Cultural Wedding Traditions
From the venue to the religious traditions of the bride and groom, Jewish weddings stand out for wedding photographers grandly. Here is a list of a few Jewish wedding traditions that make capturing these moments a pleasure and a huge stress factor for all wedding photographers around the world.
The Chuppah – this is the beautiful four-legged, canopied structure under which the bride, groom, their immediate families and the Rabbi stand, after the traditional procession for the actual wedding ceremony. What makes this so humanely beautiful is that the canopy brings together all of the people who are responsible for the union of the bride and groom. It is to signify the roof of the future home for the newlyweds, under which they are to raise their own families and grow and prosper together spiritually, emotionally and physically. The blessing of the chosen Rabbi solidifies all of these values and wishes. As a wedding photographer, capturing the raw emotion that is present for everyone under the chuppah, can be an arduous task, however it is also one of the most rewarding aspects of the job. When the time comes time to go through and edit the pictures, seeing that you were able to successfully identify and seize the necessary moments of joy for the union of the two families, is a pleasure.
The Ketubah – During every matrimonial ceremony, the officiate presents the bride and groom with a document, which states the authenticity of the union, whether religiously or legally. According to Jewish religious tradition, the bride, groom and their witnesses are to sign a document called the Ketubah, which lists in it the “laws” by which the groom must abide in order to successfully keep the bride happy, along with all of the Jewish blessings meant for a long and fruitful marriage.
The document is a crucial subject to capture on camera, not only for the sentimental significance but also because of its calligraphic, impeccable and intricate design. The Ketubah is presented in a beautiful frame with a paper behind a glass where the clear message is presented in stunning handwritten Hebrew. For every Jewish couple it is important that the photographers make it a point to get the image of when the bride and groom hold the Ketubah together for all of the guests to see for the very first time as man and wife.
Breaking of the Glass – To signify the end of what sometimes can be a lengthy ceremony, the groom is prepped to step and break a thin wine glass wrapped in a white cloth. The significance of the shattered glass is to show that at the beginning of this union the groom breaks away and shatters all possible mal-behavior and instead welcomes, sobriety and a well-balanced life in a promise to the bride standing by his side. The literal moment when the class successfully breaks signifies the end of the ceremony and officially announces matrimonial bliss for the now husband and wife. At that exact moment, the guests stand up and shout good blessings such as “mazel tov” and rush to congratulate the newlyweds. As a wedding photographer, specifically at a Jewish wedding… if you have failed to bring to life the moment of the shattered glass back onto paper for memories later on, then you must consider the job a flop as you have failed to grab the precise first few seconds of the actual marriage. Needless to say this is a beautiful and stressful moment for all.
Dancing of the Hora – The conclusion of the wedding ceremony at Jewish weddings means the beginning of one of the liveliest party celebrations one might experience. The party begins with a huge circle dance called the Hora, where all of the guests dance around in jubilation with the newlyweds being the central focus point on the floor. The Hora is a fast and fun song, which ends with the husband and wife being lifted into the air, by guests of wedding, while sitting in chairs. This is a very challenging moment for a wedding photographer, given the fast paced environment that we are instantly thrown into and the havoc that is being wreaked on the dance floor by the guests. It is important to keep the pace with the music and to get clear shots, especially of the newlyweds as their facial expressions change within seconds as they go higher into the air with every bounce, all while trying to hold on for dear life and the chairs.
Any wedding photographer, who has had the privilege of knowing what it is like to shoot a Jewish wedding, can vouch in saying that being involved in such a celebration can be simultaneously a test to the skills and a fantastically gratifying experience.
You can contact us at Verita Vision Photography.
Phone: (914) 709-5111