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Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Extravagantly Simple

Sometime before my wedding, I shared some concerns with a number of “friends”.
Deciding there was nothing in what I said that was confidential they felt free to repeat my talk with anyone that would listen.
This mistake brought about me being looked upon as an ungrateful snobby little fellow.

The conversation centered around my pragmatic head refusing to desire a lavish wedding.
How foolish must I’ve been?
I didn’t need a philharmonic orchestra, I didn’t need a 7 course meal, I didn’t need 2 new suits, 9 new ties and 2 new hats.

And I personally cancelled the limo that was supposed to drive me to the Chuppah.
What's wrong with an uncle's car?
I just wanted a modest and joyous evening.
I was offered ‘the wedding of the year, and declined.
I felt it was wrong and idiotic to spend staggering amounts of money on a one night event. Truth be told most Chassanim barely remember the actual night of the wedding, it’s like a whirlwind flying by.
At the end I was the chassan of a lavish wedding, apparently my concerns were less important than my parent’s honor and image.

For the longest time I held that it was a bad idea for anyone to throw a over-the-top wedding.
This changed this morning while reading Emes V'Eumunah’s take on this matter.

And what about the vendors? In many cases the vendors are members
of the Torah community and make their Parnasos from the Simcha industry. Frum
musicians need work too. So does the Frum florist or the Frum party planner, the
Frum invitations seller, or caterer. Why should they be denied the financial
benefit of a wealthy person who wants to spend their money for these

I rarely turn my opinion around so easily, but his aguments are sounds and well constructed.
What do you think?

Those who can afford it- by all means make a weddin of your dreams and support other jews in the process..unfortunately this tends to put pressure on others to live up to certain standards- wrong but there's not much we can do about that.
There are tzedakas that allow you to fund weddings in israel on pretty much any particular night, for a realtively small sum- to me thats the nicest way of spending money and supoorting other jews, while you make your wedding- and what a zechus!
Student-I share your opinion now, until recently I felt it was a waste for anyone to throw a huge wedding. But now I believe that there’s nothing wrong with it for people who can afford one.

As for those who feel jealous, they have to relize that this is the way of the world is that some people just have more.
It’s a good lesson for married life.
I agree that it's a wonderful idea to keep a wedding simple and in turn donate to a couple in Israel.
Thanks for visiting.
Made me think…

Has a point there…

On the other hand these cheap chaseneh packages took on a business industry on its own, doesn’t look like it is meant to genuinely help people.
also a- It probably started with the best intentions, then perhaps some "important" people put their nose in it and ruined it for everyone.
I still believe smaller weddings are better.
if someone has enough money to throw on a one night stand so be it
Anyone that has the money and wants to enjoy the lavish means good for them. Many ppl do this and thank hashem for the ability. It's interesting to look at it from the perspective that you are giving the workers work.
always a flip side.
i think just do what you want within your means. if you want top-notch, rolls-royce and can afford it, go for it, support the businesses who need it. but if you can't afford the most lavish thing ever, have what you want to make the simcha memorable.
Wow- good question!
Personally, I feel that if someone wants to make a big simcha, who is someone to tell them not to EXCEPT maybe when the community is subsidising their school fees.

It's a good point to raise that the people who provide services also need parnash.
YY-I guess that’s the reality, at least a few people will make money out of it.

Socialworker- Until then I thought of it as boorish and showy.
Now I realize it’s just about business.

Anon-In this case the money the caterer will make.

Sarah-I agree, as long as everybody knows where to draw the line.
Kasamba-I notice that this is the general opinion, if you can afford it, do it.
I always thought that there was something inherently wrong with showing off but it's true that we all have to learn that there will always be people who can spend more.
Good you realize! Business is business.
The argument is very limited. It depends on the value you're getting. If you love limosines, it's worth 80$ an hour to get one. If you don't care much, it's a waste of money no matter how many tiereh yidden drive limos for a living.
Renaissanceman- Welcome on my blog and thanks for passing by.
You're right about what you say, but in my case if I find a limo a useless commodity the knowledge that a gitte Yid will make some parnassah of it, will lessen my resistance against my parents who think a wedding without is but a sad affair.
The idea is that it would be unfair to criticize all outlandish weddings keeping in mind that some parnassas need them.
good point abut giving people within the community a parnassah if one can afford to. Unfortunately there will always be those people that will try to outdo others and their goal is not about support for fellow yidden but for rubbing peoples noses in. Each one according to their means.
If one goes for lavish and is not using one of our own then I have contention. This goes for all matters not just wedding providers. There are plenty people within the community that need to earn a living and if we would all support our own instead of going to the big firms/providers........
i'm all for modest weddings, especially since mine was one. however, it was still a very nice and small affair. i do agree that whatever type of wedding one has, one should support jewish businesses, but not to the point of breaking the bank. also, even for folks who have lavish affairs, afterwards, many things can be donated to those in less fortunate circumstances--wedding dresses, centerpieces, whatever. so there is always a way to turn a mega-simcha into an even bigger opportunity to do mitvot.
I second student.

Personally I dread a big wedding. I really am not interested in smiling all day at hundreds of people most of whom I barely know of.

I wish I could just have a small affair but that is not in my hands when the time comes...

Weddings are for parents not the actual chassan or kallah.
i always felt that i personally wouldnt want anything extravagant but it never bothered me what others did with their money (if they could afford it)
it did however bother me that it didnt bother me! now i have a good reason not to be bothered when others spend their own money! thanks!
Not for a minute did I think that the reason people throw outlandish weddings to support Jewish business.
It’s just a fringe benefit and a reason to tolerate it.

I couldn’t agree more about giving business to our heimsih brethren in general, I actually grew up with this ideal.
Bec-Well said, the more someone with less means will be able to benefit from this reckless spending the more it will make sense.
And in my opinion small weddings tend to be much more spectacular and joyous.

Exsem- Until a few years ago I would have scoffed at what you say; now I know it’s true.
It’s more the Parent’s say than the Chosson and Kallah’s.

AnonymOOkie-You’re welcome, it may still bother you a little.
i agree if youve got then why not spend it? what are you saving for? the problem becomes when others feel like they have to spend just to keep up.
Prag, I agree with you in principal, but not in practice. I, too, had no desire in a lavish wedding. As you say, the wedding reception is not the ikkar and not what we will remember, but the key to marriage is remembering that you are no longer alone in this world. Whereas, many guys may look at lavish weddings as we do, what you may not realize is that while we as kids, dreamt of hitting the game winning home run or whatever, many, if not, most girls dreamt about their wedding.
For that reason alone, the correct answer is that we should yield to the one to whom it matters more, namely, your wife. :-)
Good post! You know, if some people have money to burn and want to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on an event that lasts just a few hours- hey, that's their concern. If it doesn't hurt me, what do I care how people spend their money?

Personally, I think it's a shame to waste so much money on a wedding. And I'm sorry, but I'm not going to go broke just so a florist or caterer can make more money. But again, if the rich people want to do that- be my guest!

We kept our wedding small and modest, and it was fantastic. And I'll let you in on a little secret-the wedding goes by in a blur for many kallahs, too!
I think the standard frum wedding (not even an overboard wedding) places a lot of pressure on families and should be fought against, despite the _valid_ concerns about the vendors.

What has become standard has gone well, well beyond and, unfortunately, people need permission to even tone it down (let's face it, the simcha guidelines still go beyond the bare bones).

While I would hate to see a vendor loose parnasah (if a community as a whole ever bothered to police itself), I think we would all gain when making a marriage didn't mean, for many families, a trip to the bank to borrow funds.
There are arguements both ways. As some who as been married for 9 1/2 year, I look back at people who I invited to my chassunah, yet have grown apart from over the years and wonder if they actually added to the simcha. I've been having this debate with my neighbor ever since Rabbi Maryles has had both his wedding and bar mitzvah posts up. I feel that if you can afford to spend on a wedding what you can match with tzeddakah, then go for it. To say that you'll spend $8,000 dollars on flowers, and not a penny to a chessed fund is kind of crazy.
one can't really know if the wealthy are giving to tzedaka or not - it's up to them to decide how to spend their money and just because some don't brag about how much they give to the needy doesn't mean they don't give.
we shouldn't be so quick to judge others who spend and where they spend. Where does one draw the line?? if someone prioratises "wrong" then its their issues.
Oy, the wedding planning and the who wants what. Don´t forget you are never alone in planning the wedding, first there is the bride, then her parents, his parents and a thousand friends who know it better. At the end you have to find a compromise. I like your thoughts about who is going to make a better living because of me, but if I totally dislike a big party, even if I could afford it, I wouldn´t have it. At the end it is mine and my family´s wedding and it has to be right for me before I worry about people who might earn money with it. As others said, then I can always give Zedaka. There are other ways. This one wedding day in life is mine and I will do exactly as I want (of course considering the chatan and all the family involved)

It is not always about what you can afford in life, it is also about what you want. That´s my view.
Beingjewish- it is the problem and it’s a very real one. The question would be if the wealthy have a responsibility not to bring about this kind of envy or not.

A frum idealist-Naturally if the kallah desires a big fancy event, then the Chosson should consent.
The question then is whether girls should be raised to be less concerned about the amount of flowers present.

RR-Clearly those who have a solid head on their shoulders are not expected to feel responsible for providing people who sell luxury services and items. As for those who wish to burn that much money, it’s comforting to realize at least someone will make parnassah from it.

Sephardilady-I agree, a wedding should be joyful for everyone concerned, parents and grand parents inclusive, bankers exclusive.
It’s one night for heaven sake’s and the costs of living the days, months and years after that long forgotten night are not negligible, better save the money for such stupid things as rent and food.

Neil-It’s a good thought, if you’re gonna spend like crazy then show it’s not all about you.
I actually feel that the number of people is the one thing one shouldn’t think about too much.
Serve kugel and invite another 15 people.
Even though you may not see them afterwards the people are the ones who make the night a memorable one.

Anon-that’s definitely true, but I think that people who feel the need to throw a dazzling wedding are the kind who love to brag about how Yeshivah Z and Kolle Y only exist that’s to them etc…

Mia-Well said, the family is the most important part, and of course your personal preferences.
Wow! Good Point..I had the same views, alwasy said i dont' want anything major just a simple nice wedding. Something to keep in mind when my parents ask me if I want a 5 piece band or a one man...hmmmm
I think, that if you HAVE the money to spend on an over the top extravagant wedding- then go ahead! spend away. It's the ones who DON'T that feel they need live up to those standards that are wrong. I think someone else blogged about the "Simcha Guidlines" asking- who are they for?? Arent they just there for the jealous ppl??
well, if we are talking about ideally how to raise them, I believe they in general should be raised to want and especially to expect, less.

We still live in a post-holocaust generation, except we are one step removed. The previous generation, the survivors, wanted to give anything and everything to their children. They wanted their children to have every luxury that they didn't. Yet, they were more financially cautious, perhaps because of what they went through and always saved and never spent above their means.
Now one generation later, we learned from our parents' example and look to give our kids everything, but to the point where we will go into hock to do it. Our parents would never have gone that far.
I still side with your original reasoning, but it does give me pause before condemning those who go lavish.
Naturally if the kallah desires a big fancy event, then the Chosson should consent.
The question then is whether girls should be raised to be less concerned about the amount of flowers present.

I would actually hope that the Chatan and Kallah are in agreement about what a simcha should look like, or at least not in such disagreement that the chatan feels the need to "consent." (Quite frankly, I'm not sure how many husbands actually care).

There is a cultural language to money and spending, and the wedding is only the beginning.

While we can't expect the parents to always agree with the chatan and kallah and they may have to do something different than they would have preferred to please the parents, I really think that the chatan and kallah should be on the same page in terms of their vision.
I would actually hope that the Chatan and Kallah are in agreement about what a simcha should look like

I was responding to A frum idealist who suggested that Kallahs accord much more importance to a big wedding than most chassanim, in such a case, if the families can afford it of course, perhaps a chosson who does not like big affairs should let it happen for the sake of his future wife.
Since women are different than men and consider and accord this one evening so much importance, it’s unlikely that chossan and kallah will be on the same page.
I always felt that the ones who have the money on spend on it, should not feel obliged to tone it down because others cant afford it. (Assuming they give as much to Tzdoko & Chesed as well.) Spending lots of money on a simcha should not be stigmatized. It is a major piece of the parnoso pie for many people too. However, there are those who, even if they wont go the same lavish expense, will feel that they have to try and keep up to others' 'standards' and go beyond their means. Humans will be human and some will get jealous. Maybe people could reduce that divide by not flaunting their wealth as much. It may not be the rich peoples "fault" that the 'poorer' people are disillusioning themselves out of pocket, but maybe it would be wise for fellow wealthier simcha makers(who CAN afford it), to help those who pretend they can afford it, by actually toning down their extravagance.

AND btw, I have said it for years now and has become even more apparent recently, it IS the parents for whom the wedding is really for. But then again, it really should be if they are paying for it!
Karl-AND btw, I have said it for years now and has become even more apparent recently, it IS the parents for whom the wedding is really for. But then again, it really should be if they are paying for it!

Well you were right, and I see that more and more, but you make an excellent point, they pay for it after all.
But then they should stop trying to pretend they just want the best for their son and daughter, they want it for themselves!
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