Ben and I stayed at the hotel the night before our wedding (in separate rooms!). One of my oldest friends Abi, stayed with me that night and Jen thoughtfully arranged the most decadent and spacious corner suite for us. We arrived at the suite to find that Jen had handwritten a lovely note with a chilled bottle of Champagne ready for us which we enjoyed before heading out to a nearby Kosher restaurant for my last meal as a single woman!
After a relaxing bath in the suite’s indulgent roll top bath, I woke up early yet refreshed, full of anticipation for the day ahead. Abi and I enjoyed a delicious breakfast delivered to our suite, put on some music on the suite’s sound system, and soon my makeup artist, hair stylist and bridal party arrived to get ready together. As the suite had a huge adjoining sitting room, there was an abundance of space for everyone to comfortably get ready in, with plenty of Champagne and delicious food.
Soon, it was time for us to head down for the Bedeken. I truly felt like a queen bride surrounded by so many that I loved dearly in such a stunning venue. As I took my seat on the bridal chair in the Palm Court, I could hear the singing voices of the men approaching and I was bursting with excitement.
By that time, Ben and I had not seen or communicated with each other for over five days. Ben has always been tall, dark and handsome (lucky me!) but when I finally saw him, with tears in his eyes walking towards me, in his Ermenegildo Zegna navy three-piece suit and tailored white shirt, my heart totally skipped several beats and the butterflies in my stomach were as fluttery as they were on our first date.
Getting married under the chuppah is the bride and groom’s holiest day of their lives, and our chuppah ceremony was very spiritual and filled with blessings. As we had only 15 of our nearest and dearest, some of whom had played a significant part in our spiritual journey over the past 3.5 years, the room was charged with an intense feeling of love.
As the bridal procession started, due to travel restrictions, Ben’s father (in Spain), Ben’s eldest brother (in Poland), my parents (in Malaysia) and my two brothers (in Singapore and Australia) were unable to come. In Ben’s father’s absence, Ben was escorted down the aisle by his other brother and mother, both carrying candles to light Ben’s way.
Jen escorted me via the back way so that I could have an impactful entrance through the imposing floor-to-ceiling double doors of the ballroom. As I gathered my thoughts with my heart beating out of my chest, two hotel staff opened the Ballroom’s double doors and I was completely stunned by the beauty of the Ballroom reverberating with the stirring singing of Eli Tamir.
I walked down the white carpeted aisle lined beautifully with lit lanterns and tall vases of white blossoms, escorted by my kallah teacher as well as the rebbetzin who is like a second mother to me, reflecting on the journey Ben and I have taken to get there. Seeing Ben wrapped in the tallit I gifted him on the day I became Jewish, with tears in his eyes, standing underneath the chuppah draped with soft peach-coloured sashes, adorned with white, blush and cream roses and plenty of lush green foliage, totally overwhelmed me and I too began to cry as I walked towards him and our new future. That is the moment I will never forget.
We made music a significant part of our ceremony as we wanted to fill the magnificent Ballroom with music to create an emotional and evocative atmosphere for our guests to enjoy.
Eli Tamir, our singer, has one of the most soulful and beautiful voices we’ve ever heard. Along with Eli, Leib Roberts played the piano and Lydia Alonson Perez played the cello. Having grown up playing the piano and the cello alongside years of listening to string quartet rehearsals led by my violinist brother at home, I knew that the combination of vocal, piano and cello is one of the most beautiful trios possible.
Eli, with his incredible talent, incorporated my requests for soulful arrangements, lush chords, rich vocal harmonies between Eli and Leib to create the mood we wanted. Leib usually plays on a keyboard, but having been blessed with playing on a grand piano since I was a child, we brought in a top of the range Yamaha grand piano into the Ballroom. There really is no substitute for the rich and powerful tones of a grand piano, and with Leib’s passionate playing on it, the result was enthralling.
We chose the lyrics of “Mi Adir” to the melody of “Vehi Sheamda” for Ben to walk down the aisle to. For my entrance, I asked Eli for a soulful and wistful arrangement of “Boi Beshalom” to its original Hebrew melody with a minor key ending. “Eyshet Chayil”, which Ben has been singing to me every Friday night for the past three years, moved Ben to tears as I prayed fervently for our future during the seven circles.
The highlight of the ceremony was when Eli sang “Im Eshkahech Yerushalayim” just before the breaking of the glass. Perhaps it coincided with the recent unrest in Israel, or perhaps it was the other-worldly room setting or perhaps it was the intimate nature of the ceremony, Eli himself was holding back tears whilst singing it. Eli’s emotions only added to the poignancy of the moment. Most of us were moved to tears too.
As soon as Ben smashed the glass, the Ballroom erupted into cheers of “Mazal Tov’s”! Ben lifted my veil, took my hand in his and we stepped off the chuppah together as husband and wife. Everyone sang and threw confetti of rose petals at us as we were escorted back down the aisle by Ben’s brother and our rabbis dancing joyfully. That was by far, the happiest moment of our lives so far!
Knowing that I’m a pianist, after the chuppah ceremony, our lead photographer Christian O’Reilly from the incomparable Fire and Ice, surprised us as he directed the piano movers to move the piano into the hotel lobby, where they shot incredible photos and videos of us against the stunning backdrop of the marble lobby.
The night of the wedding, Ben and I stayed in the corner suite. We couldn’t sleep from the excitement of the day so we stayed up to enjoy the room. The next day, after a delicious breakfast delivered to our suite, we reluctantly departed. Every member of the Reception team helped us with our bags and walked us out of the hotel, sending us wholehearted congratulations as the new Mr. and Mrs. Green.