Tuesday, May 22, 2012

It's MY Day

As a TCM aficionado, one becomes nostalgic for how life used to be not so very long ago. A world where men always wore suits and hats, women donned stoles and gloves, where children were attired in short-shorts even in the most frigid weather. 

Often, when the hero professes his love for the heroine, the two gaze in each other's eyes, and trot off hand in hand to city hall to be wed. 
The marriage of the Earl of Jersey and Virginia Cherrill, Chelsea Register Office, c. July 31, 1937.
Hold the phone. 

That's it? No desperate search for the wedding gown? No panicked screaming at caterers? No frantic fuss over flowers? 

The 1950 film Father of the Bride has Spencer Tracy agonizing over his daughter's "overboard" festivities: a church wedding followed by a reception in the house. Golly.  
When did it come to this? And it's not even the first time a woman feigned illness to come up with a wedding budget! 

We, too, now take it as a given. I confess some perplexity how money can be raised and donated for a one-night affair, and be referred to as "tzedakah." It would be one thing if it was essentials for home, but to raise money for a professional photographer? If a couple is in such dire financial straights, don't they need the funds for something a little more . . . permanent? 

My friend says that all she cares about is the ring. She'll happily get married in a rabbi's study in exchange for the rock of her dreams.

Everyone has their own "rock." What would a woman rather have instead of a party that'll last for a couple of hours? An upgraded apartment? An awesome oven? Savings for future expenses, like, say, children? When "hachnosas kallah" is mentioned in Eilu Devarim, it doesn't say "chassanah"; I believe they meant providing a needy bride with homemaking basics (especially in a time when there was no such thing as takeout). 

What if we downplayed the wedding and made the marriage the focus? Our grandparents most definitely had more muted nuptials. My father's parents were married in a DP camp. Yet in no time at all we have made big shindigs a requirement. 
These aren't my grandparents, but this is a photo of the first wedding in the Heidenheim DP camp, where they lived until the US would let them in.
Reality television is choking with wedding themed shows: Say Yes to the Dress, Bridezillas, My Fair Wedding with David Tutera, Four Weddings, just to name a few. 

Did we come up with this? Or did they?


Sparrow said...

Maybe it's to top the bar/bat mitzvah celebration?

Altie said...

If that is so, then people are making waaaay to big of a deal about bar/bas mitzbah's. Cmon. The kid is a teen. How big of a party do they need?

And yes, it seems that people spend way too much money on weddings, and a lot of it is because of peer pressure, competition, and wanting to flaunt your money and look better than the other guy. Maybe people have forgotten what we are really celebrating.

Princess Lea said...

The concept of bar mitzvah parties was invented in the 15th century Germany, I believe. A new concept, and one we didn't have to embrace.

There is no peer pressure. Because no one really cares what other people do. If you care, it's self-pressure.

Linda said...

This is a great article. I never knew it was all so simple. I think in today's era of 60% divorce rate (so its said but that could be a lie as well, to reduce the amount of people getting married), everyone is scared to get married. Also back then, people were accepting of the natural order: you have to get married in order to have sex. Now, everyone has sex, so guys delay having to be responsible and get married. Times have definetely changed, so instead of commitment, people just have a whole jar of broken hearts.

%Shocked% said...

I have a friend whose brother had a wedding with family only (this was 6 or 7 years ago). Everyone thought it was weird, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked it.

Interestingly enough, I was just telling someone the other day that I'd be more than happy to spend next to nothing on the wedding so all that money could be used towards the future. I mean, ya, if I were loaded it would be one thing, but I'm not. Will my wedding be nice? Probably, but not because I want it that way. Nu nu... That's the world we live in.

Princess Lea said...

Shocked: Such fatalism? "That's the world we live in"?

Change thyself, as the Chofetz Chaim said, and change the world.

%Shocked% said...

I prefer to call it realism lol. Call me cynical, but I don't think me making a simple wedding is going to change the reality of people taking out third mortgages to make a wedding.

It would be one thing if a really well-known family- trend setters- in a given city were to do such a thing. My family, extended included, although known by many people isn't what I would call "the type" to generate change.

Idealistically, ya, I would love to catalyze many changes in the Orthodox Jewish world. Realistically, I won't be doing that tomorrow or the day after. Maybe the day after that though.... 0:-)

Princess Lea said...

You'd be surprised. Even if the "hotzy-totzy"s decided to downplay weddings, it would take a while to catch on.

Just by you not going along with everybody else's mishagaas could make a difference. The chaos theory; butterfly wings leading to hurricanes.