The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your Wedding in Israel
Mazel Tov on your engagement! We’re glad you’re considering planning a wedding in Israel. You’re in great company as many modern Jewish couples return each year to tie the knot in the Jewish State. Israel is one of the most beautiful and lively places in the world, and it brings a special energy to your big day. In addition to offering powerful spiritual meaning and cultural significance, the Holy Land is also a home to gorgeous wedding venues and eight months of sunshine throughout the year.
What differentiates Weddings in Israel from Weddings elsewhere?
Now that you’re set on your Israeli wedding, here’s what you need to be thinking about:
The biggest difference between weddings that take place in Israel vs. elsewhere involves the process of opening a file with Rabbinate and being approved for marriage. Israel has no provision for civil marriage. As a result, there are some limitations to consider. For example, same-sex marriages will not be performed by the Rabbinate. If either partner was previously married and is now divorced, you’ll need to obtain a certificate of bachelorhood from the Rabbinic Court. You’ll also have to select a Rabbinate-approved rabbi to perform your wedding ceremony.
While there are new organizations springing up to create more flexibility in this regard, most Jewish couples still decide they’d like their marriage to be recognized by the Rabbinate. So, you’ll need to open a file with the Marriage Registration office as early as 3-6 months before your wedding. To open this file, you’ll want to have some idea of your intended venue so you can select the appropriate city office. The Rabbinate will also ask to see a passport, a confirmation of Jewish identity from your home synagogue, and the ketubah (marriage license) from both sets of parents.
Once you’ve selected your Rabbi, he will want to make sure that your wedding venue or caterer adhere to the rules of Kashrut. And at the end of your wedding, it is your Rabbi who will be responsible for delivering the proper documentation to the Rabbinate and sending you your marriage license.
Due to the bureaucracy and inconveniences surrounding this process, many couples who live abroad hire a wedding planner to help them navigate each step of the process. A wedding planner can not only guide you through the documentation process but can also help you to submit forms physically to the Rabbinate. Often, multiple trips are required before they have all the documentation that they need. Your Israeli wedding planner may even have existing relationships at the Rabbinate that can help expedite your paperwork.
How do I plan my Israeli wedding while I’m abroad?
Planning an Israeli wedding is always time-consuming, but it’s even more difficult when you’re living abroad. A destination wedding often comes with logistics concerns. You’ll need to book your venue as soon as possible, sign contracts with all your vendors, and make accommodations so that your out of town guests have a great time.
The first step should be determining your budget. This is particularly important because it will inform all of your other decisions. If your partners’ family or your own family is contributing, be sure to ask exactly how much to prevent overspending. In addition to a maximum budget, many couples will break down where they would like to spend their funds. For example, if you love adventure and quality time with your partner, you may choose to put a large portion of your budget towards the honeymoon. Conversely, if your focus is on creating a memorable experience for your friends and family, you might focus on events and activities surrounding your wedding that your guests might enjoy.
Every wedding is a unique experience that is customized to the bride and groom. But trust us, everything starts with the budget. Then make a list of the things that are most important to you, your “non-negotiables.” Make sure you and your partner are on the same page. Then it’s time to get to work!
How do I find a venue?
As you plan your wedding in Israel, you’ll discover that the country offers beautiful weather and geographic diversity, meaning you’re sure to find a venue that matches your style. After you settle on a budget, the search for a venue can begin. The most popular wedding venues are typically booked months in advance, especially during the Spring and Summer months, so try to do this a minimum of 6-9 months in advance of your wedding date. If you have your heart set on one venue, you may need to provide some flexibility to your wedding date. A wedding planner can be helpful in helping you find the perfect venue. They can visit locations for you, send you photos and videos, ask questions on your behalf, and give you their honest opinions to help you decide which venue is best.
Picking the perfect venue can be one of the toughest decisions. To help you get a head start, here are some of the weddings we’ve helped plan for some of our international couples.
If you’d like to experience architectural elegance surrounded by stunning landscaping, consider The Luca, just outside of Mishmar HaSharon, Netanya. The venue has a beautifully landscaped outdoor reception area and a luxurious indoor ballroom for dinner and dancing. They are set up for events with up to 1000 guests and boast an open kitchen floorplan, which means you don’t need to go looking for a caterer.
Seeking a venue that can balance sophistication and bright, modern style? You may find yourself drawn to Beit Andromeda. It’s the perfect setting for a colorful, intimate Jewish wedding like the one we planned for Lili & Danny. The venue can host up to 300 guests, and sits at the center of Old Jaffa, above the sea with views along the coast to Herziliah.
Dreaming of the perfect seaside wedding? We’ve planned so many events at Beit Alayam. The beautiful views and gentle sea breeze provide an unforgettable romantic backdrop for every ceremony. The area is full of history and located near Tel Aviv.
At RS Eventime, there isn’t a venue or restaurant we haven’t seen or worked with. We’ll help you discover the lesser known locations that could be perfect for your needs. We’ll also be able to give you professional advice to help you avoid obstacles along the way.
How do I seek out and hire Israeli vendors?
In Israel, you’re likely to find that business operates a little differently than abroad. It can be harder to make bookings and negotiate over the phone, whether due to language barriers or a difference in communication style and expectations. It’s especially difficult to get in touch with independent contractors. Photographers and videographers have varied hours and often communicate through text messages or worse, Facebook, leading to lots of back and forth. You’ll probably speak to at least a dozen vendors during the planning process including videographers, photographers, florists, caterers, hair-stylists, seamstresses, bands, DJs and rental companies.
It’s particularly useful to hire wedding planners before you begin vendor selection. If Hebrew is not your native language, it’s too easy for there to be misunderstandings. Israeli wedding planners can help simplify the process and manage all the vendor relationships, from initial meeting to the day of the wedding. At RS Eventime, we speak fluent French, Hebrew, and English. We can also help you negotiate a great price, prevent any communication errors, and ensure you have an ironclad contract free of any hidden fees.
How can I make this an unforgettable trip for my out of town guests?
Your wedding is about the love you have with your partner, but it’s also a great opportunity to share an extraordinary experience with your friends and family. The secret to making this an unforgettable trip for your guests is to put yourself in their shoes and to think of what you would need to feel safe and taken care of.
It is customary to provide your guests with some travel and accommodation suggestions. Wedding planners can help you to secure bulk discounted rates for members of your wedding party. In Israel in particular, this can be quite difficult to do from abroad. You may find that you need to physically visit the hotels to negotiate the discounted rates. A wedding planner can do this on your behalf. We suggest arranging a discounted bulk rate at two or three hotels with different price ranges. This will allow your guests to choose a price they’re most comfortable with.
Coordinating travel is one of the most daunting tasks of a destination wedding, but it’s worth it! A wedding in Israel is a great time to reconnect with family members who live outside of the country and to bring together two families who may not have spent much time together prior to the ceremony. (For example, the events that surround the wedding such as the Welcome Party or Shabbat Hatan can often be the very first time your families will come together!)
At RS Eventime, we really believe in adding a personal touch to every aspect of your wedding. We love creating customized local guides for all the family and friends of the Bride and Groom! In the guide, we include the itinerary for the wedding as well as insider information about the city where everyone will be staying. It’s a great way to make your guests aware of everything from cute cafés to professional hairdressers they can visit before the big day. In addition to a guide, it’s a nice gesture to make welcome bags filled with snacks from Israel and small necessities like sunscreen and printed maps.
Your guests will begin to contact you as soon as they arrive. It’s a good idea to distribute reliable contact information before anyone boards a plane! If you anticipate being too busy to respond, designate a wedding planner as the point of contact. This person can make sure your guests know how to handle things like securing a taxi or finding a great dinner location.
On your wedding day, while you’re busy enjoying the moment and socializing, your guests will be noticing every little detail. It’s a very nice gesture to print wedding programs and dinner menus so that your guests are kept in the loop every step of the way. Your wedding planner can help arrange all of these little details, as well as small goodie bags and takeaways such as custom Kippas and little boxes of chocolates. The sky is really the limit!
Are you ready to get started?
Planning your wedding can be overwhelming, but it’s also incredibly exciting! It’s the start of your new life with your partner and it's worth putting in the effort to make sure it’s spectacular. If you feel you could benefit from experienced wedding planning services, we’d love to meet you! At RS Eventime, we’ve organized dozens of Israeli weddings for couples living abroad. We’ll partner with you from start to finish so that you can enjoy the peace of mind that comes from not having to worry about a single detail on your wedding day.