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bride and groom portraits near race street pier in philadelphia

Intimate Philadelphia Wedding | Jill and Erez

This was the most unique wedding I’ve had the pleasure of photographing! Jill & Erez have been together for quite a few years and decided to get married in November … in America.

They live in Israel!!!!

Jill is from Philadelphia but she found herself falling in love with a man in Israel while she was serving in the Israeli army. The two met through mutual friends at a bar and the rest is history!! These two globetrotters have been through a lot together and live an easygoing yet adventurous life together under the warmth of the Israeli sun.

This American wedding would happen first with Jill’s family before the gigantic reception party that would follow in Israel with Erez’s family. I mostly worked with the wedding coordinator leading up to the wedding and only met Jill & Erez via Zoom the week of the wedding, which is quite unusual for my wedding workflow! They were super sweet on the call as we went over the timeline — they really wanted the day to just flow naturally!

Getting Ready

I arrived a bit early the day of their wedding and hung out with the coordinator while Jill was finishing up getting her hair & makeup done. I photographed the dress first to get that finished so Jill could put get dressed right away. As soon as Jill arrived, her mom gave her a massive gift bag full of newlywed goodies for the day!!!! How sweet is that?! I photographed Jill’s reactions as she opened the gifts, which included slippers, a robe, Mr. & Mrs. travel mugs, ring dishes, and more!

After taking a few bites of a burger, Jill put her dress on and started getting ready for the big day ahead. I photographed her putting her jewelry on in the bathroom mirror as her mom looked on with tears in her eyes, repeating over and over how beautiful her daughter looked. It was such a precious moment! Jill had a radiant smile on her face the whole entire day, but it was extra evident in this moment.

I ran over to the room where the groom was getting ready for a quick portrait before we did the first look!! There was the most beautiful window light cascading through the room and I almost squealed with excitement when I told him “SIT RIGHT THERE PLEASE YES RIGHT THERE!!!!” After a few quick shots (that turned out to be some of my favorite from the whole day!!), I took Erez outside and led him toward the first look spot with Jill and her dad following closely behind.

First Look & Portraits

We had originally planned to do the first look at Carpenters Hall, but with the weather being in the 30s we decided it would be best to keep it close. Luckily, they were right near Elfreth’s Alley and I knew the PERFECT little crevice to have a private first look moment!! Jill didn’t have a coat with her (after all, they do live in Israel!), so she walked to the first look moment with a big, fuzzy, white blanket (I was honestly pretty jealous!!). She took a deep breath before removing the blanket and getting in position for Erez to see his bride dressed in white for the first time that day. She tapped him on the shoulder I directed her to and I started firing away as Erez’s jaw dropped to the ground taking in the beauty of his soon-to-be wife!!!!!

We made our way around Elfreth’s Alley and Race Street Pier for bride & groom portraits – I was super familiar with the area from the amount of engagement sessions I’d done there! I tried to move as quick as possible since it was pretty chilly, but I was still able to take the time to create some of my favorite wedding portraits to date during this session!!! We ended at Race Street Pier where we were greeted with the most beautiful cotton candy sunset sky over the water right before the wind set in and we called it a day for photos!!!! We huddled together to stay warm as we waited for our Uber driver to pick us up & take us to the ceremony location. The second ride was cancelled so I let Jill, Erez and Jill’s father to ride in one Uber while I walked a few blocks to the ceremony location! I breathed a sigh of relief — the outside portion was DONE for the day!!!! 🙌🏼

Cocktail Hour & Ceremony

As is typical for traditional Jewish weddings, the cocktail took place before the ceremony. Guests mingled with food and drink as they arrived, and it was a massive reunion for the most part since Jill had been living in Israel with Erez the past few years!! As the cocktail hour was in full swing, the rabbi arrived to fill out their wedding contract in Hebrew. I got some solid detail shots of him filling out the paperwork as well as some cute details of Jill & Erez holding hands as they looked on. Before we knew it, it was time for the ceremony to begin!!

Jill’s family held the chuppa in place for the ceremony as Jill & Erez got in position to enter the room. Erez walked down the aisle and took his place under the chuppa with a gigantic smile on his face as he awaited the entrance of his beautiful bride. Jill’s parents entered together first and took a few steps before pausing and turning around to watch Jill walk up, loop her arms through theirs, and pump the crowd up as she walked the rest of the way down the aisle toward her groom.

This was my first time photographing a traditional Jewish wedding so it was super interesting to see how the ceremony went! The rabbi was awesome and explained each part of the ceremony to the guests. Soon enough, the ceremony was over and the Mr. & Mrs. sealed their union with the breaking of glass and a romantic kiss as the crowd erupted in cheers and applause!!! Immediate celebration followed with hugs galore and lots of FaceTimes to Erez’s family in Israel.

But the party wasn’t over just yet.

Zahav

Everyone began making their way over to Zahav, a SUPER duper highly esteemed and delicious Israeli restaurant in Philadelphia for the after party! The back room was reserved just for the wedding which was super cool!! The florals at each table were STUNNING, and there were these cute little floating candle decorations all around the room!! The cake also looked absolutely delicious — it was that see-through marble icing style done beautifully by Bredenbeck’s Bakery!!

I used this time at Zahav to get creative, as per Jill’s request. I didn’t want to photograph people shoving food in their mouths, so I focused on wide shots of the room and details instead!! I snapped a shot of some of the hummus dishes as they came out and my mouth instantly began watering with the sights and smells of the family style courses. After the first course, Jill & Erez stood up and got the room’s attention.

It was time for the ring exchange.

Ring Exchange

In traditional Jewish weddings, the groom presents a ring to the bride. But Jill & Erez both wanted to have rings, so they decided to exchange their own vows and rings in front of their people at the restaurant. How sweet 🥺

Erez went first and talked about how incredible Jill is and how deep their love runs for each other. He slid Jill’s ring onto her finger as the room erupted in applause. Jill went next and talked about all of their globetrotting adventures and how she couldn’t wait to spend the rest of her life with such a kind and adventurous man. She had a bit of trouble getting the ring on Erez’s finger, which led to bouts of laughter and even more applause! They sealed their vows and ring exchange with a kiss and sat back down to enjoy the rest of their delicious meal.

Jill & Erez, congratulations on your marriage!!!! You two are so incredibly sweet and kind and I am SO happy for you!!! I hope y’all have the best time partying it up at your massive reception in Israel 🙂

Vendors who made this day as special as it was:

Flowers: Kenny’s Flower Shoppe

Jill’s Wedding Band: Kwintner Jewelry

Cake: Bredenbeck’s Bakery

Video: Jose Camacho

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