It was not work for us. We loved it. I never forgot where I came from. I could work seven days and seven nights because I loved what I did; who doesn’t like to see you smile and enjoy your simcha? … I could talk about this for a lifetime.

Caterer and wedding planner Louis Bluefeld, 2011.  JMM OH760

THE BUSINESS OF WEDDINGS

A big wedding involves many more people than just family and friends. There’s also the caterer, the florist, the photographer, the DJ…. Who’ll make the cake? Who will print the invitations? Where should the ushers get their tuxes? 

 

The happy couple’s questions are the savvy businessperson’s opportunity, and from the big cities to the suburbs to the small rural towns, Maryland’s commercial centers have responded. Some entrepreneurs cater specifically to the needs of Jewish communities – especially in Baltimore, which today has one of the largest community of Haredim (Ultra-Orthodox) in the US  – while other Jewish-run businesses appeal to customers from every background.

Classified ad page heading from the Baltimore Jewish Times, June 12, 1936.  A variety of businesses - from Rose Salas Rostov, Kosher Caterer, to the (not-Jewish-owned) Kenmore Inn in Bel Air - advertised their services here, “[signifying] their appreciation for Jewish patronage.” JMM Jewish Times collection

Business card of Rev. Dr. B. Bleiberg, 1933.  Though primarily touting his services as a mohel, the card also notes hopefully, “Marriages performed by appointment.” 

 

Gift of Earl Pruce.  JMM 1987.199.1

Advertisement for Jack Lewis, Baltimore, who hired his horses and carriages out for many occasions – including both funerals and weddings. From Aitz Chaim Congregation’s “Grand Chanukah Concert” program, 1915.

 

Gift of David L.C. Golberg. JMM 1993.26.44

Advertisement for Guggenheimer, Weil & Co., Wedding Card Engravers, from the fall/winter 1897-1898 Joel Gutman & Co. (Baltimore) catalog.

 

Gift of Arthur Gutman. JMM 1989.10.4

Advertisement for  Henry O. Berman Co. Recording Studio, February 21, 1958. JMM Jewish Times collection

Advertisement for Mrs. Rose Epstein & Son Catering, February 10, 1928. JMM Jewish Times  collection

‚Äč

I like to see their reactions [when they pick up their proofs]; I like to see how successful I am in their eyes – if I’m right, the way I’ve portrayed them. That’s the real success.

Portrait photographer Leonard L. Greif, Baltimore, in a 1988 interview [Baltimore Sun 1/10/1988, by Angela Gambill]

Some wedding veterans will tell you that the two most important vendors to choose are your florist and your photographer; for others, it’s the caterer, or the baker, or the band. Every wedding has unique needs, and finding the business that can best fulfil those needs can be a delicate balance. Fortunately, even before the modern-day ‘Wedding Industry’ there were many vendors (both Jewish and not) to choose from in Maryland, to take care of all the minutiae of a successful event.

Bachrach Studios was founded in Baltimore in 1868 by David Bachrach, Jr. (1845-1921), a German Jewish immigrant. As later generations expanded the business, it became a nation-wide chain, and today it is one of the longest-continually-operating photography studios in the country. 

 

Many generations of Baltimoreans, from a variety of backgrounds, have had their portrait taken by a Bachrach.

Wedding portraits of Nettie Halle and Leon Mann, married by Rabbi William Rosenau at Lehmann’s Hall on October 16, 1895. 

 

Photos taken at Bachrach Bros. Studio, Baltimore. Gift of Doris L. Halle. JMM 1987.220.9-.10

In the early 1900s, three brothers from Russia emigrated to Baltimore and set up photography studios.

 

Howard and Jacob Udelewitz did not stay, but Solomon operated his S.S. Udelewitz studio – first in East Baltimore, and later at a more central location on Charles Street – for several decades. 

 

When later generations joined the firm, it became Udel Brothers.

Portrait of Doris Hankin and Samuel Lever, married by the rabbi at Shaarei Zion on July 2, 1933.

 

Photograph by S.S. Udelewitz. Gift of Doris Lever Harris. JMM 1995.85.4

Marvin J. Greenberg of Greenberg Jewelers assists a couple with wedding ring selection, circa 1953.  Greenberg’s was a family-run business, open in the Brooklyn Park neighborhood of Baltimore for over fifty years. 

 

Gift of David Greenberg. JMM 2008.99.13

Ring sizer, mid 20th century. Used at Kramer’s West End, a small department store owned by Philip and Lee Kramer.

 

Gift of Paul Kramer. JMM 2010.85.2

Sheet music for “Baruch Haba - Mi Adir,” welcoming the groom and bride as they walk to the marriage canopy, prepared by David Rosenfeld, a popular Baltimore cantor and musician in the 1920s and ‘30s. 

 

In his files, he included versions of this song for cornet, piano, clarinet, drum, and saxophone as well as the vocal music shown here.

 

Gift of Toby Gordon. JMM 2010.17.5 

Hiddur Mitzvah (beautifying and ornamenting a ritual) is lovely way to enhance the archival material related to a wedding. Some of the Maryland state marriage certificates included a pleasant decorative border, but they have nothing on a fully illustrated ketubah. Even in the 19th century, living in a state with an urban center and a large, active Jewish community meant couples didn’t have to go too far to find an artist who understood their needs.

Blank ketubah designed by Baltimore artist and printmaker Samson Margolis, who described his work in an advertisement as “A Marriage Certificate to be kept and cherished for generations. … As you will note, particular attention has been paid to the space allowed for inscribing the names in Hebrew and English.” 

 

Gift of Aaron and Dorothy Margolis. JMM 1994.193.56. 

Jesse Hellman signs his Margolis-designed ketubah, watched by his soon-to-be bride Debby Salganik and their officiant Dr. Louis L. Kaplan, June 3. 1979. 

 

From wedding album loaned by Debby and Jesse Hellman. JMM L2016.19.3

Copper engraving plate, produced by an unknown engraver, for the wedding invitation for the marriage of Birdie Rosenberg and Lewis Putzel, June 12, 1899. 

 

Gift of Janith Putzel. JMM 1989.153.1

Wedding invitation, in English and Yiddish, for the marriage of Jennie Goldsheder and Isaac Frenkil at “the Hall”, South High Street, Baltimore, on April 6, 1897. 

 

Many within Baltimore’s Jewish community needed a printer with the ability to use the Hebrew alphabet.

 

Gift of Sophie Frenkil Dopkin. JMM 1990.188.1

Kitty can be seen with her calla lily bouquet in her formal wedding portrait.

 

Courtesy of Eleanor H. Yuspa.  JMM CP 56.2016.1

Florists’ bill from Earle Kirkley, Baltimore, for the flowers at the wedding of Catharine (Kitty) Straus and Isaac Hecht, 1941. 

 

In addition to the bride’s bouquet, the invoice includes a bouquet for her attendant, and orchids and corsages for the groom and various family members.

 

Gift of Catharine Straus Hecht. JMM 2009.23.17 

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