People – prepare yourselves: there is an abundance of pretty in this real wedding, and even we’re struggling to handle it – and we do this all the time!
We’re always in awe of Israeli weddings – the natural beauty of the place never fails to make for a stunning backdrop, and Israeli venues just know how to do magic like nobody else. Abigail and Roei’s last-minute celebration looked anything but hasty, in fact, it was absolutely packed with Israeli charm.
The day was captured by our oft-featured and much-loved STG Recommended Vendor, Herschel Gutman, who did an incredible job of translating the heart and thought that went into each choice into stunning, timeless images.
Gorgeous Abigail’s Australian-cool vibe brought an added factor of effortless chic, and her choice of dress, a unique, lacy number by Israeli designer, Adi Groman, was just perfect – a bohemian fairytale.
We adore the significance of the path to the chuppah, which was lined with the Shiv’at HaMinim (the Seven Species from the Bible), making the journey to the ceremony even more poignant.
On the wedding morning, Roei had a minor medical emergency – and not everything ran smoothly. But, once these two lovebirds locked eyes at the chuppah, none of that mattered. We can all learn from that.
Over to Abigail for the full story on her and Roei’s stunning wedding day:
How we met
Abigail, the bride: in March 2014 I arrived in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica – my last stop after a year of travelling, which included four months in Israel. Roei, who’s Israeli, was there on a surfing trip. We met on the beach and spent a week travelling together (I now know that he had already decided I’d one day be his wife!). I then returned to Australia with the intention of moving to Tel Aviv later in the year to study.
We messaged each other sporadically for six weeks, until Roei finally asked if he could Skype me. From that first conversation, we both pretty much knew. We spent four months Skyping every single day, often for five to six hours at a time (yes, we were both extremely sleep deprived, but we didn’t care!).
At the two-month mark, we decided to meet halfway in Thailand to make sure that we weren’t completely crazy prior to my arrival in Israel. The meeting at the airport was one of the best moments of my life, which I think is now only on par with Roei’s proposal on ‘Roy’s Peak’ in New Zealand and our wedding day.
A magical outdoor Israeli venue
We got married at Tsel Hadumim in an area of the Ben Shemen forest called Neot Kedumim (a national biblical landscape reserve). We had been to see quite a few venues, and although clichà©d, from the moment we saw this one, we knew it was perfect.
Set in nature, it’s an entirely outdoor venue, including the chuppah, the dance floor, and the dining area. The trees were adorned with lanterns and fairy lights, giving it a magical atmosphere without being ostentatious.
We also loved the trail to the chuppah, which was lined with the Shiv’at HaMinim (the Seven Species listed in the Bible as being special to the Land of Israel). It led to an amphitheatre that gave our guests a great view of the ceremony and the gorgeous natural surroundings.
Focusing on fundamentals
We only had around three and a half months to plan our wedding. Having just returned from five months overseas, the planning occured while simultaneously looking for an apartment and jobs!
As a result, we didn’t really have much time to think about these things in depth, instead concentrating on getting the fundamentals sorted.
We’d decided quite early on that we didn’t want anything too extravagant, and so eventually chose our attire, flowers, and colours based on the natural setting of the venue, which really did suit us.
We chose not to use a wedding planner, but Rozi Lavi from Tsel Hadumim went out of her way to advise us on, and help arrange a number of our vendors, which was incredible.
Laser-cut lace invitations
Boho-classic hair and natural, long-lasting makeup
I knew I wanted an up ‘do, because of the tassels and the upper half of the dress, which was quite busy. I also felt that the dress needed a classic, yet fun style. Adi Rudik did a wonderful job of combining this vision into a hybrid boho-classic design. I hadn’t intended on using any accessories, but she came prepared with flowers, which she arranged on one side of my hair, and I absolutely loved it!
I didn’t want anything too bold for my makeup – no lipstick or bright colours. Gorgeous Anael Ana Make-up, a makeup artist renowned in Hong Kong, but who recently moved back to Israel, did a fabulous job of giving me a classic look that lasted for hours!
My nails were done by an Australian beautician, Sally’s House of Beauty, living in Tel Aviv. She came to the Brown Beach Hotel the day before the wedding and did manicures for all the ladies while we drank wine, which was a great way to relax before the big day!
A unique, lace dress
Adi Groman, an Israeli designer based in Givatayim made my dress. I searched all over Tel Aviv, but it was Adi’s dress that really blew me away. The fabric was a beautiful lace, and I just loved the overall uniqueness – from the cut of the neckline (which was reminiscent of seashells), to the back slit, and of course the tassels.
I was searching for something different and this suited my style (and that of the venue) perfectly – with the added bonus of being comfortable enough to dance in all night!
I also chose Adi to make my dress because she’s a gorgeous person – professional and trustworthy. I never once saw another bride during my fittings, as she allocates enough time for each session. Most importantly, I knew that she was never going to let me step out in a dress that was less than immaculate!
Minimalist, meaningful jewellery
I have always been a minimalist when it comes to jewellery, and so I wore a few very simple pieces on my wedding day.
I wore my 1920s vintage engagement ring from Darling Deco, which is a mixture of white and yellow gold and contains five small diamonds – super unique and I truly love it.
Up until the chuppah, I also wore a vintage ring that my mother and grandmother (who passed away not long ago) bought me. It is apparently an Egyptian design from the 1940s.
And finally, I had a pair of gold Swarovski studs – a surprise gift from my parents who arrived from Australia a week before the wedding, and who have marked each of my big milestones with a piece of jewellery. It was such a beautiful gesture, so I was thrilled that they suited my look.
The handsome groom
Roei wore a blue Italian wool suit from L’Uomo Italiano – a new store on Dizengoff St in Tel Aviv (the owner did an exceptional job of ensuring a flawless fit). He also wore a cute yellow bowtie, which I think he pulled off stunningly! His shoes were from Steve Madden.
In Israel, we don’t have bridesmaids in the traditional sense, but I had two of my best friends by my side all day. They both looked gorgeous in simple short dark dresses. One of them had surprised me from Australia a few days earlier, leaving a baby and a toddler behind to just “pop over” to Israel for five days – so that was incredibly special.
An understated chuppah
We basically just wanted a simple chuppah, with no extravagant flowers or too much colour. We figured that the surroundings would do the work for us, and didn’t want to take away from the natural feel of the place. Sara, our designer, had creative control over the final touches and she made it look quite magical.
A ceremony filled with happiness
Both of us are the eldest children in our families and the first to get married. Our parents only met a week before the wedding, but completely clicked, sharing in each other’s patent joy.
It sounds so cheesy, but our happiness combined with theirs just made the whole ceremony light up. Everyone was grinning and clapping, and our parents even linked arms as they waited for us under the chuppah. We both just felt so elated as we came down the aisle surrounded by our loving family and friends.
Sentimental musical choices
The song which led us to the chuppah was Shlomo Artzi’s Imagine. It’s a positive and romantic song, without being too soppy. We listened to it constantly throughout our trip to New Zealand, right after Roei proposed, so we also associate it with wonderful, happy times.
A remix of Milky Chance’s Stolen Dance was played directly after Roei broke the glass. When Roei and I were apart for the first four months of our relationship, we would send each other songs – this was one of them.
We only chose our designer a week and a half before the wedding! We’d heard wonderful things about Sara Winter, who recently opened her business Yaara Floral Design in Israel (not far from our venue). She really did manage to create some gorgeous work in a very short timeframe.
Again, we didn’t want anything too grandiose, which would take away from the feel of the natural forest. Based on what was in season, we agreed on table centres that incorporated a mix of wild flowers with orchids and succulents. The colours of the flowers were chosen to accent the natural hues of the succulents. At the entrance to the reception, Sara made a rustic wooden sign, which was surrounded by logs, candles and vintage watering cans filled with flowers.
My bouquet and the flowers for Roei’s button hole (which were both selected along the same theme), were prepared by Naomi Slaney of Naomi Flowers, a talented Tel Aviv-based florist.
Our fabulous photographer and videographer
Herschel Gutman was our photographer. We chose Herschel because his wedding collection was really well balanced – creative and fun, yet romantic. We also felt we had a good rapport with him and given we’d be spending many hours together, this was a major consideration.
Our instinct was right. Not only did he produce hundreds of absolutely stunning photos, but he was an extremely calming presence on the day, and has continued to be a delight to work with throughout the photo selection process.
Our videographer was someone that Herschel works with quite regularly. Leetle Loves did a great job of capturing all those special moments without being an imposing presence.
A Middle Eastern feast
Our overall catering was done by the venue. We didn’t get a chance to eat ourselves, but our guests raved about the food. The starters consisted of: ceviche, beef carpaccio, quail egg and roast beef croissants, Asian buns filled with duck and veal, amongst other dishes.
For the main meal we had a buffet of smoked and grilled meats (asado and entrecote), chicken, and fish, together with a large selection of Middle Eastern sides, including stuffed vegetables, salads, and hummus.
A last-second first dance
We actually only decided to have a ‘first dance’ on the morning of the wedding! We went with Ivri Lider This Love of Ours. It’s a song we often listen to and the words were just so perfect.
Dancing the night away
DJ Liran Elias of Yoyo Music played all the music for the wedding. He’s a true professional, and went beyond his role as DJ to provide us with tips on how to make the most of the evening.
He was open to incorporating our song suggestions – we met with him and selected a whole range of music – from classic Israeli dance hits, to ’90s R&B, and more recent pop. We danced until 2am on a weeknight, so the combination must have worked well.
Photo magnet favors
Like at many Israeli weddings, we had photo magnets for our guests. Einat of Hamemagnetet did an absolutely wonderful job. She quickly churned out hundreds of high-quality magnets and was a pleasure to work with.
Involvement of family and friends
In Australia, the tradition is that you only see the bride/groom at the chuppah, whereas in Israel the photographs are taken prior to the ceremony, so you see each other beforehand. I got ready at the Brown Beach Hotel in Tel Aviv, which is where Roei came to pick me up.
In order to make the ‘first look’ extra special, we brought together our immediate family and some of our best friends, to witness it. Everyone waited downstairs for me to make an entrance, before tapping Roei on the shoulder. It was just so lovely to have everyone there for that moment. In fact, I think they were more emotional than we were!
Just a small wedding-morning operation
On the morning of the wedding, Roei decided that he would walk around the house in his new shoes for the first time. He quickly realised that the pressure from one of the shoes on his big toe was causing pain. His best friend rushed out to get them stretched, whilst Roei went to buy socks (nothing like some last minute wedding shopping). Alas, despite the stretching, he was still in terrible pain.
Because it was the Israeli summer, Roei had been wearing flip flops everyday, and had only now noticed his badly ingrown toenail. He went straight to the doctor (pushing in line – “I’m getting married today, this is urgent!!”), who informed him that he’d require an operation under local anesthetic and that there was “no way you’ll be dancing tonight”.
Roei did the right thing and called a good female friend for advice. She sent him straight to her beautician, who quickly dealt with the toenail via a small procedure and sent him on his way.
I knew nothing of this, until as we walked to the car from the hotel, he asked “so how was your morning? Mine was fairly uneventful. I just had an operation on my toe.”
Advice to brides and grooms currently planning their wedding
It’s easier said than done, but try not to take yourself too seriously. If you rip your dress, or can’t get your veil in properly two minutes before the chuppah, or a huge pimple decides to pop up the morning of the event*, just remember that nobody notices the small things, and in retrospect, neither will you!
*Yes, all these things did happen to me… amongst others…
Abigail & Roei’s little white book
Photographer – Herschel Gutman
Venue – Neot Kedumim
Bride’s dress – Adi Groman
Bride’s jewellery – Darling Deco and Swarovski
Groom’s attire – L’Uomo Italiano and Steve Madden
Hair + Make-up + Nails – Adi Rudik Make-up, Ana Make-up and Sally’s House of Beauty
Bouquet and button hole – Naomi Flowers
DJ – Liran Elias of Yoyo Music
Invitation – Romiz Design
Favours – Hamemagnetet
Getting ready – Brown Beach Hotel