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Hennassy: Leslie + Oleg = Moroccan-Jewish Wedding

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Hennassy: Leslie + Oleg = Moroccan-Jewish Wedding by Zorz Studios (1)

Young glamorous bride and stylish groom, fashionable tattoos, Manhattan rooftop photoshoot, live band, Gypsy Kings, Bollywood dancers, henna party—how more exotic a Moroccan-Jewish wedding in NYC can get?

I had a feeling that this Moroccan-Jewish wedding would be spectacular and distinguished, as their stylish engagement session at one of New York’s fine vineyards could not promise anything less. I already introduced Leslie and Oleg to you in that blog so straight to the wedding day!

The couple sets an example for a composed and laissez-faire stance on things happening around them—fortunate and not so—even on their biggest day. Nothing seemed to steer them away from enjoying each other and living the day as it is meant to be, filled with love, joy, care, celebration, family, and  friends. Not even falling behind the schedule by two hours. I did get less time with them for a photoshoot but at least we covered the stylish part, conducted on the rooftop of the Skylark rooftop lounge.

The ceremony and reception took place at the Crest Hollow Country Club in the best Jewish traditions but the bride’s Moroccan descent gave a notable kick to the hoopla. On top of the inflammatory performance of Zorz Studios’ long-time client DJ Gio and the live band, a lot of breathtaking spice was thrown in by exotic shows, at the conclusion of which the newlyweds changed into the traditional Moroccan clothing: ornate kaftan for Leslie and a white jellaba cloak for Oleg. Thinking that even this would be somewhat of a passive step, they joined the Bollywood dancers, choreographing their radiating smiles and energy into the final dancing act before the next stage of this Moroccan-Jewish wedding, the henna party.

Traditionally, the henna party in Morocco takes place before the wedding when close family members and friends gather to start the celebration, similar to Mehndi in India. Whereas I’ve witnessed and documented highly intricate lacey or floral patterns drawn on the hands or feet during weddings in India (e.g., in Bangalore or Chennai), henna application at a Moroccan-Jewish wedding tends to consist of a single large mark to symbolize health, wealth and fertility. The reddish-brown paste, produced by mixing crushed henna plant leaves with water, is believed in Moroccan tradition to protect the couple from demons but this is much of a cultural rather than religious significance. The henna will dye skin orange for up to two weeks and in Moroccan folklore, the bride is exempt of her household duties until the henna disappears. After the bride and groom are blessed with the henna, the guests also spread henna on their palms to bring good luck.

With only some 2,500 Jews left in Morocco (they peaked 250,000 in the 1940s), I find Leslie’s honoring her family’s Moroccan heritage particularly touching and thoughtful. Plus, it made the night quite more memorable and outstanding from the many Jewish weddings I’ve seen!

Many thanks to the vendors contributing to the beauty of this day:

Bridal makeup: Ilana Aulova
Bridal hair: Albert Kakzanov of Top Secret Salon and Spa
Wedding dress: AZ Elite Couture
Tuxedo: SuitSupply
Photo shoot location: Skylark Rooftop Lounge
Flowers: Mike Sachakov with Royal Events
Limo: Mondrion Limousine & Tuxedo
Venue: Crest Hollow Country Club
Caterers: Royal Caterers
DJ and entertainment: DJ Gio
Percussionist: Lisette Santiago
Violinist: Natalie Niarezka
Dancers: Wanted Ashiqz

(Click images for full size)

Ed Hafizov
Ed Hafizov
Ed Hafizov is a creative director and lead photographer of Zorz Studios, Manhattan-based boutique photography studio, offering arousing and daring fashion, commercial, beauty, and wedding photography. Multiple Fearless Photographer™ award winner, named among the top 50 US wedding photographers, top 10 NY wedding photographers, winner of Adobe contests, featured by Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Elle et al, Mercedes Benz Fashion Week photographer, and a distinguished member of Grace Ormonde Wedding Style‘s Platinum List, he is eager to step out of his and willing clients' comfort zone to pursue original artwork with a lasting impression.