About Joan Summerfield


Posts by Joan Summerfield:

Bar Mitzvahs & Bat Mitzvahs in Israel

Bar Mitzvah at Western WallWhen debating on where to hold a Batmitzvah or Barmitzvah ceremony in Israel, the obvious locations come to mind – The Jerusalem Archeological Centre, the Western Wall, Massada, or one of the many beautiful synagogues located in Jerusalem.

However, there are many more unusual places to consider, which will leave a lasting impression on the family and guests.

A ceremony can be held at a Biblical Park, situated between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The ceremony and the tour of the Park that would follow would be personalised, and led by an experienced guide, who would offer experiences such as goat herding, olive pressing, and re-enacting stories from the Bible. the party can be held in the same Park, amongst the beautiful trees and bushes, or in a rustic hall if the weather is not suitable for outdoor events.

A ceremony can be held in the archeological sites of ancient synagogues, or in one of the fortresses – such as Shuni, which is situated near Zichron Yaakov. Mount Scopus,overlooking the Old City, is another ideal location, as this is a traditional pilgrim site. This is the area where the Israelites arrived during the three pilgrim festivals of Pesach, Shavuot and Succoth. There are plenty of suitable restaurants or hotels nearby for a celebratory party.

Sfat holds many unusual locations – from historic villas to ancient synagogues. There are plenty of restaurants or private caterers who would arrange a party after the ceremony.

An event organiser would be able to advise on the most suitable location, taking into consideration the time of year, budgetary restrictions, and the location where the Batmitzah girl or Barmitzah boy would feel most comfortable.

How to Become a Wedding Planner

Wedding plannerI have been asked on numerous occasions for advise on how to become a wedding planner. Although a degree in event management is obviously beneficial, nothing can take the place of experience. A good place to start is to work is in a banqueting office of a hotel, or as an intern in a company that specialises in events.

Learning to deal with difficult clients takes time and patience, as people become quite stressed before their wedding, and will focus on what would seem to be quite insignificant details. However, an experienced wedding planner will realise that no detail is insignificant, and sometimes the smallest detail can make a huge difference to an event.

Another aspect that a wedding planner must learn to deal with, and which can only be learnt from experience, is trouble-shooting. No amount of studying can prepare you for problems which can arise – such as an unseasonal downpour when the event is all outside, or a burst water sprinkler that sprays black water over a bride’s dress, an hour before the ceremony.

A wedding planner must appear to be calm at all times, even though there are many moments of intense stress. Timing can be crucial, especially if the ceremony is to take place before sunset. Rabbis in Israel are notorious for arriving late – therefore it is a good idea to arrange private transportation for them, and thus ensure they arrive on time.

An experienced wedding planner will carry a “first aid” kit, which – besides the usual items of band-aids, scissors, etc., – will also include different coloured cottons and needles, safety pins, talcum powder to cover any unexpected marks on the bride’s dress, tissues, cotton wool, wet wipes, deodorant, hairpins, etc. etc.

Its also a nice touch to place a box in the ladies toilets, comprising of hair spray, nail varnish remover, sewing kits, safety pjns and any other products that guests may need.

Wedding planning is a very satisfying profession – its wonderful to watch the Chuppah, and to see everyone so happy – and to realise that you helped to make this happen.

Unique Offer for an Event by the Sea

wedding by the seaWould you like to hold your event in a hotel, with beautiful grounds overlooking the sea, with the food provided by the top caterer in Israel – and, in addition, have the FREE services of an event organiser?

Anglo israel Events have been given the exclusive rights to offer this unique package to clients.

The hotel has amazing grounds, and the location for the Chuppah is stunning, situated on a deck, with unobstructed views of the sea.

The reception, dinner and dancing can also be held outside, depending on the time of year.

The banqueting hall also overlooks the sea, and is suitable for small or large parties.

The caterer is considered the best in Israel – the food is gourmet kosher, the menu totally mouth-watering, and the service impeccable.

In addition, you would receive the free services of Anglo Israel Events, one of the top event organisers in Israel, established by an ex-Brit in 1994.

Anglo Israel Events would oversee, advise, co-ordinate and supervise all the arrangements, advising on the most suitable suppliers for your event, and being in attendance at the actual event…………and their services are completely free of charge!!!

Please contact Joan for further details of this unique offer.

Israel: + 972 523 615 198
UK: 0203 514 1012

How to plan a Wedding in Israel?

planning a wedding in israelHow to Plan a Wedding in Israel?

The most difficult question is where???

Israel is blessed with so many beautiful locations that you will be spoilt for choice.

How do you envisage your dream event?

By the sea?
in a beautiful landscaped garden?
in a hotel with beautiful grounds?
in the desert?
In Jerusalem, overlooking the Old City?

The time of year when you want to hold your wedding will help in selecting the venue.

For instance, the summer months are ideal for a venue by the sea, but in July and August you will also need a hall for dinner and dancing, as the weather can be hot and humid. The chuppah can be held outside before sunset so that, as the ceremony is ending, the sun will be setting on the horizon – what could be more romantic?

Hotels are ideal locations for any time of year, and the big financial advantage is that, for overseas guests who are staying at the hotel, no VAT is charged on their meals at the wedding.

Although the hotel will have its own catering staff, it sometimes is possible to bring in an outside chef, who would upgrade the menu.

A lot of banqueting places have their own in-house caterer, but some are willing to hire the hall and allow you to bring in an outside caterer.

When signing a contract for the catering, you will be asked to guarantee a minimum number of guests. Remember to always quote the lowest number of guests that you expect – you can always increase the number nearer the time.

You will be invited to a food-tasting by the caterer, when you will be able to list which foods you liked, and which you would prefer not to be served.

Music can often be a bone of contention between the couple, and their parents. Most parents prefer a live band, whilst some couples want to hire a DJ. A very good compromise is to have a live band for the first part of the party, changing to a DJ later in the evening.

It’s a good idea to give the band or DJ a songlist or at least an idea of the music you want played and, more importantly, the type of music you don’t want them to play.

If you don’t have a Chazan for the ceremony, discuss with the musician what songs you want for the procession.

Ensure that the musicians have a timesheet for the evening, so that they know in advance the timing of the reception, Chuppah, dinner, speeches and dancing.

Photographer/video – there is a plethora of talented photographers and videographers in Israel, each one with their own unique style. When you have chosen one, be sure to give them a list of the people who are important to you, and with whom you want to be photographed.

Its always a good idea (and saves time and stress) to appoint a member of the family, or a good friend, who will be responsible for ensuring that everyone is in the same place, when the photographs are taken.

  • Décor – this can be as simple as some candles on the table, or as wild as your imagination – and your budget – allows. There are very talented designers and florists, who will amaze you with their ideas.
  • Make-up and hair – most brides want to be pampered but it is important to choose a make-up artist and hairdresser who will listen to what you want, and to have a trial before the actual day.
  • Paperwork – in order to save time and stress, ITIM and Tzohar are organisations in Israel which will advise and assist you with this.

You will naturally be nervous and excited as your day approaches – remember, though, this is (hopefully!!) a once-in-a-lifetime event – so relax and enjoy it. The guests will take their cue from the bride and groom – if they are relaxed and happy, then that sets the atmosphere for the evening!!

Some places have in-house catering but, if you wish to bring in an outside caterer, then it is usually possible to just hire the location.

Sounds daunting?

So – the next stage is to find an experienced and professional event organizer and forget all the stress…

Transportation of Wedding Guests

wedding guest transportationCoaching About Coaches

When arranging a wedding overseas, the comfort of the guests is always a high priority, especially those who have come from overseas. A nice personal touch is to arrange for gifts to be placed in the guests’ hotel rooms – be it something simple, such as a bottle of water and sweets, to more elaborate personalized gifts.

Another important aspect to consider is transportation of the guests from their hotels to the wedding location. The most convenient, of course, is to arrange coaches, which also ensures the guests arrive at the wedding on time. It is essential to use a well-established coach or bus company, and to provide the coach drivers with the directions and exact address of the event.

Sometimes clients insist on using a particular coach company, because their quote appears cheaper than the more well-known companies. However, this can prove to be a false saving.

One of my clients was adamant that we hire a coach company owned by friend of theirs. I advised them that I was very reluctant to use a company that was unknown to me, but they were insistent.

I asked one of my team to be at the hotel when the coaches were due to arrive, and wasn’t overly surprised when I was told that the coaches were late, in spite of the fact that we had phoned the company numerous times to confirm the timing.

My assistant ensured that the guests stayed inside the air-conditioned hotel, and were supplied with drinks whilst they waited.

The coaches eventually arrived, driven by very gruff impatient drivers.

Fortunately, my assistant had copies of the directions to the venue, as the coach company had omitted to give this is to the drivers.

The coaches eventually arrived at the wedding venue, albeit 30 minutes later than planned. To my astonishment, the drivers – in their not over-clean clothes – entered the Garden with the guests, and proceeded to help themselves to the reception food.

My assistant asked them politely to leave the reception, to which the drivers took great offence, but reluctantly returned to their coaches – but not before they filled their plates with food, and glasses with drinks.

At midnight, the drivers approached me, and told me the guests had to board the coaches. I pointed out that the contract stipulated that the coaches stayed until 2.00 a.m., when the party was scheduled to finish.

The drivers became so angry, that I tried to contact the head-office, but of course there was no-one to speak to.

At last, they calmed down, and went to sit outside the Garden to wait for the party to end – or so I thought.

At 12.30 a.m., I went to check on the state of the toilets – when I returned I was shocked to find all the guests rushing to the coaches.

After questioning the guests, I discovered that, in my absence, the drivers went on to the dance-floor and announced that the coaches were leaving, and that the guests had to immediately leave the wedding.

Trying to stay calm, my assistants and I ran to the coaches, and explained to all the guests that the drivers had made a big mistake, and they were all invited back to the dance-floor.

Fortunately, the bride and groom, and their guests, found the situation very amusing, and the party continued as planned until 2.00 a.m.

The next day, the clients apologized for not taking my advice about the coaches, and thanked us for handling the situation in such a professional and calm manner.

Wedding In Israel

wedding organiserPlanning a wedding seems to bring out the best and worst in people, transforming a normally calm, sensible person into a nervous wreck, who obsesses about the smallest detail when a wedding takes place overseas, this anxiety can become overwhelming, combined with a sense of not being in control this is the reason so many people who plan weddings in Israel decide to use the services of an event organiser.

An experienced, professional event organiser would take you through all the process, step by step, discussing your budget, your thoughts on your dream event, location, suitable dates…..and so on.

How to choose a wedding organiser that you can trust?

The most important point to bear in mind is the language – ensure that the organiser comes from a similar background to your own, therefore avoiding language and cultural problems.

“Lost in translation” is something you don’t want to happen in planning your event!!

Check on the organiser’s experience – studying event management in a college is great, but nothing can beat hands-on experience.

You would want to check his/her references – but who is going to give you a dis-satisfied ex-client to contact???

Better to contact one of the suppliers that the organiser recommends to check if they have a good working relationship, with mutual trust and respect.

Does the oganiser sound confident and cheerful? The bottom line is to choose someone with whom you have good chemistry, and whom you know you can trust implicitly with your once-in-a-lifetime event.

Planning a wedding: a little help from your friends…

Planning a wedding in IsraelPlanning a wedding is notoriously stressful – especially when organizing it in another country, where the customs are different, the language a barrier and a feeling of being out of control prevails.

Having a representative in that country, be it a responsible friend of relative, or, better still a professional and experienced wedding planner, can help alleviate the stress, especially someone who is able to troubleshoot.

Take this situation. After many months of looking at many different venues for a wedding, my client eventually chose a beautiful location in Tel Aviv, complete with swimming pool, and overlooking the sea, with a stunning backdrop for photos.

A few months before the wedding, the owner of the venue decided to renovate the place. We were assured that the renovations would be completed before the wedding and, to be absolutely sure, requested and received a signed letter from the management to that effect.

One week before the day of the wedding, the renovations were in fact completed as promised but, to our horror, the contractors still had an enormous industrial crane on site, just behind the area of the swimming pool where most of the photos were going to be taken.

It transpired that the contractor had been taken to hospital for an emergency operation, and nobody was able to make the decision to remove the crane.

After innumerable phone calls, we were unsuccessful in finding anyone in authority who was willing to take responsibility for removing the crane. Needless to say, the bride was hysterical.

Two days before the wedding, I had an inspiration. I realized that if something couldn’t be moved or changed, it should be made a feature. So I asked the owner of the venue to have an enormous white banner printed to completely cover the crane, on which would be written in huge letters “Mazel Tov to the bride and groom.”

The wedding was fantastic, the bride and groom were thrilled with the banner, and the guests were so impressed that we had managed to arrange to hire a crane especially for the wedding.

Whilst concentrating and organizing all the little details that need to be dealt with for the wedding, it is important to bear in mind that, what is really important and what really contributes to a memorable event, is that the bride and groom are relaxed and happy. This is really the most important thing, and it enables the guests to relax and celebrate with the couple.

Having someone at the event to be responsible for coordinating and supervising the suppliers, is a tremendous help in ensuring the smooth running of the evening, and contributes to the couple being relaxed.

Most problems are solvable, with a little imagination. If not, only those involved in arranging the event would notice any hiccup – the guests would be too busy enjoying themselves to notice.

Weddings in Israel: Rain Stops Play

wedding planning israelOne of the big advantages of having a wedding in Israel is that the weather is very predictable – most of the time!

It’s fairly certain that no rain will fall between the middle of May and October, June being the optimum month, when the sun shines, the temperature is not too hot, and the humidity very low.

Having a chuppah outside in one of the many beautiful banqueting gardens is a very memorable experience – whether its by the sea, in a forest, or overlooking a lake.

However, there is always the chance of the unexpected, and having an alternative plan is not just a good idea, but a necessity.

One of my clients from America chose the beginning of May for her wedding, taking her family’s commitments into consideration. She realised she was taking a chance with the weather when she decided on a gorgeous garden in the north of Israel, which had no indoor facilities.

We checked and double-checked the weather forecast in the week proceeding the wedding and were relieved that no rain was predicted.

The day before the wedding, I received a phone call from the owners of the garden, asking if I thought we should order a covering for the area where the dinner and dancing would take place.

Although no rain was forecast for the next day, and being unable to contact the family, I made an executive decision to order the canopy. It wouldn’t spoil the view, and was a good option in case of inclement weather.

On the morning of the wedding, there was not a cloud in the sky, the sun shone and the temperature was just perfect.

The chuppah was held in the late afternoon, with a backdrop of blossoming borganias, and the reception was held amongst the trees of the garden.

I wondered if I had made a mistake in ordering the canopy, even though it was fairly unobtrusive.

However, just as the reception was ending, I felt a few drops of rain, and noticed rain clouds gathering overhead.

The guests had started entering the dining area, when the rain became heavier and heavier, eventually turning into a deluge, complete with hailstones.

Luckily, all of the guests were by then under the protection of the canopy but, as the rain increased, and the wind blew furiously, the electricity failed.

The DJ’s equipment was ruined by the rain, the lights went out, and the waiters unable to go to the kitchen and bring out the food.

I then had to make some very quick decisions. Fortunately, along with the DJ, we had hired two musicians, a guitar player and a saxophonist. As the DJ had to wait for alternative equipment to arrive, I requested the musicians to improvise and to play some lively music.

The guests responded with great amusement, and started singing and dancing around the – by then – soaked tables. Umbrellas were obtained from the offices of the garden, necessary for guests who needed the toilets, which were situated outside the vicinity of the canopy.

At some point, the rain was so heavy, there was even a danger of the canopy collapsing, but the waiters managed to dislodge the rain that had accumulated on the roof.

By then, we had managed to rig some sort of protection over the pathway leading to the kitchen, in order for the waiters to bring the food.

Tables were moved away from the edge, wet tablecloths quickly replaced, electricity restored, alternative equipment arrived for the DJ, and the food was eventually served.

In spite of the rain – or maybe because of it – the atmosphere was (can I say?) electric!! Everyone was having a wonderful time, and no-one wanted to stop dancing!

By the end of the evening, the bottom of the bride’s gorgeous wedding dress was soaked and dirty – but she and the groom said the wedding was fantastic and beyond their wildest dreams

I was congratulated on remaining so calm – but I was so relieved that I had ordered the canopy – the alternative was unthinkable.

Planning a Wedding in Israel: Boxes and boat

Planning a Wedding in IsraelWhen planning a wedding in Israel, its advisable to work out a budget beforehand, and then to realise that the actual event will probably cost more then you anticipated – approximately 15% more.

There are ways, of course, in which to save money. for instance, a DJ would cost less than a band and, for the decor, choose flowers that are grown in Israel, rather than importing flowers – your designer or event organizer would advise you on this.

However, if the event is over a few days, and involves different locations, it’s uneconomical to save money by trying to arrange everything yourself. A professional event organiser would smooth through all the arrangements and visit the locations in advance, to ensure everything is in place. Even if there are problems, the event organizer should be able to deal with them, without stressing the client.

One of my clients wanted to have a post-wedding party on a boat, in Herziliya Pituach. I visited the boat, and met with the company that was catering the party, and also the designer who would be responsible for the decor,

The evening arrived but, because of the boat’s schedule, I was unable to deliver the boxes of party goods until an hour before the guests were due to arrive.

A taxi dropped me at the harbour, and I asked the driver to wait whilst I located someone on board who would help me bring in the heavy boxes.

When returning to the place where the taxi had dropped me, I realised with horror that no taxi was in sight. I had a sinking feeling that the driver had driven off with all the boxes, and was just about to ring the telephone number on the receipt, when I noticed the boxed had just been dumped in a dark corner of the harbour.

Extremely relieved, I then waited for the person who was going to help me take the boxes on board. After 10 minutes, I realised no-one was coming and I would have to find another solution.

I eventually stopped two young men, who happened to be passing by, and explained the situation to me. they were more than willing to help, hoping that the party was for singles!1

After the boxes were safely on board, I then went to find the designer, who was not answering her phone. I asked her to take the party goods, and arrange them on the appropriate tables. She followed me to where the boxes had been placed on board – but the boxes were, once again, nowhere to be seen.

Again, I had a terrible sinking feeling, and had no idea what could have happened to them. No-one on board had seen them, and I couldn’t imagine where they could be.

I then noticed a pile of garbage on the dock, on top of which were some cardboard boxes. I ran to the pile hoping that they were the missing boxes and you can imagine my enormous relief when discovering that they were indeed the missing boxes and, even more important, were still intact.

I eventually learnt that someone was over zealous in trying to get the boat cleaned up before the party and thought that they were just trash, without bothering to check the contents.

The designer and I then had 35 minutes to distribute the party goods, and to regain our composure.

When the guests eventually arrived, everything was in place, and the designer and I were able to greet them, looking composed and calm. No-one had any idea of the drama that had unfolded before their arrival.

Even the most meticulous plans sometimes go astray and, even though there were heart-stopping moments, the clients were blissfully aware of any problems and had the most amazing party.

To Hire or Not to Hire?

Wedding Planner Checking Table Decorations In MarqueeIs an event organizer really necessary to organize the wedding? Some people feel that it’s an expense that can be avoided by arranging everything themselves. Hotels are often attractive venues for people coming from overseas, as special packages are often offered, which include the services of a banqueting manager to oversee everything.

However, a 5 star sales pitch doesn’t necessarily translate into 5 star service.

One of my clients from America had already chosen the hotel, when she booked my services. The 5 star hotel, in the north of Israel, had a dedicated ballroom for events, and a beautiful garden where the Chuppah and reception would be held.

I was rather skeptical about this hotel, having heard rumours of bad management at past events. I therefore decided to arrange a meeting with the General Manager of the hotel, to voice my concerns, and was assured that all the problems that had occurred in the past had now been dealt with.

As usual, my team and I arrived many hours before the wedding was due to start, to inspect that everything was in place.

I was therefore horrified to discover that the stage where the band would play had a massive hole in the middle. Trying to find the technical manager to deal with this took many frustrating moments, and his response – a shrug of the shoulders –hardly inspired confidence. Eventually, however, after many “discussions”, he and his team did replace the broken stage.

In the meantime, my assistant went to check the table settings, and reported back to me that many tablecloths were stained, and some even had cigarette burns. Obviously, we immediately contacted the banqueting manager who, on seeing these cloths, was quite unconcerned and retorted “it happens sometimes”.

By now, my usual calm demeanour was swiftly being replaced by acute irritation!

I requested, or rather demanded, that all the cloths be replaced and, although my request was met by something approaching disdain, new cloths were eventually found and the tables re-set.

My next challenge was the bar, which had been set up in the garden, and consisted of odd assortment of tables, placed together to form an irregular shaped rectangle. I was so astonished that anyone would consider this acceptable, that I was unsure whether to laugh or cry. This time, I enlisted the help of the General Manager who, I was relieved to note, realised the seriousness of these problems and ensured that the tables were speedily replaced by a proper structure.

By now, it was only half an hour before the guests were arriving. On careful re-examination of the hall and garden set-up, we were at last satisfied that all the problems had been rectified.

The bridal party were blissfully unaware of any of these issues and the reception and Chuppah were perfect.

The ballroom now looked beautiful, and the guests were enjoying a gourmet meal – when I noticed that one of the banqueting sales girls had entered the room with a group of prospective clients, all of whom were wearing t-shirts and carrying backpacks.

When I challenged her, the girl replied that she was just going to show them round the ballroom, and wouldn’t cause any disturbance. At that point, my assistants and I blocked their path, and ensured they exited the room immediately.

Had my client not hired our services, her wedding would have been completely spoilt by the inefficiency and total lack of professionalism by the hotel staff.

Although the General Manager, with whom I met after the wedding, agreed that the problems I had experienced were totally unacceptable, I will try to ensure that no clients would use that hotel – at least not in the foreseeable future.