A Heart Warming Valentine’s Day Jewish Wedding at Beth Torah
Planning a wedding is an exciting milestone, especially for Britney and Jeff who realized they could combine their nuptials with a Valentine’s Day celebration for all of their loved ones. Wow was there a lot of love in the air!
The fabulous wedding consultant Heidi Gruenspan, in partnership with Jeff’s mother Donna, did a fantastic job of making a beautiful wedding and keeping to the schedule so that each stage of the day flowed perfectly and on-time. This is no small feat for a large event.
Both Britney and Jeff got ready at Jeff’s parent’s home in Thornhill. There was such a calm and friendly mood as we arrived. Normally I will start the day at one location with the bride while my second photographer David starts at another location with the groom. So, being able to arrive at the same home was such fun and added a layer of unique photographs as a result.
Bride and Groom Portraits
It was a freezing cold deep winter day so when Britney and Jeff were keen to go outside for a quick walk I was surprised and very impressed. They were such great sports. They just wanted a few portraits taken outdoor knowing that the rest of the day would be inside. For safety (yes it was that cold), we brought the car along so that as soon as we finished the outdoor portraits we tucked them inside the warm waiting car.
We take great pride in our family portraits. We go above and beyond the call by creating relaxed yet elegant arrangements, working from a list of prioritized group combinations that we asked for in advance. This smooth process keeps the extended family members entertained while they wait for their turn.
At Britney and Jeff’s wedding everyone arrived in fine form ready to celebrate so the portraits moved quickly with great results, Notice how everyone is posed in flattering positions that are logical to the viewer. For the larger groups, using chairs we were able to create lovely “Vanity Fair” style poses where family members are either sitting, standing or leaning based on their body type and connection to each other.
At the Synagogue
The mood at the synagogue is wonderful, and made especially so with Rabbi Yossi Sapirman and Cantor Ben Silverman’s inviting presence. They are part of a very special congregation and members of that congregation tell a wonderful story about the community strength there.
Beth Torah has been around for over 50 years and offers its members lifecycle celebrations like weddings, as well as prayer services that are traditional, egalitarian, and conservative, in which Jewish men and women participate equally. Rabbi Yossi Sapirman has built on the tradition of its founding families, leading the congregation with vision, passion and optimism.
Rabbi Yossi has married so many of our couples, and is so endearing to us, that it’s like coming home when we check in with him before the ceremony begins. He brings joy, humour and deep connection to his wedding services. I often find myself laughing, tearing up, feeling grateful, and embracing life’s joy…all behind my camera while he conducts the service.
A wedding ceremony has so many layers of meaning, and it is a beautiful way to connect a family’s traditional values to the wonderful future ahead of them. It parallels what Rabbi Yossi calls “Now Judaism”, which empowers individuals to embrace the Jewish narrative and experience by applying traditional Jewish values to their everyday lives and decisions. It’s about engaging tradition and history, while embracing modernity and the future. And it’s about seeking transformation by looking toward the past with new, modern eyes. What a great way to describe the way a strong marriage starts.
A key symbol of the Jewish wedding ceremony is the signing of the ketubah. These are often hand-printed by a calligrapher or ordered through a special supplier. Either way they are works of art and, once signed, they are usually framed and displayed in a prominent place in the newlywed’s home. As their photographer I was able to document the moment during the Bedecken when Brttney and Jeff each signed the katubah, making family history.
The main sanctuary was renovated a few years ago and the new space is really lovely. It has a clean contemporary aesthetic yet the warm wood of the pews is inviting and peaceful. The transom windows help direct light upwards. They were married under a lovely chuppah, with a family heirloom draped over the top that has been used for a few generations of the groom’s family wedding ceremonies.
The guests were invited for cocktails in the foyer of the synagogue. It is a nice long space so there is plenty of room for appetizer stations and bars. Its big enough for everyone but not so big that the crowd spaces out too much. This makes it easy for guests to wander around saying hello to each other before dinner. We usually walk around the party asking for casual “grip-and-grin” photographs. That way the bride and groom can see a cross-section of the fun when they look at the photographs later on. Typically after a Jewish ceremony the couple usually have a yichud, so they are enjoying some quiet time together instead of joining the guests for cocktails.
What a great party! The speeches were fun and the dancing did not disappoint.
I especially remember the last dance of the night where the guests formed a circle around the newlyweds while they all danced to Rainbow Connection, played by the amazing Dave Murphy Band. It was a magical way to wind down the evening.
Here is a list of the amazing vendors that brought their hearts and talents to this event:
|Wedding Consultant||Heidi Gruenspan|
|Band||The Dave Murphy Band|
|Chairs||Majestic Chair Boutique|
|Clergy||Rabbi Yossi Sapirman|
|Dance Floor||Dance Floor Decor|
|Florist||Creations by Gitta|
|Linen & Napkins||Around the Table|
|Make-Up & Hair||Michelle Gomes & Robert|
|Bar Decor||Uptown Gourmet|
|Wedding Cake||Easy Sweets|
Mazel tov on your simcha Britney and Jeff! We loved celebrating your wedding with you!
For more wedding inspiration check out my favourite wedding photos.