We are absolutely in love with the joyous multicultural Jewish wedding of Smashing The Glass Brides Club member Monica to David! Monica, who has a background in design, is Chinese American, David, who has a manufacturing company, is Israeli; they live in London; and they opted to wed in Jerusalem – so they had some seriously great material to work with.
The couple’s amazing wedding planner, Vanessa Ohayon of Smashing The Glass Recommended Vendor Vanessa Events, helped the couple pull everything together to create the wedding of their dreams – complete with swoonworthy views overlooking the Old City walls – do chuppah backdrops get any better than that?!
One of our very favorite things about this gorgeous wedding is the fact that, with Vanessa’s help, Monica arranged a surprise Chinese Lion Dance, which is performed during major celebrations. Once the guests were seated for the reception, Monica and David made their entrance – followed by a bright yellow Chinese Lion, who wove in and out among the tables before giving the couple a marriage blessing. Then, the music changed, and it was hora time – what an awesome contrast in traditions! In Monica’s words, “it was the Jerusalem Lion meets the Chinese Lion moment.”
We also love that Monica put her design background to work in implementing the pair’s chosen theme of geodes and geometrics in blue and gold, learning modern calligraphy and hand-crafting the exquisite blue agate place cards. There was a spectacular geode-themed cake to match, and the floral centerpieces, designed by Smashing The Glass Recommended Vendor Craspedia, continued the geometric theme and blue color scheme too. It wasn’t easy to find locally grown flowers in the right colors during the Israeli summer, but Yana of Craspedia took Monica on a scouting trip to a flower market where together they were able to find the perfect blooms.
There’s so much more to say about this beautiful day, but we’ll let Monica – who looked so elegant in Vera Wang – take it from here…
How we Met
Monica, the bride: We met online in London, but it took 5 months for us to meet up due to conflicting travel schedules. Instead, we had an old fashion email and skype correspondence until our first date at the Holland Park Opera. The rest is history!
A Wedding in Israel
We knew we wanted to get married in Israel so a lot of David’s family could come to the wedding, and it also would be a good excuse for our friends and family to visit from abroad. We were looking for a unique venue that oozed atmosphere and would be suitable for 150-250 guests.
Our amazing wedding planner, Vanessa Ohayon from Vanessa Events, showed us lots of interesting places, but it was Kedma Mamilla Restaurant in Jerusalem that had the WOW factor we were looking for. The chuppah space and restaurant overlook the Old City walls with Jaffa Gate and the Tower of David as a backdrop. The central location also worked out logistically for our guests to be able to walk to the venue and park their cars easily.
We picked the wedding date to coincide with the annual City of Lights festival. During the evening reception, there was a light show projected on the Old City walls, and there were fireworks for the 4th of July American Independence Day. We had spectacular views and one of a kind entertainment for our wedding free!
What ‘Smashing The Glass Brides Club’ Did For Us
Vanessa recommended the STG’s Brides Club to me. The support was invaluable because you are connected with a group of women who are all going through the same thing as you are at the same time. There are is such positive energy amongst Karen Cinnamon and the brides to be. When you are in the throws of wedding planning, it’s inspiring and very helpful to be able to ask questions, bounce ideas, or just get an unbiased opinion from other brides. STG is particularly a unique platform to discuss about Jewish weddings. There are so many interesting traditions and customs to become familiar with.
The STG’s Brides Club has lots of helpful connections to vendors and suppliers. Karen pointed me in the right directions to find things from ketubahs to dress alterations.
A Multicultural Wedding
We have eclectic taste, but Vanessa was patient and helped us pull everything together to create our dream wedding. I started off with collecting ideas on Pinterest boards. Early on I fell in love the geode and geometric theme, particularly the blue agate name cards with gold calligraphy. That became our colour scheme and visual basis for the wedding.
We also weaved in other touches into the theme that reflected the union of our Jewish and Chinese heritage. The traditional blue tallit stripes on the wedding invitation along side a landscape of Jerusalem echoed the tallit on our chuppah during the ceremony outside the Old City. It was a nod to the importance of Judaism in our relationship. There were glimpses of Chinese traditions such as my clothes and Chinese Lion Dance which is performed during major celebrations.
Invitations / stationery
Initially, I did not want to spend the time and energy to design invitations, but in the end I did. I’m glad I did it because I created exactly what I wanted, and I used parts of the design for the rest of the wedding. I drew a landscape of the Jaffa Gate and old city walls, as well as created a logo with interlocking initials for the invitation. I printed them on thick blue card stock with gold foiled edges and embossed the envelopes with our logo. I addressed all the envelopes in calligraphy.
Hair + Make-up
As luck would have it, on a return flight from Tel Aviv to London, a man sitting next to me said that Jaquelyn M Lawrence was a fabulous make-up artist and hair stylist, and I chose her. Before the wedding, Jaquelyn and I discussed different make up looks, and she did a test that I was happy with. She gave me a look that suited a sunset wedding and an evening party.
Throughout, Jaquelyn was very professional and kept me relaxed while I got dressed for the big day. I was really pleased with my make up, and how it lasted throughout wedding celebrations.
A Vera Wang Dress
I always loved the chic modern designs of Vera Wang and was excited when I found out she has an affordable bridal collection range called White. It was love at first site when I saw the dress with Vera Wang’s unmistakable trademark silhouette and frothy swirl organza. The dress felt great and fit perfectly. I’m not very tall, but the dress didn’t even need hemming because it was already short in the front. I had a simple sheer top made by the The Wardrobe Curator to make it more modest for the Jewish Orthodox Chuppah ceremony.
Traditionally, Chinese brides wear jade as a symbol of protection. I wore a carved jadeite pendant that grandmother gave me. It was a way for her to be with me on my big day. I paired it with Deco era Jadeite Earrings from Antiquarians Jewellers.
During the reception I wore my great grandmother’s Chinese beaded wedding jacket with embroidered bride and groom. We found it in my grandparent’s house. We don’t know much of the history of it, but it’s well over 100 years old in pristine condition.
Shoes were such a difficult choice! On one hand I wanted glamourous heels for the wedding, but I also wanted to be comfortable. I hedged my bets with 3 different options: sexy LK Bennett X Jenny Packham Brielle heels, platform heels as a backup, and gold sandal flats from Zara for dancing.
Though I broke in the shoes at home and thought they were relatively comfortable, I didn’t account for my feet swelling in the heat of Israel. I wore the heels for as long as my feet allowed me to wear them, then changed into the platform heels for the reception, and was down to the sandal flats for dancing.
The handsome groom
About 5 months before the wedding, David went to get a custom suit made at Suit Supply in London. He chose a deep blue 3 piece suit and gold colour tie. In the end, the jacket didn’t quite fit, but it was fine for the photos and the ceremony.
We kept the wedding party simple, with only had our daughter and a niece as flower girls. They wore cream colour dresses and flower headbands.
My favourite part of the ceremony was to have all of our family members taking part, and being under the chuppah with us. It was special to have our kids as the flower girl and ring bearer, as well as both of my parents escort me down the aisle. As tradition, David met me halfway down (to make sure I was the right bride), and put my veil on.
At the end, I was surprised to have strangers come up and ask for blessings. Apparently, in Jewish tradition, brides are elevated and have the power to give special blessings on their wedding day.
STG recommended Danny Azoulay’s ketubahs, he creates stunning laser cut paper art. His ketubahs are intricate and mesmerising. I chose the Serenity design for its illusion of depth and layers. I enjoyed meeting Danny Azoulay and browsing his gallery in Bet Shemesh.
Given the location of the ceremony, we wanted a traditional chuppah that was connected to Judaism. We bought a special extra large 2.5 x 3 meter blue and white tallit. Both of our families and kids were able to fit under the chuppah with us. It felt amazing to all be under the tallit against the backdrop of the old city walls, especially when David smashed the glass to ‘Im Eshkakech Yerushalayim’.
Our Music Choice
David and I have such different taste in music, but we eventually got there. I got chills when I first heard ‘Boi Kallah’ sung by the Sensation band to Leonard Cohen’s tune of ‘Hallelujah’. It’s a familiar melody and hauntingly beautiful, so I chose that to walk down the aisle. After many nights on YouTube, we whittled down our list of first dance songs to ‘Everything’ by Michel Bublé. It felt modern, fun, and meaningful to our relationship.
We continued the geometric theme and blue colour scheme for the floral centre pieces.
The problem was, during the summer in Israel, there isn’t that much choice of locally grown flowers, especially in blue. A month before the wedding, the florist invited me to a flower market and I picked the flowers out for a test floral arrangement with a geometric shaped base. I don’t know the names of the flowers, but everything came together and turned out beautifully!
For my bouquet, the florist arranged cream and pink flowers to match my dress. I had bought some feathers in the Tel Aviv Carmel Market and painted the tips gold. The florist, Craspedia, mixed them into the bouquet for an eclectic touch.
Photographer and videographer
We chose a family friend who is an amazing professional photographer to snap our wedding. He has a very artistic eye, and captured some unique shots, particularly in our couple’s photoshoot.
When I saw Avichai Wechsler’s work, I knew I wanted him to be our videographer. All of his video clips are upbeat, slick, and keep things interesting. His crew did the actual shooting of the wedding, while he had a hand in the video editing. We love watching our wedding videos, they are wonderful memories captured beautifully.
Food and Cake
We chose Kedma Mamila for the great views and their tasty food. Benny, the manager, was accommodating, easy to work with, and worked hard to ensure everything went smoothly. A month before the wedding, we enjoyed a food tasting and selected a menu for the cocktail food stations and the reception. Everybody raved about the food. We wish we had had more time to enjoy it ourselves!
Macarion Cake Design created a beautiful Geode themed cake. It tasted yummy too!
At the end of the evening, the Kedma Mamila chefs rolled a table onto the dance floor and created a fun dessert display in front of the guests. Nobody (especially the kids) could take their eyes off the creation, it was so unexpected and inviting.
Vanessa helped to choreograph the evening entertainment perfectly. After the traditional chuppah ceremony, all the guests gathered in the restaurant. The drumming started playing while my husband and I made our entrance winding through the tables followed by a bright yellow Chinese Lion. It was so dramatic. Everybody was surprised, including David.
It was the Jerusalem Lion meets the Chinese Lion moment.
From the beginning of planning the wedding, I knew that I wanted to have a Chinese Lion dance. I found probably the only Chinese lion dance troop in Israel, White Crane Center (Pak Hok Pai). They brought a burst of energy and excitement to the atmosphere. After the Chinese Lion gave us the marriage blessing, the music erupted into Hora dancing. It was the perfect contrast in traditions, and everybody danced, especially the foreign guests because it was such a novelty.
For the band, Vanessa introduced us to the SRF band. When we met them, we loved their energy and cool vibes. They can create the perfect ambiance for a cocktail, or turn up the volume and get everybody on the dance floor. I love Idit’s voice and Liat’s electric violin.
From the beginning, I fell in love with the idea of blue and gold agate name stones. I took a modern calligraphy class and wrote all the addresses on the invitation envelopes, as well as the gold lettering on the agate name stones. It’s a useful wedding design skill to have!
We also gave out blue and gold knitted kippot from Creative Favour, and blessing booklets at the wedding.
The whole day felt magical, and so many special moments. We added extra personal touches, such as scents from my favourite Diptyque Baies candles, a Jenga game for a guest signing book, and a photo booth.
The speeches during dinner gave depth and meaning for us and our guests. Every girl dreams about the day their father would give a speech at their wedding. David’s brother and sister spoke from the heart.
Having our 2 and 4 year old kids be a part of our wedding was extra special. The kids played their parts beautifully, and they had loads fun in the kids’ creche. The funniest moment was during our first dance when our son spontaneously grabbed a little girl cousin and started slow dancing. He completely upstaged us, but it was beautiful! By the end of the song we were all dancing in a circle holding hand as a family.
We had a wonderful honeymoon in Colombia. We loved the charm of Cartagena with its colourful Spanish architecture and the scuba diving. We stayed at a great boutique hotel, Casa Lola in the old town area. It was central and easy to get to a lot of sites. Santa Marta’s Tayrona National Park, and Bogota are also worth a visit. One of my favourite things was visiting a local market and trying so many exotic fruits for the first time.
Advice to couples currently planning their wedding
We spent months planning the wedding, and the actual day went by very fast. It really made a difference having our super wedding planner, Vanessa. Not only did she take the stress out by handling all the logistics, but she took extra care in planning the flow of the space and events to keep the energy moving. She is a master at turning up or dialing down the mood. The whole wedding was full surprises, there was never a dull moment.
Not everything will go exactly as planned, but try not to sweat the small stuff. Enjoy every minute of your wedding.
MONICA & DAVID’S LITTLE WHITE BOOK
Wedding Planner – Vanessa Ohayon, Vanessa Events
Photography – Family friend
Videography – Avichai Wechsler
Venue – Kedma Mamila
Bride’s dress – Vera Wang – White collection found at David’s Bridal. Antique Chinese Red silk wedding Jacket – Monica’s great grandmother
Dress Alterations & Veil – The Wardrobe Curator
Bride’s shoes – LK Bennet X Jenny Packham Brielle
Bride’s accessories – Vintage family Jade Pendant, Deco Jade earrings from Antiquarians
Groom’s attire – Suit Supply
Flower Girl Dress – Romano, Children Salon
Hair + Makeup – JM-Makeup & Hair by Jaquelyn M Lawrence
Flowers – Craspedia
Band – SRF
Catering – Kedma Mamila
Cake – Macarion Cake Design
Ketubah – Danny Azoulay
Blessing books – Sen Print with United Synagogue inserts
Kippot – Creative Favours
Tallit – Ben’s Tallit Shop
Chinese Lion dance – White Crane Center (Pak Hok Pai)
Photobooth – MediaPixs
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.