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We have been excitedly anticipating photographing Shaina and Moshie’s wedding ceremony since our first few meetings with them, when we learned that they were planning a huge celebration that combined her Persian culture with his Jewish Orthodox traditions. Let me tell you, folks, they did not disappoint – it was definitely THE party of the summer! With 500 guests, they had reserved one of the largest venues in downtown Chicago, the Fairmont Hotel, and treated everyone to an absolutely decadent time.
It was gorgeously sunny on the morning of the wedding and the city of Chicago was full of people in town for the Air & Water show. Shaina had reserved an upper-floor suite at the Fairmont Hotel that was full of windows and when we arrived, the ladies were watching the jets soar by while Carol from A La Mode and Jori from MAC put the finishing touches on their hair and makeup. Shaina slipped into her flowing Demetrios gown, pinned on her jeweled headpiece and veil, and picked up her elegant bouquet from Yanni Design Studio. Her preparations were complete and she was ready to go see her groom.
The Fairmont Hotel’s central downtown location meant we had easy access to several great locations for photos, including the Aon Center Plaza and Millennium Park. Shaina found Moshie waiting patiently for her in the Plaza and tapped him on the shoulder. He spun around excitedly to see his beautiful bride and swept her up into a warm embrace. They admired each other’s wedding attire, showed off their fun and funky footwear, and we set off for some photos around the city.
Our downtown Chicago photowalk included several iconic locations and scenes – from the classic city streets and rushing traffic to the more fun and funky (and surprisingly empty) buses. Shaina had mentioned that the Chicago Cultural Center held a special significance to her, so we made sure to stop in and check out the stunning Tiffany stained-glass dome. Our time here produced some of my favorite images of the day. They seem positively ethereal.
As the sun crept overhead, we realized it was almost time for the festivities to start so we headed back to the Fairmont Hotel. Shaina and Moshie’s wedding festivities had taken over the entire second floor of the hotel, beginning with the Kabbalat Panim – the pre-ceremony receptions for the men and women. The men gathered in the groom’s Tish room for refreshments, singing, the reading of the Tena’im and signing of the Ketubah. They were joined by the mothers of the bride and groom, who were there to break the plate – signifying the finality of the Tena’im and the commitment between families.
In the Main Hall, Shaina was seated at her throne on an elevated platform, surrounded by her closest female relatives. A steady stream of guests greeted them with well wishes and blessings while they enjoyed appetizers and live music.
The men joined together and lifted Moshie to their shoulders and carried him out of the Tish room down to the Main Hall for the Bedeken. Shaina and the other women welcomed the procession, and Moshie, with encouragement from his fathers, greeted his bride and placed the veil over her face.
Guests were then ushered into the International Ballroom, which had been transformed into a lavish and breathtaking ceremony space. Sheer drapes hung from the ceiling in the center of the room and the crystal chandelier shined through the top of the chuppah, providing soft light on the platform below. The team from Yanni Design Studio lined the aisle with pedestals that featured arrangements of cascading orchids alternating with wrought-iron tea light trees. As the guests rose to their feet, Shaina made her way down the aisle, joined by her parents at the halfway mark. The traditional Jewish Orthodox ceremony started off with Shaina circling Moshie seven times to create their unbreakable bond and featured a performance by Moshie’s father before it concluded with a satisfying crunch of glass.
After the ceremony, Shaina and Moshie were whisked away to the Ambassador Room for their Yichud, guarded heavily by these handsome and intimidating bouncers. While they were celebrating their first private moments together as husband and wife, guests were enjoying a sumptuous feast of appetizers and food stations before moving downstairs to the Imperial Ballroom for the reception.
The folks from Yanni Design Studio and Danziger Kosher Catering teamed up to treat the guests to a feast for the eyes as well as the body. The ballroom was awash in jewel-toned lighting and orchids trailed down manzanita branches while fragrant florals spilled out of mercury glass vases on the tables. Ruby-hued chargers held a variety of delicious treats for guests to dine on during the speeches and toasts.
Shaina and Moshie made their entrance through the arch to much applause and cheering, ready to get the party started. The dance floor was divided into men and women by the mechitza, and the guests pulled the bride and groom into the circles for simcha dancing. Part comedy roast and part performance art, the schtick at Jewish Orthodox weddings has quickly become our favorite part of the celebration. Not only do we get to know our bride and groom better, we are dazzled by fire-breathers and life-sized squirrels. So much fun!
Halfway through the reception, the dancing changed gears as guests donned belly-dancing wraps and the Persian DJ played some of their more traditional songs for Raghs Sharqi. We loved seeing the combination of the Kippahs and hip scarfs on the guests – truly a beautiful combination of families and cultures.
Shaina and Moshie, we are so grateful to you for choosing us to photograph your wedding and participate in your marriage celebration! We had so much fun spending the day with you, learning more about your customs and traditions, and getting to know your families. We can’t wait to see you again soon!
If you are looking for a wedding photographer in Chicago to capture the memorable moments at your wedding, and interested in our availability and pricing, please drop us a line using the online inquiry form here.