For sunshine, scenery and competitively priced cuisine, Steve K. Walz recommends a simchah in Israel
King David Hotel, Jerusalem
Imagine a scintillating Mediterranean seaside wedding in Tel Aviv at sunset or a barmitzvah brunch against the backdrop of the Old City of Jerusalem. These are the rewards of a family simchah in the Holy Land. And many of Israel's five-star hotels can offer these settings at a fraction of the price of a hall or hotel in the UK.
"Our lavish and affordable weddings and barmitzvahs among families from the UK and America are so well-known that we are now doing simchahs for the next generation, as the barmitzvah boy has grown up to become a bridegroom," says Ilan Brenner, at the Inbal Jerusalem Hotel.
"It's the satisfaction and attraction factors. The prices are reasonable, the location is magnificent, the food and accommodations are impeccable and we can provide all of the decorations, as well as the pyrotechnics for nearly 50 per cent less than one would pay for the same event in the UK.
"By creating a one-stop shop, we endeavour to take the headache out of planning a great simchah for the family and turn it into a pleasant experience, right down to choosing the menu with our chef.
"Our clients can choose from among five bountiful culinary offerings, including delectable dessert buffets that are a feast for the eyes as well as for the stomach. And our simchah ballrooms can accommodate anywhere from 150 to 500 guests."
Imagine a seaside wedding or a barmitzvah brunch against an Old City backdrop
The King David Hotel (part of the Dan Hotels chain) also creates sensational events - some have been featured in the pages of international magazines.
"The banqueting department staff at the King David is accustomed to listening carefully to guests' requirements for their wedding day and is happy to guide them through the whole procedure," says a spokesperson for the King David Hotel.
"Everybody wants their big day to be memorable, with as low a stress level as possible and the banqueting manager and her staff will help the couple every step of the way, providing them with suggestions for photographers, flower arrangements, music, lighting and much more. They will also arrange a food tasting in the days leading up to the wedding. On the day of the wedding, a magnificent dessert buffet is laid out for the couple, comprised of cakes, tarts and strudels, warm chocolate pie, local baklava and fresh strawberries, washed down with sweet Turkish coffee and tea with fresh mint.
"Every little detail is taken of by the banqueting staff, allowing the couple to just rest up and relax. The only technicality they have to take care of themselves is the paperwork that needs to be carried out to register the marriage, but today this procedure has been simplified somewhat and, with the use of fax machines and so on, documents can be sent from overseas in advance."
Among other amenities offered to wedding hosts at the King David Hotel is a free night's stay for the couple and upgrades for their immediate family members (subject to availability).
The banqueting department also provides the bride and groom with a gift, such as candelabra or an equivalent item chosen by the couple.
The spokesperson says: "In one case, the wedding party paid for trees to be donated and planted in the guests' names, in the nearby Jerusalem forest. Each guest received certificates commemorating the event - a truly great memento!"
In Tel Aviv, the David InterContinental Hotel has announced a "wedding planner initiative".
This "enables our clientèle to enjoy our longstanding experience of hosting the top weddings in Israel in terms of a personal wedding planner service," says Na'ama Ben-Dror, spokeswoman for the David InterContinental Hotel.
"Our wedding planners will offer a comprehensive cluster of all wedding elements within a one-stop shop for the bride and groom.
"Our approach is to accompany our clients from day one throughout all planning stages leading up to the big day. Our meticulous and skilled wedding planners will ensure that the wedding day is special and as effortless as possible for the clients.
Our goal is to acquire a new segment of clientèle who normally wouldn't consider a hotel as their wedding venue due to the high level of involvement in the creative process.
"We can offer a unique opportunity to create your own special tailor-made menu with the hotel's executive chef, for a supplement of only £60.
"As part of our overall wedding packages, the bride and groom also receive a suite for the wedding night as well as a three-tier wedding cake."
All of the hotels can design their simchah packages according to your budget and the number of guests who will be attending the party.