Planning a Wedding in Israel

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…

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.