an idiots guide to Israeli weddings

Posted on September 24, 2012

an idiots guide to Israeli weddings

An Idiot’s Guide to Israeli Weddings
Well, my loyal readers, the weather’s heating up. You know what that means: that’s right…love is in the air. Wedding season is upon us so you best be prepared for it, Israeli-style. I had the privilege of attending a couple of weddings recently which gave me an up-close-and-personal look at matrimony, Middle East-style.

Now…Israeli weddings are somewhat different from in America so you’ll want to know what to expect beforehand. Buckle your selt belts, here we go. (This does not apply to religious weddings which I have yet to experience here.)

Dress in this country is casual and weddings are no exception. I can’t even tell you the last time I wore a tie since moving here, if it’s even happened once. This makes for an interesting learning experience at your first wedding.

“Hey, who let the homeless guy in??? (pause) Oh, that’s the groom??? How’s he gonna break the glass wearing Crocs?”

Ok, so maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Although for some reason, it is virtually impossible to find a plain white dress shirt in this country. Apparently clothing manufacturers receive government incentives to print their white shirts with a dragon on the back. Future immigrants, bring dress clothes with you. Forget the ties.

I know you’re not sold on it but wait till you see it with the cumberbund.

You’ve seen “The Apprentice”? Money money money moooooney! MONEY!

Gift shopping is definitely easier in Israel. “Ehhhhhhh…mah zeh Crate and Bah-rehl???” There’s no registry, people…it’s all about the Benjamins, baby. Or the Yitzchak Ben-Zvis. That’s right, cash money.

Guests are greeted upon arrival by a box in which to drop your cash gift, in an envelope of course. (So are you supposed to put a card in there too? At my last wedding, I just wrote my short message ON the envelope. Weird, I know…but isn’t the drop box/cash thing weird anyway?) Someone told me that the happy couple uses this money to pay for the wedding and you’re basically paying for your meal. There’s a joke here somewhere. Commenters?

Voting for Knesset or leaving his gift? I guess we’ll never know…
(Hey, as long as you’re here, care to officiate?)
By the way, the guy on the 100 shekel bill is Yitzchak Ben-Zvi, the President from 1952 to 1963. He’s wearing a tie. Looking sharp, Yitz! It might be time to change those glasses though.

In America, often the bride invites her hometown rabbi who then recounts his history with the happy couple: “When I first met Sarah in the junior congregation, I knew she was going to be a wonderful Jewish woman.” In Israel, the couple may or may not choose the rabbi by opening the phone book to the letter “resh” and throwing darts. When the two families join the bearded man under the chupah, the guests then join together and sing “one of these things is not like the other”.

Then the ceremony begins. The goal of the invited guests is to talk as much as humanly possible and pretend that a wedding is not happening. Bonus points are awarded for answering a cell phone.

Immediately afterwards, mass congratulation ensues. I wasn’t used to that. At my first wedding, somebody came up to me and said “mazal toooooov!”

(Confused look) “What did I do? Well, I did eat 12 egg rolls in 5 minutes. I just didn’t think anybody noticed.”

Israeli weddings: where Bryan Adams songs go to die. Yup, heard it twice recently.

“Baby, you’re all that I want…when I’m lyin’ here in your arms…
I’m finding it hard to believe…we’re in Hevron.”
Performing at Madison Square Garden…or at Shlomit’s wedding.

After the traditional couple slow dances, the party begins with the DJ playing one of the following songs:

1) “Put your HANDS up in the air, put your hands up….IN THE AIR!” (That’s all I know. I think those might be the only words.)
2) “Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeey, baby! (Ooh! Ah!) I wanna knooooooooooow……..if you’ll be my girl!

Holy cow-I can’t believe these are actually songs that are able to be found online. Is there anything not on the internet? Neither one of those however can possibly match the sheer ridiculousness of the following song. Here it comes…oh dear G-d…

3) A remix of “9 to 5”. I wish I were kidding. (Can people who are still alive roll in their graves? Dabney Coleman is rolling in something.)

Please note that the Israeli wedding is not to be confused with an Israeli dance party where the party does not officially begin until the DJ plays “Hips Don’t Lie”.

Holy ful, I swear this is true. At my friend Maya’s wedding a few weeks back, the party’s raging, she’s dancing up a storm, and everyone’s having a great time. When Maya does her rounds to say hello to all her friends, I ask her “Maya! How are you?” In just the right voice inflection that can’t possibly be conveyed in print, she responds “b’seder!” For the love of G-d, does anything get this populace excited? WHAT IS NOT B’SEDER???

Would winning a gold medal be b’seder? How about the lottery? The classic Disneyworld commercial just wouldn’t translate to Israeli TV. “Dudu, you just signed a peace treaty with the Palestinians to end hundreds of years of conflict!! Where are you going?”

Ehhhhhhhhhh…I am going home! B’seder!

“Hey, Amit, your house is on fire!”
Of course the whole American concept of wedding crashers would never work here. The country’s too small…everyone knows each other!

“Hey, who are you?”
“Ehh…I am Moshe, I am stock broker.”
“No, you’re not! You’re Dudu’s cousin! You work at gas station!”

So there you have it. An Idiot’s Guide to Israeli Weddings. In conclusion, bring cash, dancing shoes, and be prepared to have fun.

Oh yes…and put your HANDS up in the air , put your hands up….IN THE AIR!

Geez…I almost forgot to include an actual picture. A happy couple.
Update: Part II found here.

More “b’seder”:
Yiyeh b’seder and health!
Yiyeh b’seder and the bomb!
Yiyeh b’seder and its soulmate!

No time to read them? B’SEDEEEEEEEER!!!!!!!



hair design for the big day...

Posted on August 20, 2012

hair design for the big day...

In today's world any and every imaginable hairstyle is available to any bride. You can go from super short to über long and silky (Cher circa 1970s) in no time (ok, that's a lie, it takes hours and hours of work to attach hair extensions and then style the hair, but the end result, if done correctly, can look magnificent). You can tease, curl and straighten your hair and then make it do incredible feats of acrobatics around combs, pins, crowns, clips and veils.

But the bottom line question is: What are you looking for in a bridal hairstyle? or Will three kilo of hair extensions really make my waist look smaller? Like everything else in your wedding, here too, you should begin by asking: What is your overall wedding style? Formal? Country? Laidback? Traditional?

Begin at the beginning… With The Dress

First of all, take a good look at your wedding dress or the types of wedding dresses you are drawn to. Now - WITHOUT taking into consideration your hair (length, color, hair type) or your facial structure - which hairstyle do you feel would be most suited for this style of dress?

You may be "lucky" enough to have seen your dress modeled, in an ad online or in print, with a certain hairstyle that seems absolutely PERFECT for it. [I put the word lucky in quotes, as that piece of luck can make your life hell if you think that this specific hairstyle is the ONLY ONE suited for this dress. It's NOT!]

Remember, you want your entire look to shine: your dress, your face and makeup, your hairstyle and ALL OF YOU! You do not want any one of these components to outshine the others.

Having said this, there may be a 'tiny' part of you that you may wish to downplay or you would rather not emphasize; say large feet or if you are very tall and thin. You can cover up large feet with a long wedding dress that trails the floor and/or wear very simple, matte, not shiny, ballet-type shoes that call no attention to your feet. If you are very tall and thin, you can lessen the severity of any look by wearing a wedding gown that is not too form fitting or wear a dress style that cuts you on a bias or a dress with fabrics that create a sense of fullness without making you look like a wedding cake. And you all know what I mean!

More is More only if Less is Less
Now back to the hairstyle. A simple rule of thumb is that a big, poufy, multi-tiered dress or any dress that has a 'presence' demands a larger, more obvious hairstyle; while a simple, clean-line style should be accompanied by a clean, softer hairstyle.

Your hair should not be competing against your face!
Now that I've set that ground rule, it's time to take your hair and facial structure into consideration. If a big hairstyle fits the dress and your face is just too small and delicate or even too round – IT'S TIME TO RETHINK THE DRESS! REMEMBER: Unless you've just walked down the aisle, it is NEVER TOO LATE to change or modify your dress. You can have your dress altered, adjusted or just sell it on Ebay. You are NOT stuck with any dress!

The point here is that you do not want to look at the wedding pictures ten years from now and exclaim: "WHAT WAS I THINKING WHEN I PICKED OUT THAT DRESS???"

I've said it before and I'll say it again, your wedding look is not supposed to be a contest between your hair, your dress and your makeup! Sit quietly on a desert island if you need to, but take time to think through your whole look. Sit down with a trusted, objective friend or family member and review your whole look – sketch it out, piece it together with pictures of your gown, your hair and your face if you need to. But don’t wait until the makeup/hairstyling trial session to find out that something may be very wrong with your overall look.

Comfort, Comfort, Comfort
Another consideration when thinking about your bridal hairstyle is comfort. OK, comfort may be the wrong word to use, but you must be able to carry off the style with some modicum of ease. If the style is too heavy or too tight or too exaggerated, you will not enjoy a moment of your wedding. And you are supposed to enjoy your wedding! You are supposed to be able to dance, sing, run, eat and kiss relatives (only after the chuppah) to your heart's content. You are not supposed to spend the evening worrying about ruining your hairstyle and counting the minutes until the simcha is over and you can rip the hairstyle out of your hair. And that may not be possible when your hair has been held captive under a kilo of hair spray, a half kilo of glued beads and crystals and those three kilos of hair extensions. It took my daughter a week of intensive shampooing just to get the hair spray out of her hair!

Want to be daring? Go Bungee jumping after the wedding.

While we are on the subject of hairstyling, I cannot over emphasize the importance of not trying out new haircuts, styles and colors at the last minute before the wedding. Try out any new hairstyle alternatives at least three to six months before the wedding, in order to give your hair time to grow out, return to normal or change the look should anything have gone wrong or you are not happy with the results.

You don’t have three to six months to experiment? Well then YOU SHOULD NOT BE DOING IT! If hair extensions are not enough to create the look you dreamed of, then you should drop the idea. You wedding is not the time to be daring about your looks.

Under the assumption that you do have six months prior to the wedding to change or modify your hair style, you should be doing the following.

• Start with a good hair cut or at least a good trim, even or should I say especially if you plan to grown your hair long. I know many brides want LONG hair for the wedding and don’t want to part with those few centimeters of shagging unhealthy hair as they think it makes their hair look longer. But you have to understand that those few centimeters of broken ends will not take the curl correctly and, if you intend to have an updo, these unsightly hairs will not behave themselves. Let it go and trim your hair and I guarantee your hairstyle and over all look will be wonderful.

• Start treating your skin kindly. No unnecessary tanning (beach or bed), harsh facial treatments, cosmetic surgeries or anything that may not heal in time for the big day.

• Let your eyebrows grow out a bit, so you can style them and have a little more 'to work with" for the wedding.

• Plan any waxing enough time in advance to allow for any redness to subside.


Remember - Every bride is beautiful on her wedding day


Post courtesy of Yochi Eisner - "The Kallah Whisperer"

mothers of the bride need attention too!

Posted on August 2, 2012

mothers of the bride need attention too!

It's time to stand up and proclaim to the world that mothers of the bride need to be shown attention and consideration, as much as and, perhaps in many ways, more than the bride herself does.

As both a makeup artist and hair stylist for brides and their mothers, and as a mother to both a bride and a few grooms, I can tell you that the mother of the bride shares a special place in the pantheon of the needy.

While grooms are pretty much low maintenance; shower and shave 'em and put them in a suit and they are basically ready to go. OK, I'll admit it - I've slathered on a bit of mousse on many a groom's hair to make them feel 'pampered'. But let's be honest, as long as they show up and say 'Ha'rey aht…", place a ring on the bride's finger and break a glass, oh and smile pretty for some pictures – they have pretty much done their duty. Mothers of the groom may be nervous and a little anxious, but they do not endure the hours upon hours upon hours of preparation the mother of the bride endures as she watches the metamorphosis of her daughter into the BRIDE.

Truthfully this painful process of 'becoming a bride' really begins with three innocent words spoken by the happy couple: "We're getting married". From that fateful moment and until the happy couple stand under the chuppah, there is a mad dash to complete something like one thousand, six hundred and twenty two tasks. Each task is a search for sheer perfection – for the wedding, as a whole and for the bride, personally. The task search list includes: the perfect hall, the perfect menu, the perfect center pieces, the perfect chuppah, the perfect rabbi, the perfect band, the perfect photographer; as well as the perfect bridal gown, the prefect bouquet, the perfect veil, the perfect tiara, the perfect jewelry, the perfect shoes, the perfect makeup, the perfect hairstyle and the list just goes on and on. As time draws closer to the event, this never-ending list is tackled by an ever-more anxious bride and her ever-more apprehensive mother.

Let's take "The Hunt for the PERFECT Bridal Dress " as a classic example. The search for the perfect bridal dress can span cities, countries, continents. The tears shed during this search could fill oceans. It's a wonder why we mothers haven't gotten together and decided that the wedding dress search should begin when the "bride" is three years old. This gives us plenty of time to search in a more leisurely fashion.


But somehow in this mad dash for perfection, the Mother of the Bride is forgotten. You may rightly say that this is the bride's day, so tough luck; the mother had her day and now it's her daughter's turn. Fair enough, but I believe that the mother of the bride deserves a little special attention of her own. It's an emotional day for the bride's mother as she sees her daughter become a bride, especially if this is her first wedding or first daughter marrying or only daughter marrying. Sometimes all three conditions are found in one wedding event.

On the day of the wedding, as the long hours of preparation move forward and the bride is made up, hair-styled, dressed, attended to and fussed over – hopefully with her friends surrounding her; the mother of the bride is often left behind to watch with a cup of coffee in one hand and a set of car keys in the other hand.

What am I asking for? I am asking that the mother of the bride get a little pampering on this special day and that someone ELSE remember to pamper her. Need some pampering ideas? How about an early morning massage at home or in the hotel, or full makeup, hair styling and nails for the big event? And you know what else she deserves? A present – yup - a present for the Mother of the Bride. Presented either by the bride or the Father of the Bride (I'm sure he is there somewhere, although you really don't seem to notice him until the chuppah).


I believe that jewelry is the perfect present! And wouldn't it be lovely if it could be something the Mother of the Bride can wear to the wedding and enjoy immediately? 

Remember to kiss the Mother of the Bride – today!

Yochi Eisner - The Kallah Whisperer - hair stylist and make up artist

the bridal bouquet - it ain't all pansies and daisies!

Posted on July 30, 2012

the bridal bouquet -  it ain't all pansies and daisies!

Unless you are picking a bunch of daisies on the way to the Hall, you are going to order a bridal bouquet and no matter what flowers you choose, there are certain guidelines you should follow to ensure your flowers get to the chuppah in one piece! While this article is not about selecting the perfect flowers, keep in mind that if either the bride or the groom or someone in the bridal party is allergic to flowers or certain types of flowers, this should be taken into consideration when selecting a bouquet.

It should be obvious that the flowers in the bouquet should be at their freshest during the photo sessions for both the pre-chuppah pictures and under the chuppah.

First of all when are the flowers needed for photos?

There are two options: (1) the kallah will be photographed with the bouquet during the outdoor-pre-wedding shots or (2) if there are no pre-wedding shots or the flowers are not needed for these pre-wedding shots (discuss this in advance with the photographer), then the bride will need the bouquet only when she is sitting in the brides chair, through the Bedeken and as she walks down the aisle and under the chuppah (but more on this later).

In general, the bouquet is received the morning/day of the wedding, either brought to the brides home or to the Bridal Salon.

Examining the bouquet
The bride should appoint someone to be responsible for receiving and then examining the bouquet, as well as for the safety of said bouquet until after the chuppah.

What to look for:
Check that the flower petals are not brown, wilted or dry and that flowers, such as roses, are not completely opened (they should open completely before the photo shoot/chuppah). Roses can be blown gently open. 
Check that the stalks are standing straight and look fresh, not wilted, bent or crushed.
Check that the leaves or other greens in the bouquet look fresh and green, not wilted, bent or crushed.
If the stalks of the flowers are tied with ribbon, string and/or florist wire, make sure the bouquet is tied securely. If the bouquet has been inserted inside a mesh holder, make sure the flowers are securely fastened to this holder.
Make sure that the mesh holder or the florist wire has no jagged or sharp edges that can snag the brides dress, cut fingers or in general endanger the health of anyone at the wedding.
If flowers or leaves are wilting or do not seem fresh or the bouquet is not tied together as it should - call the florist immediately!
If the bouquet contains strings of pearls, crystals or any other glittery additions not created by Mother Nature, make sure these glued-on shiny bits are securely attached. If too many of them look like they are about to fall off - call the florist immediately!
If the bouquet arrives several hours before it is needed, I warmly recommend that you take a plastic bottle – that is wide and deep enough to hold the circumference of the bouquet stalks – fill the bottle with cold water and carefully insert the bouquet. You only need to insert the bouquet about halfway up the stalks, unless it is a short bouquet. You can cut the bottle to the height you need. Be careful not to wet or dirty the ribbon, as this will inevitably dirty the bride's dress.

You can place the bottle and the bouquet into a fridge, but first make sure to (1) make room for the flowers in the fridge, so you do not bend or break any and (2) assign someone to be responsible to remember to take the bouquet out of the fridge before you leave for the Hall.

Think about this: There is no reason for the bride to hold the bouquet for hours on end. It is enough that she hold it for (1) outdoor, pre-wedding shots and only when necessary, (2) when she is sitting in the brides chair (if there is one) and (3) while she is walking down to the chuppah. Under the chuppah, the bride does not and really cannot hold the flowers throughout the ceremony, as she has to have her hands free to accept the ring, accept the ketubah and so on. Assign someone to hold the flowers for all the in-between times.

Yochi Eisner - The Kallah Whisperer

party tip can we have fun while still doing all the hosting duties ?

Posted on July 20, 2012

party tip can we have fun while still doing all the hosting duties ?

To keep from feeling like a waiter at your own bash, don’t take it upon yourselves to mix drinks and keep everybody’s wine glasses full.

Set up a self-service bar in a central area and direct all of your guests to help themselves as soon as they arrive. Although you’ll have to keep an eye on it and do things like refill ice and bring out more soft drinks throughout the evening, your guests will mostly do the bartending work for you.

As for food, fill a large central table with room-temperature appetizers. I recommend staying away from any hot items if you don't have help, and instead, lay out beautiful platters of antipasti, cheese, and sushi that can sit out for the duration of the party.

All you’ll need to do is take away trays once they’re empty, refresh them during the course of the evening and pick up discarded cocktail napkins.

Another way to be a happy host: Divide and conquer. If one of you is in charge of, say, the bar and the music, and the other is in charge of the food and mid-party cleanup, you can limit the scope of what you each have to stress about.

Here's a recipe for a great cocktail....guaranteed to put your guests in the party spirit...!!!

Long Island Iced Tea
1/2 oz Vodka
1/2 oz Tequila
1/2 oz Light Rum
1/2 oz Gin
A dash of Triple Sec
Twist of Lemon Peel (or Lime)
Lemon juice
Pour all the ingredients into a highball glass, and top up with cola

1 oz = half a tot ( approx 30 ml )

how to stay shine free on your wedding day in a hot climate..

Posted on July 18, 2012

how to stay shine free on your wedding day in a hot climate..

Good skin care and some waterproof eyeliner, mascara, concealer and foundation, together with blot powders that keep that shine at its minimum are must have's in your wedding make-up bag! I swear by MAC pressed blot powder, its fantastic for setting your make-up and it takes away all the shine without that heavy powdery look or feel. I recommend you carry your pressed powder throughout the day, along with your lipstick or lipgloss to touch up before photos, after dinner and dancing.

Alternatively if you don't want the hassle of carrying a bag all day, get your make-up artist or planner to carry it around for you !!

Sara Rutstein - Make-Up Artist

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