Jewish Wedding Photography

I love photographing Jewish weddings.

They are just 100 miles an hour from the moment they start until the moment they finish. So many moments to capture; moments of joy, love and togethenerness. And the parties are just amazing. There ain’t no dancefloor like a Jewish wedding dancefloor!

Let’s take a look at some of the parts of the day and why they make Jewish weddings so great to photograph…

London-Jewish Wedding Photographer Chuppah

Tradition…
Tradition…
Tradition!

The fiddler on the roof said it best! There comes a time, as a Jewish person, when you realise that Jewish weddings generally follow a similar formula.

Why? Maybe, like the fiddler said, the answer is tradition. Tradition plays a huge part in Judaism as a whole, and Jewish weddings are no different. Why change something when it has worked so well for so many years? if it ain’t broke…

bride arriving with mother

THE BUILD-UP
TO THE DAY

Jewish weddings are amazing in the way they build up.

Before the wedding itself, there is the aufruf, which is where the celebrations begin and the excitement really starts to grow.

The bride and groom often don’t see each other for a day or more before the wedding, which really adds to the excitement.

Then there is the build-up on the wedding day itself. The bride getting ready. The tisch for the groom. The bedecken, followed by the chuppah, and then of course the reception and party.

nervous groom jewish wedding

THE TISCH

The time when (traditionally) the groom gathers his close male family and friends and the rabbi, they all have a few nibbles and of course a little drink. The drink is often whisky but it can be anything. The purpose? Maybe to calm the groom’s nerves or to toast to his and his wife to be’s future. Maybe both.

The groom then signs the ketubah (wedding contract) along with the rabbi, holding something, usually the pen, in the air, to signify that he accepts the terms of the ketubah.

Most of the time the group sings, often dancing and getting a little boystrous, before the groom is led through by his nearest and dearest to see his bride for the first time during the bedecken.

jewish-wedding-photographer

The Bedecken

This is one of my favourite parts of a Jewish wedding. It’s the moment when the bride and groom see each other for the first time on the wedding day. It usually takes place in a room where the bride sits with her closest female family and friends, or bridesmaids.

The groom is led to the room by his close male family and friends, before the friends leave and the groom enters, usually with his father and father-in-law-to-be, as well as the rabbi.

The moment when the bride and groom see each other for the first time on the day is often an emotionally charged moment. The rabbi blesses the couple and both sets of parents are able to say a blessing, or just some words from the heart, to their child about to enter into marriage.

The rabbi enters the ceremony room, before the ceremony, or chuppah, begins.

tewinbury farm jewish wedding photographer

The Chuppah
or Wedding
Ceremony

The music starts, the guests all stand, and the groom starts the procession to the chuppah with his parents.

The bridal party then enter, as the build-up continues, until the bride makes her entrance, accompanied by her parents.

Both sets of parents remain under the chuppah with the bride and groom.

The ceremony includes various traditions, like the bride circling the groom seven times, the bride and groom both being ‘fed’ a sip of wine or two, then the sheva brachot, or seven blessings. Then there is the smashing of the glass, perhaps the best known Jewish wedding tradition, before the celebrations being in earnest.

happy mother of bride photgorapher

Mazal Tov!

The glass is smashed, everyone shouts ‘Mazal Tov!’ and the hugging and kissing begins. Sometimes it’s just those under the chuppah, and sometimes more of the guests get involved. Spontaneous Israeli dancing isn’t uncommon either at this point!

london brewery wedding reception

The Reception

Following the chuppah, the newlyweds normally disappear for a short while to sign the civil wedding registry and spend the first few minutes of their married life together, just the two of them. This is called the yichud, which comes from the hebrew word b’yachad, meaning ‘together’.

During the reception is normally when we would do two sets of photos; the group shots and some portraits of just the couple. There is normally enough time for the bride and groom to enjoy at least a little bit of the lovely reception with their guests.

wedding party

Party Time!

The guests are called in for dinner, and are usually encouraged by the DJ or band to enjoy themselves on the dancefloor for a few minutes, before the happy couple enter. The Israeli music kicks into action, the energy levels go through the roof and the newlyweds make their entrance.

The men and women usually dance in separate groups, which is often best as the men can get very physical and boystrous! I love getting right in the thick of it with my camera.

The bride and groom are lifted up on chairs, which is another of the well known Jewish wedding traditions, and there are a number of other stunts like the groom being tossed up and down on a large tablecloth.

I remember being a sweaty mess after this part of our wedding – Jewish groom pro tip – bring a spare shirt or two to change into!

wedding speech laughs

Dinner, dancing,
dinner, dancing,
toasts & speeches

One of the best things, in my opinion, about Jewish weddings is the fact that there is often dancing in between each course of the meal. What better way to burn off the calories?!

Then there are often the toasts to the Queen and the State of Israel. Following those, the speeches, which are pretty similar to most weddings; the father of the bride, the best man, the groom, and, if she wants to the bride.

Then the party continues with more dancing. And if you’re still feeling hungry, there is often more food served later in the evening. What more could a wedding guest ask for?!

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