If You Can’t, Don’t
In Shul after mincha I saw a flyer that read like a modern piyut from Tishe B’av. A man telling how his life has been a living hell and now it’s his daughters wedding and it’s all he’s ever dreamed about, but he can’t afford it. He’ll be available for donations at the house of a prominant member of the community. In a local flyer I saw another solicitation for four separate couples, all of whom can’t afford the cost of their weddings.
And while I have all the sympathy in the world, I can’t understand what the cost of a wedding is. I understand the cost of making a wedding. I’ve been to enough lavish weddings, and worked at even more to know the costs can run into the hundreds of thousands. But if you can’t afford it, don’t. There’s no halacha to have a wedding dress, flowers, a hall, a full three course meal, a band, etc. All of these are things that make a wedding special and joyous, but if you can’t afford them why are you trying to? In the halachic sense, you just need something worth a perutah and a bride and groom. The chosson gives her the object and says “harey as mekudeshes li” and biblically, you’re married! Add to that a kesubah and two kosher eidim and there’s no disputing that fact.
I understand the emotions and the want to have a wedding the couple will remember. But even if you are soliciting money for a wedding, don’t make the wedding. If they’re so poor, give them the money to put a down payment on an apartment or other basic marital necessities. Blowing it on a one day party that will live only in photographs and cheesily recorded video is ludicrous.
There’s more wedding insanity that I’ve heard about recently, including the idea of renting a van to bring bochrim that I’d like to talk about, but that’s enough for discussion for now.
But then, maybe I’m just too emotionally detached from this? The glare of cold hard logic ruins my understanding of simchas and the finances involved?