Deborah and Alex got married in a truly spectacular venue in Israel. It’s a colourful garden wedding with some incredible creative details and beautiful outdoor ceremony. I have to admit that I have a bit of a soft spot for Israeli weddings. I’m not sure whether it’s their raw edged beauty, the party-loving Israeli energy, the outdoor vibe or the amazing scenery. Whatever the ‘x-factor’ may be, I’m so thrilled to be sharing this special wedding with you today.
Deborah and Alex first met aged 6 at a mutual friends birthday party and despite going to the same school, and both spending their gap years in Australia and New Zealand, they only met properly at Leeds University after being introduced by a good friend of both of theirs.
I’ll now hand over to the lovely Deborah for the tale of their wedding.
THE VENUE AND ‘SECRET GARDEN’ THEME
Deborah, The Bride: As a proud Zionist it was always my dream to marry in Israel. I wanted to ditch the formality of hotels and find something unique and personal. On one of our visits to Israel Alex and I visited a variety of venues in and around the Tel Aviv area. We had originally wanted a venue by the sea but there was none that were large enough. However when we saw Baya’ar (meaning the forest) we fell totally in love with it. It looked like a villa set within beautiful gardens and was both natural and spectacular.. The beautiful link between the modern interior and scenery outside was perfect. Lush, green, intimate and yet modern and elegant.
Inspired by our venue, the theme of the wedding became ‘the secret garden’. The colour scheme was multi-coloured (the bolder and brighter the better!) with yellow as the dominant colour. I wanted it to feel summery and vibrant.
As we were getting married abroad, we created a wedding website full of information about the various events and holiday tips for where to eat, go out and party in Israel.
I designed the invitation myself as I couldn’t find anything I liked. The white card I was so frequently shown I found boring. Instead I designed the invitation to reflect the venue and theme with summery yellows and greens and an illustration of a tree engraved with our initials. It was modern and informal and despite the design process becoming quite stressful we were thrilled with the results (plus it was a fraction of the cost).
A ‘BOHO’ DRESS AND SPARKLY SHOES
Knowing that it would be very hot, and that we wanted to have a laid back, informal dress code I wanted to go for the boho look. My style is not formal or structured – I’m more of a jeans and converse girl – so I to opted for plaited Grecian hair and a floaty chiffon dress from Jenny Packham. I wore Jimmy Choo sparkly silver shoes which I adored. I wish I could wear my dress again!
A SPIRITUAL AND VERY PERSONAL CEREMONY
I think out of everything the most memorable moment of the day was when I saw Alex walking towards me in the badeken room. I had missed him so much and we both got emotional when we saw each other. I will never forget it.
We walked in to the Shwekey version of Eshet Chayil. It was sung by our friend Stephen Levy who has a stunning voice and sings with the Shabbaton Choir. He helped make the ceremony very moving and special.
The aisle was lined with lanterns and scattered with rose petals. The kippot were bright yellow and the women had (much needed) wooden fans to await them on their chairs. We stood under the chuppah facing our guests and I think that made us feel very connected to them. Our rabbi and friend Naftali Brawer married us. He spoke so beautifully and made the whole ceremony so special, spiritual and memorable.
With our chuppah design I wanted to echo the setting by creating a very earthy, natural chuppah, made from tree branches, adorned with colourful flowers. My husband wanted a simple white chuppah. I got my way but allowed a few white flowers to sneak in amongst the brightly coloured ones! A colourful tallit hung above us.
The intricate laser cut ketubah was ordered from Canada and took forever to get the correct wording.
AN AMAZING WEDDING PLANNER
We decided to have a wedding planner as we knew it would be stressful to try to coordinate the wedding from the UK. Especially as we couldn’t speak sufficient Hebrew! We had 4 different wedding events planned for our guests and we needed help to make it run smoothly. We had known Nikki Fenton for many years and it was her warmth and energy that made Alex and I, and both sets of parents, confident that we were in safe hands. Photos of her previous weddings were all beautiful and stylish, and her past clients were full of praise. We were not disappointed. She knows her industry well and is unbelievably friendly, reliable, profession and trustworthy. She gave us the wedding we had always dreamed of.
Natalie Mann designed the whole event including the flowers and chuppah. She totally understood my desire to be original and less ‘weddingy’ and white than most weddings.
MORE CREATIVE TOUCHES FOR THE SECRET GARDEN THEME
It was the creative touches that sent me into bridal obsession! Etsy and other craft sites became my addiction.
As seating cards guests received key rings with their names engraved on pieces of wood and their table numbers on the back. To continue the secret garden idea I collected 300 keys which I put name tags on to use as place settings. It’s fair to say that transporting the keys raised eyebrows at airport security!
The table numbers were carved into bits of wood. There were yellow hearts saying D&A which hung from trees and the design on the invitation continued on the menu, speech cards and grace after meals booklets.
I ordered a huge wooden guest book where guests were asked to take a polaroid picture to stick in beside their message. There were silly dress up hats, glasses and moustaches they could use too.
I could not recommend Paul Assenheim, our caterer, any more highly. We chose him because he did a restaurant style menu (meaning guests could choose from, or have all the options on the menu) and his dishes were delicious, original and beautifully presented.
DANCE, DANCE, DANCE!
Our band were Vision and they made sure the dance floor was constantly packed and the atmosphere was incredible. The last hour was a DJ and the transition was seamless. Our first dance was to Jack Johnson’s Better Together
ADVICE TO OTHER BRIDES
Make the day reflect who you are. There are so many great places to get great inspiration, but try not to obsess over the details. On the day everything looked exactly how I wanted and hoped, but the best parts were marrying my husband, being in Israel, being surrounded by family and friends and the magical atmosphere.
DEBORAH + ALEX’S LITTLE WHITE BOOK
Venue — Baya’ar
Wedding Planner — Nikki Fenton
Catering — Paul Assenheim
Event design — Natalie Mann
Photography — Asaf Spektor
Bride’s dress — Jenny Packham
Bride’s shoes — Jimmy Choo
Ketubah — ketubah.com
Deborah is a ‘smashing’ bride if ever I saw one! She put her own stamp on her wedding and took such joy in creating her wedding her way – even if it meant a difficult ride with airport security! What I love most about this wedding is the riot of summery colour amongst the backdrop of white – it works so well and exudes through to all the key elements. I don’t know if there was a dress code specified but even the guests outfits, smiles and energy fit in! Pure joy…