My First Orthodox Jewish Wedding, and What a Party It Was!

Last weekend I was one of four photographers and two videographers capturing the wedding of Zach and Aliza in Elk Grove Village, IL.

While I look forward to shooting all of my weddings, I was especially excited/nervous for this event because it was a) an orthodox Jewish wedding and b) was going to host 400 guests. Larry, the lead photographer, explained the order of the day and what I could expect. He could never have prepared me for the exhilaration of being involved in such a joyous, emotional and frentic event.

The khattan (groom) was especially dapper, and his kallah (bride) was an absolute stunner. They were both outdone, just a smidge, by the array of adorable kids running around.

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I absolutely adore the gray color scheme of the wedding. Don’t the bridesmaids look gorgeous in their varied shades of grey? And let me tell you, they were wearing some of the most amazing dresses that I have seen in a while.

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After everyone was all gussied up for the event, Zach and Aliza saw each other for the first time. They were adorable, all smiles and giggles, and the crowd cheered for them.

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While the photographers took turns gathering family members for group shots, I couldn’t help but notice this fun trio. They were trying to get the attention of the aforementioned adorable kids for the photographer, and it looked like they were having way more fun than the kids probably were.

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Soon after the men went into a separate room while the women gathered around the bride for the badekkin. Friends and family members approached the bride and offered their well wishes and prayers for a happy marriage. The bride can also use this time for some prayers on her own before the big event.

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A little while later, the groom is escorted to the bride, surrounded by friends and family singing loudly and jubilantly. Some prayers are recited and the groom brings the veil down over his bride’s face. You can start to imagine what a wedding of 400 people feels like in the following images.

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The group then proceeds to the chuppa, or the wedding ceremony. Both sets of parents carry candles as they escort their son and daughter down the aisle. After the ceremony has been completed, the married couple are then escorted down the aisle with laughter, singing and dancing.

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The newlyweds are given a few minutes to themselves after the ceremony, which is much needed, since what proceeds is wild dancing. The men and women are taken to separate areas of the dance floor and everyone is given a chance to dance with the bride and groom. I stayed with Aliza and documented what was one of the most intense moments of my wedding photography career. Imagine 200 women surrounded you in ever-widening circles, all jockeying to get a moment to dance with the groom. The energy filled the air and I was amazed at just how long those ladies got down! I don’t know how long the dance went on, but as you can see from the images below, Aliza was a very happy bride and her guests were more than happy to dance the night away in celebration.

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