The Wedding of ...
Ilona Levina & Yuval Sapir
Ceremony & Reception: The Vanderbilt at South Beach
Gown: Essence of Australia at Lotus Bridal, Brooklyn, NY
Bridesmaids: David’s Bridal; Tux: The Black Tux
Photographer: Denis Gostev Photography
Cinematographer: T Sharif Films
Makeup: Make up by Rada
Hair: Veronika Shur, Zebra Hair Salon
Florist: Oleander Flowers, Diana Oleander
Cake: Maya, Baku Bakery
Wedding Rings: Forever Diamonds NY
Photo Booth: Lodi Photo Booth
Rabbi: Carrie Carter
Cantor: Zachary Konigsberg
"Elegant & Astounding"
Ilona: I moved to Israel to volunteer in the IDF as a social worker. I was a lone soldier placed in a kibbutz, which is essentially a communal settlement. Yuval grew up in the kibbutz where I was placed. We met and became friends and we’ve been together for about 10 years since then. I decided to move back to NY and asked Yuval if he wanted to come with me and he said yes! We’ve been building our lives together in New York since 2016.
Yuval: I took Ilona on hot air-ballooning in Hudson Valley, something she told me was a childhood dream of hers. When we went up, I popped the question! In three languages! We both speak English and Hebrew, but Ilona also speaks Russian. Her mom helped me learn a part of my proposal in Russian so I could incorporate all three languages.
Ilona: It was so wonderful to hear such a sweet thing in my mother tongue. For our wedding, we wanted a venue involving nature and Vanderbilt had everything we wanted. It’s right on the water and has a beautiful view of the Verrazano bridge, where we had a lot of sweet moments as Yuval was getting acquainted with NY. The reception ballroom windows look over the water and that felt special. We had a great relationship with Brittany Felice, the manager. She was amazing from beginning to end. I’ve never met anyone equalling her abilities and dedication.
She’s a coordinator, a hand-holder, a person to call to calm you down, a logistical thinker, and more. She could take opinions from me, my mom, and Yuval, and bring them all together. She helped create the perfect menu for us with family style food, which is traditional in Russian-Jewish families. The head chef did an amazing tasting for us.
Yuval: Brittany answered all our questions so capably. Everyone at the venue was like that. The chef, for example, said everything was open for discussion, whatever we wanted to add or take out. Brittany was the same. Everything was open to change based on what we wanted.
Ilona: Our ceremony was inside facing the beach. We had lovely colored flowers and roses and my bouquet was a cascade of white orchids. The people who work with The Vanderbilt, Theatrix Entertainment, lit up the room with uplighting. The pictures are beautiful and romantic. It was a dream.
Yuval: The cocktail hour dishes were great. The pastrami was delicious and we had a great raw seafood bar. The caviar was amazing. Ilona’s father imports caviar and the Vanderbilt displayed the caviar beautifully. The oysters were delicious. The corned beef was really great and we would recommend that to anyone having their wedding there. The risotto bar, the mini lobster rolls — it was all good! They also recently renovated so everything is beautiful white marble. The whole place is really elegant. There are beautiful pillars in the ballroom. It’s astounding.
Ilona: The ballroom is big and beautiful. We had a photo booth area and a dessert section, an area with an artist doing caricatures, and room to dance. Everything was arranged to flow so well. We had a band/DJ fusion and band members would sometimes come down to dance with us. There was a lot of space for us to do the traditional hora and our first dance with everyone around us in a circle.
Yuval: The band also let us come onstage with them. I studied percussion for about five years and the band called me to play with them. It was really so cool.
Ilona: We wanted food to constantly be coming out. They started with family-style appetizers like orange sesame tuna salad, roasted pear salad, Caesar salad, foie gras with raspberry sauce, and more. We had two phenomenal pastas, wild mushroom tortellini and spinach rotelle. Entrée options were grilled hanger steak in a red wine demi-glaze, roulade of chicken with dried fruit and an almond-fennel stuffing, and grilled salmon with basil whipped potatoes and asparagus. There was a vegetarian option and another option for kids. The food and service were great.
My parents, Roman and Natalya, made this happen. Brittany as well! She and my parents worked so hard to make everything so special for us. Yuval’s parents came from Israel the week before the wedding and we’re so grateful for that extra time. We feel so lucky looking back on our day!
Vanderbilt at South Beach
Staten Island, NY, 718.447.0800, vanderbiltsouthbeach.com