In 2002, the Agudah released a set of simcha guidelines, which continue to be posted b'kitzur in each Jewish Observer. The published guidelines, which have been more or less ignored at least from my perspective, include the follwing recomendations:
- The Vort: Discontinue the vort. The L'chaim held at the time an engagement is announced, should not turn into a Vort. I'm curious how engagement parties became such regular affairs in Orthodox circles. Honestly, I don't really see much purpose in such affairs, but I've already said my piece here.
- The Wedding: Typical families may only seat up to 400 invited guests at the seudah. The kabbolat panim smorgasbord should be limited to basic cakes, fruit platters, a modest buggest, and the caterer's standard chicken or meat hot dishes. The seuda menu is limited to three coures plus a regular dessert. No Viennese table. No bar.
- The Music: A band should consist of a maximum of 5 musicians or four plus vocalist. Recommended: a one man band.
- Flowers and Chupa Decor: Total cost should not exceed $1,800.
- Recommendations: The full text of the simcha guidelines included far more recommendations, including recommending against the nearly universal, practice of matching/coordinating gowns for siblings of the chatan and kallah, as well as "overgifting" during the engagement.
Much of the Takana deals with organizational aspects of the wedding. Who can attend what events? What time each aspect of the wedding must conclude by? If you aren't Satmar, the details aren't particularly relevant. But, the gift giving details are rather interesting. Parred down parred down from previous expectations, it still sets a high standard imo. Imagine raising 10 children and doing this 10 times over!
- What The Kallah Receives Under the New Rules ("Only four pieces of jewlery are to be given"): Watch, Pearl Necklace, Earrings, Cubic Zircona Engagement Ring (no diamond) to be given first or second Shabbos after engagement.
- What the Kallah Could Receive: Machzor, Tzenah Ur’enah, Siddur, Kerchief and apron (white silk, ceremonial for lighting Shabbos and Yom Tov candles.)
- What the Chassan receives under the New Rules: A watch, A Shas, Kiddush Cup, Menorah, Tallis, Tallis and tefillin bag, Kittel.
- For the Couple: Candelabra (if not purchased by other relatives should be purchased jointly by both sets of parents), Shtreimel costing no more than $1,200 (purchased by the parents of the chassan), Sheitel or head covering (purchased by the parents of the kallah).
The Satmar Takana, one the other hand, reads as "benchmarks," with little room for flexibility*. While many parents I'm sure will be saved a near heart attack from the old standards, those without means are still going to have to break the bank by thousands of dollars (times x number children) to pay for the required list of gifts alone. I certainly can't imagine one set of parents going in to tell their new mechutanim why the future SIL/DIL is not going to receive a menorah, pearl necklace, or watch when the standards are laid out so clearly (although there is still room to push the envelope). So, rather than creating an umbrella to huddle under, it appears Satmar adherents will have to walk on a balance beam to meet the benchmarks, not stepping to far to the right or the left.
Nevertheless, I wish all communities that are trying to fight the conspicuous consumption surrounding smachot, weddings in particular, hatzlacha in their efforts. I just with the accumulating efforts would start to speed up.
Imamother Chassidish participant writes vis a vis flexibility (edited): ". . . .these takonos are so important. In our sect there is no such a thing as a backyard chasunah, Balloons instead of flowers and buffet style instead of a full meal. Everyone has the exact same type of chasuna whether you have the money or not. The same goes to jewelry. There is no such a thing that a girl should get less then a 1ct diamond ring, Bracelet, pearls, watch, earring etc.. Really the ideal would be you have the money you make a big fancy chansunah spend what you want and if you dont you dont make a big chasunah this is what our grandparents did inderheim. There was nothing embarrasing about it. But I am looking forward to see how it plays out. . . . . ."