These two were faced with the touch task of planning an epic Jewish wedding thousands of miles from their home in NYC in under five months – and did they ever pull it off! To scroll through their gorgeous photos from Idan Hasson, you’d never guess it all came together on such a tight timeline.
And we’re so delighted to hear that Genna attributes her success in large part to the beautiful community that is Brides Club – which she was introduced to by her wonderful wedding planner, Smashing The Glass Recommended Vendor Vanessa Ohayon, the other key ingredient in bringing this amazing day together seamlessly.
In her own words, on joining Smashing The Glass Brides Club
“I instantly felt a sense of calm that I had a supportive community of women I could bounce questions and ideas off of. I was able to make the quick decisions I needed to by reaching out of the many other brides who were married in Israel.”
Thanks Genna – hearing this makes us sooooo happy!!!
We’re totally in love with the laid-back, totally Israeli beach aesthetic the couple went for – Israeli groom Yoni wanted to make sure the big day kept that Israeli party vibe. There’s a fab chuppah, the most incredible seaside setting, the dreamiest florals… and we’re obsessed with Genna’s bridal style, too. She wore a stunning lace mermaid gown by Adam Zohar (an Israeli designer, natch), and we don’t think she could possibly have looked any more gorgeous.
Over to you, Genna!
How we met
Genna, the bride: Yoni and I met at a party on December 12, 2012 (12/12/12!) when we were both living in Tel Aviv. We started off as friends, and then dated, at points we were “on and off,” but our relationship grew and morphed into a truly solid, loving friendship and partnership. I moved back to New York in 2016 and he arrived shortly after. He proposed in Central Park in February of this year, after a 6-year relationship full of lots adventure, hard times and plenty of good.
We were married at Al Hayam in Caesarea, Israel. We chose to get married in Israel because it’s the country where we met, fell in love, and lived together for several years. Al Hayam was our first choice because of our love for the beach and the amazing Israeli sunsets that the venue’s backdrop features so perfectly.
Yoni is Israeli and all of his friends and family are there, so it meant a lot to them to have the wedding in Israel. I’ve always dreamed of a destination wedding so bringing all my family and friends to my favorite place in the world seemed like a no-brainer.
An Israeli Wedding
Although Yoni was marrying an American, it was really important to him throughout the planning process that the wedding would feel like an Israeli party, without the pomp and circumstance that surround many New York-style black tie events.
I promised him the wedding wouldn’t be too formal or stuffy, so with the help of our amazing wedding planner Vanessa Ohayon, we incorporated a more laid-back, beachy seaside theme, and forewent a formal dress code to help bring this theme to fruition. The brilliant designer Yahav Green exceeded our expectations with the decor and ambiance for the space, and ultimately the wedding felt very true to who we are.
Additionally, my mom was an incredible partner in our wedding planning journey, and has worked for an amazing luxury event planner from New York, Imagine Party and Events, who actually helped consult on our wedding. With our event planner Vanessa’s help, we spent a ton of time researching different musicians and music options— probably too much time than I should have!
What ‘Smashing The Glass’ Brides Club’ Did For Us
Planning a wedding from abroad, and in less than five months, I knew I was going to need a lot of help. I was introduced to Smashing the Glass’ Brides Club by our event planner, and instantly felt a sense of calm that I had a supportive community of women I could bounce questions and ideas off of.
I was able to make the quick decisions I needed to by reaching out of the many other brides who were married in Israel. One bride in particular was incredibly helpful with my vendor search, as she gave me all the vendors she used at her Israeli wedding, who she loved, and who to avoid.
I was introduced to the Portnoy Brothers through a post from another member of STG Brides Club. I had trouble putting into words the type of music I wanted for our chuppah ceremony, but as soon as I heard their incredible and soul-filled voices, I knew I had to have them sing at our ceremony. Their voices and vibe were exactly what I had spent all that time searching for, and they were incredible. Reach out to me if you want to see a video of them performing during our ceremony!
Hair + Makeup
I was pretty overwhelmed with deciding who to go with for wedding day glam, as I didn’t have a ton of friends married in Israel to ask for recommendations. My good friend’s wife was married in Israel a few years earlier, so she gave me the names of who she used. After looking at the insanely gorgeous Instagram accounts of hair stylist Adir Jacob and makeup artist and Tali Peretz, and speaking with them on the phone, I felt comfortable that they would do an amazing job. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more gorgeous after they glammed me up— they are truly incredible beauty magicians and I wish I could take them to New York with me.
An Adam Zohar Dress
The wedding dress was from Mark Ingram Atelier in New York City, and was actually an Israeli designer, Adam Zohar. I must have tried on over 25 dresses during my search, but as soon as I put on this dress, my mom, grandma, and aunt all declared in unison that it was the winner.
I loved it as soon as I put it on; everything from the more conservative mock-neck (I couldn’t wear a low cut dress and was staying away from strapless to be more modest), to the figure-flattering mermaid style and insanely gorgeous train, the beautiful, intricate lace designs, and the fact that it was an Israeli designer made me fall in love with it.
I really believe I’ll look back 30 years from now and still love the dress. For our after-party, I changed into a really fun, white, faux ostrich feather mini-dress from BHLDN. As much as I loved my wedding dress, I knew I’d want a break from the heat during the night and outfit changes are always fun ☺.
I wore a simple, two-tiered/cascading veil as not to compete with the intricately designed and lace-heavy dress. The veil had a blusher as we performed an in-aisle badeken, which meant I walked with my parents down the aisle and Yoni met me halfway to put the blusher over my face.
My mom insisted I wear a headband or large hairpiece for the party after the veil comes off, as she vehemently believes that a bride wear something beautiful in her hair to look special and different from the other guests. My gorgeous, Swarovski crystal and mother-of-pearl halo-style headband is Maria Elena, and I did truly feel like a princess.
Taryn Rose Shoes
I have to admit, I’m pretty clumsy, so sky-high heels were a no-no. It was also really important to me that I was comfortable throughout the wedding day, so I found a pair of 3-inch, blush heels that were AMAZINGLY comfortable. The designer Taryn Rose is an orthopedic surgeon who designs her shoes with a proprietary cushy padding with shock absorption. Needless to say, I didn’t need to change my shoes, but did anyway to match my after-party dress.
The handsome groom
I’m terrible with men’s clothing, so I enlisted the help of my cousin-sister, a former stylist, to help with Yoni’s wedding-day looks. She created a Power Point presentation for me for inspiration, and using that we decided to get Yoni a customer suit made at My Suit in New York City. They measure and custom design beautiful, affordable suits in two weeks or less!
We had an incredible stylist helping us, Andre Womack who helped us design a cream-colored, linen/cotton blend suit and a custom white shirt. He helped us accessorize with a brown suede belt, off-white linen tie, and brown, suede Ferragamo loafers Yoni borrowed from my dad. Yoni looked incredibly handsome.
A Mediterranean Chuppah
Our designer Yahav created the chuppah for us based off of one I’d seen of his. We wanted natural, wooden branches with lots of flowing flowers arranged in asymmetrical movement to create the look of natural growth. He added touches of pale purple flowers which was our accent color for the wedding decor. We wanted to keep the chuppah design somewhat simple, so as not to compete with but instead complement the gorgeous Mediterranean sunset.
When we met with the Rabbi, Zalman Lipskier, who was actually the Chabad Rabbi from Emory University where I went to college, he asked if we wanted him to mention our relatives who are no longer with us under the chuppah. I wasn’t so familiar with this tradition but I thought it was a really nice idea. When he read the names of our grandparents who have passed away, we felt a gust of wind under the chuppah, and we knew they were there with us. It was a pretty magical moment. We further honored our grandparents by using Yoni’s grandfather’s Kiddush cup for the Kiddush, which was very special.
Our music choice
The Portnoy Brothers performed the most gorgeous procession music I could have possibly imagined— everyone was in tears! We started with our rabbi walking down the aisle and afterward my grandmother escorted by my brother to Yaakov Shwekey’s version of ‘Boi Kala’. Yoni and his parents and then his siblings walked down the aisle to ‘Modeh Ani’ by Israeli singer Omer Adam, and my sister (the Maid of Honor), the flower girls, and ring bearer walked down to a beautiful instrumental version of The Beatles’ ‘In My Life’.
After attending my friend’s wedding in South Africa over 5 years ago, I knew I wanted to walk down the aisle to ‘Boi Kala’ to the tune of ‘Hallelujah’ by Leonard Cohen, as I loved how incredibly moving the song and experience was. I discussed with the Portnoy Brothers at length how I wanted it to sound, with a guitar intro and as slow and dramatic as possible. Their rendition was PERFECT as they are real professions, and I truly could not have been happier. I can’t wait to see them become super famous one day!
Yahav helped us decide on using neutral flowers with a touch of pale blue, grey, and light purple accents. We wanted to highlight the beach and sea’s natural beauty, so a color pallet of blues was especially appropriate. I’m not sure what the plant is called, but Yahav used an almost sea foam green plant that resembled something you would find in the sea in the table centerpieces and my bouquet— I was obsessed with the plant, I even smuggled my bouquet home with me in my suitcase because I couldn’t part with it!
Photographer and videographer
After copious amounts of research into Israeli wedding photographers, I kept coming across shots from Idan Hasson’s beautifully captured weddings and fell in love with his work. His photos had a softness and beauty that I knew would be perfect for us. Our event planner had also worked with him before and spoke so highly of his work, temperament, and his soul! He’s truly such a kind, patient man and was just who I wanted by my side on the stressful day that is the wedding day.
Avichai Wechsler is a phenomenal videographer who provided incredible video footage, and together with Idan, they kept the day fun and lighthearted.
As you might guess, Israeli wedding food is amazing, and Indigo catering caters all the food for our venue and a neighboring venue. We had the most fun at the tasting, and the food perfectly highlighted the freshness and variety that is Israeli cuisine. I’m admittedly a huge foodie and so the food was definitely important to us.
Our guests raved about the food from the cocktail hour food (homemade short rib bao buns anyone??) to the main dishes (perfectly grilled entrecote steak and pargiot) to the incredible desserts that you would never know are parve (dairy-free). Our beautiful and delicious wedding cake was a naked cake carefully designed and baked by Limor Zisman Cakes. She adorned the 3-tier, nutella, caramel, and lemon-filled cake with real pink roses and white carnations.
A Tequila Bar
We had a self-service tequila bar on one side of the dance floor that was a huge hit. Adorned with jalapeno peppers, trails of salt, and lined with tons of bottles of tequila, it alleviated the crowding of the main bar as guests could pour themselves shots all night long. Yoni’s friends started carrying people in the air to this area during the party and pouring tequila directly in their mouths!
We had a live DJ experience with DJ Roi Tochner from Caliente, with a sax player, along with an incredible performance from Party People. They’re an interactive DJ-based band who performed directly on the dance floor among all our guests. After meeting with our talented DJ Roi and speaking to him a few times, he understood exactly the type of vibe we wanted, and I sent him both a playlist of music we want at the wedding, and a playlist of songs I dislike, which I recommend doing. Everyone loved them and their high-energy made for an incredible wedding party.
Photoset was our amazing photo booth vendor, and guests got to take home their black and white photos in a black frame adorned with our logo.
As guests departed for the buses, they were handed huge New York-style pretzels in a custom paper bag that read “Thank you for tying the knot with us!” I think that delicious, salty pretzel was the only thing I ate that night!
Video from Yoni’s family
Towards the end of the night, Yoni’s family surprised us with a hilarious and super cute video they filmed (all 5 siblings, their children, and his parents) at a recording studio for us. They used the Hebrew song “שבט אחים ואחיות” (A Tribute of Brothers and Sisters) which Israeli celebrities wrote as a love song to Israel in a “selfie-style”, but they wrote their own words, expressing our relationship. We were completely surprised and absolutely loved it.
Advice to couples currently planning their wedding
The best advice I can give brides for their wedding day is DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL THINGS. I was too bogged down with the details and micromanaging the planning but I wish I could have taken a step back (this is just in my personality). The wedding won’t be “perfect” no matter how well you’ve planned it, and you need to accept this. You will still have the most perfect time, however, and your guests will not notice any little thing that is out of place or goes wrong.
Another way to stress less on your wedding day is that throughout the planning process, let your wedding planner take care of most details and let her PLAN! This way, the less wedding details you know about or are involved in, the less you’ll worry on the actual wedding day. If one small thing goes wrong, you won’t realize, because you weren’t actively involved with planning every detail. That’s another reason why it’s so important to select an event planner that you truly trust (we’re looking at you, Vanessa and Co Events! 😉 )
Genna & Yoni’s little white book
Photography – Idan Hasson
Videography – Avichai Wechsler
Venue – Al Hayam
Wedding planner – Vanessa Ohayon
Bride’s dress – Adam Zohar found and fitted at Mark Ingram Atelier and BHLDN
Bride’s shoes – Taryn Rose
Groom’s attire – My Suit, Andre Womack and Ferragamo
Hair + Makeup – Adir Jacob and Tali Peretz
Flowers and design – Yahav Green
Invitations and stationery – Pink House Productions
Chuppah music – Portnoy Brothers
Entertainment – DJ Roi Tochner and Party People from Caliente
Cake – Limor Zisman Cakes