When you’re a photographer, there’s no off switch! While on holiday in Israel in June I was lucky enough to attend a Jewish wedding in Israel! And yes…. I could not resit to take some photos. The wedding was held in Ceasaria on the site of an old Roman ruin that was converted into a wedding venue – crazy!!!! We literally danced the night away in what was once King Herods Palace.
What struck me most was the very different approach that was taken with the structure of the day. Here in South Africa we have quite a set timeline of Preparations > Ceremony > Pre-dinner Drinks & Photos > Reception. And the norm is to enter the reception hall round about the time that night falls. Well in Israel this timeline is totally turned on its head.
Summertime on the Mediterranean means a 9pm sunset and it can get quite hot humid in this part of the world. So to make sure people don’t sunburn and sweat themselves to death, the whole wedding is literally moved to the evening! Breaking totally with tradition that the couple don’t see each other before the ceremony, this couple opted to take their wedding photos as the sun started setting. While they were busy, guests arrived at the venue.
After the photos, bride and groom walked in to greet all guests and have a good hour of drinks before proceedings started! This time was like our pre-dinner drinks. Only after this did they do the Jewish Wedding ceremony and of-course it was already pitch black by this time. Immediately after the ceremony the music started playing and the reception started.
The chuppa was very short with not a lot of hebrew singing and it almost seemed like a lot of the rituals were skipped. In all the whole thing lasted only 10 minutes!!! Then there was no traditional Jewish dancing at all – This is normally an absolute given here in South Africa. I was a bit puzzled I must say, but according to some of the guests that I spoke to, it is only outside of Israel that this dancing is done – bizarre! They also said that most Jews living in Israel are a lot more liberal and not that religious. You would have thought the opposite!
Besides the differences, I enjoyed this wedding very much – There is something about the way these people can party and the way they live life!
Photos by Stefan Steenkamp