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?

11 Responses to “If You Can’t, Don’t”

  1. The Kosher Cupcake Says:

    This is why my parents offered to give me $6,000 if I do not have a “wedding” when I finally get married. They don’t want the expense or the stress involved with planning such an event. Luckily, I don’t want the expense or stress either. I prefer the simplistic, required aspects to be married.

    I think cold hard cash instead of a party is much more worthwhile and will hold more memories & value through the years especially if it is put towards a home or content for the home.

  2. The most you really need is a bunch of friends, and maybe a thousand dollars, and you have a great wedding. You dont need all that food. They should have a show. on how to cut spending and still make things great, for a frum wedding.

  3. It’s not the cost of the wedding!! It’s the apartment that the parents have to chip in to buy. (At least, if they are from Israel.) You didn’t know that??

  4. starr: Not being a parent from Israel, no. I am aware of the apartment thing and I have my own opinions on that. From what I understood they were soliciting money for the wedding.

  5. It seems that even if you want to push for a “real ” weddind you can still do it very reasonably. the problem is worrying what the “the joneses” will say when you only have one hot dish at the shmorg, or maybe none at all.( OMG ) Trust me, no one remembers what happenned at your wedding two weeks later, let alone years down the road.

  6. My dream has always been to have a very small simple wedding in a tent in my backyard with a total of 50 people attending. Whenever I tell people this they laugh and say it’ll never happen. I’m adamant it’s going to happen even if I have to pay for it myself. Hopefully I’ll find a guy who’s willing to go along with my plan.

  7. Well, I do know of weddings that have taken place in a restaurant in Baltimore, a place that has a sort of party room set aside for special reservations. l
    Frumpunk: My next door neighbor (whose daughter was recently married) was telling us that a meshulach (yes, from Israel) who came to his house a couple of weeks ago to collect for a wedding of a child asked him how much a wedding in America costs. After my neighbor told him, he responded: “Is that with or without the apartment?”; he was in utter disbelief when my neighbor said there was no apartment included in the total–“You mean you spend that much money for just one night and have nothing to show for it??”

  8. The apartment thing in Israel is a much more “Chareidi” minhag.

    In the national religious/chareidi nationalistis (or even modern orthodox) segment, the apartment minhag isn’t that common.

    We had a fun, but inexpensive wedding, and built our home with zero financial aid from our parents…

  9. Starr: My point exactly…..

  10. I really don’t know what to say to this…I’ve had this discussion before on one of FrumSkeptic’s posts. Dunno if I made any sense there, so I won’t try to start again.

    But to me, when I hear of people making decisions based on money it seems cruel, cold and calculating.

    You may be right, that it would be best for them to just have the basics to get married and not need a whole big wedding. But I don’t think everyone can be up to that level to forgot so much. Most girls dream of their wedding day from when they are a little kid. They don’t even think of the fact that they will be marrying a man, for them the wedding is just that they get to wear a white gown, have flowers, and pretty hair and make up with tons of people. Then when they get older, many girls still hold onto this vision, so it’s hard for them to let go, unless they are really practical and able to settle for less.

    Having said that, one of my professors told us that he offers his children a choice of a fancy wedding and 1 months rent on an apartment, or a not so fancy wedding and a house. Of course they all chose the house. But there at least he was offering them a wedding.

    I don’t think it’s fair to deny people a wedding. I understand that a small wedding could be fine to, but at least it’s some sort of wedding and not just the basics of 2 whitnesses and a Rabbi.

  11. Wedding planners can help make a special day and keep it at a reasonable price.
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    This is a memory that will always be there for you. your wedding planner can give you ideas on how to put it together. at a reasonable price and will give you memories for your life time and to share with your children.
    This is a day that you want to remember for your sake your parents and for your future children. planner can get you discounts and keep you on a tight budget so it does not get out of hand.
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