Ketubahs and Katyushas: Bay Area couples scramble to rearrange Holy Land wedding

There’s nothing like a war to get in the way of your wedding plans.

That’s what two Bay Area couples learned the hard way recently, as they had to change their wedding plans due to the situation in the Middle East.

Becky Burgheimer and Dani Buckwald are still going through with their Aug. 10 wedding in Israel — almost as originally planned.

They did decide to change the location, as they had chosen Achziv, a national park on the beach that is right near the border with Lebanon. They are now getting married in the more centrally located Sachne, a national park that is also known as Gan Hashlosha.

Planning a wedding in Israel when you don’t live there requires wedding planners. Burgheimer and Buckwald — both 31 — also needed them because wedding planners must oversee events at national parks. The planners scouted out a “Plan B” location once the rockets began falling, using the same vendors.

“They are much more flexible in Israel, and people are willing to make changes at the last minute,” said Burgheimer, who is the director of the Jewish Coalition for Literacy in San Francisco.

Coincidentally, Adam Noily, 30, and Maia Beyler, 26, had chosen the same day, Aug. 10, for their wedding in Ceasaria. (Noily and Burgheimer know each other from being in USY together). But last week, the San Francisco pair postponed their wedding date to Sept. 25 — that is, provided the Middle East has calmed down by then. If it hasn’t, the wedding may not happen until 2007.

“Most of our guests from outside Israel were dropping out, and many of those who were going, made it clear that they wouldn’t be going now otherwise, and we didn’t want to force people to do something against their will,” said Noily.

Luckily, neither couple lost any of their deposit for changing their plans.

When thinking about where to get married, Israel was the only choice for both couples. Noily, who is on j.’s board of directors, serving as secretary, met his French-born wife-to-be in Israel after she had moved there six years ago.

“It’s neutral ground for us, as well as very meaningful to us,” said Noily. “It’s a place we both feel deeply connected to. Her parents are in Europe, and mine are here, but both of us have large extended families there.”

Burgheimer and Buckwald’s motivations were different. Buckwald’s parents made aliyah from Minneapolis several years before he was born. Burgheimer’s mother and Buckwald’s mother were childhood friends and kept in touch, so actually the future couple met for the first time when they were 10, when Burgheimer’s family took a vacation to Israel.

When Buckwald visited the United States after his army service, he came to San Francisco, and that’s when the two hit it off. Burgheimer returned to Israel with him to go to graduate school at Hebrew University, and then they returned to San Francisco. They have been together nine years.

“We decided to get married in Israel because we had a vision of our wedding as an Israeli-style wedding,” said Burgheimer. “We both liked how warm and informal and exuberant they are.”

While Burgheimer wasn’t expecting many Americans to make the trip beyond her immediate family, Noily was hoping to have at least 50 people from outside the country, not only his family and friends, but his fiancée’s, as her family is all still in France.

“As if wedding planning isn’t stressful enough,” he half-joked. “This has just made the whole thing absurd. We’re all focused on a wedding, but there’s a war happening.”

As for having to postpone, Noily said, “we’re totally bummed. This is not what anyone had foreseen or wanted. But it is what it is, and we’re just happy that the greatest casualty so far is our wedding, which is not such a big deal.”

Alix Wall
Alix Wall

Alix Wall is a contributing editor to J. She is also the founder of the Illuminoshi: The Not-So-Secret Society of Bay Area Jewish Food Professionals and is writer/producer of a documentary-in-progress called "The Lonely Child."