Our $21K Glamorous Jewish Wedding in Tel Aviv, Israel

Planned in just three weeks

Rachel, recruiter  & Tal, motion graphics designer

sum-up of the wedding vibe: An intimate and colorful wedding for an international couple

Planned Budget: Unplanned
Actual Budget: $20,600
Number of Guests: 110
Location: Ray, Tel Aviv, Israel
photographer: Ben Kelmer

Where we allocated the most funds:

The venue! Tal is into food, so it was important that the food be exceptionally good for our guests. The venue we chose covered the ceremony, reception and party, as well as all of the food and drinks for the event. Even though it was the majority of our wedding cost, we were able to bargain with them and bring the price down since there was very little time until our date. In Israel, it is traditional that each guest gives a monetary gift which is supposed to cover the cost of their attendance, so theoretically those gifts should cover at least the price of the venue itself. The price of the venue was about $16,000 (out of our $20,000 total cost). Aside from the venue, our other largest fees were the photographer, videographer, and DJ. The photographer cost about $1250 and the videographer under $1000. They were so talented and we wanted to pay for great quality photos and video. This was something we didn’t want to compromise on. Our DJ came recommended to us from a friend. She is a radio editor and host during the day, and cost about $700.

Where we allocated the least funds:

We didn’t spend anything on decorations. The venue provided a basic design with candles and little plants on each table, which was simple and lovely enough. We sent the invitations as an image via text to all of the invitees, and also spoke to everyone over the phone. Because it was just over 100 people we didn’t need to go crazy and print out hundreds of invitations. That definitely saved on the budget. Everything else was small but added up. We needed to print menus for dinner, I needed professional hair and makeup, a bouquet, my dress needed alterations, and Tal needed to buy some small things like a bowtie and pocket square. All of our extras came out to just over $800.

What was totally worth it:

We actually had two weddings! The week before the wedding in Tel Aviv we had a civil marriage in Cyprus—we were able to fly in and out on the same day because it’s so close to Israel. I didn’t want a religious wedding, and the only option to get legally married aside from this is a civil marriage abroad. It was just the two of us: simple, romantic and very special. But we were also glad to be able to celebrate with friends and family a week later. The second and more formal wedding with all of our friends and family was in Tel Aviv. The venue, Ray, was amazing. We chose our venue because the food was prepared by a well-known Israeli chef and restaurateur, Yonatan Roshfeld. Everyone exclaimed how amazing and flavorful the food was, and how impressed by the presentation they were. We also really loved our photographer, Ben Kelmer, and his style. He captured the raw and beautiful moments so honestly. And of course my hair and makeup artist! I almost never wear makeup and she made me look amazing while looking natural and light.

What was totally not worth it:

The day of the wedding could have been less stressful. There were a few hiccups that came up the morning of. Tal’s bowtie and pocket square arrived that morning in the mail from Sweden, super last minute. We also lost some time with the photographer to take pictures because he had to pick up a few things for the ceremony. It would have been helpful to have a friend assist us with some errands we needed that day, like picking up my bouquet.

A few things that helped us along the way:

I was pretty lucky because my husband actually did most of the wedding planning! He is a freelancer so he had the ability to take some time off to focus on this. Also, everything was done in Hebrew, which is not my first language, so it was easier for him to manage the details.

My best practical advice for my planning self:

Stay calm and do not stress! It was really crazy to plan a wedding in just three weeks, but it was over so quickly. Also, we could have invited some more people because there are always a few who say they will attend, and then don’t, which meant there were some empty seats we could have filled with others.

Favorite thing about the wedding:

I was really happy that we eloped before the big ceremony. We had a very special day in Cyprus, just the two of us. It was really romantic and special. We were able to breathe a bit and have fun before the big day to come.


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