The Wedding

While holding up a table that my chosson friend was standing up waving to his kallah I couldn’t help but compare this wedding in Chicago to the one in Boro Park I went to last week. The Boro Park wedding was nice, basically extravagant by any standards. The hall was massive, the flowers were opulent and the schmorg kept going all through the wedding, serving everything you could possible want. Both the chosson and kallah at the Boro park wedding were apparently big machers in the community and the expected host of rabbinic royalty attended, dragging out the chuppah while the travelling trumpet band waited at the back to play the Siman Tov tune milliseconds after the breaking of the glass.

This Chicago wedding was far simpler. They rented a hall at the Midwest Conference Center (and apparently, retirement village) which was hosting at least two other weddings that day. His family was from Miami and there was almost no Miami turnout apart from relatives. Her family was from Chicago but had only moved there in the past three years so they weren’t too established. The overall turnout was nice but not packed, from our high school class there were only three of us. There was no schmorg and the meal was a simple salad, tomato soup, chicken and potatoes affair. But the atmosphere and dancing was unlike anything else I’ve ever been to. There were no extraneous guests, everyone there had a personal connection with the chosson and kallah and everyone therefore shared in the joy. I’ve never had such dancing in my life, and I’ve been to a lot of weddings.

There was a mechitza of course, but since everyone was close there was no need for an iron wall. We carried the chosson over to the other side where everyone stood together and watched the schtick. No one tried to outdo anyone and everyone tried to participate in something, even my friend with no dancing or juggling abilities did his but by putting on his suit backwards and trying to dance. Normally he would have been too embarrassed to do something so silly, but this wedding was a small family and close friends affair, there was no holding back for fear of looking silly. It may have been the only wedding I’ve ever been to that everyone was truly there to be mesameach the chosson and kallah.

For maybe the first time ever I’m actually at a loss of how to put my feelings about it into words. I just don’t think I can ever convey the experience of that wedding. I do know how jealous I am though. The chosson, who none of us ever knew could sing because he had always been too shy to try, had worked with the band keyboarding before and sang his own rendition of Ashes Chayil to his kallah and then utterly surprised us with a re-written version of James Blunt’s “You’re Beautiful”. (I know, I know.) Where normally such a thing would have been cheesy, here it transcended that because it was so genuine.

Tizku LaMitzvos.

14 Responses to “The Wedding”

  1. You basically just confirmed everything I said in my post “Wimpy Wedding Woes”. I agree with you completely; keep it small and simple for a real meaningful wedding.

  2. Come check out one of our weddings. There’s 200+ people but everyone’s Russian BT and everyone knows each other.

  3. Mrs. Lakewood falling down Says:

    I am glad you enjoyed that wedding. I too recently went to a smaller wedding and it was the BEST! It was such an amazing atmosphere having only the nearest and dearest there. However, my wedding (11 years and enjoying) was a little bigger (0ver 200) and also had such an atmosphere. The friends are what really count!!! I must admit it may seem that I would of course say my own wedding was awesome but a cousin had married off his son two weeks earlier out of town and after my wedding he told us that our wedding was more laybedik. Size does matter but the right friends matter more.

  4. Seems like your only solution is to date a small town girl 🙂 Start checking out those personals in the little town newspapers.

    I’ll also add my own autobiographical tale. Two of my siblings recently got married in the past year. For one sibling, the wedding was really big, and I spent most of the wedding hanging around, talking to my husband, because the dancing was too crowded.

    For the second sibling, the wedding was small. And by small I mean that it was only immediate family, friends, and still lots of room to spare. It was the bomb! In the beginning, I didn’t stop dancing, because I didn’t want the circle to look empty. After a while, we all had such a good time, we didn’t want to stop dancing.

    My suggestion: send out two invitations. Have a “typo” on one, with the wrong date 🙂

  5. Wow, that sounds really nice that he sang to her.

    I was by a wedding last night, where they have a mitzvah tans, then after the brother in law finished dancing with the kallah he told her “Thank You for the dance” I thought that was so sweet, I don’t think I ever heard that before by a frum wedding.

  6. I think your words were perfect.

  7. I was at a wedding tonight, large chassidshe crowd. Mildy, it wasn’t a lot of fun…got a small one coming up in 2 weeks, so there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

    EndofWorld: Send your typos my way, I have a lot of experience with printing invitations, check out my post “Invite me in another language, maybe I’ll come” for some…interesting questions in the industry.

  8. Just a thought… But perhaps it had nothing to do with the size of the wedding per se, but a feeling of belonging and of contributing to the atmosphere, a feeling that you experienced as a guest and a participant. The chosson and kallah, however, may have had an entirely different perspective…

    In any case, you’re right in the sense that the main thing is to have a meaningful affair. unfortunately, for some folks meaningful equals big and shticky.

  9. gotta love the concord!

  10. i was always torn between the niceness and warmth of a small wedding and the joy of being able to have everyone you know around you.

    but i have to say, it all depends on your relationship with the one getting married. at the last wedding i went to, there were tons and tons of people there. but the kallah was a good friend of mine, so i didn’t feel like it was too big.

    then again, i have gone to large weddings and felt like it didn’t really make a difference that i was there…

  11. i love out of town weddings! most of them are exactly how u described 🙂

  12. I’m so glad that you had such nice things to say about a small-sized frum wedding. My husband and I were married last year with only about 60 people present. You got the same feeling of belonging and complete happiness and chesed that you described in your post. We wanted to make sure that all of our guests had a uniquely personal experience at our wedding, and from what I’ve heard since then, we succeeded! It just shows quality over quantity is was counts.

  13. iPaytoomuchformyhair Says:

    yay for chicago! I’m glad u enjoyed the wedding, it’s a little tough to differentiate all of these simchas when that’s the only place that everyone gets married. My hope is that when my time comes I’ll be able to find somewhere different in Chicago, but the truth is it makes no difference in the end.

  14. aw; you’re a big softy. that’s cool. sounds awesome.

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