By Mordechai Schmutter


I feel like I need to say that I don’t actually set out to write a wedding column every single year. It just happens to be that I go to weddings pretty often because my siblings keep getting married, b’H. I think my parents figured out that if they want the whole family to come eat a single meal together without making excuses, they have to throw a wedding.

But that doesn’t mean I’m going to come on time.

As somebody who, admittedly, has never made a chasunah before, I don’t understand why we have to come so early for pictures. My sister got married last month, and my mother told us beforehand that we had to come three hours early.

“It’s not up to me,” she said. “It’s the photographer.”

It happens to be that the photographer is a Yekke, plus the chassan and kallah both have big families, b’H.

When I was growing up, pictures took about an hour per side, tops. Now they’re three hours? Technology was supposed to speed things up! Was it because back then they took fewer pictures because every single one had to be developed individually, whereas nowadays it’s not a huge deal, so they take thousands? Maybe. My parents got a link with 1,300 pictures from this wedding, whereas after my wedding, we got about 300 proofs.

That’s what they used to call them — proofs. Proofs of what? That we got married? We have eidim!

Yeah, two; we have 300 pictures.

But three hours? We have enough time to run home after the pictures, not do anything to mess up our clothes, and run back. So we might as well hang out at the hall, and — I don’t know — put on something different to confuse the photographer.

It also has to do with the fact that we’re on the kallah’s side. The kallah’s pictures are always before the chassan’s pictures, because it’s scientifically proven that a woman can keep a plain white dress clean longer than a guy could keep a dark suit clean. But what about all of her nieces and nephews, who spend all the time between pictures tiring themselves out for later?

Maybe it’s more about the fact that the chassan’s side paid for the photographer. If they paid, they get to come only an hour and a half early.

They’re the ones who hired the Yekke.

And then the rest of us have an hour and a half to wander around the wedding hall and find something to do, such as read through all the seating cards to see who we know who’s invited.

“Ooh! My parents invited my uncle! Awesome!”

I also get to see if I know anyone that the other side invited. And while I’m looking at the other side’s seating cards, some other people show up and assume, “He must be looking at the kallah’s cards, so I’m going to stand here and look for my name amongst these other cards.” There’s only so much time I can spend watching them look for their names on the wrong side while not wanting to explain why I’m looking for my cards on the wrong side, as the brother of the kallah, before I just quietly tiptoe away and let them come to that realization on their own. And then I can sneak back to the table and continue looking until someone else shows up. So this basically takes the whole hour and a half.

For the most part, somehow or other, I’ve never once made it in time for pictures. We always manage to show up late, and my parents always manage to get annoyed, because the photographer randomly calls out, “Brothers of the kallah!” and I’m not there, on call. And then I show up, and my father gives me an angry face, smiles for a picture, and goes back to angry face, then back to smiling.

It’s not easy parenting more than one kid.

Because there has to be a picture of the kallah’s brothers. This is a very important picture that no one’s going to put in any album or ever look at or think about again. “Look, it’s the kallah’s brothers! And they’re all making faces!”

Technically, the photographer can make it take as long as he wants. He just has to keep calling out different combinations of relatives and taking pictures of them. It’s not like any of them are going to end up in the album anyway, but he can keep going. He can be like, “Grandmothers’ brothers’ uncles of the kallah!” And all the grandmothers’ brothers’ uncles of the kallah will come in. And make faces.

Also, there are certain shots that the photographer absolutely has to get over the course of the evening:

  • the kallah and her sisters
  • someone’s baby
  • the chassan leaning sideways on one of his knees
  • the chassan and just his mother
  • the chassan and his father shaking hands like they’re just encountering each other and did not expect to see each other at this wedding
  • the chassan and one of his sisters standing awkwardly three feet away from each other
  • the kallah staring at her flowers instead of at the camera
  • the chassan and all of his friends and one relative who doesn’t realize it’s a “friends” shot
  • the chassan cutting challah
  • the chassan being lifted on a chair that is pitching forward
  • the back of the car that the chassan and kallah are leaving in
  • the chassan’s father writing a check

But seriously, once they’re married, who wants a picture of just the chassan on his own? The kallah? She can take plenty of pictures. Yet the photographer has to take 15,000 pictures of just the chassan and just the kallah, so that the first few pages of the album can tell a story.

“Look, there he is. All alone. How sad. He’s smiling, though.”

“And there she is, staring at her flowers.”

“Hey, he found a ring!”

“And here are most of his brothers!”

But my parents kept pushing us to come on time, so this time we finally managed to do that, and my kids were in four pictures! There was the picture of our nuclear family, one of just my kids, one of everyone and the kallah but no chassan, and one of my parents and all their grandchildren, most of whom are crying.

I’m not saying my kids should be in more pictures. The wedding is not really about them. I’m saying that most of the pictures don’t involve them, and every second in their suits is exponentially increasing the chances that they’re going to develop holes in the knees.

Plus these pictures are going to be outdated in three hours. When will we ever want a picture with the entire family and just the kallah? In case it doesn’t work out?

She’s wearing a gown.

Of course, the fact that the chassan and kallah can’t see each other before the chuppah complicates things. But maybe we should take all the pictures after the entire wedding is over. Then we’ll be all disheveled, but it will be a more natural look.

“Yeah, but all the kids will be falling asleep.”

Good, then they won’t be screaming.

In the old days, they used to take a lot of the family pictures right after the chuppah, and all the guests would sit around unsupervised and eat course after course waiting for the dancing to start. Sometimes the caterers would even add courses. But even that wasn’t ideal, because the family would have to gather everyone up from all the corners of the hall, and people would keep wandering off. “OK, now brothers-in-law of the kallah … Where’s Raffy?”

“He didn’t want to miss the knish course.”

But nowadays, they try to take all the pictures before the wedding, and they just leave a gap next to the kallah so they can Photoshop the chassan in later.

Yeah, that’s what the couple wants for a picture of one of the most special moments of their lives. There you are, surrounded by your whole family, and your chassan is Photoshopped in. Hovering or something. Maybe they can make it look like he’s a different size than everyone else. Why not have him towering over everyone in the background?

“Who’d you marry? Og Melech HaBashan?”

But maybe this is why pictures take longer nowadays. Not only are they trying to take basically all the pictures before the wedding even starts (maybe the guy has another wedding to go to, I don’t know), but they have to take as many “single” pictures as possible so there’s something to pick from when they’re trying to Photoshop the couple into the family photos.

So what I want to know is, if they can take a picture without the chassan and Photoshop him in later, how come they can’t take a picture without my wife and me and Photoshop us in later? We stand in the back anyway.

Maybe I’ll bring it up at the next wedding. If I do it during a picture, my parents will have no choice but to smile. Or they won’t, and the guy will Photoshop the smiles in.

Mordechai Schmutter is a weekly humor columnist for Hamodia and is the author of five books, published by Israel Book Shop. He also does freelance writing for hire. You can send any questions, comments, or ideas to


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