Jewish wedding at Braxted Park
Naomi and Benji found me from seeing Michal and Sam's Jewish wedding at The Royal Horticultural Halls.
Their priorities for their Braxted Park wedding day were a focus on family (especially as it was on father's day) and a beautiful natural outdoor ceremony under their floral chuppah! Braxted Park is a stunning venue in Essex, (not to be confused with the road in Streatham!) that boasts several well decorated rooms that are perfect for hosting a tisch and bedeken, as well as huge outdoor open grounds for outdoor ceremonies and walled gardens for drinks receptions! There's also cottages and suites on site which makes it easy for both the bride and groom to get ready on site! Naomi got ready in the suite next to her bedeken space, and she had an emotional first look with her grandma. Benji got ready with his family in the cottages and the men wore purple kippahs to match the bridesmaid's dresses and the purple floristry done by their family friend Steph Brenner who runs Wrap and Tie Floral Design.
Naomi and Benji had an absolutely wonderful bedeken in a stunning room that was filled with so much love. The bedeken is a Jewish veiling ceremony that happens before the marriage ceremony, where traditionally the grooms checks he has the right bride and they accept each other. The bride waits with the women in a room and the men come in dancing and singing from the tisch. The rabbi blesses the couple and often the parents are invited to give their blessings or private words to their children. It's always a beautiful and touching moment.
Outdoor Jewish wedding ceremony
Naomi's favourite part of Braxted Park wedding venue is the big open green spaces, and she was keen to make the most of it in both the ceremony and the couple shots. Like many of the egalitarian Jewish weddings I shoot, both the groom and the bride entered the ceremony with their family. I knew how important family are to both Benji and Naomi, so my favourite shot from their ceremony is of grandma watching Naomi come in. In my experience, Jewish wedding ceremonies have sometimes varied slightly but often there's a bit of circling, wine drinking, blessings, and the ring is placed on the index finger. One tradition that has always reliably occurred is the smashing of the glass! Immediately after the glass is smashed the wedding guests rush up to the chuppah to both congratulate the couple and sing and dance around them before they exit to the yichud room where they usually spend 15 minutes alone together with two loyal guards posted at the door!
Epic Jewish dancing photography
During the drinks reception we did our group and couple shots, there was only a short period so they went straight from the walled gardens into their first set of Jewish dancing. I'm used to the hora, lots of jumping and people being thrown, but this was the first time I'd shot a proper sheet over the couple (usually the women will flap the bride's dress if it's floaty enough- I think this is the bit of the dance traditions that they're simulating!) and it made for beautiful shots of Naomi and Benji surrounded by all their loved ones. What I really liked about this Braxted Park wedding was even though there was still a bit of light outside, the dancefloor area is dark with black marquee, so the dancefloor shots always look epic and atmospheric!
Can you believe all of that happened in the first 20 minutes of Jewish dancing?! Strong work from these wedding guests! After the dancing they sat down for a welcome toast from Naomi's parents and the first breaking of the bread by Benji's dad before their three course dinner.
The couple were blessed with guests with amazing talents- one of their guests got up to perform with the band. XS showband are truly an amazing and professional party starter, I'd recommend them to anyone who wants an excellent live performance!
They had the blessings intermixed with speeches from the Best Woman (Benji's cousin) and his two best men.
Benji got up to perform the Carlton dance- Fresh Prince fans will get it!
The caterers provided ice lollies to keep the guests cool and sweet on the dancefloor!
They ended a fantastic wedding day with Naomi saying a few words of thank you to all the guests. I was delighted to be a part of their exciting and fun day, I shot so much of their dancefloor because I found it hard to do it justice, Jewish wedding dancefloors are crazy at the calmest of times, and Benji and Naomi really raised the bar!