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It was an absolute pleasure to be there for Ben and Julia on their wedding day. The venue was the beautiful Onteora Mountain House in the Catskills. Gorgeous weather, happy couple, beautiful bride…

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It’s making me ridiculously happy to imagine that Julia’s granddaughter will someday wear this beaded kippah on her wedding day, and a wedding photographer of the future will be asked to recreate a version of this photo.

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I got there just in time for the finishing touches, and then Julia went to meet Ben for their first look, family photos and the ketubah signing.

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Their first look was tender and affectionate.

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We shot some quickly family photos, and then the wedding day momentum began to kick in as shuttle buses were re-directed and guests began to arrive.

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I snuck the bride and groom away from the hustle and bustle for a few moments to take in the mountain views and take some photos together.

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We re-joined the family to sign the ketubah. The rabbi sang a beautiful song as a “spiritual palate cleanser” and invited everyone to set any last-minute details aside for a moment. She gathered everyone together to witness the bride and groom signing their traditional Jewish marriage license (with a feminist twist, as Ben and Julia chose the most egalitarian wording, and also, truly traditional Jewish brides don’t sign their ketubot).

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These two photos together really capture the energy in the room- a few tears of joy and the bride’s beaming smile.

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Once the ketubah is signed, the couple is technically married, but the chuppah ceremony is a time to exchange vows and rings.

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After Ben and Julia walked in escorted by their parents, they observed another Jewish custom, with a contemporary twist. Historically, brides circled their grooms seven times, symbolizing the seven blessings on marriage and the seven days of creation. This act signifies that a woman is making the man the center of her world, and the most traditional interpretations recall Biblical text about the miraculous tumbling of the walls around the city of Jericho. Chabad Rabbi Aron Moss writes, “If she surrounds her husband with the protective aura of her love, if she envelops him with affection, and if she makes him feel that he is the anchor, the center, the focal point of her life, then he can feel safe and comfortable. When that happens, the walls protecting his heart come tumbling down. Then she has conquered him – all of him.”

Except… that’s not really an accurate reflection of Ben and Julia’s relationship or love story. Instead, they chose to circle each other, taking turns, making each other the center of their lives in a united and equal way.

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They shared wine, which was then blessed by seven loved ones and shared again.

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They exchanged rings, vows and messages of love. “This is everything I ever wanted,” the bride said.

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The rabbi enveloped the newlyweds in her tallit, sequestering them for a moment to bless the private life they will share.

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They kissed and Ben stomped a glass- one of the most cherished traditions in a Jewish ceremony. There are many interpretations. Some say it symbolizes the destruction of the Temple. Some say that it keeps away bad luck; after all, something bad has already happened, a glass broke. Some say it’s a symbol of the marriage vows- just as a shattered glass can not be put back together, the bonds of marriage can never truly be undone. Some say that the fragility of the glass reminds us of the frailty of human nature, that you should treat each day together as you would your last. No matter which interpretation you like, all of the guests shout “Mazel tov!” and the celebration really gets under way.

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These hugging photos with everyone weeping tears of joy,especially Ben, are some of my favorite moments of their entire day.

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Ben and Julia took a few moments alone. It’s a Jewish tradition called “yichud” or seclusion, and actually, I recommend all my clients do it, Jewish or not. It’s just a moment to be alone together and process the emotions of the ceremony.

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Then we hit the woods, the koi pond and a lovely autumn tree with changing leaves in quick succession for the rest of the photos. (I love this part.)

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Cocktail hour was in full swing when we finished.

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The reception got under way with a simple introduction of the happy couple, followed by their first dance.

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They went right into the horah.

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Ben and Julia have so many friends from so many eras of their life. Friends are far-flung, and many of them met in med school. With busy residency and doctor’s schedules, this was the first time in years everyone was able to be together in one place.

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Hilarity ensues.

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Everyone hit the dance floor before the bride got on the mic and asked everyone to join her at the bar for a whiskey shot.

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You: “I can’t dance.”
Whiskey: “Yes, you can.”

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Okay, so I really debated posting this photo, because it’s not the most flattering angle of the guest. That said, everyone had broken up into guys and girls to sing “Summer Lovin,'” and this photo captures the energy of that like no other. (Sorry, not sorry.)

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The groom’s mom made this most special and amazing hand-painted cake.

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Look, I don’t mean to make this about me, but this “mother with her son on his wedding day” moment? Let’s just put it this way. I have a son named Ben myself, and he’s only nine months old, but this photo makes me imagine hugging my Ben someday on HIS wedding day. *sniffle*weepies*blows nose*

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Finally, I have to thank Ben and Julia for being willing to take time from their party at the end of the night to let me grab an umbrella and set up my remote triggers and make this shot happen. I’ve been striving for this shot since I got the remote triggers in 2017. The lighting and weather all came together for this! Thank you for humoring me! (Thank you, weather, for you know, happening.)

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Ben and Julia begin their marriage after a decade together. May all the decades to come bring you joy and adventure and so much love.

Filled Under : Wedding

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