For weddings and honeymoons, Israel has lots to offer

When planning a wedding, one of the first questions to come up is where to get married. Your hometown or his? Your family’s shul or his? A hotel or at home?

While considering these options, here’s another that might just provide neutrality and sentimentality: Israel.

Israeli weddings can be held in the cosmopolitan city of Tel Aviv, in sacred Jerusalem with its many world-famous sites, in a lush green garden or on the beach, in an ancient synagogue or in the ruins of a castle.

However, certain preparations must be made to ensure the wedding runs smoothly: Besides having a valid passport and birth certificate readily available, you must submit your file to the Rabbanut, the Israeli rabbinical court that oversees all Jewish marriages. Through the Rabbanut, you will have to determine your witnesses, obtain certificates that you and your partner have never been previously married (or if so, were either widowed or divorced according to Jewish law) and register for a marriage license.

If you want your own rabbi to officiate, make sure he or she is allowed to do so in Israel, or you will need to contact an Israeli rabbi.

Here are some ideal spots for weddings or honeymoons:

Neot Kedumim, a biblical landscape reserve between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The park re-creates the physical setting of the Bible with a network of natural and agricultural landscapes along trails bearing the names of their textual sources. Among these landscapes is the “Dale of the Song of Songs,” a reference to King David’s romantic poetry. Nearby is a chuppah atop a stage backed by a mountain.

Wedding guests approach the wedding canopy along a trail lined with verses from the Song of Songs. Illuminated at night, the trail is paved, wheelchair-accessible and, many say, romantic. After the ceremony, the Neot Tour Train whisks wedding guests to the reception area, which is illuminated with spotlights.

For many, a visit to the northern Israel mountain city of Safed is a spiritual experience. The capital of Jewish mysticism emits an aura of holiness and evokes the feeling of physical closeness to God.

A few days in Safed are bound to extend the spirituality surrounding a couple’s wedding day. With views of the hills of the Galilee, the alleyways and courtyards of the famed artists’ colony and the historical synagogues, newlyweds are destined to get in touch with themselves and each other.

And since the bride and groom are considered royalty at their wedding, it’s only appropriate that they start their new life together in a palace, like the Palacio Resort. Owner Jean-Yeves Mastay has created a retreat in the heart of Safed’s artist colony.

His Palacio Resort is a 14th-century palace that has been restored and enlarged to reflect old-world elegance, combined with modern amenities.

Mastay is a French romantic, and it shows in every corner of the 35,000-square-foot palace and restaurant. Among the nooks and crannies of the restaurant is the “Romantic Room,” a dining room that seats only two people.

If hot springs seem like a heavenly honeymoon, Hamat Gader is a multifaceted recreation park tucked between the Golan Heights and Mount Gilad. It sits on the edge of the Yarmuch River, at the Israel-Jordan border.

The park features a small zoo, ruins of ancient Roman bathhouses, the largest alligator farm in the Middle East and a sports complex.

But the biggest draw is the geothermal hot springs that bubble up at a toasty 106.7 degrees Fahrenheit. The therapeutic waters are channeled into several attractions, including pools, Jacuzzi beds and chairs that massage every part of the body, and a waterfall.

For couples wishing to spend some quality time “away from it all,” there is the luxurious Hamat Gader Spa Village. Nestled against a mountain in a secluded area of the park, Spa Village features a small hotel with 28 suites, each with ts own enclosed terrace with a large private Jacuzzi supplying natural spring water.

Only couples are allowed to stay at Spa Village, where they receive a welcome basket, wine and 45-minute spa treatment including hydrotherapy, massage, shiatsu and reflexology. An outdoor yoga workshop is offered outdoors atop a hill overlooking the Yarmuch River.

There are many more romantic and relaxing destinations as well. From the beaches of Eilat to the dance clubs of Tel Aviv and the serenity of the Kinneret, Israel offers newlyweds the opportunity to begin their lives together, both in style and spirit.