To My Dear Sons:

Basking in the glow of our most recent simcha seems like a great opportunity to remind you of some of our family rules about making a wedding — and to add some of my hard-earned new knowledge.

Old news first.  As I’ve told you since birth, a wedding is really a party for only two people: the bride, and her mother.  You are the third most important person there.  Your job is to show up when they tell you, stand where they tell you, try not to embarrass anyone — and have zero opinions.  (The rest of us should follow suit.  It stuns me that people create terrible family fights over a one-night party.  Really, people.  There’s so much to fight over.  Let’s not waste it on the first night.)

Most little girls begin planning their weddings shortly before they are born.  Through their childhoods, the planning becomes more elaborate.  By their early teens, everything is pretty much decided, except (perhaps) who will stand next to them under the chuppah.

My most recent daughter-in-law gently chided me for this opinion.  ”C’mon, the wedding is for Dovid too, isn’t it?”

“Sweetheart, nearly every guy I’ve ever known wants to get married on the beach in sandals and cutoff shorts, roasting a large animal, swilling beer among friends, some of whom are playing guitars and singing.”

After accepting the truth of this statement, my dear young woman went back to deciding precisely how many acres of crinoline and lace would be required to make The Dress Of The Century.  (It was, by the way.)

A few new facts about making a wedding in Israel:

  • A daytime wedding has only one disadvantage (not everyone can get off work), and oodles of advantages (people get to eat and return home by a decent hour; you actually know what time the wedding will start, because it halachically has to be completed before sunset; you get to see the romantic sunset as a newly-married person).
  • Use something like Evite for the RSVP drop point, rather than your own email, the kallah’s email, Facebook, or your memory (which is totally overloaded during this time).  An advantage beyond the general organization is that people can network there to make their own connections for rides.
  • Speaking of rides… if you decide to organize a bus or buses to get people to the wedding hall and back, don’t do it yourself.  In fact, don’t let anyone in the immediate family do it — or they won’t fully enjoy the simcha until the last guest is safely on the bus going home.  Rather, invite some industrious young person to take charge.  (You know, that best girlfriend of your brother’s wife who is going to be the executive secretary for a very prestigious advertising mogul.)  She should contact people who might want a seat on a bus, arrange to collect money, explain to the guests where and when they will meet the bus, make sure it’s labeled and that someone on board has a cell phone number and list, to coordinate onsite.
  • Invite children.  Inviting them allows parents to attend who otherwise might not find a sitter.  Children add exponentially to the joy of the event (and don’t have the desire to sit long enough to take up seats, nor to eat enough to worry the caterer).  And you may be doing a little unintentional kiruv: making children feel included in the parties of Jewish life can enhance their love for all things Jewish.
  • Make sure that someone feeds the photographers and the band or DJ.

Then, enjoy the event as much as possible.  Abba has a wonderful expression:  ”A wedding is a party to which you invite a few hundred of your friends, and then ignore them for five hours.”  You will be too busy to give anyone the attention he or she deserves.  But don’t worry about it too much.  Everyone understands.  Just look around at all of those smiles.

And bask in the warmth of the most beautiful smile in the room: that lovely young lady in crinoline and lace standing next to you.  If you allowed her, as much as possible, the wedding of her dreams, you have started the process of making her the happiest girl in the world.

All photography by the wonderful and user-friendly Yehuda Boltshauser & Co.

 

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