When they first started planning their wedding, Eliana and Pinny, both Americans who made aliyah on their own, put a premium on choosing a date that would allow their parents and siblings to fly in for the simcha.
However, the Omicron variant had other plans, and the week before the wedding, Israel shut its borders – even to first-degree relatives. As devastating as it was for the couple to accept that so many important family members wouldn’t be able to make it, they decided to forge on – and despite the sadness that comes with being far away from loved ones (though Eliana and Pinny did find some clever ways for their long-distance siblings to participate via Zoom!), the pair pulled off a truly amazing day. And that was largely thanks to the incredible network they’ve grown in their time in Israel – so much so that, even with international guests out of the picture, they still had a 300-person wedding!
Lucky for Eliana and Pinny, one key VIP who was able to make it was their photographer, Smashing The Glass Recommended Vendor Herschel Gutman Photography. From the moment they got engaged, these two knew Herschel was the only photographer for them – so much so that, in Eliana’s words, “I wouldn’t have considered a date that we couldn’t have had Herschel Gutman as our photographer!” And Herschel and his team didn’t disappoint – in addition to being a total delight to work with on the day, they also did an incredible job capturing all the emotion and energy of this very special day.
There’s so much more we could say about this wonderful Jewish wedding, but we’ll leave it to the bride – who looked radiant in Dorit Izbizki – to fill you in on the details…
How we Met
Eliana, the bride: Mine and Pinny’s older sisters, Shosh and Yael, have been friends for years now. Ever since I moved to Israel, 2 years after Pinny did, my sister has been saying “You have got to go out with Shosh’s little brother!” For years though the timing was never right. He’s in his fourth year of the army, and I just began law school. Finally, last May, my sister brought up his name again and we both said yes.
The day after his first text to me we went out on our first date… and we just clicked right away. Six months later, on my 21st birthday, he proposed!
After our engagement, with both of our parents and most of our siblings living in America, it was important to choose a date that everyone would be able to fly in and share in the simcha! (We had no idea of the impending omicron variant…at the time, it really seemed like we arrived at the light at the end of the tunnel with the third vaccine open for everyone in both Israel and America.) We then chose a date in December that would be the last time all of our siblings can fly in for a while, with that said, we had a pretty short engagement.
Keeping It Local
Because our parents were in America it was up to just me and Pinny to plan the wedding. First step – the venue.
We wanted to stay close to our neighborhood so our friends didn’t have to stress about the travel and our favorite was a hall called Xanadu in Petach Tikva. They had a really nice indoor option for the Kabbalat Panim and Chupa, which was a necessity for our December wedding, but most important to us was the dance floor. They had the most spacious dance floor with a four sided bar right near the middle. Our goal for the night was to ensure all of our guests had as much fun as possible and Xanadu was just the place. Not to mention the food… the tasting we went to at Xanadu was one of our most fun and delicious date nights. (You’ve got to try the bao buns when you’re there.)
A Winter Wedding
When it came to the color scheme I had to scratch my original dream of having a pastel and floral themed wedding because unlike what I had always imagined when it comes to my wedding, it was winter. We went with the colors maroon and gold, mostly because we both had too many blue weddings in our families and we needed what people call a “winter color scheme”. Any family member who wanted to, we told them they can wear the colors but we weren’t too particular about it. There are some details we just didn’t think were so important when it comes to a wedding that is really about celebrating and being happy for the new marriage.
Pinny and I felt pretty confident in all of our decisions and we really kept on top of everything with check lists and spreadsheets and thought “hey, we can be party planners, we got this.” Until a few weeks before the wedding…
Unfortunately the week before our wedding, Israel shut its borders again, even for first degree relatives. They canceled all the permission forms they distributed to our siblings and other family members after their long hours of trying to get vaccines and submitting their requests. It was really devastating. Pinny and I never wanted to picture a wedding without all of our families- especially siblings and grandparents who already had tickets (and even began to pack!) There was no option to push off the wedding as starting January we had siblings on both sides who couldn’t fly (due to happy circumstances) which meant either way our siblings couldn’t be with us.
Our siblings are the ones who kept us strong through these new restrictions. My brothers in America and their wives and kids made extra time to reach out to me and Pinny as the wedding approached, explaining to us that just because they weren’t going to be with us physically- Pinny is still going to be their new brother and just as much a part of the family as anyone.
Pinny’s siblings reached out to me as well, really making me feel welcomed into their big family. We spoke of getting together in America later in the year for a “first degree relative wedding” (funny enough all of our older siblings overlap in age and know each other). We reassured ourselves with the thought of an impromptu celebration in America where my niece would get to actualize her dream of being our flower girl.
With the new changes, and a few more tense bumps in the road, Pinny and I realized we could use some help and reached out to the fabulous Shani Falik Roth – Events by Shani, a party planner with whom Pinny’s mom has worked before. She really swept in to save the day. Shani reviewed everything with us and filled in the last minute pieces that we really needed help with. She kept everything and everyone under control both before and during the wedding: coordinating with all of the vendors and truly allowing us to enjoy as guests. We are so thankful to have had her!
Hair + Make-up
As soon as we chose a date there were 2 vendors I immediately reached out to- Herschel Gutman, our amazing photographer (much more on him soon), and Tiferet Lerman. Tiferet did my make up years ago for a cousin’s wedding and ever since then I had followed her on facebook and just knew she is the only one I want to do my make up for my special day. Thank God I booked her early as she is one of the most popular makeup artists in the country. She made me feel absolutely gorgeous with an effortless and clean look. And something extra special about her was how energetic and excited she was during the preparations.
She gave me her full attention, asking all about Pinny and our wedding as if she isn’t working with a different bride everyday. She even stuck around for photos so we can get nice prep pictures. Along with the wonderful Nikki Sadek London who did my hair, I really felt like a princess on my wedding day. As the pictures come out more and more friends ask me if I had purposefully went with a Disney princess look. I hadn’t thought about it, but it could be that my self consciousness had my favorite childhood princess, Belle, in mind when I decided on my look for the big day.
A Dorit Izbizki Dress
On that note, nothing made me feel more like a princess than my beautiful Dorit Izbizki dress. Dorit and her team are the sweetest, most accommodating group and really made the whole dress process so fun. The first dress I tried on was the one! Unlike most of her magnificent designs, she had one dress that was all satin. I wanted an all white, more simple satin gown so as soon as I put it on I knew it was the one. I told them specific details about the neckline and sleeve that I loved and they altered the dress to be just so.
Then (dun dun dunn) it was only a few weeks before the wedding when I got nervous that the dress was too plain. After messaging Dorit at midnight with my concerns she made time for me the next morning so that we could find a solution and it was actually my mom’s idea to add some kind of flowers down the sides. What Dorit created for me was just unbelievably my style. It was a hard day when I had to return the dress.
From scraps cut off of my dress, Dorit made me a bow to put in my hair (again a classic Belle look). Besides that I didn’t have many accessories as I’m really not into jewelry but after the Chupa, Pinny gave me the most beautiful diamond earrings from the jeweler Jeff Mor, as a “yichud room present” which I wore the rest of the night. I had gotten my ears pierced only a month before the wedding so they were the first pair of earrings I’d gotten from someone.
When it came to bridesmaids I didn’t appoint any friends. I didn’t love the idea of making some friends feel more special than others, especially on a night where the focus should be on the bride and groom, but that didn’t stop our friends from going above and beyond for Pinny and me. They didn’t need to be told to wear anything special or do anything specific to know exactly what to do to make our wedding unforgettable. They had the adorable “bride and groom cups” (shout out to Noa Saltzman!) as well as all the schtick and dances in the world (I left the hall with 3 new t- shirts!). It’s a really amazing thing that guests at our wedding didn’t even realize our lack of family members as every single friend of ours who was there really brought all their energy! Many of the vendors came up to me and Pinny to tell us just how amazing our friends clearly were.
Our chuppah was absolutely stunning, thanks to our fabulous florist. While I was under there beside Pinny the only thing that stopped me from smiling from ear to ear was when Pinny made me giggle countless times. We stood under our chuppah made up of the three taleitim of our late grandfathers (Grandpa, Saba and Zaidy) as we danced, and cried and became husband and wife!
We had an upbeat ceremony as opposed to the more solemn ones we were used to in America. Our friends jumped and clapped and danced between each blessing. Our emcees, who were two of Pinny’s closest friends, literally shook the Chuppah with their energy. An especially emotional part of the wedding was when my two older brothers, Avi and Dovid, read out prayers for the land of Israel and the soldiers of the IDF through zoom.
When we found out that our siblings would not be able to make brachot under our chuppah, it was very important to me that my two brothers still got to join in in some way. We asked our amazing Mesader Kiddushin, Rav Dudi Winkler (director of the Lev Lechayal program), what brachot were permissible to be read through zoom and he helped us come up with this great idea. I watched many of my family members and friends in the audience cry while the microphone was placed by the speaker of Pinny’s laptop where our siblings zoomed into the chuppah. We were so happy to be able to have each of our siblings share in the simcha so much despite not all of them being there physically.
Our Music Choice
I walked down the aisle to ‘Boei Kallah’ in the tune of Calum Scott’s ‘You are the reason’, the song Pinny and I coined as “our song” while dating. It was very special to me that I had my cousin, Yaniv Reifer, a famous Israeli Chazan, sing me down the aisle like he had for other family members of mine. Then our amazing band, Rimonim, led us through the rest of the Chuppah, from the fun instrumental intermissions to the beautiful ‘Im Eshkachech’ which ended in Pinny swiftly SMASHING THE GLASS!
And then we were husband and wife…
Shani found us an amazing florist, Liat, who jumped on our wedding plans with only 2 weeks to go. We told her the colors we were looking for and some ideas, but emphasized that we trust her to know what would look the most beautiful for the Chupah, Kiseh Kallah, tables and bouquet. And she did not let us down.
I am still so obsessed with my bouquet (especially the gold painted leaves which we still have displayed in our living room!) We had high and low centerpieces all in the color scheme, and though I generally had more opinions about the design, Pinny really liked the idea of the cylinders with floating candles and Tulips inside that we had as low centerpieces. The Florist took the hall and turned it into such a uniquely beautiful simcha.
Photographer and videographer
Mine and Pinny’s wedding can not be spoken of without a tremendous shout out to Herschel Gutman Photography and his whole team. From the week after our engagement I had been in touch with Herschel updating him on every changed date along the way to ensure he would still be available for us. I wouldn’t have considered a date that we couldn’t have had Herschel Gutman as our photographer! Along with his amazing assistant photographer, outstanding magnet guy, the live stream team and the absolutely terrific Tal on videography, we have the most beautiful snapshots of our wedding.
They literally captured every single moment from start to finish- the beauty, the emotion and the wonderful craziness on the dance floor. We were really beyond impressed. Besides for his amazing work, Herschel was also so kind to work with. As we continue to be in touch with him regarding the albums and vimeo he has treated us with nothing but professionalism and care.
We must also mention just how spectacular our band Rimonim was from the kabbalat panim through the many “encores”. The band, led by Yishai, was so energetic, they kept us all on the dance floor all night, no one wanted it to end! They mastered the perfect blend between English and Hebrew music that we were hoping for and were so amazing to work with. Make sure to request Nofar the violinist when you book them, she was really magnificent!
Besides what we hoped was an amazing night for our guests, we gave them birkonim from smachot.com. We chose ones that had very beautiful and fun pictures of different scenes of Jerusalem and more songs than you would even know exist.
A cute little addition at our wedding was a polaroid guestbook station we had out all night. We had mini kodak cameras set up for guests to take photos and then tape into a guestbook with a message for us, this is such a cute idea I recommend for others looking for a little something extra! I also had a unique “Tefillat Kallah” embroided for me with mine and Pinny’s names by our very talented cousin Kayla.
At the end of the day what really made our wedding as memorable as it was were the friends and family members that did get to make it. Despite the border closures we still managed to have a 300 person wedding! We each had friends from every stage of our lives, from elementary school to army service and university. Our parents were blown away at the lives Pinny and I built for ourselves here and the friends that cared and were “misameach” us as if we were their very own family. And the truth is, when it comes to the friends you make when you leave your life behind and make Aliyah they really do become your family here. We are forever thankful for every single one of them and hope to be even half as energetic at all of their future simchot!
Advice to couples currently planning their wedding
I’m no master at getting married, as I’ve only done it once, but I do have to say the best piece of advice is to just be a chill bride/ groom. I know that is no shock as many married couples will tell you that. But until it’s your turn it’s hard to understand how much things are bound to go awry on your big day- just take ours alone- our families were locked out of the country, my sister, our very own matchmaker got corona the week of the wedding and couldn’t come, it rained through the day and the bottom of my dress was filthy by the time I even made it to the hall!
But looking back – all that really needed to happen that day happened- Pinny and I got married! December 29th is a date I will never forget. I am so thankful for having Pinny by my side and helping me maintain my “chill” along every step of the way. Pinny quite literally showed me how to dance in the rain on our wedding day (he even came equipped with an umbrella that made for adorable photos!) I really thank him and our families for constantly reminding me to not get caught up in the details, it made for a much more fun and relaxing lead up to the wedding and the wedding day of mine and Pinny’s dreams!
Eliana & Pinny’s little white book
Photography – Herschel Gutman Photography offers 10% discount to all members of Smashing The Glass’s Brides Club
Videography – Tal
Wedding planner – Events by Shani
Venue – Xanadu
Bride’s dress – Dorit Izbizki
Bride’s shoes – Republic Footwear
Bride’s accessories – Jeff Mor Diamonds and Jewlery
Groom’s attire – Diplomat
Makeup – Makeup and Hair by Tiferet
Hair – Nikki Sadek
Band – Rimonim Band
Violin – Nofar Violinist
Cantor – Yaniv reifer
Stationery/Invitation – paperlesspost.com
Rabbi – Rav Dudi Winkler of Lev Lachayal
If you’re a Jewish or Jew-ish bride-to-be, you’ll want to join Smashing The Glass’ Brides Club. Guided by the world’s number 1 Jewish wedding expert, Karen Cinnamon, Brides Club is the private community for Jewish and Jew-ish brides that removes wedstress and indecision and gives you what you need to plan with confidence during these uncertain times. Join our Brides Club here.