Where do we even start with today’s Jewish wedding? It’s got to be one of the most amazing we’ve seen, like… EVER. Do you see that chuppah?! We’ve honestly never come across one like it before, like an actual magical forest transported indoors (thanks to the never-ending talents of Amie Bone Flowers)– and it’s about the size of one, too.
Shier, a junior doctor, and Xander, a product designer, went BIG with everything from their venue — an actual airplane hangar that they transformed into an enchanted forest for the day — to their glorious chuppah (!!!) to Shier’s wonderfully OTT flower crown.
The pair brought a Victorian-style carousel in for the day, and post-ceremony Shier and Xander drove onto the dancefloor in one of Xander’s many classic cars, a baby blue open top from the 1960s. Seriously. Check it out in At Motion’s brilliant video of the day. Oh, and the groom flew into the wedding, landing a 1930s open-top airplane in feet away from the crowd of guests.
When we say this pair went big with everything, we do mean everything. Dessert-loving Shier couldn’t bear to choose just one cake, so Smashing the Glass Recommended Vendor Food Story put together a dessert table with literally dozens. The couple’s guests couldn’t stop raving about how delicious the food was, and many were shocked when they found out it was kosher (as is often the case with the amazing Food Story!).
Smashing the Glass Recommended Vendor David Pullum did SUCH an amazing job photographing the day, capturing the drama of the setting, the emotion of the ceremony, and the fun of the party so well, we feel like we were there ourselves. We certainly wish we were — we’ve fallen head over heels for this wedding, and we’re pretty sure you will too.
Oh, and did we mention there’s a super cool story behind Shier’s fab gown (and no, it’s not a Vivienne Westwood). Read on to find out its unexpected journey — and all the other details of this most epic of weddings.
Not Your Average Venue
Shier, the bride: We got married in a beautifully alternative venue, an airplane hangar within a site called Bicester Heritage. The site is a repurposed WW2 RAF bomber station now dedicated to all things relating to classic cars and motoring. My brother initially read about the site in a classic car magazine and immediately thought of Alexander (my now husband!) and me because Alexander’s biggest passion in life, apart from me of course, is his classic car collection and all things related.
I sent an email over to their event manager Tiggy Atkinson and the rest was history! Initially even Tiggy was a bit skeptical as they had never hosted a wedding before, although they do host many large-scale events such as car auctions and classic car conventions. Our families and friends were also very skeptical upon hearing we wanted to get married in what was essentially an empty 50,000ft garage, however Jess from Every Event London (our wedding planner) and my brilliantly creative mum consistently reassured us that together we could turn this monolithic empty space into a dream wedding venue.
An Enchanted Forest
From the very beginning it was so important to us that the wedding would be full of personal touches and wouldn’t just be another repeat of the dozens of weddings our families had attended in the past. The first, most personal touch was of course the unique venue, which everyone straight away associated with Alexander’s infatuation with classic cars.
We were however wary that we didn’t want this to become a totally car-themed wedding. In fact, the theme we wanted to go for is an enchanted forest, and I was also inspired by immersive, interactive theatre experiences I had attended in the past and wanted to emulate in our wedding.
Jess, our incredible wedding planner, didn’t bat an eyelid at the concept of creating an enchanted forest, classic-car wedding in an airplane hangar and got to work straight away to make this dream a reality. She even sourced a gorgeous Victorian-style carousel for the reception area, which was something I had always wanted as part of our special day. Everyone loved the carousel from young to old, even the grandmas had a go! It really brought magic and child-like wonder into the wedding.
I am now a newly qualified medical doctor but during the first few months of wedding planning I was still doing my final exams at medical school, so having Jess to take care of all the details and discussions with vendors was a real life-saver.
We always wanted an invitation that was fun and not too serious but still timeless. Jess helped us find a great printing shop called Printhouse which also didn’t break the budget and they designed a gorgeous floral invitation for us in record time, which incorporated the peonies and orchids we had on the actual day. Guests really seemed to love the colorful invites, and many even commented on the distinctive red edge of the card, which was a lovely touch sprayed on after printing.
Printhouse also did a fabulous job with our menus, which used the same design as the invitations, as well as the escort cards. We also had some beautiful illustrations of the two of us and personal bits from the wedding designed for stickers and thank you cards by our close friend, illustrator Anita Lester at Moon Pie Illustrations, which were also used on my “hen book.”
Hair + Makeup
I am extremely lucky that my cousin Ben Ravivo is a professional hair and makeup artist. He is based in Tel-Aviv and is constantly working on brides and high fashion shoots, and it was such a privilege to have him come to London to do my hair and makeup for the big day. He is the only hairdresser to date who knows how to maximize my natural curls rather than struggle against them, and I was so pleased with the natural yet polished final look he made for me. I couldn’t have been happier with how it all came together and Ben really went the extra mile helping out with lots of bridesmaids and family members too on the day.
An Upcycled Dress
My dress has a really interesting story to it. Over 10 years ago my mother, who dabbles as an artist, bought two wedding dresses in a vintage shop thinking she would make them into some sort of art project. About a year ago, before I was even engaged I must admit, I tried on both these dresses as a bit of fun. One was an obvious no but the other, a long sleeved and full-skirted satin number instantly caught my eye. I could imagine that minus the sleeves, a few sizes smaller, and with a good dry clean, this art project could be my dream dress!
Fast forward a few months later after our engagement, and my mother was of course slightly horrified when I told her that this would be my dress and I didn’t even want to try on anything else. It was a timeless and elegant design by a designer called Catherine Rayner. I could find barely anything about her online, apart from the fact that she had a dress in an exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2014. I had the dress altered by a hugely talented dressmaker in Bloomsbury called Bourhan Basma who has made dresses for us in the past, and he did a beautiful job altering the neckline and taking the corset of the dress in perfectly. I was so pleased with the final result and so many guests at the wedding were asking if the dress was Vivienne Westwood! I would love to know who was the bride who originally bought and wore the dress, maybe she will read this blog…
The Ultimate Flower Crown
My veil was very simple and hugely personal to me. My good friend Natalie Cappell designs handmade tulle wedding and evening dresses from her magical boutique in Barcelona. She generously offered to design my veil and so a few weeks before the wedding me, my best friend Danielle, and my brother Ron set off on a mini holiday to Spain and she created my veil for me then and there.
Unlike most veils, which are quite stiff, it was made out of an extremely soft and delicate tulle which feels divine, like a gentle hug as you walk down the aisle. In Natalie’s own words it acts like a protective shield at a time when a bride can feel quite vulnerable. Having the veil made by a close friend made it so much more special and meaningful to wear on the day, and the color matched up perfectly with the dress even though she had only ever seen it in photos beforehand.
My other important accessory was of course a huge flower crown designed by the talented artists at Amie Bone Flowers. Initially I was taken aback by how incredibly striking the crown, made of peonies, succulents and orchids, was; however, with the scale of the wedding and my naturally large curly hair the piece worked really well and many guests commented that it was their favorite part of the whole event!
The jewelry I wore was a simple but stunning heart shaped necklace gifted to me a few weeks before the wedding on my birthday by my amazing in-laws Norman and Cindy, as well as my matching engagement ring of course, and some subtle gold bracelets from my mother, including one gifted to her by her own mother on her wedding day. Also, my sister-in law-Talia had given me a gold pin with a superstitious “evil eye” to ward off bad spirits which I pinned underneath my dress.
DIY Wedding Shoes
My shoes, like my dress and the veil, also have a very interesting story behind them. I always knew that comfort was my number one priority when it came to bridal shoes. I knew I had a pair of very comfortable heels which I had owned at least 10 years, but of course they were looking a bit worse for wear and not very bridal. After some research I came up with a solution, I would apply thousands of crystals on top of the fabric shoe to breath a new lease of life into them and make sure I was comfortable and fabulous on the dance floor.
At first I researched getting this done professionally, however I soon realized it would cost me over £1000 so instead I invested £30 in a “hot-fix” wand and some gems and got to work. I showed my friend Danielle my handiwork one day and she kindly offered to take over the task, mostly because my gem-application skills were extremely poor but also because she is unbelievably kind. It took her literally dozens of hours to apply thousands of tiny crystals, and she suffered a few minor burns along the way, but the end result was most definitely worth it and I will cherish my sparkly wedding shoes forever and have them proudly on display. She even created a gorgeous colourful sole using recycled prints from a paper bag and some clever glue usage.
The handsome groom
Alexander’s suit was also very personal to him as it was made and gifted to him by his beloved uncle Josef, who doubled as the Iraqi singer at our henna! Usually Alexander is found in shorts and a t-shirt – he even wore this staple outfit to his university graduation – so it was lovely to see him smartly dressed in a suit. I also bought him funny personalized socks with our faces printed on them to make him laugh the morning of the wedding, with a card that said “In case you get cold feet!.”
Bridesmaids in Ghost
I had two bridesmaids, Alexander’s sisters Talia and Alissia. I wanted their dresses to complement my own so I knew they had to be timeless and elegant without a lot of lace or sparkles. We realised that Ghost London would be the perfect choice as they make simple yet striking silk gowns. Our only worry was that they might look too plain for an enchanted forest themed wedding, but coupled with some wild flower crowns and dazzling bouquets created by Amie’s team, as well as the girls’ own natural beauty, their overall look was sensational and garnered many compliments all night.
A Breathtaking Floral Chuppah
We knew with the vast size of the hangar and the height of the ceilings, the chuppah had to be something with a big impact. I scoured Pinterest for inspiration and finally decided on a design that resembled four trees rising up out of the ground and merging together to create a canopy above us. Amie the florist took this inspiration and created the most glorious chuppah, we were all astounded seeing it for the first time and even Amie said she shed a tear or two when she finally saw her finished masterpiece.
What was also lovely about the chuppah was that, per the advice of my mother in law and “chuppah manager” Cindy, it was not dismantled after the ceremony and it remained in the same room as the reception and dancing so guests could enjoy it all night long. It also served as a beautiful walkway for guests to move from the ceremony to the reception area, which was cleverly thought of by Cindy and our production manager Luke Bennett at Event Operations.
A Meaningful Ceremony
It was really important for us to include family members in the ceremony, and so some of my uncles and Alexander’s dad sang some of the seven blessings under the chuppah. Rabbi Israel, who officiated the ceremony, did a great job keeping us all calm and keeping the ball rolling, and it was particularly important for Alexander that he was there as he also officiated 14 years previously at his bar mitzva at Laurderdale Shul.
One thing that somehow didn’t get used was a tallit I had bought Alexander in Israel to be used in the ceremony; somehow it got forgotten but luckily we found it after the ceremony and will still treasure it as a memento of our lovely haphazard ceremony. We also had our friend Emanuel Toni do all the anouncements before and after the chuppah, which was a nice personal addition, and he did many more quirky announcements throughout the night instead of a hired MC.
Under the Sky
I knew straight away what music I wanted to walk down the aisle to, Mimamakim by Idan Raichel, a Hebrew love song I have always held close to my heart. The song was sung so soulfully by star musician Tomer Raz, part of our fabulous wedding band, the infamous Muzika.
Our first dance was also so special and personal because it was an original song called Under the Sky by close family friend and world-renowned musician David Broza who also played at my Batmitzva 13 years ago. It meant so much that he flew all the way from New York and took time out of touring the world with his music to be at our wedding and gift us our first dance song.
There was another special song later on in the night when Alexander’s 5-year-old cousin Arielle, one of our 3 flower girls, sang an adorable rendition of You’ve Got A Friend with her dad up on stage. Just before she went on she almost pulled out of the performance, understandably anxious in front of the 400+ audience, but we are so glad she did it in the end and it was one of the most personal highlights of the night.
All about the Flowers
My favorite flowers are peonies and luckily we got married in peak peony season, so these blooms were always going to be a big part of our wedding. I also love the current, very “millennial,” trend for succulents so I really wanted to incorporate these two flowers into the bouquets and table centrepieces in an enchanted forest sort of way.
Amie Bone and her team took this relatively broad brief and created incredible floral creations. Every piece was a work of art, from the immense chuppah to the gravity-defying floral chandeliers over the dance floor, as well as all the flower crowns and bouquets. My only regret is that I cannot preserve my flower crown or bouquet forever, as they were such an important and breathtaking part of the wedding day I would have loved to have them hanging on a wall for eternity.
Our fabulous Photographer and Videographer
From the start I knew I wanted At Motion for our wedding video, as they had done lots of our friends’ weddings and I always admired their short but impactful and emotive videos. I still can’t comprehend how they fit so much into under 4 minutes, and I can’t wait to see our own video come to life. They were also super professional and non-intrusive on the day, as was our lovely photographer David Pullum, who managed to capture key moments so artistically. We liked his no-nonsense approach and ability to capture real life rather than overly posed snaps.
Being a prolific dessert lover I knew I wouldn’t be able to choose just one cake, so instead we had dozens! Our caterer Food Story created a creative and delectable dessert table heaving with sweet treats. The desserts topped off an incredible selection of Middle-Eastern style food which was sharing style and plentiful throughout the night.
All our guests could not stop raving about the food, and many didn’t even believe it was kosher because the desserts tasted so good and dairy-like! We couldn’t have been happier with how delicious the food was, and the service of the waiters was impeccable too. Food Story really surpassed all our expectations and we just wish we could have eaten more had we not been so busy greeting guests and dancing. One important aspect was that as Alexander and I are both pescatarians, we decided to have no meat in the main meal. Lots of people warned us this might mean our guests would go hungry but in fact the food was so great no one even noticed this omission and everyone was stuffed!
We chose Muzika for our entertainment because we had been so impressed with their versatility and talent at previous events. I also in particular really wanted their lead Israeli singer, Tomer Raz, to sing at the chuppah and throughout the night because my family is Israeli and could really relate to his voice and music. Muzika most definitely did not dissapoint as at the ceremony there wasn’t a dry-eye in site as Tomer’s voice brought people to (happy) tears, and later on in the night people were up and dancing until the very last tune.
My mother is a creative genius and for my youngest brother’s bar mitzva she designed t-shirts with the help of my oldest brother, which went down really well with the guests. She decided to do this again this time round, and together they created beautiful shirts which said “Toda” meaning “Thank you” in Hebrew, as well as 3 x 6 = 18, which happened to be the date of the wedding as well as a maths riddle! Everyone loved keeping the shirts as a memory from the day and I am sure they will be used as lovely pyjamas for many years to come…
We also had a photobooth, where people could take pictures and write in our photo guestbook. I can’t reccommend Aakash and his team at Openbooths enough, having done several events with them they never disappoint.
On the coaches home we also had personalised M&Ms with our names on, which my mother and I lovingly decanted into hundreds of mini bags with personalized stickers.
Speeches by the Bride and Groom
Both Alexander and I gave speeches at the wedding. I always love it when a bride gives a speech and I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t. Alexander however could think of nothing worse than performing in front of a crowd. He doesn’t enjoy being the center of attention and so doing a wedding speech was always something he was going be anxious about.
This made his speech even more special, as anyone who knew him realized how challenging it was, and the speech itself was so beautiful and heartfelt and brought everyone to tears. Many guests also commented on how our speeches complemented each other, even though we had written them completely independently. My brothers Guy, Ron, Roie, and Adam also helped by doing introductions to the speeches, as well as Alexander’s sisters Alissia and Talia and my mother Batsheva who gave the welcome speech.
Another really special touch was Alexander’s entrance to the wedding. He managed to swoop in on a 1930s open-top airplane in his tux, landing feet away from the waiting crowd of guests – James Bond, eat your heart out! I didn’t get to see this part, but he says that seeing the 400 person crowd as he approached the grassy runway was much more nerve-wracking than double loop-de-loops in a 80 year old Tiger-Moth biplane.
This incredible entrance was orchestrated in just days, as Alexander and his father Norman met one of the pilots who owns the planes a week before the wedding while delivering their classic cars to the venue. They managed to strike up a deal to have not just him arrive on the plane but also all the best men got rides after too.
Lastly, a moment many of our guests remember as being unique is our entrance onto the dancefloor in Alexander’s smallest classic car, a baby-blue open top Berkeley from the 1960s which is small enough that he can pick up the front with one hand. We zipped around the chuppah, past the carousel and onto the heaving dance floor, happily without running over any aunts or grandmothers.
We did a mini honeymoon over the weekend in the Wilderness Reserve Suffolk. We rented a beautiful old cottage in the middle of a gorgeous estate, really secluded and idyllic. After I finish my final weeks of medical school and graduation we are also going to Antigua for a week, to indulge in Alexander’s love of kitesurfing and my love of relaxing on a beach. After that we are venturing further away to Mongolia for a really adventurous trekking holiday riding camels and horses through the Gobi dessert… wish me luck!
Advice to couples currently planning their wedding
Just breathe and enjoy the ride. There are times that may be stressful, but as long as you keep reminding yourself that this is meant to be fun, it’s not a military operation or open-heart surgery, you’ll be ok! I found this approach helped me remain almost completely calm throughout, by always keeping the bigger picture in mind – that a wedding is about love and celebration, not about stress and anxiety… although sometimes that can be hard to remember. When in doubt, get an ace wedding planner like Jess at Every Event London, she was my wedding-stress antidote!
Shier & Xander’s little white book
Photography – David Pullum
Videography – AtMotion
Catering – Food Story
Wedding planner – Every Event London
Venue – Bicester Heritage
Production – Event Operations
Flowers – Amie Bone Flowers
Bride’s dress – Catherine Rayner altered at Bourhan Basma
Bride’s veil – Natalie Cappell
Bridesmaids – Ghost London
Hair + Makeup – Ben Ravivo
Band – Muzika
Singer – David Broza
Photobooth – Openbooths
Favours – M&Ms
Airplane experience – Finest Hour Experience
Carousel hire – Events with a Difference
Classic car storage – Historit
Invitations – Printhouse and Moon Pie Illustrations
Honeymoon – Wilderness Reserve