I absolutely adore seeing love stories come full circle. Susan and Nadav met as camp counselors, and 10 years later they returned to the same scene to exchange vows in front of friends and family. With a team including Josh Elliott Photography behind the camera, Sugar Branch Events designing the day, and The Little Branch in control of flowers, this wedding was destined for pure beauty from the start.
From the bride, Susan: Nadav and I met ten years ago as summer camp counselors at Camp Hess Kramer/Gindling Hilltop Camp in California. When it came time to decide where we would get married, we were giddy with excitement over the idea to return to the place we met and experience the glory of camp with our friends and family. And it didn’t hurt that Gindling Hilltop Camp is breathtakingly beautiful, located on top a mountain on the Pacific coast!
Nadav and I adore camp and wanted to fully embrace the camp setting during our wedding. Our friends and family stayed at camp in cabins for the weekend–bunk beds and all!—and we had a camp schedule that included a high ropes course, arts & crafts, a hike, pool time, sports and a pilates class, all led by our friends. We had cozy nighttime campfires under the stars, complete with s’mores and guitar playing song sessions. We tried to stay true to the camp feel over the course of the weekend, incorporating some of our favorite camp traditions (like shabbat-o-grams, where you can send anyone at camp a note and it gets delivered over the course the weekend, and having a guitar-led procession of all of our guests up to the camp chapel for our wedding ceremony).
Since close to none of our guests were local (I’m originally from Michigan, Nadav is from Israel and we had guests traveling from around the country and world—including China, France, India and Mexico), we wanted to maximize the amount of time everyone had to spend together over the weekend and enjoy the tranquil, mountaintop camp setting. It was important for us to incorporate our blend of cultures and highlight our mutural wanderlust (Nadav and I have lived around the globe and currently reside in Nigeria). We also knew that it wouldn’t be a Nadav and Susan party without an all-out dance marathon (including some crazy Israeli dance moves), which our DJ brilliantly orchestrated. Lastly, my grandmother, my Bubbie, had been the person probably most excited about our wedding and had been promising me for the better part of the last decade that if we get engaged, “she will party at our wedding.” I’ll never forget the moment when our entire family and many friends crowded around Bubbie on the dance floor and she happily danced in the middle of the circle like the wedding star that she was!
We wanted the wedding to echo the relaxed, organic, boho feel of camp, but in an elevated way. For the reception, we decided on a soft palate of light sherbert tones, blushes, light aqua and mint, with pops of brighter coral. But with the backdrop of the turquoise Pacific Ocean on top of the mountain at camp for the ceremony, we decided that more colorful ceremony decor–and a chuppah made of different shades of bougainvilleas (which was also a nod to Nadav’s Mediterranean heritage)–would really be impactful. Our ceremony was in the camp outdoor chapel, located at the highest peak of the mountain. You could only see the chapel once you took the last step up to the top of the mountain. I saw the ceremony set-up for the first time as I walked down the aisle towards Nadav–it felt utterly magical.
Any advice for couples planning their weddings now? A friend who was recently married gave me a great piece of advice a couple of weeks before our wedding. She told me to enjoy the time of preparations and know that the wedding will only be perfect if I’ll be able to enjoy it and be at peace with the imperfections. I took her advice to heart and went into the wedding laughing over last-minute snafus and fully savoring the moment. I think it’s also important to have someone to whom you can hand off all responsibility for the wedding weekend. At that point, I wanted to be present and enjoy what we had been working so hard to plan. Luckily, we had the amazing planners at Sugar Branch Events and site-coordinators at Gindling Hilltop Camp handling all of the nitty-gritty elements.
You must watch the video by Robert Nachman as well, it’s too sweet to pass up:
Bridal Party Processional: “Here Comes the Sun,” The Beatles
Groom’s Processional: “Danny’s Song,” Kenny Loggins
Bride’s Processional: “Erev Shel Shoshanim”
Recessional: “Siman tov, U’mazal tov”
First Dance: “Ahavat Neurai,” Shalom Chanoch and “Bach Mechadash,” Izhar Ashdot
From the event designers, Lindsay and Britt of Sugar Branch Events: Our lovely bride Susan had a very strong vision of what she wanted her wedding to look like from the moment we first met with her. Susan and Nadav met at Gindling Hilltop Camp in the Summer of 2004 as camp counselors and fell in love during their time there. It seemed only fitting that this very personal and sentimental location be the place they exchange their wedding vows 10 years later. Since all 140 guests flew in from around the world to join them at Hilltop, Susan wanted to re-create a true “camp” experience for everyone. A colorful and California Bohemian aesthetic was presented to us through inspiration and images Susan had collected and with her vision in mind we set out to pull together the right vendors to make that vision happen. With beautiful bright florals, neutral linens, campfire songs and s’mores, a custom hand illustrated map of camp amongst many other wonderful details, Susan & Nadav’s camp wedding weekend came together beautifully. Incorporating fun camp traditions and elements Susan remembered from their time there, guests were truly given a taste of why Hilltop is so special to Susan & Nadav. Donning paper parosols and lead by one of the camp’s own song leaders, guests were invited to process up to the very tip of Hilltop, a ceremonial gathering place overlooking the pacific ocean to watch Susan & Nadav’s Jewish marriage ceremony under a brightly decorated Chuppah of bougainvillea. Sipping cocktails and catching up with old friends, guests enjoyed a spectacular California sunset during cocktail hour and then danced the Hora to celebrate the new couple! An evening of great dancing to high-energy Israeli music ensued under a canopy of twinkle lights in the dining hall into the late night hours.
Wedding Location: Malibu, CA / Photographer: Josh Elliott Photography / Event Design and Planning: Sugar Branch Events / Floral Design: The Little Branch / Venue: Gindling Hilltop Camp / Wedding Dress: Sarah Janks via White of Dublin Salon / Veil and Alterations: Maria’s Bridal in West Bloomfield, MI / Wedding Shoes: BHLDN / Hair: Beauty & the Beach / Makeup: Pircilla Pae / Groom’s Suit: J.Crew / Groom’s Bow Tie and Pocket Square: Mrs. Bow Tie / Caterer: John Bard at Ginding Hilltop Camp / Wedding Cakes: Susie Cakes / Guitarist (who played at our ceremony, cocktail hour and campfire): Ari Kaplan / DJ: Tony Liebetrau of Red Shoe / Rentals: Town and Country / Tote Bag Wedding Favors: Brody’s / Officiant: Rabbi Spike Anderson / Wedding Invitations: Jenna Rainey / Save the Dates: Jolly Edition / Videographer: Robert Nachman