Philadelphia Wedding Photography | Ari & Val's Traditional Jewish Wedding at Crane Arts Center

smiling couple at sunset on Race Street Pier in Philadelphia, PA

• Written by Natalie • 

Ari & Valerie seamlessly blended tradition with innovation during their late fall wedding at Crane Arts in the Olde Kensington neighborhood of North Philadelphia. They were able to incorporate a large number of Jewish wedding customs that we had never witnessed before, while still infusing the whole day with their own fresh style. The whole day was jam-packed with awesome, and it was the perfect way for us to wrap up another amazing year.

I met up with Valerie, her mother, sister and friend Beth at Salon Blush in Fishtown.  This salon also houses a photography studio upstairs, so we have a perfect ready-made backdrop for getting ready photos and portraits without even needing to leave the building!

Val's wedding dress was a simple ivory vintage gown with cap sleeves. She paired it perfectly with a bouquet of tied lavender stems and a floor-length antique veil, and all these simple pieces added up to a simply dazzling bride.  There was no bridal party for this wedding, which actually added a special sort of intimacy to the getting ready process.  The love radiating between her mother, sister and friend was so wonderful, and truly a microcosm for general atmosphere for the day.

We met up Ari & Matt at Race Street Pier for their First Look.  I love the long shadows and intense sun in early afternoon during the fall. They added an extra layer of magic to this special part of the day when the bride and groom get to see each other for the first time.

We also made a stop at a graffiti wall in North Philly for a couple more portraits before heading to Crane Arts for the festivities. Crane Arts is a refurbished warehouse and manufacturing building just north of Girard Ave, which now functions as a venue for art installations and events.  Val and Ari held their reception in the Ice Box room, a huge open space they filled with elegant long tables with white linens, a burlap runner and highlighted with with white orchids and tea light candles.

Before the actual wedding ceremony, Val and Ari included many traditional jewish rituals, which invited their to become active participants, and after the ceremony all the guests signed the Ketubah, a wedding contract, as witnesses to the day.  Then the reception started with a lively Hora, which is always one of my favorite parts of a jewish wedding.  There is so much joy and energy, and of course plenty of excitement when the newly married couple is lifted into the air on chairs!  They wrapped up the festivities with one more unique idea—instead of cutting a wedding cake, they smashed a cake-shaped pinata!

Ari & Val,  We're so glad you found us!  Your wedding day was truly an event to remember and a wonderful note for us to end the year on.

Bride gets hair and make-up at Salon Blush in the Fishtown section of Philadelphia, PA

smiling bride at Salon Blush in Philly

gold wedding shoes on a tufted green sofa, wedding bouquet made of lavenderdetail shots of bride getting ready in vintage wedding gownmother of the bride looks on as bride checks herself out in the mirror

In addition to making a simply lovely bouquet, Valerie pointed out that the lavender is also very calming, which is always an added benefit for any bride!

bride with lavender bouquet wearing a vintage wedding gown with cap sleevesgroom gets ready to put on his wedding shoes, which are canvas sneakers embroidered with wedding dategroom waits for bride at Race Street Pier for their first lookFall First Look at sunset where bride in vintage dress greets groom on Race Street Pier on Delaware Ave in Philadelphiabride hugs groom as they see each other for the first time on their wedding daylong shadows from bride and groom as they have their first look in PhillyThe Ben Franklin bridge stretches out behind Bride & Groombride kisses groom on the foreheadbride wears groom's jacket during late afternoon fall wedding portraitsbride & groom kiss at sunset on Race Street Piergroom's canvas sneakers monogrammed with wedding datebride and groom in silhouette in field in North Philadelphiashadow of kissing couple on graffiti wallbride & groom in front of Crane Arts center in North Philadephia, PA

Ari & Val had a marathon list of family portraits, but everyone was so cooperative and helpful that we were able to fly through them.  A special thank you to all our wranglers!

family portraits at Crane Arts CenterEntrance to Crane Arts Center reception venue in Philadelphia, PA

The pre-wedding rituals started with the Tish, where the bride and groom attempt to deliver a lesson from the Torah while friends and family interrupt, heckle and break into song.

Bride reads from the Torah as guests sing during the Tishbride laughs with sister during the Tish, a Jewish pre-ceremony ritualGroom is heckled by wedding guests as he shares words of wisdom about the week's Torah passage

Then the mothers of the bride and groom break a plate as a symbol of the permanence of the marriage.

the bride & groom's mothers smash a plate as part of the Tenaim

Next, during the Bedeken, in the Gray Space of Crane Arts, the groom lowers the bride's veil and the bride helps the groom into a traditional linen robe. Then they each receive a blessing from their parents.

The groom lowers the bride's veil during the bedeken jewish ritualbride ties the belt of the kittel, a robe of white linen worn by the groom during the wedding ceremonythe parents of the bride & groom bestow a blessing on them before the wedding ceremonyceramic wine glasses, kippot and wedding rings

Finally, the marriage contract, called a Ketubah, is signed by the bride, groom and witnesses.  Then it was time for the actual marriage ceremony!

bride & groom smile at each other during the signing of the ketubah marriage contractWitnesses to the wedding ceremony sign the Ketubah before the weddingparents look on as the ketubah is signed before the wedding ceremony

The bride and groom entered the ceremony space together and processed to the chuppah with their parents. 

bride and groom process in to wedding with parentswedding ceremony in the Ice Box room at Crane Arts Center in Philadelphiabride and groom under the Chuppah during the jewish wedding ceremony at Crane Arts CenterThe seven blessings, Sheva Brachot, are read during the jewish wedding ceremony at Crane Arts center in North Philly

guests line up to sign the Ketubah after the wedding ceremony

Wedding guests sign Ketubahwedding reception at the Crane Arts Centerantique key place cards, long rows of tables with orchid centerpieces lit by candleslong tables at reception with orchid centerpieceswedding guests join in the hora to start the receptionthe bride and groom are lifted up on chairs during the horapeople are lifted into the air during the horabride & groom dance during their wedding reception at Crane Arts Centerbride and groom smash their pinata wedding cake