Miami Beach, FL
The words “fairy tale” and “magical” only begin to describe the romance of this Miami couple. All the ingredients are there for a great story to be shared for generations to come. Bekah and Gilad’s journey together began in 2013, well over four years ago, as of the publication of our story.
May 5, 2013 First Met
April 30, 2014 First Date
February 13, 2016 Engagement Date
February 18, 2017 Wedding Date
Video by Alan Sangpan of ISLE MEDIA.
Photos Benjamin Chernivsky of THIS IS FEELING PHOTOGRAPHY, unless otherwise noted.
The wedding invitation was explicit regarding the date. It read: 23 Sh’vat 5777 | 18 February 2017. One significant decision Bekah made early in their relationship, long before the wedding date, was to convert to Judaism so that she could join Gilad in practicing the Jewish faith. So, to the couple, it was as important to have 23 Sh’vat 5777, the Hebrew calendar date on their wedding invitation, as it was to have 18 February 2017, the Gregorian calendar date.
When we received our invitation, we knew this was going to be a story worth telling; a story worth delving into; one worthy of our time and attention; one from which we could draw the richness of their love and family heritage.
My daughter and I are longtime friends of Bekah and her family, so we knew definitively we would go and celebrate with Bekah and Gilad, but there’s more. We own and operate a wedding and reception venue, TUSCAN HILL, so we knew we just had to witness firsthand how all of the wedding vendor team would bring this very special event together to honor the couple. And as owners/writers of VIBRANT SPACE, we had to get this very unique wedding story documented for our readers. A vibrant couple getting married on an island, just a ferry ride from a vibrant city, with so much creative culture? Count us in!
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s back up
The Engagement Party
How do you bring 100 people from all over the country to Miami, get them onto a yacht, take them out into Dumfoundling Bay in Sunny Isles Beach, FL, arrange to take a helicopter ride with the love of your life, with photographer in tow, land on a helipad and propose to her with guests quietly observing from the yacht off in the distance, and catch her completely off-guard?
Gilad managed to do just that. He created an engagement surprise completely in keeping with the class, elegance and sophistication of this dream romance! To ensure that Gilad wouldn’t be disturbed with phone calls and texts during dinner and the helicopter ride, he hired a day-of coordinator to assemble everything for the evening, to greet all 100 guests and answer questions as they arrived to board the yacht.
THE VENETIAN LADY is a 140-foot long three-level yacht. Its top level is an open deck for stargazing and enjoying the sparkling city lights of the Miami skyline. On level two where most gathered for the party, guests enjoyed fresh sushi and an ice sculpture carved in the form of a large diamond ring, about three feet in diameter. Gilad had arranged for an electric violinist to start off the evening, and later, DJ TROUBLES, a rising star in the Miami music scene, carried the party into the wee hours of the morning.
Our first question to Bekah was: “Were you completely surprised?”
Bekah explained, “I was shocked! We never make a big deal out of traditional holidays, so a week before Valentine's Day, when Gilad said we should do something special, I was already surprised. I had started a new job and was working long hours. We hadn’t spent much time together, so Gilad said he thought we needed to have a big, beautiful date night to make up for our lost time. I wasn’t expecting a proposal because my brother was getting married in six weeks, and we had talked about keeping the focus on him during his special time.
Before dinner Gilad gifted me with an amazing black pearl necklace. I was already shocked from that, so I wasn’t expecting any more surprises. Gilad had worn a fitted suit, so I didn't see anything sticking out in the pockets. I also wore his jacket at dinner and had my hands in the pockets.”
Bekah continued, “After dinner, Gilad drove us to meet Raphael, a helicopter pilot from TOUR HELICOPTER. All a surprise. Gilad had arranged for a photographer to come with us, but it all happened so fast that I didn’t really piece it together. The ride was beautiful. Later in the evening all the guests said they were surprised that I didn't see them on the boat. But, it was Miami Boat Show weekend and there were yachts everywhere. We eventually made a daring landing onto a floating helipad; the second attempt was a charm. Apparently, night water landings are a bit trickier. After we landed on the helipad, Gilad proposed. Turns out, he had the ring in his shoe the whole time. From the floating helipad, a smaller boat transferred us to the yacht to join our guests.”
“When we came home at the end of the long night of celebration, there was a massive bouquet of flowers with hundreds of rose petals scattered throughout the apartment,” Bekah said.
And this was just the beginning . . .
A few weeks later, the very first official announcement of the wedding date was their “Save-the-Date,” a photo of the couple taken on a cold, blustery day in Chicago in April, 2016, while Bekah and Gilad were attending the weekend wedding of Bekah’s younger brother, Charlie.
The Bridal ShowerCelebrating Bekah on January 14 for a Bridal Shower, followed by a Bachelorette party, 25 guests gathered in “Flapper Girl” 1920s-style dress with feathers, fans, beads, and headdresses. Bekah hired Sushi Chef Sunchai and with the sushi, champagne, red and rosé wines were served.
The Wedding Invitation
When our invitation arrived, it was like opening a treasure. So intricate, so delicate, so lovely, engaging and welcoming.
With about 50 of the couple’s 120 guests coming from locations outside of Miami, Bekah and Gilad had secured blocks of rooms at both GALE South Beach and KASKADES South Beach, sister properties of MENIN HOSPITALITY. From the photos both boutique hotels looked fabulous, but we had to select just one. We chose The Gale. So impressed with this Vibrant Space, we knew we must be dually focused this weekend to not only gather story content about the wedding, but also to request a tour and interview for story content for this beautiful South Beach property (see our story on GALE SOUTH BEACH).
The Rehearsal Dinner
The rehearsal and rehearsal dinner were on the rooftop of KASKADES, just across the street from The Gale.
As a Jewish couple, it was important to Gilad and Bekah that everything about their wedding followed Jewish traditions. We arrived on the rooftop terrace just in time to watch the end of the rehearsal. Bekah was practicing the Jewish tradition of “Circling the Groom.” From the “Ceremony Traditions” section of their wedding program, we learned Jewish belief is that . . .
"A man is not complete without his bride. As the bride circles her groom seven times, she completes him and makes him whole. She is also breaking down the barriers to his heart, just as the walls of Jericho collapsed after seven marches around the city wall for seven days."
Wine and hors d'oeuvres were served as dinner guests arrived. Eventually it was time to find our seats at the U-shaped tables set for 50. Also important to Gilad and Bekah was that their Friday evening rehearsal dinner be a traditional Shabbat family meal, as is every Friday evening meal for the couple. Shabbat, Hebrew for Sabbath, begins at nightfall on Friday and lasts until nightfall on Saturday. Families gather together during this time for the seventh day of the Jewish week--the day of rest. The Shabbat dinner ushers in the Sabbath by lighting two candles and reciting a blessing over the challah (braided bread) and a Kiddush (meaning sanctification) cup of wine.
Soon the ceremonial portion of the gathering was complete and vegetable dishes were being passed around. We assumed this was a vegetarian meal. Hungry and sitting with our close friends, we were excited to sample everything. We enjoyed baba, ganoush, hummus, olives, grape leaves, eggplant and more.
Maybe twenty minutes later, the family announced that dinner was ready on the buffet line. What? Our friends looked around at each other in comic shock. Already full, we made our way to the line for more beautiful Mediterranean (with Moroccan flair) dishes of chicken, brisket, salmon, potatoes, salads and fruit. After these dishes, there was, of course, tiramisu, chocolate cake and baklava. Did we have to eat all of it? No. Did we? Oh, yes! It was absolutely delicious. We learned that the entire meal was prepared and catered by Miryam and her staff at NEW TIME CATERING, an International Kosher Food catering company and restaurant in North Miami.
Getting to Fisher Island
Saturday, February 18, 2017, was wedding day! With a ceremony arrival time of 6:30 pm, Miami Sprinter Vans from PARTY SERVICE MIAMI picked up guests from The Gale and Kaskades hotels at 5:30 pm and delivered them right to the front of Vanderbilt Mansion on FISHER ISLAND.
But come Saturday morning, it was time for us to figure out how to get from The Gale to the ferry that takes residents and guests to and from Fisher Island. We were going early to spend the majority of the day ahead of the event with the family and bridal party. Meredith was scheduled to get her hair styled on Fisher Island with Bekah and the rest of her crew of girls at 2pm. Julie would follow a couple of hours later. Without a rental car, we could have taken an Uber directly to the ferry terminal, but we had been noticing an open-air vehicle that looked so much more adventurous. We soon developed a four-step plan that we both would do separately.
Step 1: Call The Gale front desk to arrange for the Menin Hospitality Car provided by FREEBEE -- a “going green” advocate supporting Miami’s Climate Action Plan and offering free, electric alternative transportation around South Beach. So absolutely brilliant, it just had to be part of our story. The Menin Hospitality Car only takes you to the edge of Miami Beach at 5th and Alton Rd, the closest intersection before the bay bridge--MacArthur Causeway.
Step 2: Get off and walk the pedestrian path across the bay bridge to the Fisher Island Ferry terminal.
Step 3: Find the terminal and the security station. I was asked for picture identification and for the name of the person I was going to see. Once cleared, I sat on a bench, and within a few minutes the ferry arrived. After about 15 cars exited, I was permitted to walk on and directed to take a seat in the air-conditioned enclosed pedestrian area. Many cars then drove on for the ten minute ride to the island.
Step 4: Once docked, I walked off, unsure of where to go, when I was waved down by a very polite young man dressed in official service attire, standing by a golf cart ahead of me. He said, “I’m here to take you where you need to go.” Confirming that he did mean the wedding preparation area, I then hopped on the golf cart and off we went.
I was delivered right to the ceremony and reception area. Decorating for all event spaces was already underway. The ceremony was being set up beneath a giant banyan tree, the branches of which covered the expansive courtyard of the Vanderbilt Mansion.
We later learned that the Vanderbilts imported the banyan tree from India. The mansion is a seaside Italian/Mediterranean style villa built in 1936 that fits this picturesque island perfectly. This private island, with its 216 lush acres, is the ideal location for the fairy tale wedding this fairy tale romance deserves. For a historical perspective of Vanderbilt Mansion and Fisher Island, click HERE.
I walked up the same sidewalk that Bekah would walk down later that evening. Just inside, in the walnut-paneled mansion library, Bekah’s makeup artist, Nancy Rand from TOUCH COSMETICS, was just finishing.
Soon after, Bekah was opening the love letter printed on parchment that Gilad had sent over to her.
. . . You’ve had my heart since day one on our first scooter ride. Your exterior beauty is breathtaking, but pales in comparison to the soul that lies within. I couldn’t have found someone more amazing, even if I sculpted one myself. You have far exceeded my wildest dreams, and I eagerly anticipate every day with you. . . .—Excerpt from Gilad's Love Letter to Bekah
Once I had greeted everyone, I turned to look at this beautiful “library” turned bridal party lounge. The back wall was lined with an entire buffet and a champagne bar. Everyone there insisted, “try the salmon!” I was handed my kimono robe that matched the other girls’, changed and picked up a plate.
This beautiful wedding-day brunch, prepared by FISHER ISLAND catering, offered selections of salmon, chicken, rice, asparagus, tomato salad and so much more. At the end of the line, there was coconut-passion fruit flan. I LOVE passion fruit. I sat down at the long, massive, white linen-draped dining table that seemed small centered in such a large room. Immediately, a server came and brought me fresh silverware and asked me for my beverage preference. As she poured a glass of Roederer Prestige Brut, I cut into the coveted salmon. The glaze and caramelization was truly deserving of the rave review. All the dishes were superb. It was so relaxing to take our time enjoying lunch, having our hair styled with Carolynn Chavez from Hair We Go and makeup applied with Nancy Rand from Touch Cosmetics, taking photos and celebrating Bekah.
The Welcome Reception
A few hours later, guests began to arrive by hotel shuttle or by their own cars, which were then valeted. Guests entered at the front of the Vanderbilt mansion. Just inside the large open foyer, guests were greeted by friends of the couple designated to snap polaroid pictures of guests and have them write personal notes to the couple to attach to their photo. Beyond the “photobooth” in the foyer was the mansion’s massive magical courtyard where guests enjoyed a “Welcome Reception.” Guests were greeted by FISHER ISLAND catering wait staff carrying flutes of champagne and two kinds of hors d'oeuvres--Mushroom Vol Au Vent and Salmon Tartar.
On the south side of the massive banyan tree, the ceremony was decadently set with a 10-foot square and 10-foot tall chuppah as the central focus. A chuppah is a canopy traditionally used in Jewish wedding ceremonies to symbolize the home to be built and shared by the newlyweds. This chuppah was ornate, every piece creatively and carefully placed. Each of the four support stanchions had natural birch branches and natural curly willow branches. The top of the canopy held white hydrangea, white, blush, champagne and ivory roses and touches of white dendrobium orchids. Spotlights of purple and blush lit up the chuppah to create the most precious, peaceful, intimate gathering.
With an ensemble of harp, flute, cello, violin, saxophone and trumpet, MASTER MUSICIANS performed all of the music for the ceremony. On her father’s arm, Bekah walked down the aisle to a delightfully delivered inspirational trumpet solo.
Wedding guests had the privilege of witnessing a most moving Jewish wedding ceremony, complete with all the many beautiful traditions. Both Bekah’s and Gilad’s parents gathered under the chuppah to participate in the marriage ritual, most of which was spoken in English; some in Hebrew. The “Breaking of the Glass,” a recognizable tradition to even those non-Jewish friends and family, has such significant substance. From the program section on “Ceremony Traditions,” the meaning was explained in this way . . .
“At our greatest moment of joy we must remember the destruction of the Temples in Jerusalem. The only antidote to baseless hate and destruction is baseless love. We are making the world a better place with our love.”
Bekah and Gilad wrote their vows to one another. During Gilad’s vows, a peacock perched in the banyan tree squawked continuously. The annoyance eventually turned to laughter, even for Gilad and Bekah.
. . . With all my soul, I will be the husband you dreamed of, father to our kids you’ve envisioned, and eventually a grandparent who will feed grandkids candy behind your back. We’re going to have a great ride, and when we look back, we’ll know we did it to the best of our abilities . . . .—Excerpt from Gilad's Vows
. . . To be loyal, I will put you at the top of my priority list in front of work, friends and family. To remember that I love you even when I’m super mad at you. Through thick and thin, for better and worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part . . . .—Excerpt from Bekah's Vows
It is Jewish tradition to have a plain ring band exchange under the chuppah. In all cultures and religions, the wedding ring is a symbol of love and commitment. However, in a Jewish marriage, the wedding band has a depth of commitment worth noting. The groom gives the bride a simple wedding band - one without stones, engravings or other decorations. The band must be completely flawless because it represents a marriage that is unharmed by show, conflict or flaw. A Jewish wedding ring also symbolizes a chain that unites generations and holds the promise that the couple will start a family together to add yet another link to the chain of Jewish history. The unending circle represents the couple's undying love and respect for one another.
What is not necessarily a Jewish wedding tradition, but maybe should be, is to have your beloved pet, in this case a Chihuahua affectionately named “Banana,” bear the wedding rings.
Following the ceremony, Bekah and Gilad used the wedding bands they designed together for the rest of the evening. Gilad designed Bekah’s engagement ring. He had been inspired by a ring with pink diamonds that the couple had spotted during a layover in Paris. The couple together designed Bekah’s wedding band of part rose gold and pink diamonds, and part white diamonds. It ties in well with her engagement ring. Surrounding the large center diamond, there is a circle of pink diamonds with rose gold setting. Gilad’s band has a rose gold thick band. On one side, there are champagne diamonds and, on the other, sapphires.
The Cocktail Reception
Immediately following the ceremony, on the other side of the banyan tree, the Cocktail Reception began. With carving stations and now multiple passed hors d’oeuvres by FISHER ISLAND catering wait staff, guests mingled while the newlyweds, family and bridal party completed the next photo session.
Cocktail Reception Menu
Spicy Tuna Tartar on Wonton Crisp
Snapper Ceviche Spoons with Micro Cilantro
Horseradish Cream & Chive Chicken Skewer
Steamed Chicken and Lemongrass Dumplings with Scallion Ponzu
Pigs in a Blanket
Mushroom Vol Au Vent
Corned Beef Carving Station
Churrasco Carving Station
The wedding planner and coordinator, Joni Scalzo of YOUR SPECIAL DAY BY JONI, had four of her staff with her executing the plans for the big evening of celebration. It started long before that evening, as you might expect. Joni coordinated everything from Rehearsal to Rehearsal Dinner and all the way through the ceremony and three receptions! To quote Bekah, “Joni knows EVERYTHING. I could not have made it without her!” Visiting with Joni, she explained to us that she enjoys incorporating “wow” factors into her wedding planning for couples and worked with Angela from EVENT STUDIO PRODUCTIONS to provide a “Lollipop Aerialist” who served champagne from the “lollipop” ring in the air, adding an element of surprise and interest for guests.
The Dinner Reception
The space? Absolutely stunning! The florals for all of the event spaces were designed and artfully arranged by Jon Buick from XQUISITE. Before viewing the photos below, try to picture what this list of design elements could produce:
tall faceted crystal candelabra
white pillar candles
gold leaf-wrapped clear glass mia vases
white hydrangea, porcelain roses, Sahara roses, vendela roses and pale blush roses
round gold mercury glass votive candleholders
“frenched” ivory and champagne roses
“frenched” white roses strung on monofilament
acrylic and crystal lampshade with bottom underside of lampshade covered with white vinyl
water filled clear glass cylinder vases, illuminated with floating candles
long-stemmed white dendrobium orchids
white phalaenopsis orchids stems
No Jewish wedding is complete without the Hora, or chair dance. In this tradition, a few strong and brave guests hoist the bride and groom on chairs, high above the crowd, to the infectious sounds of "Hava Nagila". Friends and family dance around in an ecstatic circle as the elevated couple tries not to look (or fall) down.
The band, REMIX, from TROPICS ENTERTAINMENT, was unforgettable with its high energy and extensive repertoire. Remix performed The Beatles song “Blackbird” for the first dance.
Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free
into the light of the dark black night
Rebecca and Jason from FRED ASTAIRE DANCE STUDIO OF CORAL GABLES choreographed the routine that the couple performed. Bekah has danced for many years and, so for her, it was so much fun to be practicing a routine for her own wedding. Bekah tells us Gilad caught on very quickly and over five months time, the couple had perfected their dance!
Fisher Island’s Chef Scott Brown and his staff prepared the food for the brunch and each reception, including the dinner reception.
Dinner Reception Menu
Roasted Heirloom Beets, Pomelos and Frisee with Candy Walnut & Citrus-Shallot Vinaigrette
Duo of Porcini Crusted Filet Mignon & Miso Glazed Sea Bass Mixed Mushroom Risotto, Asparagus Points
Vegetarian Tower of Roasted Portabella & Pepper, Zucchini, Squash, Spinach, & Fennel Tomato Fondue
Gilad and Bekah chose to have a “naked” cake made by Ana from ANA PAZ CAKES in Miami. Ana Paz is certified Kosher Pareve (Parve). In recent years, the concept of barely-any frosting has moved from simply a trend to now a bakery staple. A naked cake can be recognized by its minimal outer layer of frosting which shows off the cake’s natural texture and filling.
As guests departed, the couple had one last goodbye surprise for them to take home--gift boxes filled with Macarons from MARCHÉ DE MACARONS!
After the reception, Bekah and Gilad stayed in the honeymoon suite on FISHER ISLAND. Their official honeymoon is currently planned for summer/fall, 2018. Having traveled extensively in 2016 and 2017 to Machu Picchu, Iceland, Italy, as well many other cities for family events and other couple’s weddings and baby showers, Bekah and Gilad are considering Maldives or Phillipines for next year.
The Day After
Sunday afternoon, the couple invited all of their family members and guests who traveled from out of town to come to The Gale for brunch and final goodbye hugs.
Bekah and Gilad’s Final Thoughts
Our Final Thoughts
As wedding and reception venue owners of Tuscan Hill, we have hosted over 300 events in the last eight years, but never have we experienced one as well-planned and well-executed as theirs. What most amazed us was the way Bekah and Gilad were so very inclusive. They are both warm and generous and made sure each person felt loved, wanted and appreciated. Somehow they had time and energy for each of their guests! Julie and Meredith
Thoughts from Others
From Joni S.
“From the moment I met them, we connected. Bekah is so sweet and kind (and beautiful too). When she first called me on the phone after she was referred to me, she told me her fiancé had very definite ideas about the wedding and that he was a very strong personality. I was not sure how he was going to be, so I was a little nervous about meeting him. When I met them, I fell in love and realized I had nothing to fear.
Gilad is so kind and was involved but in a most productive and gentle way. He knew what he wanted and we had a number of pieces to put together to find the perfect venue for them. In addition to it being the perfect place, we had to be sure the wedding fit in with all the religious holidays. Once we went to the Vanderbilt Mansion, that was it for them. They cut their guest list and we made it work. Gilad had definite ideas and so did Bekah. I watched them negotiate their likes and dislikes, and together we came up with what I thought was a perfect wedding for the most amazing couple. Certainly one of my all-time favorite bride and groom.
What I will remember most about them is how happy I was for them, how beautiful they both are--inside and out, how gorgeous the venue looked and how happy they were. I was blown away by their sexy first dance . . . I still think about it to this day . . . wow . . . I loved when Gilad whistled and Banana came running, and, of course, who could forget the peacock crowing during Gilad’s vows and Gilad’s sweet reaction to that.” Joni S.
From Katie H.
“I love Bekah's fun loving spirit. She's always so positive and cheerful regardless of life's circumstances. Bekah also has a truly unique perspective of the world that's really fun to experience. I love Gilad's outgoing personality and his drive to be the best version of himself. I’m inspired by how different their backgrounds are and how they make that work for them.
They've grown up differently, practiced different faiths, and have very different careers. Through all that they have found a life partner and started a beautiful life together. The most memorable part of the weekend was Bekah and Gilad's first dance. I was totally blown away. They looked like they were having so much fun!” Katie H.
From Barry A.
“The first time I met Bekah, I was captivated by her smile. It took just minutes to realize that her smile was just a beautiful external reflection of the sweet, kind, loving person she is. While talking with Bekah, one always senses that she is intensely interested and involved in the conversation and that she really cares! I love Bekah’s sincerity. She is truly a warm and caring person.
I have had the joy of becoming close with Gilad over the past seven years. What I love most about him is what an incredible multifaceted person he is. As a business man, he is the epitome of a self-made man. He created a growing successful business and continues to innovate and modify based on the evolving changes of the market. As a family man, he is loving and caring and adores his family and loves spending time with them. Watching him play with his nieces and nephews demonstrates the kind of fantastic father he will be. As a friend, Gilad will do anything for anyone. He is just that kind of person. As a man, he is a real “Man’s Man.” Gilad is athletic, adventurous, emotionally strong, and what is great for me is that he loves to fish.
I smile every time I see them gaze into each other’s eyes. There is such a sensitivity they manifest towards one and other. They not only love each other, but respect and honor each other. They support and encourage the other’s desires, wishes and dreams.
The highlight of the wedding weekend was Bekah’s and Gilad’s vows. They demonstrated not only their love, but their respect, admiration and support for each other. They also expressed their ability to be humorous and serious at the same time. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the place! Of course, Gilad’s response to the shrieking peacock will go down as a classic.” Barry A.
As of the publication of this story, we are happy to report that there are yet two new milestones to add to their journey:
May 1, 2017 Moved into first home
January 3, 2018 Expected Due Date!
. . . and the couple lived happily ever after!
The Vendor Team
Helicopter: Tour Helicopter
Yacht: The Venetian Lady
DJ: DJ Troubles
Event Planning: Your Special Day by Joni
Location: Kaskades South Beach
Catering: New Time Catering
Event Planning: Your Special Day by Joni
Hotel: Gale South Beach
Hotel Transportation: Freebee
Transportation to Fisher Island: Party Service Miami
Ceremony and Reception Location: Fisher Island Club
Ceremony Music: Master Musicians
Makeup: Touch Cosmetics
Hair: Hair We Go
Dance Choreography: Fred Astaire Dance Studio
Entertainment: Event Studio Productions
Band: Tropics Entertainment
Cake: Ana Paz Cakes
Macarons: Marché de Macarons
Photography: This Is Feeling Photography
Videography: Isle Media