What would you do if, at the last minute, your ceremony venue fell through? That’s the scenario that Nicole and Jason found themselves facing. But instead of giving up, the resilient pair recreated their original choice, bringing the amphitheatre they had originally wanted to them. This resourcefulness in the face of a challenge truly shows how ready they are for anything life might throw at them.
It also shows that they had an absolute genius of a planner to bring the whole production together – KBY Designs. Honestly, we are in awe.
New York couple, Nicole and Jason chose to have their Jewish wedding day in Israel, just days away from the groom’s brother’s wedding (Melissa and Alexander’s amazing wedding will be published here on Friday!). Having the two weddings back to back meant that overlapping guests could extend their stay and save on time and money travelling back and forward. What a wonderful idea and such happy time for the family!
The two couples even shared a DJ and a photographer – and given that their photographer was none other than incredible Smashing The Glass Recommended Vendor, the one and only Ran Bergman. His incredible spread of images really captures the magic of the day.
There’s so much to love about this extraordinarily moving wedding – we especially adore the way that Nicole describes the ceremony. It sounded absolutely spine-chilling, and everything you would want a ceremony to be.
Bride Nicole chose a stunning Amsale gown, with features reminiscent of Kate Middleton’s iconic gown. She is also a freelance writer in her spare time, which is evident in her fabulous writeup below, so without further ado, please welcome Nicole to fill you in on her and Jason’s wedding planning story.
How we met
Nicole, the bride: We met through a mutual friend (the groom’s stepbrother) in Miami, but a lot of people, specifically the stepfather, like to argue on who gets credit for the match.
Both born and bred in New York, Jason is from Manhattan and I grew up in Great Neck, Long Island. After Jason’s internship ended in Shanghai, he moved to Miami to continue his hospitality career while I went to pursue my Master’s degree at the University of Miami for Print Journalism.
We officially met in 2011 and started out as friends (and…co-workers, scandalous!). After a wild night in South Beach (June 25, 2012), we admitted our chemistry was undeniable. I paid a toll by sealing the night with a kiss – an inside joke for us and now, the family – the rest was history.
After a long, romantic night filled with teasing and guessing, Jason popped the question in our Miami Beach home on December 18, 2015. A week after, we celebrated our engagement on holiday in San Francisco.
After five years together, we got married in Tel Aviv on June 29, 2017 (just four days away from our dating anniversary).
A home-away-from-home venue
We got married at Bait’Al-Hayam. The venue directly translates to ‘House on the Sea’, which exudes all aspects of us as a couple. To us, weddings that are too big are often intimidating and sometimes impersonal. It was important that we were able to recognize everyone during such an intimate moment of our lives.
The venue offers just that – you literally feel like you’re at home, which was so special. It also helps that the view during our chuppah was so grand – we had uninterrupted views of the beautiful Mediterranean ocean – just another facet of Israel’s beauty.
Romantic, organic décor
We wanted a white/taupe coastal wedding. It was important that everything felt natural, organic and green – we didn’t really want too much color. Florals were mixed with garden roses, vines, hydrangea, wisteria, etc. Décor was romantic with lanterns, glass votives, candle lighting and copper accents.
We used Koby Bar Yehuda (KBY Designs). He is a true visionary and has worked with our family and family friends on numerous events for years. Since day one, he got our vision from start to finish. His team did not disappoint, everything they executed on was more than perfect.
We had a very narrow invitation in taupe paper, navy blue text and red gold foil lettering. The inside of the envelope had this beautiful navy snakeskin inside. The outside of the envelope flap had our monogram “N&J” in navy. There were also pockets on the back of the invitation which included all the information as it pertained to our other events and accommodations.
A Kate Middleton-inspired Amsale gown
There were so many boxes that this dress needed to check off. The dress needed to be comfortable to dance in, appropriate and it was a goal for me to find an epic back lined up with buttons down the spine. I was always enamored with Kate Middleton’s gown, which really inspired the look – only it wasn’t as lacy.
Since we were flying in from the States, I had to make sure the dress was light, which was fine, because a June wedding in Israel doesn’t bode well with heavy dresses. We considered getting the dress done in Israel to make it easier, but it was too stressful to go back and forth for fittings.
After hitting about a few wedding boutiques in Miami, I narrowed down my options to two frontrunners: a Marchesa and Pronovias dress but something felt missing each time. At the last location, I stumbled upon this romantic Amsale dress “Myka.” Amsale is a NY designer is known for her simple designs and gorgeous backs. Think Pronovias meets Vera Wang. The dress material was crepe which is lush and light – perfect for a summer wedding. It was a no brainer – especially when my mother started to cry in the middle of the shop.
I had a hair comb passed down from my great grandmother which I ended up using. I was on the fence with it until I saw how my hair looked. Note to future brides, if you’re not sure – bring everything anyway! You never know how you’ll feel that day. Since my look was minimal, my hairdresser and I decided to incorporate the comb – and it looked amazing.
Jewelry was fairly minimal as well. I borrowed these beautiful flower diamond studs from my mother which really matched the lace pattern on my back. I wore two tennis bracelets – a sapphire one (to represent something blue) from my grandmother and a diamond bracelet of my own (to represent something new).
Since my gown had a long train with some lace trim, I didn’t want a cathedral veil to take away from it. That in mind, I found a gorgeous ivory waltz-length veil “Chakra” from Toni Federeci – it had these very small crystals that lit up in the sunset – it really was the perfect touch.
Glittery gold Jimmy Choos
My shoes were my absolute favorite and something I thought would be the hardest to find but it actually was the first thing I picked up – even before the dress! Since I’m rather tall as it is, and I wanted to dance the night away, I ended up getting these glittered, gold peep-toe Jimmy Choos. I guess they can be classified as kitten heels. They kind of look like Cinderella shoes to me. They were incredibly comfortable and timeless.
The best version of myself
For hair, I used Ziv Amsalem who is a joy to be around and extremely talented. For the wedding ceremony, I went with a side swept old-fashioned waved look with my hair clip holding it together. As for the party, we kept everything as is, but tied it into a low ponytail so I can dance the night away.
As for makeup, I used Karin Giron, who did a fabulous job. We went for a very natural look, neutral tones and golds with some highlighting on my cheekbones. I feel like the bride should look natural and angelic so it was important that I looked like just a better version of myself. I didn’t want Jason to wonder who he was marrying!
The handsome groom
As a wedding gift, his amazing sister, Stefania wanted to treat Jason to a custom tuxedo. They went to Imparali in NYC to get it made and ended up designing this beautiful navy jacket with black lapel and black pants.
For the undershirt, she got his initials sewn in onto the sleeves and the inside of his jacket there was a heart patch with his sister’s initials. So incredibly sweet!
Jason and his groomsmen all wore matching cufflinks, studs and golden handkerchiefs.
Bridesmaids in mismatched gold
Although the dress theme was gold, I was adamant about my girls exuding their personalities. I didn’t want to restrict them into wearing a uniform dress, because one size doesn’t necessarily always fit all. Also, my matron of honor was six months pregnant so I wanted her to feel beautiful and comfortable.
A chuppah with a story
This was a doozy! Our chuppah was everything to us.
We were going to have our ceremony in the Jaffa Amphitheatre but due to the White Nights event in Tel Aviv, we unable to use the public space last minute. Originally, we were going to have Jason’s groomsmen bring it to the top of the hill and a procession follow us out post-ceremony to the party at Bait’Al-Hayam – since the amphitheater was close to the venue. The inspiration was similar to how they celebrate in New Orleans.
After we found out that Jaffa Amphitheatre was no longer a viable option, we had wanted to create this canopy-like design with a ton of flowers – it would be as if you were in a garden but we felt the flowers and build would take away from the venue’s rooftop view.
Since we didn’t want to disrupt the view of us and the ocean, we revisited how we can bring the amphitheater to us. So, we went back to simplifying the chuppah to have light décor and the seats were arranged to look like it was an amphitheater so everyone sitting can see the ceremony from every angle. We also had Jason’s groomsmen hold the poles to symbolize his true pillars. The whole spectacle was moving.
A powerful, emotional ceremony
We feel so lucky about how our ceremony went. During the hottest week of June, we had the coolest night and best sunset. Aside from mother nature being dear to us, we had the phenomenal, HaLevim Choir and a shofar group come out during the ceremony. Their voices alongside the horns really added this cinematic element – it felt biblical. Everyone was so emotional.
It was also an incredible honor to have Fmr. Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau marry us. He was so exuberant, warm and personable.
At the end of the chuppah ceremony, we provided guests with little cones of rose petals so they could throw them up into the aisle, as we walked down as a married couple.
For our entrance song, we had them play Viva La Vida since it was really set the mood and Coldplay is easily my favorite band.
To us, we couldn’t think of a better song for our first dance than Etta James At Last – every word in that song was how we felt – especially in how she sang it. We danced and sang along like nobody was there – so magical.
Since Jason is a huge fan of ‘50s music, we selected This Magic Moment by Ben E. King for when we cut the cake – or really, when Jason and I decided to smash cupcake into our faces.
Originally, I wanted peonies everywhere but unfortunately, they were no longer in season, so our amazing florist filled the room with gorgeous romantic runners and centerpieces of hydrangea, lisianthus, spray roses and trees incorporated throughout the space.
As for my bridesmaids, they donned blush and white roses with greenery.
My bouquet had one long white orchid enveloped in white garden roses, hydrangea (white and green).
Our fabulous photographer…
Our wedding planner highly recommended Ran Bergman as our photographer. He was incredible – so thoughtful and really made an effort to get to know us as a couple. Ran wanted us to feel comfortable and natural on camera (which is hard to do) so he could capture all those candid moments. We also loved how he played up natural elements like light and shadows so we had a large array to choose from. He was able to capture our personalities within every shot he took.
To top it off, he went out of his way to develop beautiful keepsake photos on recycle paper bound in leather so we could take it back home – all just three days after our wedding! Highly recommend him and his team.
Our videographer is Aleksey Malev. Him and his team have done many weddings incorporating intimate shots and stunning drone video. We’re still waiting for our video, because our videographer is quite the perfectionist, but as soon as we get it, we’ll be sharing it everywhere!
We used AB Cake to create a tiered assortment of cupcakes ranging from vanilla, caramelized banana, chocolate and orange filled with either: chocolate ganache, crème patisserie, vanilla and strawberry. The top tier on the stand was an individual cake for us to cut into.
We really had the best caterer, Mazal Tale. Although we didn’t get to eat too much during the event, so many people raved about the food and it really was the most delicious menu we’ve tasted. They were also incredibly professional and accommodating.
Our entertainment was electric. We wanted to try something a bit different than a band, so we hired DJ Gil Fux, who we already know is amazing to work with. He coordinated with Shai from Vision Band to incorporate musicians within Gil’s sets so we would get musical bursts throughout the party.
It was a great buildup of energy and certainly a change of pace. We had brass musicians, strings, percussions and the finale was a mix of all the musicians together. Jason and I even got up on stage to play the drums for a bit!
Gifts for guests
Everyone received a giant basket of goodies to their hotel rooms filled with candy, snacks, water and wine bottles and a personal note from us. We also handed out mezuzahs during Shabbat for people to take home as a keepsake.
We gave out fans to guests to have during the ceremony since we weren’t sure how hot it would be outside.
Upon arrival to the party, guests were greeted with rustic keys which signified “keys to a happy marriage” and also were keepsakes for the guests – there, they had their names and table numbers.
During the party, we gave out some fun swag like blow up hats, sombreros, sunglasses, light-up party sticks, guitars, etc.
When people left the party, we were handing out challah bread since the following day was Shabbat. People who drank a little too much really appreciated it during the wee hours of the night.
Since we wanted the venue to feel like an actual home, we had a wall upstairs filled with family and baby pictures of me and Jason. Outside the venue, we provided a lounge for people to hang, grab some coffee/tea and even smoke.
A surprise band
When people finally got hungry to eat their dinner (because of all the dancing), the brother and sister of the groom spoke along with the mother of the bride and matron of honor. All speeches were fabulous and moving.
At random, the father of the groom surprised the couple with a band. It was very Beatles-like but fun to say the least.
Advice to couples currently planning their wedding
Everyone is different. It was an exhausting and stress-filled experience for me, since some stuff naturally hits the fan and to be honest, there’s always something that does. I think most people have a certain picture in mind and it needs to be within those confines. So, my best advice is to try and go in with moderate expectations, go with the flow and try to stay in the present.
Also, be upfront with your vendors and planner, don’t beat around the bush. Be transparent about your vision (within your budget) and also make sure whatever you do is what you and your partner want. It’s easy for family to chime in but at the end of the day, this is your magical evening, so it should be whatever your taste and wishes.
At the end of it all, all you have are the memories, photos and videos. I highly recommend ensuring you have time to get all the photos you want. Think about the location and what you would like.
We also had several functions throughout the week including group tours, our welcome party (Arabian night), Shabbat and my new brother and sister-in-law’s wedding in two days! So, we were quite exhausted – make sure to schedule some time in to relax. Even if you close your eyes when you get your makeup done, take a bubble bath, get a massage in between or put on a face mask the night before – do whatever you can to feel refreshed. You need all the energy you can get!
Lastly if you can loosen the reigns and you’re able to do it, definitely get a wedding planner. It really helps – they have a ton of connections and you will get better prices. I don’t know how people plan weddings on their own. All the power to them!
Nicole & Jason’s little white book
Photography – Ran Bergman
Wedding planner – KBY Designs
Venue – Bait’Al-Hayam
Bride’s dress – Amsale
Bride’s veil – Toni Federeci
Bride’s shoes – Jimmy Choo
Groom’s attire – Imparali
Hair + Makeup – Ziv Amsalem and Karin Giron
Cake – AB Cake
Catering – Mazal Tale
Choir – HaLevim Choir
DJ – DJ Gil Fux