Inside a Sydney wedding that fused modernity with tradition

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Terri Wasserman and Sam Benda met through mutual friends in November of 2013. It’s a love tale as old as time, the bringing together of two people who know and love them most—a relationship origin story which, over time, saw the development of true and deep feelings leading to a commitment to spend the rest of their lives with each other. 

And on May 11, 2018, their romantic fate was sealed with Sam’s proposal. “He set up our apartment with candles and flowers,” Terri told Vogue. “As I walked in from a long day of work, he was down on one knee. He had organised a big family dinner with all of our immediate family to celebrate.”

From the moment Terri said yes, the wedding planning began, selecting December 27 of that very same year to tie the knot, a date which was purposely chosen for the relaxed, holiday state of mind common to that time of year. 

With the aid of wedding planner Benita Kam—who also happens to be Terri’s mother—the couple planned a wedding true to the Jewish religion that both the bride and groom share, but with a modern Australian twist. 

Selecting The Venue for their ceremony and reception, the blank canvas of the expansive Alexandria space allowed Benita to create a personalised environment for the couple on their day of days, using works by local artists loved by both Terri and Sam as her key source of inspiration. 

Scroll through to go inside the couple’s big day. 

In accordance with Jewish wedding tradition, which asks that the bride and groom spend the seven days prior to their wedding apart, Terri and Sam hadn’t seen each other for a week prior to their nuptials, organising separate pre-wedding get-togethers with family and friends who had travelled interstate and overseas for the occasion.

On the morning of their big day, the bride and groom spent the lead-up to their wedding engaging in their own pre-ceremony rituals. For Terri, that meant watching the classic ‘80s film before getting ready with her sisters and close friends. And for Sam, an ocean swim with his and Terri’s father, his brothers and close friends was the perfect primer for the day ahead.

Enlisting the help of Australian bridal designer, Steven Khalil, to design her couture gown, Terri had a specific silhouette in mind, wanting something that wasn’t too tight and wouldn’t restrict her ability to dance all night long.

Terri’s custom gown featured a corseted bodice covered in intricate beadwork which continued on to the dress’s tulle A-line skirt.

The gown was also embellished with nature-inspired lace appliqué, the very same finish reflected in Terri’s cathedral veil and within the wedding reception’s décor.

Terri topped her bridal wares off with her ‘something borrowed’—a brooch of her late grandmother’s which she had sewn into her dress—as well as a Tiffany and Co. diamond T bracelet and earrings from her mother.

Sam wore his favourite suiting brand, Canali, from head-to-toe having always known he’d want to wear one of their classic suits on his big day. The groom opted for a bow tie in place of a traditional tie, and wore a Rolex watch bought for him by Terri as a wedding present as his key accessory.

Prior to the ceremony, Sam, his father and his groomsmen along with the rabbi made their way to Terri’s mother’s home for the traditional bedeken ceremony, where the groom saw his bride-to-be for the first time in seven days—a moment that proved to be the most memorable of the day for both the bride and groom.

Momentarily removing Terri’s veil to check she is indeed his bride, as tradition dictates, Sam placed it back on before they both made their way to the Royal Botanical Garden Sydney for their wedding photographs.

Terri had her two sisters, as well as Sam’s sister, by her side as her bridesmaids. Each wearing white, Terri wanted her bridesmaids to find dresses they loved and that they felt comfortable with. “I have been a bridesmaid seven times and I know how important it is to love what you are wearing,” Terri told , adding that her bridesmaids looked to Toni Maticevski, Sass and Bide and Dion Lee for their own dresses.

Sam asked Terri’s brother, along with two of his closest friends to be his groomsmen. 

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Sam and Terri’s first moments as husband and wife.

The bride and groom enjoying a few moments alone before their spectacular reception.

The natural landscape that provided the backdrop for their picturesque wedding portraits could not have been more in tune with the wedding’s theme.

Following their wedding photographs, Terri and Sam, along with their bridal party and guests made their way to The Venue in Alexandria for the ceremony and the reception that followed. “We chose The Venue as it is one of the newest warehouse-type venues in Sydney where you can take an empty canvas and create whatever you want in it,” explained Terri.

Inspired by the works of a local artist, who heroes abstract nature and colours in one particular piece that Terri and Sam actually bought for their own apartment, their reception décor borrowed many elements reflected in the art work. 

The artwork’s motifs were recreated in the form of bursts of floral within and around the chuppah, under which the ceremony traditionally takes place.

An abundance of blooms, created by Mr Cook and Ria Floral, also topped each of the guest tables, with pastel-hued hydrangeas starring as the heroes of each table arrangement, including the centrepieces. 

Florals were also weaved within the venue’s lighting. “We love beautiful flowers so we made sure that they were everywhere,” said Terri.

The breath-taking centrepieces up close.

For their post-ceremony meal, Terri and Sam flew famed Israeli chef Barak from Burek Restaurant in Tel Aviv, to Sydney to design their reception menu.

In place of a wedding cake, the bride and groom also had Barak and his team create a six-metre dessert table in front of them and their guests on the dance floor, the theatrical moment choreographed to music. “I think this was a highlight for all the guests as well,” Terri said of Barak’s signature dish-cum-performance.

On the evening following their wedding day, Terri and Sam hosted a dinner at Zest in Point Piper for all their overseas guests and close family, an evening which also provided one of the bride and groom’s wedding highlights: “Sam’s grandmother, who is 86, stole the show by getting up and unexpectedly roasting everyone at the night after the wedding event,” recalled Terri.

Following their celebrations, a newly-married Terri and Sam embarked on a romantic six-week European honeymoon through Israel, Greece and Italy; a trip that was bookended by two of their friends destination weddings.

Terri’s advice for brides and grooms-to-be? “Savour the moments, take it all in—as it all goes too fast and before you look around, it is over.”

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