Extravagant or simple, glamorous or reserved, weddings days are an unforgettable experience and decades on the joy still shines out from these photographs capturing newly betrothed Jewish Londoners.

Between the 1880s and 1914, around 150,000 Jewish immigrants arrived in Britain from Eastern Europe, with the majority settling in London, motivated to leave due to persecution suffered in their homeland.

Despite the poverty that many families experienced, they wanted to uphold marriage as a central institution within Judaism and many saved for years to have the day they wanted and weddings became a hugely important social occasion for the growing community.

Now a major new exhibition at the Jewish Museum London, For Richer For Poorer: Weddings Unveiled, has brought together an evocative collection of dresses, photographs and objects to tell the story of Britain’s Jewish community from the late 19th Century to the mid-20th Century.

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Wedding photograph of Mr and Mrs Simmons by Boris, 1935.

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Brothers Louis and Joseph Suss were born in Austria in the 1870s. They set up their first studio in Brick Lane in 1898 and around 1904 opened the Vienna Art Studio on Whitechapel Road. They were still operating in the 1930s. This photograph is of an unknown couple, 1928.

Highlights include photographs taken by Boris Bennett, who had a studio in Whitechapel in the East End and was the most sought-after wedding photographer of his day, famous for making ordinary Jewish east enders look like Hollywood film stars. Crowds would gather outside his studio every Sunday (the traditional Jewish wedding day) and Boris would photograph an average of 30 couples in a single day, taking approximately 150,000 wedding photographs during his career.

It was cited in the Jewish East End that, ‘if you haven’t got a Boris wedding picture, you aren’t married’. and he went on to open studios on Oxford Street, Bond Street, Marble Arch, Leicester Square and the Strand.

The stories behind how Jewish couples met will also be part of the exhibition, including the role of the shadchan, or matchmaker, who arranged wedding matches within more orthodox communities. For the first time ever, visitors will be able to view a shadchan’s ledger from the 1940s and letters between the shadchan and his clients.

You will also be able to see artefacts used in the Jewish wedding ceremony, including a display of ketubots – Jewish wedding contracts – with one dating back to 1729, and items such as a table plan for a wedding reception in Piccadilly, a catering agreement by Sterns Caterers for huge amounts of food that continued all day long and printed table cards with lists of music that was played.

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Ronnie Wiseman on her wedding day to Joe Cookson, by Boris.

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Mrs May Walker, 1941

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Abraham Rafer married Russian immigrant Esther Andur at the East London Synagogue in 1908.

Abigail Morris, CEO of the Jewish Museum London, says: “Uncovering the stories behind this wonderful collection of objects has been a fascinating process because each and every item gives us an insight into the traditions, cultural ‘norms’ and social aspirations of this fledgling Jewish community at a critical time in its history.

“What comes across is that despite the challenges of the time, including poverty, in many cases putting on a good party for the neighbours was vital, irrespective of the cost involved!

“We are delighted to unveil this inspirational, romantic exhibition and we are excited to use so much from our collection that has remained hidden until now.“

Throughout the exhibition, there will be a series of events on the theme of love and marriage, a Jewish dance session for weddings and other celebrations, a tour of historically important wedding locations in London’s East End with Rachel Kolsky and a talk by Maureen Kendler about weddings and relationships in the Torah.

Jewish Museum London, Raymond Burton House, Albert Street, Camden Town, until May 31, 10am to 2pm. Details: jewishmuseum.org.uk/weddings