The Ritz-Carlton:
Heather & Arion

A Wedding at Temple Emanuel and The Ritz-Carlton: Heather and Arion

Cold. Dark. Cloudy. Rainy.

It was perfect.

That’s what Heather and Arion were facing on their wedding day: cold, dark, and rainy. Do you know what made it perfect? Heather and Arion. I don’t think they even noticed the weather that day, so happy and excited they were with each other and their families and friends.

Heather and Arion are two of my favorite people in the world. Heather is one of the most open and free spirits I’ve come across, and yet she’s very classy and metropolitan, too. Her smile can light up a room like a million-watt bulb.

And may I take a moment to single out the rabbi, Dr. Steven E. Foster? He was so funny and charming (with some really subtle but classic shtick) during the ketubah and badeken ceremonies. Everyone was laughing and in tears at the same time. It was very emotional and fantastic. But then, there was the ceremony: this very charming, fun Rabbi became very serious (which is great for a wedding), but then he said the two most dreaded words in our profession, “NO PHOTOGRAPHY.”

Ugh. I hate that. We really try hard to be respectful of the officiants at weddings and their shooting rules, but they usually request things like limiting where to stand and don’t use flash, etc. It is so rare to hear a rabbi or minister deny us of any photography what-so-ever. And so, with that utterance, the secret wedding photo war began. We simply can’t do “no photos”. Heather specifically warned us that regardless of the “rules” she was going to have documentation of her ceremony!

We devised a deviously sneaky shooting plan which was nearly flawless: we would rely on long lenses and stay in the shadows of the sides and the back out of his line of sight while he was distracted with the ceremony. It seemed simple enough, but we overlooked two developments we could not have foreseen: 1) Apparently Rabbi Foster has been performing the marriage rites for so long he holds his book for show. His eyes never looked down, and anytime I even moved he would stare straight at me like the Terminator while he was still speaking and without breaking his train of thought his head would shake back and forth very deliberately. At me.  2) He had security. Char was sitting a in an aisle seat near center. We figured she would be much less conspicuous sitting down, and I could serve as a sort of distraction. She would raise her camera like she was resting it on the seat and using the live-view mode take shots without raising it to her eye. She got a few shots off, when out of nowhere this lean, pretty, yet “I-mean-business” woman strides up to her in the aisle, taps her on the shoulder and violently whispers, “NO PHOTOGRAPHY!”. That shocked us: the rabbi was so serious about “no photography” he even had anti-photography security, “photo-police” if you will, watching our every move. No fair!

But little did they know, we had a secret weapon of our own: Kim Harms, photography ninja. Unassuming, small, and quiet as a mouse, she sat on the wing in the 3rd row unnoticed by the rabbi or his photo-police. She sat shooting unmolested for the entire ceremony!

Now let me clarify, it is our policy and reputation to be respectful and unobtrusive during wedding ceremonies. We have been complimented on many an occasion how professional we are by venue and church/synagogue staff. But in the end, we have a job to do, and that’s capture the images the bride and groom hire us for, and in this case there were explicit instructions to capture the ceremony, no… matter… what. So Rabbi, if we offended or insulted you and your photo-police helper in any way, we hope you can forgive us because it made Heather and Arion really happy and we really, really, really like you and your temple and we want to come back in the future.

So anyway, it was raining and cold. These are the ingredients of possible wedding disaster, but Heather was unsinkable. She braved a little wet and a lot of cold and we found some great spots to do photography out of the rain at the temple. And there was so much laughter and love inside the temple from the families that I don’t think anyone even noticed the clouds or the rain.

Then there was the reception: simply iconic. With their wonderfully rehearsed 1st dance, the huge multi-concentric-circle horah dance, and a chair dance that gave Kim Harms one of the best reception shots I’ve seen (above) , Heather and Arion’s reception was absolutely exemplary. It should be studied in bride-school as part of the required curriculum.