Not your average traditional Jewish Wedding

Some weddings are just different, like really different. They shake you to your core because you never thought anything that is unfolding before your eyes would every be possible.When Gulnara Studio asked me to help her shoot this wedding, I wasn’t prepared for what I was about to witness.

I grew up with a wide exposure to what it meant to be Jewish. My aunt went to a Reconstructionist temple near Boston, my dad studied with the Chabad in Crown Heights and I went to conservative Jewish summer camp for four years. Even though my liberal heart wanted to identify with the left leaning Jews, I always felt more comfortable in conservative to orthodox circles. Something about their spiritual and poetic evocation of the ancient world resonated with my nostalgic soul. But of course, I had issues with their protection of women and  how they didn’t seem to budge on heteronormativity. Still, I loved being a tourist in their world, traveling through time to Crown Heights for Shabbat where warmth and connectivity deeply filled their air.That all stoped when I came out. I lost contact my religious friends, I didn’t want to be seen as a freak or pitied in the ways I thought they would see me. I had enough of that already in my own life, it was finally time I shed negativity about who I was and what I couldn’t control. I sadly said goodbye to the idea of visiting the richness of those profound religious circles.

And then there was this wedding. Every single tradition found in all the other religious weddings was displayed right here. The out pouring of joy, the strong net of a stable and supportive community, the songs, the prayers, the customs where ALL here.  And yet, two women where getting married. Everything was the same but at the same time everything was different.There was a deeper sense of joy in this wedding, a sense of achievement. Jews know how to have each other’s backs and so do queers. When those two things come together the universe opens up into a waterfall of happiness that words fail to describe.Below chronicles this magical wedding. We start with the Tish where one of the brides is praying, singing, joyfully basking with her closest family and friends. People who know her core, how gracious, spiritual and in touch she is with everyone around her. Next the Bedeken where one bride veils the other and both are blessed by their parents. This follows the ceremony and my favorite of customs, the Yichud, where the newlyweds get to spend some alone time for the first time as a married couple. Then of course, the requisite world-wind of an intensity fierce and joyful celebration filling the room with chatter, laughter, good food and Jewish music.

I wish these ladies so much joy in their lives and applaud their community, their family and friends for allowing them to live their best lives. It is a gift everyone gives them that is incredibly unique and sometimes overlooked.

will you marry handwritten note on a wedding table
bride in slim white dress laughing holding a drink
One of the brides enters her Tish with such a joyous smile. A Tish is typically reserved for the groom and his close circle of friends. These ladies are honoring their traditions while making it their own.
small silver pin on the back of a lace wedding dress
A lovely like detail on her dress giving it a vintage look.
bride drying tears from her face while her family smiles at her
close up of two women embracing
She is so loved by her everyone around her. The feeling in the Tish room was one of incredible warmth and triumph.
big smile from a woman looking at two little girls
mother of bride purple dress smiles to daughter in white wedding dress
Such a lovely exchange between the bride and her mother as they wait for her new spouse to come and veil her.
big white wedding veil being lifted
one bride lifts a white wedding veil
One bride veils the other at the Bedeken right before the ceremony starts. This is when the two families comes together and both brides are blessed by their families.
father blessing daughter at her wedding
Everyone circles as the bride’s father blesses her on her wedding day.
woman in a blue head dress wiping her face crying with happiness
It’s so incredible that these traditions are being honored at a lesbian wedding.
two brides in white dresses look at each other for the first time
The two brides see each other again right before the ceremony!
one bride walking down the aisle with her father and mother by her side
bride waiting for the other bride to walk down the aisle
two brides in white gowns and two little girls in gold dresses helping the brides, purple lighting
lesbian brides in a ceremony one bride is circling the other
Another beautiful variation on tradition, each bride circled each other seven times which is the custom at a Jewish ceremony.
one bride looks to the other bride with a smile during the wedding ceremony
purple lighting wedding ceremony with candles and lanterns
two brides in white dresses under flowers after a ceremony
two brides exiting the wedding ceremony
lesbian brides enter the yichud room and spend some time together
The two newlyweds skip out for some private time during the Yichud.
lesbian brides embrace after wedding ceremony
lesbian brides smiling at each other with a red background
lesbian brides laugh together near a red gate
two brides in white dresses enter a wedding party
man and woman dance at a wedding party
two brides dancing with their friends a wedding party
man with open mouth dancing  at a wedding
little girl in father's arms looking at the camera
woman in wedding dress laughing
boy in black and white suit and rainbow glasses sitting at a table alone
bride sitting in chair holding hands with a friend
woman excited at a wedding party throwing candy
blue lighting wedding party men dancing and singing
black and white photo of two brides near stairs
red up lighting at wedding venue a lot of people dancing white sheet in the middle