Weiss family simchas in the past, but none that were anything like this. As it turns out Shani planned Bryan’s brother’s bar mitzvah a few years back too. How small world is that! Shani took a genuine interest and spent time getting to know us and our preferences. Her warmth, creativity and attention to detail are amazing. Shani was the engine that made the wedding train run.
From brainstorming sessions (at all hours) to revising contracts based on new needs, guest lists, touring halls to the incredible surprises the day of, Shani was by our side. Shani was assertive and organized yet incredibly sensitive and patient in the most crucial moments. She is a true professional that we hope to be able to share many smachot with her in the future.
We chose black and white as the color scheme in order to add a formal touch to our garden/ backyard wedding.
We originally wanted to get married in a vineyard and have good Israeli wine, so we designed our invitation around that. We incorporated grape vines and a touch of dark green into the design. My mother and our incredible party planner, Shani, designed our beautiful invitation. We sent out a save the date theme weeks before the wedding since we had no idea what would actualize. We found it very useful to do all the invitations via Paperless Post to ensure that all the invitees were able to watch via live stream in the end.
Hair + Make-up
I had hired a wonderful hair and makeup artist for my special day. Unfortunately, due to corona restrictions she was not able to travel.
We had originally hired Elianna Gasner for my family’s hair only. 4 days before the wedding when we realized that my makeup artist was not going to make it, Elianna stepped in with a calm, soothing, happy attitude and turned a very stressful situation into a wonderful experience. We worked with her in the past for my sister’s wedding in 2016. I was honored to have her do my hair and makeup for my special day. I was looking for something natural with a little bit more personality on the eyes. She was able to bring my vision to life.
Elianna was also able to create beautiful hairdos for my sisters, mother and mother in law.
Shuly Baruch has been doing our families makeup for smachot for years. We are always happy with her professionalism and perfectionism with our makeup.
When I originally went dress shopping, I wanted something completely different. I envisioned myself in a more flowery lace type of dress. I had gone to a few other bridal stores but when I walked into Miris Bridal, saw this dress and tried it on I knew it was the one for me. It was an elegant but fun dress which was totally fitting for my personality. It was an A-line styled dress with 3D flowers and crystals all over. After MANY fittings the dress was beyond what I had dreamed of.
The veil and hairpiece I wore were from Miris Bridal. The veil was a long elegant veil that had flowers at the end of it to match my dress.
The earrings I wore were my mother’s. She had reset her engagement ring and made a part of the ring into earrings. Both my older sisters wore them to their wedding, so it is sort of a tradition at this point. It felt so special to be able to wear these earrings on this special day
I didn’t feel the need to go so fancy with my shoes. Actually, I really wanted to wear white sneakers but the woman in the bridal store convinced me that the dress would look more elegant with heels. Big issue was I knew I was getting married on grass, so I didn’t want to wear a thin heel.
I found a nice pair of square heels on ASOS, strappy around the ankle and closed toe pointy, a little bit too over the top for me but I couldn’t find any other pair I liked. They ended up being perfect for what I needed.
I had my 2 sisters as bridesmaids. They wore black and white dresses. As did my mother and mother in-law, and 2 grandmothers.
Bryan and I had not seen each other for a full week before the wedding and only communicated via whatsapp when truly necessary. The badeken, the first time we saw each other in a week, was a true highlight. After we saw each other in that first moment the emotions were so strong and so powerful it was palpable even via live stream.
Each parent and grandparent took a moment to bless both of us individually. Emotions were so strong as each of my grandparents, from the States, were able to attend. There was much uncertainty due to travel and corona restrictions. We all felt it was a miracle that they were able to come, and it was a blessing to have them there.
It was important to us that our ketubah be a work of art – something we would be able to hang on our walls and cherish for the rest of our lives. We had Micol Bayer, Bryan’s rabbi’s wife, design our ketubah. We wanted our ketubah to contain themes that expressed our love for the land of Israel. She encapsulated that in a beautiful paper cut ketubah.
Our Music Choice
We love music but we have very mixed taste. We looked for a band with fabulous energy that could accommodate our Kumsitz as well as Elvis, and everything in between. We booked M’Breishit and had a fabulous Zoom meeting discussing everything. Unfortunately, when the travel restrictions came into effect Shani suggested we find a local band and suggested Rami Strosberg (someone from our community).
Rami was able to encompass all of our musical preferences. From classic American music to Jewish and Israeli music, he covered it all. Remember this was also a last minute switch. We had never heard him play at a wedding before and only knew he was my brother’s band leader. We met with him for about an hour and at the wedding he played every song we requested. He did an outstanding job!
I didn’t have a specific preference of which flower type I wanted but I did want all the bouquets to be white and green. The look we opted for was clean and classy. Shani had contracted Liat Nachmani to do the décor at Psagot. Liat was flexible and creative when we moved the wedding to the backyard. Shani and Liat brainstormed together how to best use and decorate the different yards. Liat designed a stunning Kiseh Kallah which was perfect for a garden setting.
There were lots of lanterns, both on the grass and hanging from trees, creating a magical look. Liat built and decorated a beautiful Chuppah, bird cages filled with flowers to create an aisle and then used as a mechitza, charming centerpieces and of course bride and bridesmaid bouquets. We loved the look and feel of it all.
Photographer and videographer
We used Herschel Guttman as our photographer. He was the photographer for many of my friends’ weddings. After seeing his talent for capturing moments and his calm demeanor I knew he was the right one to photograph our special day. We practically planned our wedding date around when he was available. We were very concerned that he wouldn’t be able to make it due to travel restrictions. It’s especially important to be patient and flexible during these uncertain times. Herschel exudes a relaxed vibe that makes working with him a breeze.
Herschel took us to Jerusalem after the wedding to do a photoshoot outside the Old City. It was amazing to watch him improvise on the job and come up with brilliant artsy settings. For me going into a Covid wedding I felt one of most important things were the pictures, not the amount of people, not the type of food… but rather capturing the moments to make the simcha eternal.
We also had magnets at our wedding. We hired Michael Laurence. He did a phenomenal job stepping in as a backup photographer when needed but more important the magnets were fabulous. We received a link with all of the edited photos which we were able to share with friends and family. Michael has a great service attitude and was so easy to work with.
For the videographer we used Yossi Shaked. Our party planner introduced him to us. We loved the sample videos we saw. He was a pleasure to work with. He and Herschel worked very well together capturing the night. We hope to receive the final video this week. Exciting!
The live stream was such an important part of celebrating our wedding with our family both near and far. We heard numerous times what a fantastic job Donny Wetzler did to get front row shots of every part of the wedding celebration. Some people even commented it was better than if they were there because they were able to see things up close that they never would have been able to see because of crowds.
We chose to live stream the whole wedding so that all our family and friends who couldn’t be there in person could participate from afar and we had fabulous reports back. Another huge plus of having the live stream was the week after the wedding Bryan and I were able to watch practically the whole wedding from the recording.
Food and Cake
We used Scoop Catering. We barely got to eat at our wedding, but we heard only positive feedback from the guests. Because of corona and the last minute craziness we did not hire a caterer until the Wednesday before the wedding. We had no idea how it would turn out. We had picked a menu from our original venue after going for a tasting there and we were not sure if he would be able to replicate it. The food was delicious, beautifully presented and his staff was very attentive. He did an outstanding job!! We got so many compliments.
Kosher Cakery created our wedding cake. She took a picture I found online and brought it to life. It was a 3 tiered black and white cake with black and white 3D flowers matching the color scheme. Plus, the cake tasted incredible.
We also had a bartender to create mixed drinks and cocktails for our guests. Smoke and Mirror- cocktails and Magic by Tai Kovler brought a playful yet classy atmosphere to our party, and again only received amazing feedback from our guests.
Since we were getting married during Corona we wanted to ensure everyone felt as safe and comfortable as possible. We decided to give out masks and little purell bottles with our names on them, long personalized ribbons to dance with and just for fun T-shirts that said” lab partners forever.”
It was very important for us to include the loving members of our community who we unfortunately were not able to include on the guest list due to restrictions on gathering. In order to include them and add to the party atmosphere, our parents invited the neighbors out to the street to escort us to our wedding. We were involved in every aspect of the wedding plans, but our parents surprised us with an amazing convertible. Shani searched the country to find a red mustang ’67 convertible.
We had a big reveal where we saw the car at the same time, but we were not able to see each other yet. After the reveal we each paraded down the main street in the car followed by a band of saxophonists who played us down the street to where our wedding took place. Friends and family members came out of their houses singing, dancing and cheering us on as we drove in the convertible.
How many brides and grooms can say they came to their wedding in a shiny red convertible with friends by their side? This unforgettable part of the wedding was a total surprise to us, but it was one of the most simcha filled moments of the evening.
Due to Covid no honeymoon so far… hoping for one in the future
Advice to couples currently planning their wedding
Bryan, the groom: My loving father, who also happens to be a clinical psychologist, has given me a lot of great advice throughout my life. One idea that sticks out is the following, “focus on the things you can control and don’t stress about things that are out of your hands”. When it came to planning our wedding during these incredibly uncertain times, I found this advice a spotlight and guide for the wedding planning process.
In order to actualize that we focused on furnishing our apartment and making it feel like home. We understood going in that a wedding is a 5 hour event but a home is an investment of a lifetime. This is not to discount the importance of every detail for your wedding night but rather to give perspective. The wedding planning was shrouded with uncertainty but building a home was under our control.
By following my father’s advice and dedicating our energy to that which we could control we maintained our sanity and kept stress levels low. As a handy addition in the weeks following our wedding, we have been able to enjoy a fully furnished and stocked apartment.
Best advice: Call Events by Shani today!!
TAMAR & BRYAN’S LITTLE WHITE BOOK
Photography – Herschel Guttman
Wedding Planner – Shani Falik Roth – Events by Shani
Magnets – Michael Laurence
Livestream – Donny Wetzler
Videography – Yossi Shaked
Venue – neighbors backyards in our community
Bride’s dress – Miris Bridal
Bride’s shoes – ASOS
Bridesmaids – Dressed created by Tzipporah DiPoce
Hair + Makeup – Elianna Gasner, Shuly Baruch
Flowers – Liat Nachmani
Band – Rami Strossberg and the Marbim BeSimcha band
Catering – Scoop Catering
Cake – Kosher Cakery
Ketubah – Micol Bayer
Invitation – Paperless Post
Rabbi – Rav Shai Finkelstein / Rabbi Shalom Rosner
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.