An elegant old Hollywood glamour wedding at Edinburgh City Chambers and The Scotsman Hotel
Israeli couple Ben and Sivan got married in a Scottish wedding at Edinburgh’s City Chambers “almost by complete chance.”
They originally planned to have a civil ceremony in Cyprus followed by a big celebration in Tel Aviv but when Covid hit their wedding took a slight turn.
Owing to travel restrictions, they weren’t able to marry in Cyprus so ended up with “a lovely day in Edinburgh (at The Scotsman Hotel) followed by a wonderful trip around Scotland.”
Read on to hear just how they made it work, with gorgeous photos by Fern Photography.
Meant to be
Sivan and Ben had been in the same social circles for a while so looking back it seems inevitable they would be introduced at some point.
“We met at a dinner at a mutual friend’s house – shortly followed by a first date consisting of going to a photography exhibition and eating sushi” she says.
“From there, we knew it’d be a good match.”
The couple knew they would get engaged at some point, and even shopped together for Sivan’s beautiful engagement with champagne-shade gemstones before Ben officially proposed.
And while the bride’s engagement ring had a contemporary feel, they went very traditional with their wedding bands, using Sivan’s parents’ rings and having them resized.
Make it a Scottish wedding
To say the pandemic changed their wedding plans would be a massive understatement.
“We had so many ideas when planning, and due to Covid virtually none of them came to fruition,” remembers the bride.
As civil marriages aren’t legally recognized in Israel and they didn’t want an Orthodox religious marriage, they had planned to have a small civil ceremony abroad.
“It’s very common for Israelis to do this, and the most popular destinations are Cyprus and the Czech Republic as there’s relatively little paperwork involved,” explains Sivan.
But with both these countries closed to them due to the pandemic they started looking in the UK, as Ben’s family lives in London.
However, it turned out to be significantly easier for a non-UK/EU citizen like Sivan to marry in Scotland so they hit upon Edinburgh.
“We’d originally planned a big, international party in Israel as our main event, a civil wedding in Cyprus with at most just a couple of friends for company,” she says.
“We ended up with a much smaller party in Israel (we had about 150 which is very small by Israeli standards) with almost no international guests – and a lovely day in Edinburgh followed by a wonderful trip around Scotland!
“Totally different from what we’d anticipated, but we have absolutely no complaints!
They postponed from a February date to May and as it turned out it was almost perfect as restrictions eased enough to invite up to 50 guests.
“It was the hotel’s first wedding after the lockdown and it was the first large or significant event that anyone had been to in more than a year,” says Sivan.
“It meant that everyone was happy to be there, contributing a great deal to the atmosphere on the day.”
Champagne for everyone
While the to-be-weds weren’t able to include many DIY details, they kept the colour of champagne central to their wedding style.
Sivan made sure her shoes enchoed the champagne tones of her engagement ring.
Then for the rest of her bridal look she wanted an old Holywood glam style and hit upon Tel Aviv designer Nox who designs evening gowns and dresswear for the entire spectrum “from plus-size women through to drag queens and trans women.”
Then as a nod to their UK wedding Sivan chose British hat designer Danielle Mazin for her fascinator.
The couple spent the run-up to the wedding relaxing in their wonderful spacious suite at The Scotsman and the staff were brilliant at helping them make it feel special.
Then on the morning of the wedding they discovered a large number of trains from London had been cancelled due to a fault on the track.
Fortunately everyone who was meant to come made it, with some guests even rushing to catch flights from Luton.
When they finally got to walk down the aisle it was all “very moving”.
“It’s an unusual feeling to know that everyone’s eyes are on you,” says Sivan.
“We also had a zoom stream for all those people who weren’t able to make it, so it was important for us for them to feel a part of the event too.”
They had short ceremony without too many tweaks, choosing to incorporate more elements of a traditional Jewish wedding ceremony at their later celebration back home.
However, they did write their own vows with Ben reading his in English and Sivan doing hers in Hebrew.
And being in Edinburgh they of course had to reference Harry Potter in their ceremony!
Toast of the town
Following their vows Ben and Sivan enjoyed a walk around Edinburgh with their photographer Matt from Fern Photography.
One of the highlights of their entire day was when they bumped into a man who keeps an owl for tourists to pose for.
“We found him and Hazel the next day and got speaking to him only to find out that, like me, he is of Armenian origin,” says Sivan.
“Moreover his father was born in Jerusalem before eventually moving to Scotland – a weird and unexpected connection!”
They also went down the Grassmarket during their photoshoot and were raucously cheered on by the happy onlookers sitting outside the pubs.
Back at The Scotsman, Sivan and Ben treated their guests to a proper Scottish banquet with haggis canapés, smoked salmon and whisky being a given.
Other traditional British food was added including roast beef and Yorkshire pudding as well as sticky toffee pudding.
Armenian cognac was also served to respect Sivan’s heritage.
But it was the full Scottish breakfast the next day which was the real highlight for the bride.
“In Israel, breakfast is typically a lighter affair of salad and cheeses and so to be treated to four different types of fried meats on a breakfast plate was a bit of a shock!” she says.
Mum’s the word
Sivan remembers the evening reception as being “really fun” with Ben thinking his speech was hilarious.
“Although he admits that he’s not sure to what extent the guests would agree with that assessment!” she smiles.
But this groom was actually surpassed by his mum.
“The highlight was Ben’s mother’s speech, which included some inadvertently inappropriate jokes,” says Sivan.
“We remain unsure as to whether these were intentional or not.”
The speeches were also broadcast on zoom for friends and family who couldn’t make the Scottish wedding.
Pre-recorded speeches from some of the bride’s loved ones were also screened – a complete surprise for Sivan.
After they had finally legally said “I do” in Scotland Ben and Sivan felt a lot more relaxed preparing for their larger celebration back in Israel.
“Having done a wedding once made it much easier for our second event,” she says.
“Once we realised that ultimately everything does go to plan and there’s no need to be stressed on the day itself.”