Here comes the bride. And the caterer. And the florist. And the band.

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June is a popular time for Jewish weddings. Being a newlywed myself, we went through all of the traditional aspects of creating the simcha: finding a rabbi, deciding what customs to use, having an aufruf and designing our Ketubah.

ketubbah_2.jpg
But all of this was well overshadowed by other decisions. Those about the celebration after the ceremony: what color flowers to use for the centerpieces, what would be served for dinner, what brand of kosher wine to use for the toast, how many people could sit at each table, what color were the table skirts, and would the hotel tolerate a group of 20-somethings acting like they were at a USY convention.

(The answers: Pink/orange/green, chicken or fish, Bartenura, 8-10, white i think, barely–just barely.)

We teach our youngsters that the most important aspect of a Bar or Bat Mitzvah is not the party afterward, but the special ceremony that marks the beginning of a great Jewish journey.

Why hasn’t this belief rubbed off on to brides and grooms (perhaps more importantly the families of the couple)? A wedding should be about Jewish continuity.

When two people get married, more is taking place than just the first part of sharing a life together; marriage is a spiritual transformation. The souls of two people who marry become blended together as one. (more)

And more should be taking place than just one big party.

Perhaps we need a sequel to Keeping up with Steins…Keeping up with the Steins and the Cohens?

Posted on June 26, 2007

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

10 thoughts on “Here comes the bride. And the caterer. And the florist. And the band.

  1. BSL1

    It really is silly how out of control weddings can get. It seems to me (also a newlywed) that the real reason more men have no interest in getting married is not the wedding at all, but the arduous year leading up to the “celebration.” In my mind, this more than anything, contemporary Jewish women are the real reason why Jewish men are not getting married as early as they used to.

  2. Senior Editor Post author

    So as a newlywed, you are saying that you didn’t enjoy the time leading up to your wedding because your now wife was out of control with the wedding?

    I think you mistook my original comments. I was just saying that perhaps more modest weddings will help Jews get back to the point of being married–to make a commitment to a happy, Jewish life together.

  3. BSL1

    I whole-heartedly agree, madam editor. Nuptials are supposed to be an exciting commitment of love and affection. Perhaps less is more.

  4. hms1981

    whenever i do end up getting married, i don’t want to make a huge ordeal out of it. i just want something simple and not too expensive.

  5. Ezekah

    [hms1981]whenever i do end up getting married, i don’t want to make a huge ordeal out of it. i just want something simple and not too expensive.

    LOL. In my experience, that is what most brides and grooms say. However, once the parents get involved…it’s a whole new ball game.

  6. hms1981

    that is certainly true. my boyfriend’s brother is getting married next month and it seems like the bride’s parents have completely taken over the wedding planning. the bride and her family are practicing Catholics, while the groom and his family have no religious background and prefer to keep it that way. i think that the bride’s parents are still upset that she’s marrying a non-Catholic (and based on the fact that the groom- and his siblings- were not baptized, a non-Christian in their eyes), so their way of dealing with it is by monopolizing the wedding plans. the groom’s parents have zero involvement in the wedding planning. they love their son’s fiancee but i think they were hoping for a less extravagant wedding. speaking of which, what are Jews not supposed to do during church services? i don’t want to make it plainly obvious that i’m of a different faith. i’m sure the bride’s parents probably know already, but still. i don’t want to cause any problems.

  7. Ezekah

    [hms1981]speaking of which, what are Jews not supposed to do during church services? i don’t want to make it plainly obvious that i’m of a different faith. i’m sure the bride’s parents probably know already, but still. i don’t want to cause any problems.

    The answer to this depends on your denomination and your personal beliefs. Several Orthodox that I know won’t set foot in a church for any reason. They told me that they waited outside the church, but joined in the festivities outside of it.

    When it happened to me, I went inside the church. But I didn’t participate in the services in any way, like bowing my head or kneeling. I just sat there and witnessed my friends’ marriage.

    I’d say that it is the marriage couple’s day, the focus shouldn’t be on your preferences or beliefs. However you handle it, keep it low key.

  8. The Doctor

    I agree with Ezekiah. The question is respect for the bride and groom.

    When I vist an Orthodox shul, I respect the mechitzah and the local customs because that is their way. If an Orthodox person visits my shul, I would expect them to sit in whatever way they like but to not hassle other people about with whom they sit or whether they use a microphone on Shabbat.

    Likewise, if I am invited to a christian wedding, I will happy attend to show my friendship with the couple; I won’t take communion or say the prayers, but I won’t embarrass my hosts by pointing out my disagreements.

    Respect for others is a prime Jewish virtue; being present at a non-Jewish religious ceremony is not the same as participating in a non-Jewish religius ceremony…

  9. hms1981

    well, i’m not Orthodox so that isn’t an issue. i grew up Conservative, but don’t really consider myself any denomination these days. i can attend any Jewish service regardless of its denomination. i’m not bothered if i have to sit separately from men or if part of a service is in English. some people might get annoyed with some of these things, but not me. i’m flexible.

    i went to a friend’s wedding last summer. he is Agnostic, his wife is Catholic but not religious. i sat next to a staunch Atheist during the ceremony. we just sat and watched, didn’t partake in any of the kneeling or bowing. so i think that’s my best bet. if anyone asks, i’m not going to make a big deal about it.

  10. Ezekah

    When I debated this topic with my Orthodox friends, they said that if a Jew goes into a church for any reason, then people would get the wrong idea and think that you are respecting their idol.

    I disagreed. In the example of attending a friends’ wedding, you are obviously there witnessing their marriage, but not joining their religion.

    I gave a further example of a Jew works for a pest control company who has a contract with a church. A Jew, wearing the company uniform and carrying the jug of chemical is obviously going in to spray. Not to pray.

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