Jerusalem, Israel | Sophie & Stefano's Vineyard Wedding at Tur Sinai
This is Part II of Sophie & Stefano's dual international weddings. Part I at a villa in the Italian countryside is here!
Months of planning - not just one wedding, but two. Not just two weddings in one country, but across two countries almost 4,000 kilometres apart. Sophie and Stefano's civil wedding was in Italy two weeks ago; tonight's ceremony in the hills outside Jerusalem marked the final step in the binding of their marriage covenant.
The wedding venue sits in the middle of a vineyard, organic farm, and boutique hotel at the end of a long, winding road. Early in the afternoon, a caravan of friends' cars and catering vans wove their way through the hills to the farm and began preparing the outdoor banquet area under a canopy of thousands of lush grape clusters.
Stefano gathered a couple of friends and found a quiet place to talk and pray together - pray for peace in their marriage, for strength to be a man and husband, and that their lives would be a testimony and encouragement to many. Meanwhile, in a little cottage tucked away in the trees nearby, Sophie's hair and makeup was being finished while the ladies gushed over her rings. As soon as she was ready, she ran outside to join Stefano and we jumped in the car to go do portraits before the ceremony.
Up in the hills above the vineyard, there's a small city that was abandoned long ago. Stefano used to see it every day from the highway on his way to work, but had never been able to go exploring. Until today. Sophie had told us about this place before we got to Israel, but we couldn't believe we were really going to make it happen! We took the poor little rental car as far up into the hills as we could, then hiked the rest of the way - even Sophie, in her dress AND heels. They climbed through the ruins, played in the streets, and danced on the rooftops. It was like a fairytale, and for Stefano, it was like a wedding present to finally be able to go exploring here with his bride.
The ceremony took place after dark on a small overlook with a beautiful chuppah. It was standing room only as the 300 guests packed into the grassy area and formed an aisle to the chuppah. The crowd cheered as Stefano came down with his parents, but as Sophie entered, it raised to a thunderous roar. She was radiant. Her mother was proud. And her father was thrilled to be giving his daughter to such a godly man as Stefano.
The ceremony was rich with traditional Jewish blessings from friends and family, a blessing before partaking of the fruit of the vine, and the groom crushing a glass. The glass reminds us that the marriage covenant is permanent and unchangeable, just as the broken glass cannot be changed. But it also reminds us that marriage is fragile, like a glass, and a negligent act can do much damage. So we strive to love and care for each other as is fitting of an everlasting covenant with the love of our life. And although this world is shattered like a glass, we have all been given the opportunity to repair what has been broken.
As soon as the ceremony was complete, the clearing again erupted in cheering and clapping as the guests rushed the stage to be the first to congratulate the new husband and wife. The kids whipped up the pillows they had been sitting on and started a huge pillow fight as the DJ dropped the beat on the beginning of a legen - wait for it - dary reception.
Like in Italy, this was a social wedding; and if you didn't know, Israelis can really cook too. So much incredible food and wine! Followed by games for the bride and groom, the cake-cutting, and then, THEN the dancing. A hundred people crammed the dance floor and encircled Sophie and Stefano in a wild hora before hoisting them up on chairs over their heads, weaving them through the crowd toward each other, and falling into each others arms. It was an unreal experience, a profound blessing, to hear the words of the prophet being fulfilled: