Old Finsbury Town Hall London
Rachel & Zach
Years ago when I first started shooting weddings I found that each time I rolled up to a venue I had a twinge in the belly and a case of the butterflies.This was because I knew that if there’s one thing I couldn’t do…I can’t mess around with someones wedding or screw up…like, ever.
This is one of the most important days in someones life, the beginning of their journey and they’ve entrusted you to shoot it. That knowledge can run through you like a blade and boy does it keep you on your toes.
As the years rolled by it went away….until Rachel and Zachs wedding in December. You see, it was our first Jewish Wedding so I had to treat it like my first time all over again.
Sure I have more experience and confidence now and I can easily reassure myself in the knowledge that in general, everyone is going to be looking where you should be shooting. But still, a lot of things were new to me that had to be observed and recorded. Not just snapped but also in a way that conveys the journey two souls have made together up until this point and to reflect the feelings and emotions of the family too.
Our day started at the Rookery hotel in Cowcross Street, London. I covered Rachel’s prep and Laura was at the Old Finsbury Town Hall (The Urdang Academy) awaiting Zach’s arrival and checking out points of interest for photos later in the day.
The order of things were different in that the formal photos were pre ceremony and in advance of the other guests arriving. Honestly, I’d do it this way at every wedding if I could do, it worked so well!
Then there was the Bedeken. This is a small ceremony in which the Groom checks the bride (to make sure it’s her) but only after signing and talking about the Ketubah. The Ketubah is a special type of prenuptial agreement and is considered an integral part of a traditional Jewish marriage and outlines the rights and responsibilities of the groom, in relation to the bride.
After the Bedeken the main ceremony started upstairs. I did a lot of research about this and was expecting Zach to be walked down the aisle by both fathers and Rachel by both mothers but this wasn’t the case.
I’ve realised that as with all weddings, each one can have slight variations to the proceedings.
The ceremony was beautiful, the prayers and the singing were enchanting leading up to the end with the braking of the glass and cries of ‘Mazeltov!’
From this point it all went crazy and everyone ran in to meet and congratulate them. It was an immense thing to be a part of.
After this the couple were danced downstairs to a private room for something to eat together alone, I took some more post ceremony photos and after a short reception everyone hit the dance floor for Simcha (Jewish dancing) before dinner.
It went a little crazy at this point. Chairs were aloft, spirits were high and there was a huge amount of energy.
Fathers danced with each other, two families became one and two souls started a journey together.
This was immense. I went to see where my nervousness and butterflies had gone. But they weren’t there.
Things continued until 11pm which we stayed until. We wanted to experience things from start to finish before we left.
Rachel and Zach live in New York so a few days after the wedding they returned home and thanked us:
Just wanted to write a quick note to say how much fun we had with you on Sunday night. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind since then but we’re now at the airport on our way back to the states and real life.
You and Laura were so lovely and made us feel relaxed and at ease in front of the camera which isn’t always the case. We really appreciate how long you stayed and are very excited to see the final product!
We’ll be sure to pass along our praise if we hear of anyone looking for a photographer in the greater London area – everyone in our families also loved how relaxed and not bossy you were.
Thanks again and a very happy new year to you and Laura
We thought that was it. Usually it is but Zach’s father also emailed us and what he wrote is something I’ll always treasure:
Just a quick word to say how delighted the entire family has been by the amazing work that you and Laura produced at Zach and Rachel’s wedding at the Old Finsbury Town Hall.
The quality of the pictures is staggering. You really caught the atmosphere wonderfully. We keep on returning to the pictures and enjoying the warmth and kindness that comes through from the things you noticed and emphasized.
Astonishing that this was your first Jewish wedding – you seemed completely at home with everything. It’s very noticeable that all the portraits and group shots have no forced grins or weary faces. That’s because you created a relationship with the person on the other side of the lens.
They enjoyed your company and your personalities and the fact that the two of you were delighted to be there. Magic. What amazing skill. So glad Rachel chose you. We shall be recommending you left, right and centre.
I can’t tell you how good that is to receive. It blew our minds because even though we knew we did a good job, knowing that the family thinks so too is even more important to us.
We can’t wait to do our next Jewish wedding and special mention goes to Marie-Laure from Easy Gourmet Catering for supporting us during the day. Also to the management at Old Finsbury Town Hall for being so accommodating to everyone there on the day!
chris giles photography, chuppah, bedeken, easy gourmet catering, first time shooting a Jewish Wedding, hora dancing, How to shoot a Jewish Wedding, jewish wedding, Jewish Wedding Photography, Jewish Wedding venues in London, Jewish Weding Photographers, ketubah, old finsbury town hall, sheva brachot, Simcha dancing, Tips for shooting a Jewish Wedding, urdang academy, www.easygourmetcatering.co.uk