Interior designer Genevieve Bergman and developer Jonathon Freed met in Ontario cottage country when they were just 15 and 18 years old. The pair reconnected via Instagram 15 years later when Genevieve was living in Toronto and Jonathon was living in Winnipeg. “I was at the cottage visiting my family, took a photo of the lake and uploaded it on Instagram,” says Genevieve. “Jonathon was in town for a festival and asked if I wanted to join him and his friends. It was pouring rain so I politely declined, but we kept in touch.” A few weeks later, back in Toronto, Genevieve received a message from Jonathon mentioning his sister lived in the city and he was coming to visit. “He asked if he could take me on a date,” Genevieve says. “I said yes, and over the next few weeks he courted me by sending my favourite cookies with a poem and flowers to my office. He later admitted his sister was actually out of town when we went on our first date, and that he flew in just to take me out!” After eight months of dating long-distance, the couple moved in together, and Jonathon proposed to Genevieve on their one-year anniversary during a trip to Israel and the Amal Coast.
“We knew we wanted a small wedding with our families and close friends, and we immediately both thought of Tel Aviv,” Genevieve says of their location choice. “It was so special to us and the most unique place I had ever been—I loved the energy, the architecture, and especially the ancient port of Jaffa.” The Lawrence in Jaffa, Tel Aviv, proved the perfect venue for the couple’s weekend festivities, with its 3,000-year-old history and picturesque views of the city. “I love a bright, eclectic mix of old-world charm and elegance mixed with pattern, texture and colour,” Genevieve explains. To set the tone for the affair, the couple sent out whimsical save-the-date cards and wedding invitations painted with Israeli animals, flowers and fruit, and a map of their favourite spots around Tel Aviv. “Our wedding consisted of five events—for the kick-off we took everyone to Jerusalem for the day and organized a private tour of the old city, Western Wall, ancient tunnels and Church of the Holy Sepulchre,” Genevieve recalls. “Seeing everyone experience the magic of Jerusalem for the first time was so emotional, and one of the weekend highlights.”
Genevieve and Jonathon tied the knot on a stunning rooftop under a chuppah consisting of over 50 types of flowers, standing on vintage carpets from the famous Jaffa Market. With a team of wedding planners, decorators and venue staff, the couple added personal touches to the site, including custom tablecloths for the reception tables; candlesticks; vintage, coloured-glass vases in multiple shades; and fresh fruit. As an extra-special touch, they had paper fans stamped with their wedding date, hammam towels and jars of olives for guests to take home.
The couple was touched that friends and family travelled from the U.S., Canada and Europe to attend. “My best friend from high school flew to Tel Aviv from Toronto, which is an 11-hour flight, to come for 24 hours to surprise me!” says Genevieve. The newlyweds and their guests danced to both traditional Israeli and hip-hop tunes. “Jonathon and I both love rap and hip-hop music, and bonded over this when we first met,” Genevieve shares. At midnight, guests were treated to a shawarma station that was rolled out onto the dance floor. “Our friends and family said they loved the celebrations, and loved being in Tel Aviv more than any other place they had been to,” Genevieve reveals. “The wedding was somewhat difficult to plan, being so far away and with an eight-hour time difference, but it was all worth it!”