We are totally and completely obsessed with Stacey and Elkana’s GORGEOUS wedding at Bayit Al Hayam. The views of the Mediterranean are just BEYOND, and the Tel Aviv skyscape isn’t too shabby either. That perfect seaside chuppah is totally the stuff our wedding dreams are made of.
But don’t be fooled – even though the aesthetics of this fab day are totally contemporary, this couple packed a ton of tradition into their wedding too. Blending Stacey’s American Ashkenazi background with Elkana’s Israeli Mizrachi heritage was key during planning, and we’re in love with the results: the hora AND traditional Yemenite dances; music from both traditions (in addition to contemporary American and Israeli hits); a traditional (and super moving — don’t miss Roman Balashov’s exquisite photos) Mizrachi badeken in the aisle.
And lest you think good old America traditions were neglected, we love that these two planned a pre-wedding “Cake and Cocktails” night just for the Americans in attendance, featuring American-style wedding speeches, a heartfelt exchange of personal vows by the couple, and, of course, wedding cake! What a great way to incorporate some of these fun traditions that didn’t quite fit into the Israeli style of the wedding itself.
If you’re looking for some tips on how to plan a wedding that reflects you and your spouse-to-be, as well as this wedding reflects Stacey and Elkana, make sure you sign up to our FREE online event: ‘The secrets to an unforgettable Jewish wedding’ with our founder and editor, Karen, happening on Monday November 12. It’s going to be totally unmissable, with some really fantastic a-ha moments!
Okay, now we’ll hand you over to the bride, who could not possibly have looked any cooler in her boho-chic gown by Limor Rosen…
How we met
Stacey, the bride: From our wedding site:
“Elkana will tell you that the moment he met Stacey he knew he was going to marry her. For Stacey it was a love story that fell into place as she was planning to go back to Chicago. But something about Elkana was different, and she fell hard.
Fast forward to countless Euro trips, America adventures, swims in the Mediterranean, walks with Mack, cartons of Ben and Jerry’s, and Elkana got down on one knee to ask Stacey to spend the rest of her life with him.
The answer was easy, of course… this was the fairytale she only dreamed of. Our story is truly one from the books. It’s unique, it’s different, it’s two completely different worlds joining as one! Our wedding is not only a celebration of our commitment to spend the rest of our lives together, it is a time to bring together the most important people to us, in the most incredible city in the world, and share our lives with you and the love we share!”
We got married at Bayit Al Hayam in Jaffa, Israel. Being from Chicago, we decided that we would only have one wedding and it would take place in Israel. After attending many weddings in Israel, I loved the casual spirit of weddings here and how the night truly focuses around love, celebration, and having fun. Everyone is eating, drinking, dancing, and enjoying!
We chose the venue because the chuppah has the most breathtaking view looking over the Mediterranean Sea and entire coastline of Tel Aviv. We also wanted to get married in Tel Aviv because it is the city where we met and what ultimately brought us together.
I was hoping for 20-30 out of town guests and we were blessed with over 60 guests that flew from the United States to celebrate our wedding. Family, childhood friends, college friends, and friends of my parents all made the journey.
A Multicultural Wedding
It was important for us to mix many different cultures at our wedding. I am Ashkenazi and Elkana is Mizrahi (from Yemen). It was important for us to incorporate both of our family traditions.
We danced the hora as well as the traditional Yemenite dances.
We made the wedding about us by doing exactly what we wanted!
I found an incredible designer on Etsy, Invitalia, to create our wedding invitations. We needed to have both Hebrew and English and I absolutely love how they turned out. We chose blue to incorporate the Mediterranean Sea.
Hair + Makeup
I decided to go for a tight ponytail with “natural” makeup. I absolutely loved my hair and my makeup.
A Limor Rosen Dress
My dress was designed by Limor Rosen here in Tel Aviv. I describe it as boho-chic. Limor and her team were absolutely incredible, meeting with me on multiple occasions to make sure the dress fit just as I wanted.
With so many amazing designers in Tel Aviv, I had my mom help me with the final decision and credit her for finding the dress. Just as we were leaving Limor Rosen, my mom asked if they might have any other strapless dresses that I didn’t try.
There was an “ah-ha” moment as the girl helping us said “I might just have something. It’s a 2018 dress and it’s half made, but I think you might love it.” I tried it on and fell in love!
The handsome groom
Elkana wore a suit with suede bow-tie. He went for the tighter European look. His shoes were by Stacy Adams and were the perfect touch to the outfit.
I opted to not have traditional bridesmaids, and instead had a few of my dearest friends get ready with me and accompany me on the day of the wedding. It was important for me that they choose their own dresses so they would love what they were wearing and how they looked, and most importantly be comfortable.
Under the chuppah we invited my brother to recite one of the 7 blessings, and 3 of Elkana’s uncles. My brother did the prayer in traditional Hebrew, while Elkana’s uncles chanted the traditional Yemenite way. Our rabbi was fluent in both Hebrew and English, so he was able to do the ceremony in both languages.
A Badeken in the Aisle
Walking down the aisle was the most incredible part of the entire wedding. Elkana walked with his mom and uncle and I walked with my mom and dad. My parents left me halfway down the aisle and then Elkana walked out to get me. I will never forget the moment that Elkana put the veil over my head we walked down the aisle together.
In traditional Israeli form, the guests were cheering and clapping for us and everyone was standing for the whole ceremony.
For our walk down the aisle, we played Now We Are Free from Gladiator – this was a song Elkana had told me about very early on in our relationship. He said one day, when he gets married, this will be the song. I think he was secretly telling me this would be our song.
The dancing music was a mix of American oldies, American pop, and Israeli mainstream. We also had some traditional Ashkenazi music and Yemenite music. The Yemen-American cultural mix was not only beyond special to me, but also so much fun!
Photography and videography
Roman Balashov was our photographer. We chose him because we loved his humility and talent in capturing the raw moments of the wedding day.
Our video was by Monocle. We chose them because their videos are extremely powerful and show the whole wedding day, sort of like a documentary.
Partying All Night Long
DJ Eran Barnea – we choose to stick with just a DJ because we wanted a mix of music and loved the vibes he gave. Eran kept the party going all night long and did the best job of incorporating all of our guests’ tastes!
It was extremely important for us to give a speech to our guests and also exchange vows with one another. However, we knew that this was not realistic at our wedding because half the people only spoke Hebrew and half the people only spoke English.
So we decided to do a “Cake and Cocktails” event the night before the wedding for all of the American guests. We rented out a cafe in Tel Aviv with an open bar, desserts, and of course a wedding cake. Elkana and I gave a speech to our guests and exchanged vows to one another. It was very emotional and I am so happy that we decided to do this. We also had my parents give a speech, and a few close friends. It was the perfect way to incorporate the standard traditions of an American wedding.
We also wrote each other notes to open on the wedding morning, which was a wonderful way to start the day.
Advice to couples currently planning their wedding
Do what you want! Don’t listen to anyone else or worry about the cultural norm. This is YOUR day!