I really, honestly, don’t even know how to begin this post. I was contacted by Leah about 4 months ago when she stumbled across my blog and loved what she saw. She was planning on getting married in a few months and was in the market for a wedding photographer. She wanted something different, a bit more authentic and candid than what she was used to. She wrote about how their wedding would likely be very unique compared to what I was used to. She was Jewish Hasidic and was going to be marrying a Rabbi. She explained some of their traditions and customs and asked if I was up for the challenge. Right from the start, I adored her. I adored her genuine heart. I adored her drive and spunk. And I adored their story.
I met Michael and Leah a couple weeks before their wedding to do a get-to-know-you shoot. She had warned me ahead of time that they could not be photographed together, only separately because of tradition. As we sat down over smoothies and cake pops (ok…so I was the only one to have a cake pop and smoothie…) they began telling me their story. They had met a few months ago through matchmakers. In the lobby of a hotel they would continue to meet, 4 times to be exact, and then he proposed. He gave her a necklace and asked her to spend forever with him as his ezer kenegdo (Hebrew), or in simple English – loving, helping wife. She said yes and the wedding plans began. They did all this without ever holding hands, kissing, or touching at all. I was blown away. And inspired. I have been shooting weddings for a long time and I am not sure I had ever met a couple who was so obviously, genuinely, authentically in love with each other. And here they were, head over heels in love…having never touched, and having only met a few months prior. It was beautiful.
Fast forward a couple weeks to their wedding day where Leah started the morning reading her prayers in the quietness of her parents home. Guests gathered at the synagogue and began mingling over appetizers as she made her way through the crowd, one parent on each arm. Everyone was beaming. Leah was radiant and everyone could see how happy she was. In a room to the side Michael was going over a lot of documents with the other men, making sure he knew what he was agreeing to. Minutes later, he was led by the men out to meet Leah. They had not seen each other or spoken to one another in over a week so the looks on their faces when they saw each other were priceless. He put the veil over her face (hasidic wedding tradition) and they proceeded to the ceremony. The better part of their wedding day was very solemn and reverent. They knew that there was more to promising forever than just an expensive fairy tale wedding. As he slid the ring on her finger (the first time he has touched her), everyone cheered and clapped loudly. A solemn and reverent day then turned into one of the most incredible, loud, fun parties I have ever witnessed. If there is one thing you can be certain of it’s that Hasidic Jews know how to throw a party. And you better believe they know how to dance!
Michale and Leah, thank you so, so, so very much for believing in me to capture your day, despite the fact that you knew it would be different for me. I left your wedding feeling inspired, encouraged, and empowered. I had a renewed sense of hope. Hope for marriages to succeed. Hope for love the prevail. It truly was a wedding that I will never, ever forget!
Thanks also to Bart for second shooting with me and hanging out with the guys all morning