We have goosebumps – and after immersing yourself in today’s absolutely beautiful Jewish destination wedding in Israel, we’re pretty sure you all will too. It’s GORGEOUS!
Iliya and Gavin chose to forego a wedding in their native Sydney in favor of a spine-tingling service in Jerusalem. With a chuppah overlooking the Old City, the couple expressed their mutual love of the country and how much it meant to both of them.
We adore the spirit of this wedding as much as the gorgeous Jerusalem-inspired aesthetic – from the Western Wall wish jar (what a moving idea) to the dancing Nachmanim – everything about it felt just perfect.
Iliya and Gavin wholeheartedly agreed that planning the wedding from such a distance would not have been possible without them.
Gorgeous bride, Iliya,
Iliya and Gavin are clearly both stunning souls, inside and out, and their devotion to each other is so clear in the breathtaking spread of photographs by Ronen Boidek and the moving, cinematic video by Nir Tenenbaum. Those speeches! We may be just a little bit second-hand in love.
And now, without further ado, we’ll hand you over to Iliya for the story in her own words – enjoy! (And by the way, didn’t she just rock the boho-chic look in her Rhonda Hemmingway gown? A-list-level stuff! )
How we met
Iliya, the bride: Gav and I attended the same Jewish day school in Sydney – but Gav was five years above me in school and we only met years after graduating. We met through mutual friends in 2013.
A venue with views of the Old City
Jerusalem is a very significant place to us, so we picked this venue not only because it is beautiful, but also because it has amazing views of the Old City.
As we are from Sydney, Australia, the first time that we really visited the venue was on our wedding day. We did, however, have tea one night at the Rooftop restaurant years ago with my father when we were on holiday in Israel and had just started dating, however, we had no idea that four years later this would be where we would tie the knot.
A magical Jerusalem theme
We used BE Group TLV to plan our wedding, which was essential as there was no way we would have been able to have planned our wedding from the other side of the world! They were incredible, they put so much effort and care into the planning and execution of our wedding — no request or task was impossible and everything was handled with such ease, happiness and professionalism! We loved dealing with every member of the BE Group team.
The theme and color scheme was really focused on the fact that our wedding was in Jerusalem. It featured an array of subtle dà©cor with local elegance and an ‘earthy’ touch, which complemented the general atmosphere of our special venue.
Flowers were white and there was a noticeable presence of olive branches and greenery, leafs and a smart combinations of decorative items and accessories in shades of white, cream and a touch of gold. There was also a focus on candles and fairy lights to create a magical feeling.
Our invitation, the menu and seating plan were stone-coloured and featured olive branch graphics, gold table numbers, hand fans with our names and wedding date and something we called our ‘Kotel Note Jar’ in a in which we encouraged our guests to write notes that we would put in the Western Wall at the end of the night.
Our invitations were sent out electronically via Paperless Post. We used a simple white background and gold olive branches to keep with the theme of Jerusalem.
Natural hair and makeup
A casual summer-style dress
My dress was designed by Rhonda Hemmingway in Sydney. The dress was specifically designed for me, as I wanted something simple and comfortable. I really wanted a casual summer-style dress.
My veil was from Rhonda Hemmingway Couture and was simple to show off the open back of my dress.
For my hair, my mum kindly searched far and wide for a hair clip that would add a bit of detail. She actually found a $6 clip from a costume jewellery store which was absolutely perfect! I wore simple diamond earrings that my parents gifted me for my wedding and a single diamond necklace from my husband.
Shoes designed for comfort
I wore Stuart Weitzman flat-heeled sandals as I wanted to be comfortable on my special day. The shoes were silver with crystal-encrusted ball ornaments. They were great choice as they did not interfere at all with my dress (or my comfort on my special day!).
The handsome groom
My handsome groom wore a white linen shirt, navy trousers and stone coloured linen jacket from Ermenegildo Zegna.
Bridesmaids in white
My six bridesmaids (my two sisters, three sisters-in-law and best friend) all wore white dresses and nude colour heels. They chose their own outfits to match their styles whilst simultaneously tieing in with the fresh and summery theme.
A very special ceremony
Our chuppah was not fixed to the ground and was instead held by the groomsman. This made it very special, as it ensured we had our family under the chuppah with us. There were simple white flowers intertwined around the branches of the chuppah poles. This looked incredible with the view of Old City in the background.
We were surrounded by our family, bridesmaids and groomsman under the chuppah, which made it very special. We also had the wedding singer perform Im Eshkachech Yerushalayim right before the glass was broken, which was very special to listen to in Jerusalem and with the Old City in the backdrop.
Other individual and special touches are mentioned below i.e. the Kotel Jar, visit to the Kotel after the wedding with our friends, the performance by our nephew and niece etc.
Before the chuppah and reception, DJ Gal Brami played relaxed music, which was accompanied by a saxophonist and violinist. Tomer and DJ Gal Brami then led the Jewish dancing and Nachmanim joined the party, which added an extra element of ruach to the celebrations.
The Nachmanim dancing was awesome – they brought along an Israeli flag, a giant blow up Nachman figure and a lot of great energy. DJ Gal Brami and the musicians continued the party all night, playing a combination of classic and recent hits and Israeli music.
A special touch that we added was having our seven-year-old niece and nephew sing Adom Olam to the tune of Jerusalem of Gold – this was super cute!
Our event designer, Elki Jacobs, used a beautiful selection of green and white flowers with a noticeable presence of olive branches and greenery and leafs to match the dà©cor theme of Jerusalem.
Our fabulous photographer and videographer
Ronen took beautiful natural photographs and Nir compiled an incredible video that even featured drone footage.
A highlight for us was that Ronen, Nir and their teams followed us and our friends to the Kotel in the early hours of the morning after our wedding. They both captured incredible and unique footage of us and our friends, making it seem as though we had a private photoshoot at what is the most special and meaningful location on earth to us. It was a truly unique experience and we are so glad that we have photographic and video evidence of it.
Live music and a photobooth
BE Group TLV recommended DJ Gal Brami, who carried the musical content for the evening, including live music in the form of “Live on DJ” with a violinist and saxophonist.
We also had Nachmanim dancing which was really unique for our guest as this was something totally different to the usual entertainment for Australian weddings.
There was also a photobooth, Funpix. This was not only a lot of fun for our guests, as they each had a photo as a keepsake for the wedding, but alsocreated an instant photo album and guestbook in which our friends and families wrote special messages.
We had personalized fans with our names, the date of our wedding and the location inscribed the were placed on the guests’ chairs at the ceremony. This was a keepsake for our guests and was useful as it was incredibly hot on our wedding day. The male guests were also given beige linen kippot with our names, wedding date and location printed on the inside.
Our ‘Kotel note jar’ mentioned above, encouraged our guests to write notes that we would put in the Western Wall at the end of the night.
A joint wedding speech
Gav and I delivered our wedding speech together. We framed our speech by narrating, and eventually intertwining, our trips to Israel with our friends and family over the years. This simultaneously emphasiszd our connection to Israel and Jerusalem, explaining our desire for a destination wedding, while also narrating the story of our relationship and love for each other and our friends and family.
Gav’s brother and one of my sisters were the MCs on the night and our parents delivered heartfelt speeches. Our family was also involved as they were all part of the bridal party, getting ready with both the bride and groom on the day and stood under the chuppah with us.
Midnight at the Kotel
A funny memory from the day was that, immediately after the chuppah ceremony, our nephew asked his father, Gav’s brother and the ring-bearer, to see Gav’s wedding band. Upon opening the ring box, the wedding band popped out and fell between the cracks of the timber deck. Gav and I were unaware of this incident as we were in the yichud room at the time, but upon meeting for family photos we immediately asked where Gav’s ring was.
Our family was silent and we could see our nephew in tears but were in such a buzz that this went unnoticed. Only later in the evening was the wedding band retrieved as the (very!) kind staff at Mamilla were able to lift up the timber floorboards and recover the ring.
Another event that defined out wedding was that Gav and I arranged to go with the photographer and videographer to the Kotel at the end of the night. To our surprise, a group of twenty of our friends, who had all travelled from Australia as our guests, appeared at the Kotel and joined us. This was incredibly special, to be at the Kotel as husband and wife (at midnight) on our wedding night, surrounded by our closest friends from the other side of the world. This also made for a great photo opportunity!
Advice to couples currently planning their wedding
Take it slow, focus on the fact that you are marrying the person of your dreams and remember to eat and drink on the day – your wedding day is such an out of body experience that you want to make sure that you are totally present!
Iliya & Gavin’s little white book
Wedding planner – BE Group TLV
Photography – Ronen Boidek
Videography – Nir Tenenbaum
Venue – Mamilla Hotel
Bride’s dress and veil – Rhonda Hemmingway
Bride’s shoes – Stuart Weitzman
Groom’s attire – Ermenegildo Zegna
Hair – Avi Ben Avi
Make Up – Cassy Avraham
Flowers – Elki Jacobs Event Design
DJ and chuppah singer – Shablul DJs
Invitations – Paperless Post
Ketubah – Today Tomorrow Forever