Are Simpler Weddings Something That Should Stay After The COVID-19 Pandemic Ends?

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Under the chuppah...in the COVID-19 era
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Last week I celebrated the wedding of my younger brother Akiva. It was a simple but beautiful affair, with just immediate family and a couple of close friends attending.

Yosef Greenberger, who did everything from the one man band to the zoom broadcast, shared with me that he’s done several of these weddings. And while it’s odd to see such small weddings, he also noted how exceedingly joyful they are. Everyone attending is someone who truly loves the couple and wants to be there. The joy is truly palpable.

At the end of the wedding that was a common sentiment from all of the attendees. Despite everyone’s reservations, it felt far more meaningful than the massive weddings I was used to attending. The speeches were heartfelt and emotional and the energy in the room was incredible.

This text message from the bride’s sister to a relative watching on Zoom says it all,

“There are beautiful silver linings that have come out of covid, notwithstanding the pain that many of us did suffer, but having a small intimate wedding with no worries of color schemes, what food, what clothes, … left the couple with purely happy to see each other and be together again, and everything else was enjoyed for what it was.
The food was great
The flowers were beautiful
Clothes ended up coordinating somehow
Kalla ended up making her own hair in the bathroom and loving it (otherwise considered a nightmare !)
Kalla had an out of town wedding in a new place, but as long as Akiva was there all is good. The hardest was not having family present , as it should be but they all got dressed and set their tables and ate with us and prepared birkas kohanim and musical presentations.
The ‘stripped down’ wedding laid bare to the most special intimate joyous wedding illuminating the essence, the bride and groom and they’re coming together in commitment to each other.

Weddings should probably carry on in this intimate manner post covid
A family part alone first and then friends and guest for dance and dessert portion
Forget the fuss and stress !
-My 2 cents”

So, have we been doing weddings wrong this whole time?

I’m not advocating for immediate family only weddings, but things seem to have gotten out of hand. Reading through this thread of families going into debt to spend insane sums of money on one night is eye-opening. Even if the payments aren’t coming from debt, wouldn’t that money be better saved for a rainy day fund or better spent on a down payment for a house?

After the wedding, someone showed me this letter from the Lubavitcher Rebbe, circa 1960. In it, the Rebbe writes that he’s not pleased with the waste of money on large weddings in fancy halls, which don’t have a spiritual or even a physical benefit. The joy found in more intimate weddings is tangibly greater than that of larger weddings in official halls.  Of course that depends on both families and the bride being in full agreement about having a simpler wedding.

 

Will COVID-19 bring that change?

It won’t be without controversy. There are many people that make their living off over the top weddings, and I do feel bad for them. But hearing from families going into debt for a party that lasts for a few hours just seems wasteful and influenced by peer pressure.

Like I say with credit cards, the system is subsidized by people falling into a trap of debt buying things they can’t afford and then paying interest. If you’re susceptible to that behavior, then don’t start in the first place.

The wedding industry seems to have similar problems. Many people are spending more than they can afford and going into debt for something they may not even want. Are weddings really worth that kind of pain, or again, is it just peer pressure and worrying about what the mechutanim will think?

Over 1,300 people signed the Simcha Initiative to have smaller and simpler weddings. The Jewish Press had a great interview with Rav Reisman about his goals with that initiative.

But will it work? Can we end the madness of families going into massive debt to pay for a wedding? What steps can people take to make things simpler and smaller? Or is a return to expensive and massive weddings inevitable?

Would you consider having a simpler and smaller wedding in the future?

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Will you try to limit wedding size and wedding related expenditures going forward?

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194 Comments On "Are Simpler Weddings Something That Should Stay After The COVID-19 Pandemic Ends?"

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Been There

Thirty years ago my wife had just 45 guests at our wedding. It was very meaningful and enjoyable because we knew everyone there well: our family and close friends. The rabbi that I grew up with flew up with his wife from Miami Beach to marry us. It took place in my mother-in-law’s apartment in Trenton, NJ. We had a violinist and cellist, the most beautiful cake, flowers, a chuppa. It was extremely meaningful and memorable to this day because we were surrounded only by people very close to us. By contrast a few years ago we went to a massive, lavish wedding at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. Well, that was fun and memorable, too.

Dave

Trenton, NJ? I’d like to hear more about that. There was actually a safe and comfortable Jewish community in Trenton?

Excellent Topic

Enough with keeping up with the Goldberg’s! My wedding cost approximately $10,000. By not spending more, we were able to purchase a house right after sheva brochos. We have pictures. We have memories. We don’t have any wedding debt.

Chaim

good for you!

vus vais Ich

I have long said that if you don’t have a photographer, many of the large expenses will go away on their own.
you don’t need professional hair and makeup for the sisters of the Kallah, because no one is going to be looking at the pictures and saying how it wasn’t done right.
you don’t need gowns, because there aren’t going to be pictures.
you don’t need fancy flowers, who is going to remember without pictures
and so on and so forth

Meher

I’ve been saying that for many years. Everyone has to keep up with the Joneses.

Y

I think you mean the Cohens.

Moe

Absolutely. I think it should be expected and the default that weddings are much smaller and less fanciful than we’ve become accustomed to over the last 40-50 years.

Next Simcha!

I was just looking forward to meeting you in person (and not in a “DansDeals conference room” in LA). The Perets family is amazing. Like family to my wife. And thus to me. Your brother is one lucky young man.

YM

Great article!
One thing to consider; when two large families marry into each other you could have 40+ people that are just family. Add a few of each set of parents’ friends and a few friends of the chosson, a few friends of the kallah, you can already have close to 100 people right off the bat.

Ben

The friends can watch it on zoom. That is who it really is for

Nechama

OR if one side has a large family and thr other side has a small family – the smaller side can feel like strangers at their own simcha

Matt

Would you rather a down payment on a house or to spend over $20,000 on a party? For most people the choice should be easy.

Nechama

True, if presented as a choice…

Marty

Yes, a thousand times!! Also for bar/ bas mitzvah’s. Anyone else feel this way?

Chaim

Yep! Some bar mitzvahs are fancyer then weddings nowadays!!

Donny

We recently attended a backyard wedding, our presence was only electronic. We watched start to finish and we were more connected than any wedding we ever attended. At the end the photographer asked the couple to wave good bye to all those online, there were 200 online at that point. She waved and we practically felt the breeze!
Mazel Tov Josh and Rachel!

Ed Travel

Maybe actually good. I just read this study today. The more you spend for your wedding the faster you will divorce: https://twitter.com/EddieRDMD/status/1269809657687576576

Mike

Yes

People can decide for themselves

This debate has been raging in Mishpacha magazine for weeks. But Why such a strong focus on monitoring weddings? What about the cars people drive ? Houses they live in? Where are the discussions about this ?And Why are we looking at the way other people do things ? Focus on yourself! It’s up to people to decide how they want to spend their money. An initiative is intrusive and not necessary.

#WeddingsNeedAChange!

Wow, You definitely don’t have an open ear, nor trying to hear the point being brought out here.
Yes you can argue with cars, but common a car is something i use each and every day of my life, and yes a home can be the same debate, but then again you have it for a life time and can always sell the home and have the value traded.
But a wedding in 5hrs the 4 thousand $ worth of flowers are in the trash? come on is that normal? spending 10k on a singer, aside for the band?

Abraham

Then they come ask me Tzedakah cause he chose how to spend his money….

Chaim

Your right. I say the same to the ppl collecting for the kids of someone that died HE SHOULD HAVE BOUGHT LIFE INSURANCE

CJ

Not always possible.

Chaim

Why not?

Just for dancing isn’t polite

I do not like being invited just for the chuppah or just for dancing. What are people supposed to do during the dinner that they’re Not invited to? Stand in the corner ? I find that rude, and i rather Not be invited at all.

DansDeals Lover

Just attend at the dancing time.

Moe

It’s the Chuppa OR the dancing.

NOT the Chuppa AND the dancing.

My 2 cents

Besides the financial stress, marrying off a child is probably one of the most stressful 3-4 month periods of anyone’s life. Ask anyone whose done it. It’s nonstop arranging, choosing, negotiating, researching, managing, ordering, fitting, more arranging, worrying, calling, texting, booking, fighting, discussing…you get the point. A lot of this can be avoided with a smaller wedding, which will lead to actually enjoying what should be the happiest day of your life.

Baruch

+1

Joseph

Weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, Eretz Yisroel Seminaries are huge non nassesatie expenses that put people in to debt

ted onig

I agree with the seminary debate. I sent 5 kids to Israel, by the time u r finished, with kids, visiting them, etc, etc its 50k a kid

Kaps

50k a kid??

vus vais Ich

I don’t know about 50, but think about it 25k tuition, $1800 for flights, clothing and other stuff for seminary(I have no idea what people buy/spend, but I would imagine that people spend more than 5k), and then the parents feel the need to visit and that could be 5k for airfare and lodging.
so I am not sure where the 50k number comes from, but what I came up with here, is almost 40k. if you fly first class, you are at 50k

#WeddingsNeedAChange!

Firstly, mazel tov dan on the new SIL. and on your bro.

Very debatable topic, do you really need a hair and makeup person for 2k? or is a 500$ job also good? is a 10-piece band a must or a one- or 3-piece band simply fine?
Yes, it is so sad that the chasson and kallah must be in the middle and feel if I do not do this and this friends and family will think of me like this.

There has to be a change in the general world, again if someone who has a boatload of cash and has the extra cash there might be what to talk about, but an average family who lives off each day’s paycheck or even has a bit to spare shouldn’t have to be worried how am I going to marry off my kids?

For a kallah to have to be a wrack not knowing what type of flowers and then knowing that my flowers are only 3k instead of 5k flowers for 4 hours is insane!

More important is for the couple to be a happy one and like mentioned use that money for a good cause like putting it aside for rent or even a down payment for the house.

To make a wedding for 50-150k? That is just insane, totally insane, not normal.

But whatever it is, we should all be zocheh to be able make many simchos and do what we can do vs being influenced on what the outside world does, and feel the need to copy and if not do better and more!
Can you imagine someone won’t want to go in the market and get married because he’s concerned that his parents are not going to be able to afford the wedding so he won’t want to go out in the market.
That is just totally insane, when is this going to change? And yes even those who have money will have to join this movement to show we are all one big family and we can’t be different, use that money you were going to spend and give it to a worthwhile cause, but if you’re going to say but I give x amount of tzedakah, I’ll tell you give more, there’s no need to throw out 250k in 5 hrs. Camm-on use your head, can you imagine how many people’s lives you can change with such money?

we cannot be selfish and be here for ourselves we are one big family and we need to feel each other’s pain.

and beH with the beautiful movement we will be one step closer to the final Geulah and be zocheh to all be together and then finally all rejoice together by each other’s wedding’s.

Zack

The only way it won’t go back to the way it was is if the new type of wedding continues to be the norm by most people, once a few people go back, everyone will follow.

Rivky

My uncle’s grandparents had a wedding in a restaurant and they had the cheder yichud was the janitor closet…They are the grandparents of a famous lubavich family….

Helen

1300 ppl signing the Initiative is a drop in the bucket! Their ad has been in front of tens of thousands of people all across the world in every popular Jewish publication for weeks and they only got 1300 ppl to actually sign up??? It’s an embarrassment to our community! Everyone else is paying lip service by saying they agree with it but then don’t bother taking the initiative (pun intended).

#WeddingsNeedAChange!

Lets double that, assuming the other side didn’t take upon themselves the initiative. 🙂

Malki

Wasted ad dollars. Should advertise where it counts: on dansdeals and Twitter.

H.W.

I am 21 years old and I hope my wedding is in a backyard just like my friends. It was so beautiful!

B

That is very noble of you to not want to be the source of your parents going into major debt. May you find your beshert at an auspicious hour and score the finest on the market.

Raphi in Montreal

My kids’ weddings iyh BH will be in the backyard, with a dinner for about 100 people, consisting of immediate family and friends of both sides. Then there will be dancing with refreshments served which all will be invited to.

Mk

Great write up!
For sure worth the discussion, let’s hope that something comes out of it!!

DansDeals Lover

Dan, thanks for voicing this out, as more we discuss about it, the more it will go into people’s brain.
(this is the most valuable “deal”…:))

Buruch

What may help is if people have small weddings and publicize it a lot. Facebook, Instagram, magazines, news sites etc., and post about how happy they were with the decision. People just don’t want to feel like they’re the only ones doing it.

Jay

Yep, unfortunately nowadays you need to make something in style to gain traction, so make sure you have a good videographer for the Zoom, document it well, share on social media, and hope a few wealthy people do it, which makes it desirable by all! Sad that you have to do it that way, but that’s what works.

Yf

Really hope there is a practical answer for this. But, it seems the wedding halls hold all the cards. 2 families decide to make a wedding. Where should they go? Where is there room for 100 people to eat a seudah and then have 100s more come and dance and wish Mazel tov? The halls all have a minimum amount of guests.

happy shvigger

I so agree! we would love to make a smaller chasuna for our daughter, but the halls all have a huge minimum number of portions. One idea we came up with is to ask them to set aside some of the food, and use it for the first couple of sheva brachos.

Jay

Take a close look at what people are doing now. Somehow they find large backyards. There could even be a market for backyard rentals. Party rentals can supply tents, tables, chairs, and even climate control in less than ideal weather…like Dan said, nobody has all the answers but if there’s a will to save tens of thousands of dollars, somehow you will see it’s not any more difficult to arrange than a “typical” wedding.

More bang for your buck

Well written. Personally, if I was in the sugya Of making a wedding after corona הבעל׳ט I would make the dinner right after the chuppah just for family and then invite the whole town for dancing and simchas chosson v’kallah with some refreshments on the side (soda, cookies, kugel etc etc)

X

My niece in ירושלים did that. Nicest and most meaningful חתונה I have ever attended! And for Kills cpuples, so much more practical.

Shelly

Mainly where the expenses start raising is with all the guest invited for the meal. There should be be only close family for the meal, about 50-60 couples max, and then the rest of family and friends should come join for simchas chosson v’kallah.

smaller weddings

The smaller weddings weren’t necessarily cheaper, from what I’ve heard. The word on the street is that those Corona weddings in rural Pennsylvania for 50 people cost as much as a takana wedding in Lakewood.

joel

unfortunately it seems the wedding scene is rebounding with a L curve and will be back to normal before any major changes go into effect. in my area we already have 200 plus people by weddings…

zevi

I think that weddings will be smaller and more manageable for some time.
But it begs the question that to what extent? Will it be the same backyard wedding with 50+ people? How will it go over with all the close (and not so close) friends that weren’t invited? Some people know a lot of people and obviously the balei simcha won’t want to hurt feelings or look bad.
It begs the question: will corona virus have been the gamechanger making permanent change in the way we make weddings or is it just a temporary reset button and eventually everything will go back to the way that they were before.

shikur

One point if I may. I would guess that part of the reason everyone is loving these zoom simchos is the novelty of it. It’s doing something new and different. Once it (hopefully) becomes the norm, I would imagine that people would sign on (of course the baal simcha will be checking who “came”) and then totally ignore the wedding and not participate at all (perhaps do homework, housework, or even multitask and attend a Bar Mitzva at the same time…)
Though I do see the benefit of not needing a designated driver to attend a wedding.

Moshe

This topic had been brought up again and again, yet nothing changed.
Now it seems that all the magazines are featuring that topic, and many more people are voicing their opinions against this wasteful wedding craziness.
What we need is to reach a tipping point in which it becomes distasteful to overspend, and people can be proud of making a wedding on a reasonable budget.
I hope the phenomenon of Covid weddings will bring us closer to that point, but I tend to be cynical when it comes to “oilam is a goilam” topics….

Chanan

One of the nicest Simchas (for men are least) is a Sholom Zochor. Most people aren’t hungry after the Shabbos meal, the ones who are have something to snack on, so they’re no reason to spend much.
It’s just to participate in one another’s Simcha even if it’s only for a few minutes.

Weddings and Bar Mitzvahs can be the same, a Seuda for only the parents, siblings and grandparents, and everyone else invited to wish Mazel Tov.

I find it much more important that the Baal Simcha personally greet and thank his /her guest for coming than providing a meal.

Texas Totty

And believe it or not, lately, I’ve seen shalom zachors with lots of expensive booze, many types of the priciest beer, hot food including kugels, cholent with lots of meat, schnitzel and more. Herring (which should be a cheap food but is a fortune), miniatures which cost $4 apiece, and more and more. What happened to arbis and Coors light and some bakery cake platters?
It’s not everyone, but it’s spreading (before COVID).

1991

Thanks for a great and beautiful article! And extremely important.
Perhaps, if this idea would be strongly promoted on the major frum websites/ magazines, (specially coming from influential and important figures if possible),
Rabbanim of each community would write letters to encourage their communities to go smaller, this could become accepted we can hopefully see a real and positive change.

mileagejunkie

Each of my siblings had a different type of wedding, from one man band to 750 guests. They all could have gotten married in the same hall with the same singer, but they had different plans/priorities. Yet, I don’t recall hearing anyone saying that one sibling had a better wedding than the other. I guess I’m too young, but I don’t seem to understand how one family could feel pressured. Two people are getting married, all their cards should be on the table at this point, but their families are still trying to impress each other!?

chail

just curious how you attended if you said you have not flown for a long time. Did you drive down to where the wedding was just to avoid flying

AY

For years people have been borrowing money that they cannot afford in order to pay for the standard weddings in our community this includes all the trimmings and side expenses gifts, furniture etc )that the next generation expect as standard. unfortunately a large percentage of people never crawl out of the debt that they incur. However, since there are two sides and two kids involved In the past it has been very difficult to cut down these expenses. We have been given a golden opportunity (due to the fact that there have been many stripped down weddings these last few months)to rectify and lessen this tremendous burden and it would be tragic if we did not take advantage of.

Sg

Let’s take the weddings back to the “Kretchma” like in the alter heim. Anyone fancy an exotic drink, you’re welcome to order one on your own dime.

H.W.

I don’t understand the people who say “If you have the money then its ok to splurge on the wedding”. That’s exactly where the problem begins. Yes, he can do whatever he wants, but the not so millionaire friend of the millionaire will try to compete with the millionaire even though he can’t really afford it. So I believe if we want change, even those that can afford it should be thevrole models to those who can’t. This will surely show a positive impression from the other side of view of people who may have a lot of money, but not enough to compete with their millionaire friend

Moshe

If a rich man wants to make a rich wedding, that’s no one’s business, just as it’s no one’s business what car he drives or what house he lives in. Why should weddings be any different?
If you can’t afford to buy a car or a house like a rich man, why are you trying to make a wedding like him?
The problem is that our weddings have become fake affairs where the simcha of the chosson and kallah are secondary to the gowns, the makeup, the flowers or the band. The newlyweds are a side attraction to the party.
This fakery is what is noticably absent at a backyard wedding, and the difference is stark.

Texas Totty

Dan, very often when you post polls, it tells me that I already participated in the poll so I can’t vote, but when I refresh it sometimes lets me vote.

my 2 cents

Random Points:
1. @Dan is 1000% correct that if people want to waste money, they will.
I’ve personally seen 10k chassan watches, and aufrufs that cost almost the same. $15,000 shadchanus falls into the same category.
2. @shmaya you’re right, the chassan and kallah usually don’t get a say in regard to venue or size.
3. A lakewood takana wedding split between 2 sides is only a portion of the total cost of marrying off a child. Shabbos sheva brachos with a large immediate family will often be a bigger expense. If we are serious about cutting costs, cutting the amount of guests receiving a full meal is a great place to start, but we need to look at other areas as well, like all the mandated gifts.

Enough with all the sanctimony

Great. A person has kn”h a large family. Which relative do you say, you’re not invited? He responds, interesting, Chavi & me are not invited but Shoshana and Moshe are?!
To cut down on family is not so simple as you make it out to be. Cut down on extravagance yes, cut down on mishpacha, absolutely not. B”H there are plenty of takana halls. They are very successful for middle/lower income families. We did it once and be”h we plan to do it with all our children be”h. This idea of making a chassuna, lichatchila, in some backyard or driveway with 20 people total, is absurd and ridiculous. Now during Coronavirus, I understand and there isn’t much of a choice. One has to accept the Aibishte’s hashgacha and make do with the situation. It should be done with simcha. But once things return to normal, 20 people by a chassuna is a chutzpah and disrespect to the chosson and kalla. There is nothing wrong with making a normal nice takana wedding. You spend 20 30k on a vehicle. You spend god knows what on a home. You spend +++ on yearly vacations. You pay a ton on tuition. Etc etc. A takana wedding is another expense in life. Stop blowing it way out of proportion.

Malki

Back in the day the entire town attended a wedding because the entire town helped prepare dinner.

Lkwd girl

+1

Lazer

We have signed up and are excited by the genuine beauty of the smaller weddings. Thank you for giving it a larger forum Dan!

Eli

I attended a back yard wedding in Brooklyn (the Chossson was allowed 4 friends) there was something special about it, but there were many awkward And uncomfortable moments.

These initiatives to keep weddings small might be good awareness, but that’s not the core of the issue. The problem is entitlement. My daughter “deserves” to have the best gown, makeup artist etc. why does she deserve that? You don’t make enough money to get her the best gown, and that’s no fault of your own— rich people always made big fancy weddings and I have no problem with that. Living beyond our means is sure recipe for a large dumpster fire.

On the other hand, I was speaking to my aunt who recently made a wedding and she said it was a horrible experience the kalla was just sitting there saying her tehillim with no one coming up to say mazel tov… by dancing one person was helping their kids, the other was in the bathroom and there was literally no one for the kalla to dance with. She said “don’t give me this meaningful garbage… this is what we had to do under the circumstances and we are not complaining, but everyone should stop telling us how meaningful it is”

So like everything, there isn’t a clear cut way.

Samdaman

My wifes cousin is getting married today. Relatively large extended family.
A couple of weeks ago they called the uncles and cousins and asked “Who WANTS to come?” so that they could plan how to stay under the maximum number allowed.
My wife is going, I am not.
If the Takana we go with is a Hard Cap on the number of guests, then the priorities of WHO to invite/come will change.
Do you really need every cousin to come with their children?
Which Uncles and Aunts would rather just come for the the chuppa? (especially in large families – simchos can be 50+ nights a year.)
The guy you sit near to in shul, but never talk to…why is he coming? (ok, maybe you should start talking to him)
How many Close friends do the chosson and Kalla REALLY have. (I’ll give you a hint: Its not everyone in their Seminary/Yeshiva)

Other priorities may change.
I’ve been to weddings where the CvK didn’t reappear after the chuppah for TWO HOURS. and the hall was waiting to serve the main course for after they came out and danced. Main course after 10PM!!! so the photographer could take enough pictures to justify his salary!!

Kaps

I’m not sure the delay was because of pictures….

Dina

I had a simple wedding pre-corona. Not small, but simple. Nonstandard hall, 1-man band, “package” photographer, silk gemach flowers, gemach wedding gown that didn’t need alterations.

There were well over 200 guests, but they were all close family and friends. My husband’s very wealthy grandmother said it was the nicest wedding she had been to.

I wouldn’t do it differently. I didn’t have or need a diamond ring, real flowers as centerpieces, a custom gown or a high-end makeup artist, but I would have been sad if my relatives and friends were not there celebrating with me.

So no, I would not limit wedding size to a specific number. Simple is good, but small is not always so.

Dave

Dan, planning Rafi’s dream wedding already?

Moe

I think we have to make a differentiation between the number of people and the amount spent per plate. While everyone lauds a small wedding, its not so much fun when you have to tell the Kallah or Chosson that they can only invite 10 friends or the mother can’t invite her office where she works. It will just hurt peoples feelings a cause ill will. No offense, but although some don’t mind, many a Chosson/Kallah aren’t interested in a circle of 20 guests, 10 of them being over the age of 50 (no offense, please don’t take this the wrong way).
On the other hand, there’s almost never a reason to be paying 100, 200, 300+ per guest by making weddings in the most absurdly expensive places, having seven course meals, or having a 27 piece band. In Israel, the small first and main course is served soon after the Chupa and after that a bar is placed for all the latecomers. That can be an option in the US.
What we need to do is keep the quantity of people but tune down the quality.

Dave

I agree with Dan, you feel the need to invite your office staff? I’ve never been ‘fortunate’ enough to have ever worked in an office where I’m invited to the wedding. How about invited them to the engagement party or a sheva brachos?– I’d think that is more commonly acceptable.

Tzipi

I think it’s a marvelous idea! Only family and very close friends should be invited. If you would attend a typical Jewish wedding with 300+ guests and ask each non-relative anonymously (especially those over let’s say 45 years of age) if they really wanted to attend they would probably say no anyway. They went out of obligation because they received the invitation. Who really wants to go to 20 weddings a year? Hire babysitters. Get home late and have to wake up early for work. Give gifts. Eat the main course at 10:30pm. I personally do not get insulted if I don’t receive an expected invitation (I would be curious but elated that I have one less wedding to attend at this point).

Fay

It took a pandemic for us to learn this lesson!! But hopefully we all learned it and only the really rich who can afford it will make huge weddings that we will all enjoy but will not attempt to duplicate

Loo

10 year ago I had a small wedding in a kosher restaurant. Where I grew up everyone had $100,000+ weddings. I only invited my immediate family and a few close friends. My husband and I were both paying for our wedding ourselves and didn’t have much. My Dad said it was the best wedding he has went to. He was able to talk to everyone, it wasn’t super loud and I wasn’t trying to show off by having a huge wedding like everyone else in my community did. Unfortunately a part of that restaurant that my wedding was not in was opened and I heard a few ladies making fun of my wedding bc they were only used to the big fancy wedding. At the end of the night we didn’t go into debt but it was very hurtful to hear ppl making fun of my kind of wedding.

Y

Please do not play this on Shabbos or Yomtov.

Sarah

It would be so nice if this trend continues. I would also like to see the parents less pressured to spend so much. But I do have a concern, that If the weddings are made simpler, that it would be common place for then parents to pay for the down payments on the kids house (or house in Israel-which is common in Israel). That could actually be a more costly impact on parents. As with everything new, like a new law, there needs to be implementation guidance so unintended effects don’t happen…..

Marc

When we got married both sets of parents said that the less they spend on the wedding the more they can give to us and help us financially so we went with very nice, elegant and simple. Neither us are from big families. This was 1989 and wedding were less ostentatious than they are today, but even so, we got the message and put our priorities in order. It gave a us a leg up we needed. We’ve told our kids the same thing, pg when the time comes, and I hope they make sensible decisions.

Yonah

My kids are teenagers so I am a least a few years away from making weddings. I do have a handful of friends making weddings right now. Some of their kids are lengthening their engagements with plans to get married in January or February. Others are embracing the now and keeping their wedding dates. While most of the weddings I’ve been to have been around 300-400 people, I definitely appreciated the smaller weddings (under 200 people) for the reasons Dan points out above – the intimacy, the level of love for the couple, etc.
(I recently attended a cousin’s wedding in Israel that had this level of intimacy and was an amazing experience).

As someone who has been B”H married for 21+ years, and as wonderful as my wedding was (and as grateful I am to my parents and in-laws for putting it together and paying for it), it’s just a blip on the radar of all of the amazing experiences we’ve shared as a couple and family over the last 21 years.

YGX

Ain’t gonna happen. Wish it would, but it won’t. End of story. Sorry.

Keep it small!

Great job dan!
You often hear people say how they enjoy the aufruf or shabbos sheva brachos more than the wedding bec of the smaller size and more intimate nature of the event.

How

The real way to effect change is to change the wedding schedule. Dancing should be right after the chuppa and then pictures after dancing followed by the sit down dinner only for close family and friends. The shmorg should be open until second dance.

Kabbolas Punim
Chuppah
shmorg
Chassan Kallah enter
First dance
Dessert
Second dance
Pictures
Dinner for close family
Third dance

OD

Dan great topic! I agree 100% percent with you.
It seems so silly to go into debt, or if wealthy to spends thousands, to suffer stress and sleepless nights over how you will be able to afford this affair for a fleeting 4-5 hour night. Does that make any sense! As a nation that prides itself in chochma, I find the whole ordeal of spending massive amounts of money for one night preposterous!

What do you think about though those in Israel and in America who go into debt or go collecting in order to buy an apt/house for the newlyweds? I understand real estate may be a better investment but should parents suffer stress, go collecting or go into debt for this?Maybe an ideal for another post?

steven mandel

for people that are not the immediate family invite them to sheva brachos

steven mandel

or if they are not very close friends of the wedding party – they wont feel hurt and will understand that weddings are expensive – i cant tell you the number of times i’ve gone to a wedding where people are talking or on their cell phones during the ceremony – very rude and seems they only came because they are acquaintances and not close to the family – also the wedding will be a lot less expensive

Marc

Ps… I have a 23 year old daughter looking for the right man…

@m

Here’s an idea, have weddings start earlier.
Let’s say 2:30pm start time, chuppah at 3:30pm. Invite everyone!!! but only people who really need to be there will find a way to come. Everyone else can come for a lavish buffet and dancing at 6 pm.

This will also solve the issue of wedding being soo late at night…

ML

I think its a great idea

I think however there is a percentage of those “Upper Class” who have completely missed the point. I have been seeing these beautiful backyard weddings done with the same fan fare and pizaz as if it were a regular wedding, with celebrity singers / entertainers, the most expensive and famous caterers and party planners, with the designer gowns, and hair and makeup done professionally by the top ones in the industry.

I personally am confused, how is this any different than if it were done Pre-Covid Era?

Jack out of the Box

Everyone has their ideas of which items are considered essential and which they can do without. When it comes to weddings, there are lots of opinions to take into consideration.

Jason

I got married end of March.
Right in the beginning of covid. We had 10 men and mother and sister. The men were neighbors in their backyards and some siblings. One neighbor sang from his fence and was beautiful!!! Wouldn’t want to marry any other way..

Troll detector

You’re full of it.

Jason

Wow.. ok.. want to see my photos?

Lkwd girl

Yeah!:)

Moe

Notice how he didn’t mention his mother-in-law. That’s why he enjoyed it so much.

Jason

Exactly!! They were stuck in israel

Chaim

The wedding should be paid not charged. Every couple were not born yesterday. Put your effort in those teens years and savings into a chosson and kallah free loan fund, to be drawn out for your own wedding., And allowed to borrow like amount..no more …to be paid back within five years. Put a cap on the years for the withdrawal as an incentive to get married or the deposit becomes a donation. Enough of learning to freeload or waste.

Rasa

I’m about to make a wedding for my daughter firstly in UK where I live most weddings cost about 15,000 we have a small shabbos kalla for friends and we’re making shabbos sheva brochos at home for immediate family Because this is what most people have my daughter will not feel deprived having such a wedding.I don’t know how Americans do it but everything is more expensive like summer camp etc now with lockdown what upsets me the most is potentially not having all my family and friends there as that what makes the simcha zoom is nice but sad especially if they live around the corner I also feel that every chosson and kalla deserve a decent wedding luckily what we in the UK see as decent is affordable. We are waiting for weddings to become legal and we will do what we can to make it extra special in these difficult circumstances as they deserve

Chosson

All my wedding gifts were from having a nice wedding in a williamsburg hall, so right there is $30k fornthe couple. In general when theres a happy looking cutsie fun chosson and kallah and good dancing and food people tend to give more gifts and money, now ofc this can be in a simpler setting

Moshe

That can be the next topic of discussion…. The pressure for people to break their budget shelling out $100+ gifts dozens and dozens of times a year, for weddings they didn’t want to go to but were invited to by parents who didn’t want to invite them but thought they’d be insulted if they weren’t.
You can’t make this stuff up….

Wedding gift giver

People give money generally because of their relationship with the parents not because of a cutesy looking fun looking chosson and kallah.

Chosson

True but they seem to add a little more to those couples

Chaim

the real problem is the halls ripping everyone off….its like twenty buck for a little chicken

Chaim

Dan, can you bring up the issue of ppl not buying life insurance?

Kaps

Isn’t whole life insurance expensive?

Chaim

isn’t collecting money for the 10 orphans expensive?
What about term?

shully

the real problem is why does this even matter, unless you are looking at your neighbor?

Aaa

What about the people flying business class even if they are middle class/low income earners. Redeeming miles is not considered free, its also worth money.

Luxurios travel is a new high standard that people want to be part of, even if they technically cant afford it.

For the record, business class is just a few hours as well, and can cost a nice amount of money (aka miles) per year.

NW

Anyway to get these comments printed out in a Shabbos friendly fashion?;)

Moshe

The saddest part to me is that even though people break the bank to go all out on their weddings, no one is even impressed, because they’ve already been to 2 other weddings that week which were as nice or nicer, and they don’t even notice or care how much you’ve put into the event…..

Dave

Here is my suggestion to make this a reality. I think there is already a critical mass of people who are into this that can make this work. Instead of just having tons of ppl sign on to the initiative, someone should find a small group of people in different communities that are expecting to make weddings within the year. Have them all commit to making a scaled down wedding. Once enough people do it post-corona, it will be an acceptable type of wedding. It doesn’t have to be the norm that everyone does it this way – that may never happen – but it will at least become a reasonable, non-weird option. People who need to impress will continue to do so, even outside their means. But at least those who are more responsible and are currently just over-spending because there is now no other choice will have the option of making a normal scaled down wedding. We need some Nachshons to jump into the sea.

Moe

Everyone will sign and accept and do whatever you want until they make a wedding and realize that they are going to insult half their neighborhood and most of their friends and then it will all come crashing down.

Dave

I agree it will be uncomfortable at first, but it will take sacrifice to make change.

Mendel

I heard another idea.
Need to get impassioned people to lecture about it at seminaries and smicha programs/yeshiva gedolahs.
I personally was embarrassed to be at my own fancy schmancy wedding. And my parents could BH afford it. At least my wife appreciated it.
I hope the young people convince their parents they dont want it and dont need it.

a

my wedding didnt cost a dime!
bc im not married yet

Moe

another victim of the shidduch crisis

Chaim

There is an awesome rabbi who runs a Breslov Yeshiva in Williamsburg, Rabbi Yoel Roth, who for years has been advocating for simpler “b’dampte” weddings. Most people thought he was dreaming. I wonder if he will have the last laugh. Anyway, many big schools rely on the extra cash that their halls bring in. I can’t imagine that they will want this to further impact their deficits. However in the long haul it will be very well worth it, because families will now have more money to pay tuition.

sa

i thought of that too. there’s so much business in all these events, that there’s less incentive for people to really fight it. it’s clearly crazy, but think of how many caterers, food suppliers, photographers, musicians, dj’s, florists, clothing retailers, make up artists, hair stylists, jewelers, printers etc etc would be out of serious money. many of the rabbonim’s yeshivas are supported by these halls for income. even though the hamon am would benefit, there’s so many people earning so much money off these massive events, that i could see a real lack of support to get an initiative like this off the ground…. they have too much at stake to keep this ridiculous system in place by cutting down all the expenses. people literally don’t realize that all you need is 2 aidim and a mesader kedushin to get married. it’s really mind boggling that it ever became like this! for what? do you know there are thousands of non jewish weddings where people walk into city hall, pay $15 , take their vows, and walk out happily ever after? i understand that’s not quite how it’s done in our circles, but it was once not like that 150 years ago. the town got together, 4 people held up a talis, they had a chuppa, the couple got some chickens and feather pillows, and people danced. why does it have to be so much more complicated than that? there’s really more important things in life. our focus is so misplaced :(.

Levi

Yes

@a

well my wedding didnt even cost a penny

Dave

Was it a kosher wedding? A bottle of wine, the ketubah, etc costs something

Moe

sheva pruta for the kiddushin to be chal, thats like 3 pennies.

PPP

Dan,

Appreciate the wedding expense debate. I think the most significant issue that needs to be discussed is the non-deductibility of PPP expenses. Most people think these funds are not taxable as the CARES act claret states. The IRS simply went around congress and simply disallowed the expense deduction effectively making the funds fully taxable. This is a tax in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Many local businesses took out significant loans assuming that they will be forgiven and tax free. They will be taxed as now the expenses are disallowed. Congress introduced S 3612 the Small business expense protection act to reverse the IRS and allow the deductions but so far has been unable to come to a vote in the Senate as it needs more support. If the expenses are not deductible you will see a business massacre come tax time. Business are barely hanging on-they won’t have the cash to pay a massive surprise tax bill on forgiven debt they thought was tax free.Everyone needs to do whatever they can to try to push this bill through. This need to be highest priority. If this bill dosnt go through you will see tremendous pain and suffering for businesses across America including neighbors in your own community.

shmaya

I would think one major problem that has to be addressed when trying to encourage smaller weddings, is that in Frum circles doing anything that has a remote chance of ruining a future shidduch is a non-starter.

Becoming known as a cheapskate or someone who has no taste with regard to marrying off their children is scary for many people.

Dave

I think it’s disgusting to see tzedaka campaigns collecting for $100k+ weddings for a kallah who had a ‘challenging childhood’. Always makes me wonder what will happen after midnight when the wedding is over

YG

I dont know if this was mentioned, but there is always an option of having a dinner for immediate family and later, buffet style food, along with dancing, instead of a sit down dinner. this will cut out a huge bill! my brother did that for his son’s bar mitzva. “Lchaim/vort” style.

Gavin

My wedding cost a fortune. My divorce cost more.

Mendel

Another point about backyard weddings is the fact the wedding can be scheduled when it’s best for the Kalla and family, not when it works with the halls bookings…

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