I knew that Sylvia and Avi’s wedding would be especially meaningful for me to shoot. We have a special history between us, and I couldn’t wait to see them and their families on their big day.
During the summer of 2015, I set out to hike half of the Appalachian Trail with Sylvia’s sister Minna as my hiking partner. On the way to our starting point on the trail, we spent a night visiting Sylvia at college and a few days packing at their parents’ home in Maryland. Before we started that whole adventure, Minna and I weren’t particularly close. But the trail has a way of changing that. We created so many memories - some hilarious, some unnerving, some touching – that we are bonded for life. During our journey, Minna met Avner, another hiker who was from Israel. They later moved to Israel together.
At one point during our hike, Sylvia, Avi, and Avi’s younger brother Zach joined us for a short bit of the trail. We camped together and walked together, sharing food and laughter.
Flash forward a few years, and Sylvia reaches out to me – she and Avi are getting married, and want to talk to me about wedding photography. I was overjoyed that I would get to see them all again! They were having an October wedding at Antrim 1844 in Taneytown, Maryland.
We had not been together in years, but it felt like no time had passed when I found Minna and Sylvia getting ready in the bridal suite. Minna had traveled all the way from Tel Aviv with Avner, and all of the memories from our time together on the trail came flooding back. It was a very happy reunion all around.
Sylvia and Avi had chosen to take all of their portraits prior to the ceremony, so we galavanted around the beautiful grounds for a while before gathering the family members for group shots. The roses bushes in the gardens boasted gorgeous blooms, and the overcast skies made everything look that much greener. The threat of rain didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits in the least.
Sylvia and Avi are Jewish, so their wedding day incorporated many elements from their faith. It was moving to see them not only to commit themselves to each other, but commit themselves further to their faith with the loving support of their community. They had a lovely ketubah (Jewish marriage contract) to sign, a beautiful chuppah to stand under during the ceremony, a handmade tallit that Avi’s parents wrapped around them at the end of the ceremony, and of course the lively hora dance during the reception. The day was as much a celebration of Avi and Sylvia’s love as it was a celebration of their Jewish faith and culture.
It was a day that I hold dear to my heart. Until I we all meet again, mazel tov Sylvia and Avi!