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.