Samantha & Avi
Four-Day Emotional Jewish Outdoor Wedding Weekend
Avi & Samantha
Jewish weddings are deeply rooted in traditions that serve to honor faith and family. But I’ve come to realize the effects of those traditions are designed to evoke lots of crying and dancing. Although not necessarily at the same time. But if Samantha and Avi’s wedding last weekend in Saratoga Spring was any indication, it’s highly likely.
This was more than just a wedding. It was a total takeover of the Aloft Hotel, plus multiple neighboring parks for four days of emotionally intense mazel toving. Maybe that’s not a verb, but it should be. Samantha and Avi planned a fantastic weekend. It began with a welcome picnic Friday afternoon at Rainbow Park. Lots of hugging as friends who’ve been scattered across the country came together with the newest mini members of their growing families. Everyone was digging the vibe, including the kids, which continued into the evening back at the hotel with Kabbalat Shabbat. This is where the crying began.
The next day after a wine tasting in the mountains well-wishers gathered around for an unusual ring ceremony. Adopted from a friend’s wedding, everyone took turns holding the wedding bands and imbibing them with blessings they wanted for the future of Avi and Samantha’s marriage. It was one of the most beautiful ceremonies I’ve ever seen. Total waterworks in effect. Not a dry eye anywhere.
The actual wedding took place on Sunday and stretched from one forested end of Saratoga Springs to the other. I’m at a loss for words that can adequately describe how beautiful each ceremony throughout the day was. It was an experience, unlike anything I’ve photographed before. Without a doubt, on a scale of one to ten, the fun factor was at eleven. The tear factor was at fifteen. Between the hora, schtick, Israeli dance lessons, flash mobbing, and good old-fashioned foot-loosing, there was a high energy level that sustained us until the early morning hours. But that wasn’t the take away from this wedding. It was the fact that Avi and Samantha honor one another with an earnest pursuit of being the best version of themselves. Not just for each other but for every person around them. They grounded their marriage in their extraordinary faith and have surrounded themselves with those who exemplify the relationship they want to build together. It’s only been a week, but they are off to a pretty powerful start.