A Romantic Intimate Wedding and Extravagant Henna Reception in Los Angeles
Leora Soleymani almost didn’t go to her friend’s birthday party on February 27, 2021—she had an early flight the next day—but decided at the last minute to stop by. She was saying her goodbyes when Igal Pilevar showed up. She decided to stay a little longer.
“I had met Igal briefly two other times through this same mutual friend, but we had barely ever spoken,” Leora remembers. “That night, he showed up pretty late; we had finished dinner and were going to sit by the bonfire. Igal made an effort to come sit next to me.” She goes on: “We spoke about a bunch of things and, long story short, he ended up telling me that I am his dream girl, and he wants to be with me forever. I thought he was crazy, or that he had a bit too much to drink!”
The two began texting back and forth and went on their first official date a few weeks later. “Igal says he knew I was the one that night at the birthday, and he was very sure after our second date,” Leora says. “I knew around our fourth date. After our tenth date, we were both sure we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together.”
“After three months of dating, we had a very private engagement,” Leora shares. “We expressed our love for each other and decided we should start planning our wedding because we couldn’t wait any longer.” On August 26, Igal officially proposed in Malibu.
Their dating timeline wasn’t traditional, so their wedding timeline wasn’t either: The duo said “I do” just two months later. Luckily, Leora had an ace up her sleeve: She’s a wedding planner and serial entrepreneur behind party-planning companies Best Bride, Partyology and Academy for Events. With the support of her team at Best Bride, she pulled together the wedding of her dreams.
“It was really beautiful to experience being a bride,” she says. “I have planned hundreds of weddings but after being a bride, I feel that my understanding of all the emotions, feelings, and thoughts a bride goes through has really expanded. As much as I thought I understood my clients, there is nothing like being in their shoes.”
For her own big day, “we really wanted to have something intimate with very close family and friends, but at the same time we wanted to celebrate with everyone else,” Leora says. So, they decided on dual celebrations: an intimate ceremony and reception for 50 guests at Hummingbird Nest Ranch in Simi Valley, California, on October 4, 2021; and, one week later, an extravagant Moroccan henna party for 300 at The Hollywood Roosevelt hotel.
As they had all along, “we did what works for us, and what made us happiest,” Leora says. Read on to see all the incredible details, planned by the bride and her team at Best Bride and photographed by Sanaz Photography.
Leora wore a a chic tulle robe by Kutskova as her glam team gave her a timeless, elegant look. “Beforehand, my makeup artist, Marine Muradyan, sent me links to specific products she planned to use and I purchased those to have with me on the wedding day for touch-ups,” Leora says. “I loved how I could reapply with the same exact products she used on me, and it’s really special to have those even after the wedding and wear the same exact shade of lipstick on a special occasion.”
Scent was also important for Leora. “While I was doing my glam the morning of the wedding, Igal sent one of my favorite fragrance brands in scents he chose to the room,” she remembers. “It was the most special gesture.” Igal’s choice: Parfums De Marly’s Delina La Rosée and Sedbury eau de parfum.
“I needed to have my doggies Fiona and Mochi there with me on the big day!” Leora says. They got the beauty treatment, too: She had them prepped by VIP Mobile Dog Grooming and outfitted in dresses for the day.
My dress truly made me feel like I was living in a fairytale.
“I spent countless days trying to find the perfect dress,” Leora says. “I went to over 20 bridal stores, probably tried on over 200 dresses. I was so overwhelmed.” She made an appointment with couture designer Simin Taghdiri of Simin Haute Couture. “The moment I met her, I felt at peace. She understood me, she understood my body, she understood my language of fashion.”
The two worked together on creating Leora’s dream gown from scratch. “My wedding dress is what truly made me feel like I was living in a fairytale,” Leora says. “I wanted a very delicate fabric that still made a statement and was bold. I knew I loved delicate laces and pearl. The dress included many different layers, and hours of hand-sewn work. It had a lot of intricate pieces that had to be sewn onto my body. Every single piece was hand placed in such beautiful fashion; it fit my body so well.”
The finishing touch was a headpiece by Rush Creations. “A headpiece is such a statement and really makes someone stand out as a bride. I loved how mine was a statement but not too crazy over-the-top.”
“It was important to me that my bridesmaids felt beautiful too, and I wanted something more eclectic than the traditional one color,” Leora says. “Went with a very mixed-and-matched floral print look. It was not an easy task because florals can go in so many directions, but my gals did a great job of coordinating a really nice palette. It was exactly what I had envisioned.”
“Both Igal and I love the outdoors, so we knew we wanted somewhere that gave us the feel of nature, life, and the beauty in that,” Leora says. “We spent a lot of time searching for venues. Then my photographer, Sanaz Riggio, reminded me about Hummingbird Ranch and I realized it literally had everything I was looking for.” Funnily enough, it had been right under her nose all along. “It is my go-to place for clients who want a perfect outdoor wedding with a private-estate feel. I had been there a bunch of times.”
She found ways to make it her own. “Hummingbird Ranch has many different areas you can get married in, and each is unique and has a different feel. The area we got married was perfect for our intimate wedding of 50 and amazingly enough, I had never planned a wedding in this specific area, so it gave me that unique and special feel I was looking for.”
There was one final selling point. “It was always Igal’s dream to get married surrounded by olive trees,” Leora says. “When we went there to scout the venue, we couldn’t believe there were all these olive trees.” The space didn’t need much additional decor, but they added a stunning chuppah made of garden roses and laid out vintage white garden chairs for guests.
“We had a very detailed music meeting with Yoav Gabay, our musical director and DJ, before the wedding where we went over song choices, ceremony music, and overall vision for the musical aspect of our wedding,” Leora says. “We built the entire ceremony based on ‘Fiddler on The Roof.’ Not only one of our favorite movies, but it is about a Jewish wedding, so the songs were so fitting.”
“For my personal song to walk down the aisle to, Yoav created a custom track that incorporated the song ‘Vazekni’ by Baruch Levine,” Leora continues. “I have always wanted to walk down to that song, but needed a more upbeat intro.”
The moment was special, indeed. “We didn’t do a first look, so the first time we saw each other was when we went down the aisle,” Leora shares. “It was so emotional and beautiful. I felt like it was the climax moment of all my dreams coming true. Igal was shaking when I reached him and we both had a lot of tears in our eyes. It was the most beautiful moment in my entire life.”
The couple wrote their own vows with the help of specialists at Vows & Speeches, and incorporated Jewish traditions and thoughtful prayers accompanied by custom songs. “We wanted a very spiritual experience at our ceremony,” Leora says.
The couple also worked virtually with Malka Klein, a calligrapher and ketubah designer based in Israel, to created a beautiful custom piece. “The ketubah is a sacred Jewish document that officially marries the couple and binds them together,” Leora explains. “I really wanted something personalized, especially for such a significant document. Malika and I went through many different elements to put together this beautiful piece of art: colors, papers, calligraphy styles, florals, and other accents like gold foiling and torn edges. I love every stroke of ink, color, and detail.”
“It started raining right after the ceremony while we were taking photos. It rarely rains in L.A., especially in October. There was no forecast at all for rain,” Leora recalls. The production and planning team covered the outdoor reception setup in plastic and guests crowded into the house. “We hung out with our friends and family, we laughed, we talked, we watched the rain, heard the thunder—and before you know it, the rain went away. It all lasted about 45 minutes.” Leora and Igal found the silver lining. “We found it very odd that it was right after the ceremony. I am sure there is a deep spiritual meaning behind this. We look back and really reminisce on those moments.”
Leora’s vision for the reception? “I wanted to feel like I was dreaming, because finding my husband was literally a dream come true,” she says. “My vision was to create a space that allowed us to feel the romance, love, and blessings. I wanted an elegant fairytale with a touch of timeless vintage. We brought in pops of color with very soft hues for the florals, and neutral taupe tones for the linens, chairs, and rugs.”
“The entire space was covered with twinkle lights, and gorgeous chandeliers hung over the brick arches by the sweetheart table,” Leora describes. “Every time I looked up and saw the twinkle lights shining onto the florals and every guest, I really felt like I was dreaming.”
Following passed appetizers and a yakitori barbecue station, guests enjoyed a five-course seated dinner. “We created a custom menu that was tailored to the flavors we love,” Leora says. “Our menu included arugula fennel salad, cauliflower romesco, Scottish salmon, and Milanese osso bucco, followed by hot churros and banana bread pudding for dessert.”
Before making their grand entrance as newlyweds, Leora changed into a second gown from Panache Bridals. “I am so happy I had two dresses,” she says. “It gave so much variety to my photos and I enjoyed doing two looks!”
“I worked closely with Anabelle from Sweet Novelette to design my wedding cake, a whimsical garden-inspired cake fit for a fairytale,” Leora share. “The top had two sculpted birds that were looking at each other; this represented my husband and I conveying a romantic love story. The cake really told a story as you looked through every layer.”
“Our reception was filled with the most incredible energy you can ever imagine. Our DJ felt every heartbeat, every move on the dance floor, the energy of our crowd, and built on that,” Leora remembers. “I had the best night of my life. I never thought I could dance so much. I never thought I could have that much fun.”
Once again, her beauty look revolved around a statement headpiece. “I wanted to look like a Moroccan queen,” she says. “I was shopping for a dress and came upon this beautiful gold crown by María Elena Headpieces. I felt that it expressed everything I wanted our henna party to resemble; I loved how it was an actual crown. It was a big statement and really brought together not only my entire look, but the entire wedding.”
The moment you waited for your entire life—it’s about to happen.
“There are really no words to describe what it feels like to be a bride,” says Leora, who donned an Ines Di Santo gown with a showstopping cape. “Your entire world is your wedding; it feels like nothing else really matters. The moment you waited for your entire life—it’s about to happen.”
“The Hollywood Roosevelt has so much history, and some of the best architecture throughout the venue spaces,” Leora says. “It is so iconic and was so suited to the theme of our wedding.” As for the décor? “This party was truly fit for a king and queen,” Leora says. “It was all about the glitz and glam, a lot of gold with pops of rich Moroccan colors like orange, red, and purple. We went with white florals and neutral linens to balance out all the color we had going on. I still wanted it to be very elegant, but with a Moroccan edge.”
For the henna ceremony, both bride and groom rented traditional attire from Moroccan Party Rentals.
The event itself was a roving affair. “The evening started with cocktails at the hotel’s cave bar called Teddy’s, followed by a traditional Moroccan henna ceremony in the iconic lobby,” Leora shares. “From there the guests were escorted into the prestigious ballroom for more food, drinks, and lots of dancing.” Food stations were set up like a Moroccan bazaar, and lounge vignettes were arranged in lieu of formal seating. “We had speciality entertainers such as drummers and Moroccan dancers with candelabras on their heads—it added such a hype and vibe to our entrance.”
“We had an entire month of festivals—our engagement party, bridal shower, lingerie party, and challah bake—leading up to the wedding,” Leora says. So, it was only fitting they do the same after the wedding. The couple took a total of four honeymoons: trips to Cabo and Tulum in the month after the wedding, a jaunt through Turkey and Dubai the following spring, and a romantic Italian vacation in July. “Four parties leading up to the wedding, two wedding celebrations, and four honeymoons—because, why not?” Leora says. “You can never have enough parties or honeymoons!”