It’s safe to say that pretty much no 2020 couple had smooth sailing when it came to their wedding. But the Jewish wedding planning journey of May and Shachar, Israelis living in NYC, was even bumpier than most.
These two started off planning a destination wedding in Tuscany. Then COVID hit Italy – hard. So they decided to shift everything back home to Israel. No small feat, but the couple managed to book their venue and vendors (all while living on the other side of the world in New York, of course).
In the midst of all this chaos, May and Shachar decided to pack up their life in NYC and head back to Israel to ride out the pandemic. Finally, living in the same country as their wedding – that should make things easier, right? Well, not quite – just a couple weeks before their wedding date of September 22, May and Shachar were faced with the prospect of a three-week lockdown.
Unwilling to postpone yet again, the duo opted to do the opposite, and move their wedding up to September 15 so they could make things official before the start of the new lockdown. By the time they closed on a new venue, they were left with just two days to pull everything together.
Luckily, May and Shachar had a stellar team on their side. To look at Shai Ashkenazi’s incredible photos, you’d never guess it all came together on such short notice – every single detail is picture perfect, and, like May says, the images look like they came straight out of a glossy fashion magazine.
There’s so much more to say about this incredible day – but we’ll leave the rest to the bride, who looked stunning in her Liz Martinez dress (followed by a custom glittery jumpsuit by Mor Morstein she changed into for the reception)!
How we Met
May, the bride: Our story begins a little bit before New York. Before I moved to New York, I posted on a Facebook group called “Israelis in New York” that I’m moving to the city and looking for help with some information about the work I’m starting and some information about the city. I got a message from a guy who was familiar to me from his picture, and it turns out he is the brother of a friend who worked with me, and I met him in the past (about 5 years ago) at her house when he was visiting his family in Israel.
Since I recognized him, I decided to answer his message and we started talking, he really helped me with some questions and asked if I could bring something for his business with me to New York, of course I agreed (by the way – he didn’t link me to his sister and had no idea about our little meeting a few years ago). When I arrived to NY after the long flight I realized, that from all of Manhattan neighborhoods, the hotel I got from work was right next to his apartment! So he arrived really quickly to get his delivery – just a few minutes after I arrived at the hotel with my luggage. And from that day we never parted. We have been together for more than 3 years, living together in New York.
Shachar planned the marriage proposal in the summer, in New York. He toured locations in central park and ordered me an engagement ring from Israel based on a photo I once showed him. It turns out that when the ring arrived on delivery to New York, I showed him a picture of another ring that I liked more, which is not similar to what he ordered for me. He decided to change the ring and make another one exactly according to what I liked, and the whole procedure of preparing and sending the new ring took time. Until the winter.
Of course I didn’t knew there was a ring before. We arrived to Central Park on a really cold day, claiming that his brother had to choose a location for a photoshoot there. We walked around Central Park to get to the “photoshoots” place, which turned out to be the place for the proposal – the Central Park lake. The place was just beautiful and pastoral, and the proposal was exciting and intimate. Of course I immediately said yes! And I cried. His brother documented everything and it was just perfect!
Venue and wedding plans
It started with planning a wedding in Tuscany, Italy, with friends and family, and while struggling to find vendors in Italy – suddenly Corona hit hard there. We decided to move everything to Israel, because we didn’t think that Corona would get there. As soon as we arrived in Israel, the search for the venue and the vendors began. We closed a venue for 500 guests, we closed with all the vendors we liked and we managed to close our wedding within two weeks to July 2nd.
We went back to New York and Corona started there as well. Suddenly the pandemic took over everything. The day I went to pay for my dress, the store in Manhattan told me that there’s no shipping worldwide, and soon they’ll be closing until further notice due to the pandemic. It all started to look like a new reality.
And in Israel at the time everything was normal. Time passes and suddenly Corona spreads in Israel as well. We decided to postpone the wedding to September 22nd. As we kept staying in our New York apartment for two months of curfew, understanding that the situation is not going to improve any time soon, in Israel things are starting to be optimistic again and the economy and weddings have reopened.
We couldn’t stay in New York anymore – both because of the wedding approaching (and I don’t even have a dress) and also because we wanted to get out of quarantine and have fresh air. A day before our renewal of the contract on the apartment, our life in New York was packed in 3 days and everything moved to the warehouse. We arrived in Israel for an unknown time. Life was suddenly normal compared to New York. After two weeks of quarantine we went to the beach, to restaurants, to wedding meetings. Everything was perfect and exactly like we planed.
Time passes and Corona suddenly hits again. The government talks about closing everything again. We tried to stay optimistic until the last minute. On the day of our henna ceremony, September 10th, the venue called and announces that they can’t have the wedding with dancing and party, and they will be shut down again. We were super stressed and didn’t know what to do because the wedding was really close. The henna passed, and the next day (Friday) on my way to my bachelorette party, the government officially announces closing the country for 3 weeks due to COVID-19.
Our date was included in it! And how can we even think about another postponement? The perfect bachelorette weekend was over (thanks to my amazing friend!) and on Saturday we sat down to talk about what to do. We decided to get married that same week. In fact, in 2 days – on Tuesday, September 15. Within an hour, at 10pm, we drove to see a place for the wedding. The next Sunday morning, we closed this amazing villa in Beit Nehemiah! My parents found the villa through a friend, and everything was closed within a few hours.
I grew up in a village next to Beit Nehemiah, and that’s how they got to know the owner of the villa. There was no time for hesitation or searching for other places and I am so pleased with that choice! The villa called “Villa Nova” is an amazing villa suitable for events of up to 350 people. The place is big and pastoral, with a beautiful pool that you can also jump inside (which actually happened in the wedding – everyone jumped into the pool at the end). We were looking for a place we could design according to our taste and style and a place that would provide us enough space between tables (due to COVID rules). Everything was just perfect.
After we got the venue, we started to organize our “Express” wedding. In less than 2 days! I can truly say that through all the stressed days we went through, it was worth every minute! Everything was just like a fairytale! It looked like it’d been planned a year in advance. And I’m so happy that everything went perfectly.
Because of the “last minute” wedding, I couldn’t plan it by myself, I had to call Inbal Sharvit Azulay. She is an event designer and producer, and she did an amazing job within 2 days! She set up this whole event with her vendors for equipment, flowers, pool design, lighting and more, down to the smallest details. We decided to go for Boho chic concept, soft pastel shades of light blue and pink, with huge gold balloon balls in the pool. Everything was done with real patience and insane professionalism.
The result was perfect! I was shocked that everything was set up so quickly. From the equipment to the decoration – everything was in place and looked amazing. The most beautiful production ever! I highly recommend her as a wedding planner!
Hair + Make-up
Hair & makeup by Ray Raymond. Ray is the best thing that happened to me at the wedding! He just made me feel like a princess! So classic and natural. And most importantly – his attitude, professionalism, accuracy and style. I have no words to explain how much he cares about every detail. And he makes any girl look her best! He also did hair & makeup for my bridesmaid, my sister and my mother.
A Liz Martinez Dress
I was looking for a wedding dress back in January when I visited Israel, I searched in most of the designers stores in the country and didn’t find the one. When I returned to New York in February, I decided to search in Manhattan for the best designers. It took a long time until I chose a stunning dress by Suzanne Neville. Unfortunately, because of the COVID situation, when I arrived to pay for the dress, I was informed that deliveries from London were frozen and the dress would not arrive on time to NY.
I decided to go back to Israel and search again. And then I met the amazing Liz Martinez! I chose the dress after I saw it on Instagram and immediately fell in love. I always knew I would choose a classic white dress that would suit any situation – whether it will be in a venue as planned or whether it will be a small Corona wedding. And so it was. I’m glad I chose Liz to design my dress. She was very open minded about every change, and she managed to get the dress ready for the new wedding date within two days ! I really recommend Liz Martinez!
I made my second glittery suit with the amazing Mor Morstein Mor Morstein! She’s a bridal dress designer (“Mor-Stein”) and she was so patient and super nice! We started designing a dress and turned it all into a glittery suit of paddlephone pants and a tank top, which was super comfortable for dancing and suited the dance floor vibes! So happy with my choice.
Mor Morstein designed my stunning veil! We ordered an impressive handmade veil straight from India, with written in black – Happily Ever After. Mor was responsible for the entire delivery procedure and final sewing of the fabric, and the result was just wow.
My wedding jewelry (earrings and necklace), wedding rings and engagement ring – all made in one place – Kurt Diamonds & Jewelry in the diamonds stock exchange complex in Ramat Gan. The professional crew, costumer service, jewelry and diamonds at the highest level. Really recommend!
I want to tell you why I chose my wedding shoes – Manolo Blahnik‘s blue high heel shoes. As a fan of “Sex and the City”, I always dreamed of getting married with the blue shoes that Carrie Bradshaw wore to her wedding with Big. Since our story started in New York, I knew I would buy them for my wedding ceremony and so it was! They fit perfectly to my dress and were super comfortable and I am so happy with my choice. My dancing shoes were Alexander McQueen white sneakers. The most comfortable shoes ever, and a perfect match to my glitter suit!
The handsome groom
Shachar wore a full black suit with Hermès belt and black leather shoes. He put in his pocket the same flowers as my bridal bouquet, and he was look so handsome!
The chuppah design was by Inbal Sharvit Azulay, in the same boho chic concept with some candles. It was so elegant and classic. Our amazing Rabbi Avraham Tapiro was funny and lovely. He understood the complex situation of the “last minute” wedding, and prepared us for the ceremony in the best way!
Our Music Choice
Our DJ was Kfir Sheli from “I DO” DJ’s Group. He’s the best DJ ever and he made all the guests come to the dance floor to join the party! We also had an super talented flute player – Guy Shani. How played a pleasant and calm music at the reception.
Processional Songs –
Shachar’s Chuppah song – ‘And I love her’ – The Beatles
May’s Chuppah song – ‘Stand by me’ – Ben E.King
First Dance – ‘I follow rivers’ – Roni Alter cover song for Lykke Li.
The bridal bouquet, car design and the flower pocket for Shachar’s suit – everything was designed by the amazing Oran Nave who made me a dream bouquet and matched one to my husband’s suit pocket. Oran is an amazing and talented girl! Highly recommend. The flowers on the table center and all the flowers decorations, was designed by Inbal Sharvit Azulay, and her vendors and workers worked very hard to make this place look like a dream!
Photographer and videographer
Photographer Shai Ashkenazi and the producer next to him (and his life partner) Liel! I have no words to explain you how much I love this couple! I met Shai after my mother showed me his Facebook profile. In the meeting he showed me pictures that he took from an NYC snow storm. In that moment, after seeing these beautiful pictures, I knew he would be my wedding photographer! They’re super professional and super talented! We also did an engagement photoshoot with them before the wedding and the result was just wow. The pictures look like they’re from a movie, full of style. And of course the wedding photos look like they were taken for a fashion magazine!
This is the best recommendation here without a doubt, I think the pictures says it all.
Tal Haim is the videographer, amazing guy I reached through Shai Ashkenazi. Tal produces commercials, video productions and music videos, so there is nothing left to say – the result will probably be perfect! Tal is such a pleasant and professional guy, not giving up on a single frame and will never miss capturing moments from your wedding. Highly recommend!
Food and Cake
For the reception food , we had an amazing tunisian fricassee bar, by the best catering – Tzeella Food Design. Chef Igal Azulay helped us to choose a super tasty Argentinian catering with the finest fish, chicken and meat, and a big selection of salads and sides! The best bakery in Israel Biscotti bakery was in charge of the stunning dessert and fruit table.
My perfect wedding cake, and the crazy puff pastry tower was by “Lady L” Sapir Levit for every occasion she makes the most perfect and tasty cakes and cookies. Everything looks so beautiful and most importantly really delicious! Really recommend!
We couldn’t party with loud music till late, because of the neighbors next door, so we decided to make a silent disco and keep on dancing till the middle of the night! From 11pm the DJ gave headphones to everyone on the dance floor and we danced all night in a “silent” party till everyone jumped into the pool.
My most memorable moment was our exciting meeting at the hotel. I was trying not to cry because I didn’t wanted to ruin my makeup, but I couldn’t stand it. After all the things that we’ve been through during this Corona wedding, getting to this moment, to our wedding day, was everything to us.
Another happy moment was at the end of the wedding when we all jumped into the pool (I jumped with the glitter suit and shoes). It was the moment I saw that I’m surrounded by amazing people who especially at a time like this made such a great effort to be a part of our special day!
I want to say that without our families’ support we wouldn’t have been able to do all this. Our parents helped us with all the arrangements and preparations, and without them we probably couldn’t do this wedding.So to our families who read this – thank you for everything! We love you so much!
Advice to couples currently planning their wedding
My tip is to do everything with a good vibe! Dream big and imagine yourselves walking together hand in hand to the chuppah. Think about the moment of the meeting, the chuppah ceremony, and the dancing! I promise that once you think about all these beautiful moments, the arrangements and preparation will work out easily and the stress will disappear. Always remember – if you have someone that can help you – family/friends/your wedding planner – share with them your thoughts and feelings, and I’m sure that they will be there for you!
And a small tip for Corona days – don’t forget to check with your vendors about their flexibility and don’t forget to add a COVID-19 section to your contracts.
What ‘Smashing The Glass’ Did For Us
I love all the brides’ stories and I was inspired by a lot of beautiful weddings!
May & Shachar’s Little White book
Photography – Shai Ashkenazi
Videography – Tal Haim
Wedding planner – Inbal Sharvit Azulay
Venue – Villa Nova
Bride’s dress – Liz Martinez (dress) Mor-Stein (suit)
Bride’s shoes – Manolo Blahnik , Alexander McQueen
Bride’s accessories – Mor-Stein, Kurt Diamonds & Jewelry
Hair + Makeup – Ray Raymond
Flowers – Oran Nave
DJ – DJ Kfir Sheli from “I DO” DJ’s Group
Flutist – Guy Shani
Catering – Tzeella Food Design, Chef Igal Azulay, Biscotti bakery
Cake – ‘Lady L’ Sapir Levit
Rabbi – Rabbi Abraham Tapiro
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.