She sits quietly on the stairs below the stage, she waits her turn; she tries on some sparkling dresses that are not hers, dresses that look too big and modest for her personality. The light is dim, the crowd is big and cheering, she is a model, a model for Jewish Orthodox brides. The whole scene has a taste of a 1920’s cabaret venue except that the crowd is not a bunch of drunk men whistling at the cancan dancers, the people in the crowd are respectable women and sometimes their significant others who come here to pick their dream wedding attire all in one go: Gown, wig, make-up artist, hair stylist, catering company, photographer and pastry chef…
There are also people in the crowd who come for the free food (I would not blame them since the knish are to die for). But most of the people who make the trip here are actually single girls dreaming their way to “W” day even if currently they may not have a partner or enough money for any of the dresses around here. Thank Goodness for the red-roses bouquet!
The palace where it all happened looks like a Baroque theater in a movie set: Golden stucco on the walls, crystal lights coming down from the ceiling and a series of balconies wrapped around the oval floor space. There is wig stands everywhere with lines of women trying them on. Then I see a make-up artist letting in putting a spray powder foundation to just about any girl who stops by her. But my favorite it’s the Kosher chocolate stand where the bliss all happens starting from their entirely chocolate made business card. Then there is the two sister’s consignment clothing booth where style is a must even for religious women. Here the shinier the dresses, the better it is!
The photography booth it’s ran but a 23 years old boy who tells me to give him a call if we ever want to collaborate on a project and I may as well do that since his hat and big-framed glasses remind me of one of those Parisian street artists you see on the Pont Des Arts and that it’s just very funny especially inside a Jewish Orthodox wedding expo.
I would stay in here for ever, but I think I have exceeded the number of knish I can eat in one go without looking too suspicious to the man behind the catering table since I am not going to purchase any for my “soon-to-be” wedding. So I pack my bag and head for the door…
But just before I cross the glass doors, an Israeli woman with an accent as thick as the make-up on her face stops me and drags me into another room where the model girls from before are getting undressed. Being used to photographing Orthodox women I know I have no business here because a naked shot would be the end of my career within this community.
Although this time I am very tempted because those are the best pictures, the ones you keep to show you were there and you got access to where nobody else got in, plus they make for a nice, sexy clique’ within a photo essay. But, unfortunately what the woman wants it’s else: Marketing shots for her new make-up brochures. Oh well, you take what you can get and so the story goes…next week I am due for a professional shoot in her “three floor salon.” Thank God for the Jewish community to always provide me with some unexpected work!
my big fat jewish expo