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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Another Reason to Pay for a Wedding in Cash

So long as we are discussing funding wedding with debt in Israel (and I do realize that Israel runs under a different set of economic rules, which I cynically could add puts Chassidish collectors at the doorsteps of every American Orthodox community, a miracle that the weight of the system hasn't caused financial collapse yet), I might as well add that going into debt to make a wedding is also considered "normal" right here in our own American backyard.

I have a handful of friends in the mortgage and real estate industry who tell me that nearly every (Orthodox) family borrows money, usually through their own home equity, to "make" a wedding. The presumption here is America is also that weddings are debt financed, not paid for in cash.

After all, as one agent told me: "Weddings cost a lot of money. How can a family afford to pay for a wedding in cash?" The debate on how to fund a wedding underscores an important difference in the approach to money. Those who function in their own cash economy with few exceptions (a home mortgage, initial funding for an income producing activity), don't tell themselves how much a wedding should cost to make the decision of how much to borrow. Rather they ask themselves what amount of cash reserves are prudent to spend and then base their wedding budget around that amount of cash.

Recently I ran into an acquaintance who divorced after a short marriage. When she had married, her mother, a friend of mine, had borrowed a significant sum of money to pay for the affair. I can't imagine the feeling of continuing to pay, month after month, year after year, for a wedding for which the marriage no longer exists. What a sad, sad situation. Best pay cash and just be done with it. . . . . .even if the marriage lasts forever.

169 comments:

rosie said...

There is tremendous pressure to spend big on weddings because it is a two (which becomes 3 when adding the new couple) family simcha. Often some big expense is very important on one set of mechutanim. Unfortunately as SL stated, sometimes these marriages are over with well before the debts are paid, adding to the emotional anguish of the divorce.
Now I realize that those who have never married off a child will jump to say that everyone (including the young couple) should grow up and face the facts. This is especially true when a sibling of one side got something at the time of engagement or marriage (such as an expensive sheva brochas) and expects the same to happen even though it is a different set of players now. When kids marry young, they are often immature and not all are ready for marriage. However, letting girls wait until maturity often puts them in a precarious position looking for a shidduch so it is a vicious circle.
This is obviously a case where if people formed committees and sat down with community leaders to introduce takanas for each community, it would be a lot easier to say "no" to crazy expenses. Obviously previous generations (such as mine) got married with much less and managed to stay married.

Margaret said...

It's your token gentile reader here:

In my fiance's culture (Cantonese), giant weddings are the norm. We're talking about giant Chinese families* all descending, including fifth cousins you've never met. A thousand people is not uncommon.

The difference is, guests help fund the wedding. The groom's parents throw the wedding, and the couple gets traditional cash gifts from everyone in attendance. But the gifts are usually split between the groom's parents (to repay them for the wedding) and the young couple (to pay for setting up a house). Because everyone coming gives a little, it pays for the food and gives the couple the means to furnish, if not put a down payment on, an apartment.

*Chinese families are traditionally very large, and in diaspora communities like the one where he lives they still care.

rosie said...

Margaret, apparently in Bucharin (sp?) Jewish families the same thing happens; guests contribute approx $100 a person to pay for what is spent on them and hopefully there is something left over for the couple. There are many wealthy people in the community that can give large gifts to each couple whose wedding they attend.
When someone is invited to many weddings (whether Cantonese or Bucharin Jewish), they obviously must decline those invitations that they cannot afford to pay for.

Anonymous said...

Margaret - In my fiance's culture (Cantonese), giant weddings are the norm. We're talking about giant Chinese families* all descending, including fifth cousins you've never met. A thousand people is not uncommon.

The difference is, guests help fund the wedding. The groom's parents throw the wedding, and the couple gets traditional cash gifts from everyone in attendance. But the gifts are usually split between the groom's parents (to repay them for the wedding) and the young couple (to pay for setting up a house). Because everyone coming gives a little, it pays for the food and gives the couple the means to furnish, if not put a down payment on, an apartment.

*Chinese families are traditionally very large, and in diaspora communities like the one where he lives they still care.
But how exactly does this help? The large sum of money is still being spent on the weddings thus financially taxing the family overall.

Mark

Lion of Zion said...

SL:

slow down

ROSIE:

"Now I realize that those who have never married off a child will jump to say that everyone (including the young couple) should grow up and face the facts. "

grow up and face the facts.
no, i've never married off a child. but i did marry off myself (we paid for a majority of our wedding). guess what. when a hatan/kalah understand that the $ is coming directly from their own pocket (or a loan on their *own* credit) reality sets in very quickly about what is affordable and what is not.

this is why i always say that couples should not be permitted to wed until they can pay for their own wedding. this ensures
a) they are mature enough to get married (and you admit that many couples get married to early; and i have no idea what vicious cycle you are talking about)
b) they will be more responsible about wedding costs

rosie said...

Mark, let's do the math. If a 1000 people attend a wedding and each contributes $100, that is $100,000. If $50,000 is spent on the wedding, that still leaves $50,000 for the couple.
Suppose large weddings and large families are important to a society but they decide to all take responsibility for this choice. Say that each family spends $2000 per year on attending weddings. When the time comes to marry off their children, the money will be spent on them. No family will have to face the burden on their own if the community shares it each time.

rosie said...

LOZ, there is a real shidduch crisis that affects girls and most families push girls to marry young before the competition closes in on them. Most communities have lots of "older" single girls in their mid-twenties who are having a hard time attracting a shidduch due to their age. There is an organization that is working on that but if someone is not part of the heredi community, it is hard to relate to.
While your idea of waiting until the couple can pay for it themselves has merit, it isn't practical for the heredi community. These things, not matter how nonsensical that they are, do not change overnight.

Lion of Zion said...

ROSIE:

"in Bucharin (sp?) Jewish families the same thing happens; guests contribute approx $100 a person to pay for what is spent on them and hopefully there is something left over for the couple . . ."

this is common not just among bukharians, but among carpathians and others from the FSU in general. also many sephardim (of which buckarians are a subset.) i actually half-joked with a bucharian friend recently that i don't want an invitation to his upcoming wedding because i afford the gift. (in all seriousness i'll probably go but have to leave the mrs. at home.)

(and the gifts are often considerably larger than $100/person)

"There are many wealthy people in the community that can give large gifts to each couple whose wedding they attend."

no. bukharians are generally not any wealthier than the rest of us (if anything it's to the contrary). it's just that they're not cheap schnorrers the way us avergage american ashkenzim are.

i've been meaning to blog about this whole business for a while.

Lion of Zion said...

"i afford the gift"

i can't afford this gift

Lion of Zion said...

ROSIE:

"there is a real shidduch crisis"

no there isn't. last time i checked jewish mothers were giving birth to (almost) equal numbers of boys and girls.

"it isn't practical for the heredi community"

a) it's not practical? i understand why there might be resistance, but it's very practical.
b) tough luck. the haredim need to grow up
c) i'm not "haredi" (i'm not sure what this means in an american context anyay) and i'd be happy if at least the MO would grow up in this regard

rosie said...

The shidduch crisis is caused by the general growth of the community and the fact that boys usually marry girls 3 to 4 years younger than themselves. Because there is a 4% increase in the frum population every year, at the end of 4 years there are more children than there were 4 years before. A 24 yr old boy has lots of girls aged 19 to 24 to pick from. If boys and girls were to marry those of equal age or if boys were to marry older girls, the situation would not be as bad. This is coupled with the fact that girls want the boys to be everything that they dreamed of and the boys fall short of those dreams. I define shidduch crisis as the crisis that comes to your house when your child, regardless of gender, needs a shidduch!
Frum people are by nature stubborn. If there is tremendous resistance to something it gets through the door in another way. For example no one in the frum non-MO community would like to see a woman wait until age 25 to marry but it is happening by default. When they do marry at that age they usually are financially independent. Sometimes a maverick will cause change in the community such as the case of the fellow who challenged the community to accept children with down's syndrome rather than give them up for adoption when he himself was blessed with a child who had downs.
Usually tough luck doesn't do much either because there are tzedukahs that make weddings for poor people. So far, no one has been forced to have just "10 men and a chuppah."

Lion of Zion said...

ROSIE:

i'm sorry, but i don't see a crisis in what you describe in the first paragraph. i merely see social expectations that need a tune-up.

"Usually tough luck doesn't do much either because there are tzedukahs that make weddings for poor people."

a) take a wild guess what i think about those charities
b) this isn't about "poor" people. everyone is drowning under the weight of the social expectations of what a wedding should look like

and i'm going to have try really hard not respond to the utter absurdity of the down syndrome comment for the sake of keeping this thread on topic. (to clarify, your comment was not absurd, but rather the attitude you referred to.)

JS said...

I have zero sympathy for Charedi (or other) people who just continue to give in to what everyone else around them is doing even though they know its hurting them.

If you live in a psychotic society where a 25 year old girl is "old" then leave that society. If your daughter is independent and educated and people tell you that makes her "undesirable" then leave. If girls' heads are being filled with ridiculous notions of what a guy should be like or guys' heads are being filled with crazy notions of what a girl should be like, leave this nonsense behind.

Don't just sit and whine and kvetch about how terrible it is. Get up off your tush and do something. If you live in the NY/NJ area, it's as simple as moving (or driving) 10-15 miles most likely.

The same thing goes with weddings and supporting son/daughter in-laws, etc.

The place to start is eliminating bar/bat mitzvah celebrations entirely. At most, it should be a kiddush in shul.

To the post's point, I fully agree that there is a totally different mindset between the frugal and the spenders:

The frugal look at what they have and decide what to spend. The spenders look at what they want and decide what to spend.

rosie said...

LOZ and JS, see if you can store these thoughts for when your own daughter gets married. See how far you get when you want to make her happy more than anything else you can think of. Her happiness will possibly outweigh the concern that you have for your pocketbook and then you will understand what 10% of wedding overspending is about. The other 90% is what Jay(led) said about spending to look good in Brooklyn. If you don't live in Brooklyn, you will only overspend by 10%.
LOZ, part of tough luck is push coming to shove as has been previously stated in other threads. If you are not (G-d forbid) starving, you will spend money make sure you have a nice lawn to impress (or at least get along with) the neighbors. If chas v'sholem you need your lawn for food, you will rip it up and plant vegetables and let the neighbors disapprove as much as they want.
As long as money is available, people will find a way to spend it on weddings since that is what is important to them. Remember that in DP camps after the holocaust, numerous weddings occurred despite the fact that there was extreme widespread poverty. The post-holocaust generation was given a message to make up for that era by living (and marrying) extravagantly.

Lion of Zion said...

ROSIE:

"See how far you get when you want to make her happy more than anything else you can think of."

you have no idea how happy it would have made my son if i would have bought him another basketball the other day. it hurt me to say no, but it wasn't as hard as you would think.

so you never say no to your kids?

"you will spend money make sure you have a nice lawn to impress (or at least get along with) the neighbors."

i most certainly will not.
there is even a run down house i would love to buy because the yards are already concereted over. (imagine how many parking spots i can rent out)
and one reason i don't want to move to the suburbs is precisely because zoning laws often preclude fencing in your property and doing with it as you please.

see http://agmk.blogspot.com/2008/07/bukharian-real-estate-trends.html

and how can you compare the types of weddings that we have today with the ones in the DP camps?

tesyaa said...

The weddings in the DP camp literally were probably a crust of bread, maybe a tiny slice of homemade cake. Having large families and having large extravagant weddings aren't related. The Chareidi society is very gashmius oriented in the US. I guess Rosie might say that having an $800 Bugaboo stroller shows how much the parents care about their Jewish child. Sorry to those who think so, but you can care with a $40 Graco.

Rosie is good at hijacking threads, but I'm not sure how seriously we should take her comments.

JS said...

"LOZ and JS, see if you can store these thoughts for when your own daughter gets married. See how far you get when you want to make her happy more than anything else you can think of. Her happiness will possibly outweigh the concern that you have for your pocketbook and then you will understand what 10% of wedding overspending is about."

I wouldn't raise my daughter to believe that her happiness is dependent on the size or cost of her wedding. You raise kids with bad values, you get what you deserve.

"The other 90% is what Jay(led) said about spending to look good in Brooklyn. If you don't live in Brooklyn, you will only overspend by 10%."

10% of the reason doesn't mean 10% of the cost. Again, if people want to be stupid, gey gazunt te'hey - I only have a problem when it starts to affect me.

"As long as money is available, people will find a way to spend it on weddings since that is what is important to them."

Again, these are completely screwed up values. And money isn't available, debt is available and schnorring tzedaka from others is available. "Money" is earned the hard way.

"Remember that in DP camps after the holocaust, numerous weddings occurred despite the fact that there was extreme widespread poverty. The post-holocaust generation was given a message to make up for that era by living (and marrying) extravagantly."

I'm sorry, but this is wrong and offensive. My paternal grandparents met on their way to immigrating illegally to Israel after the Holocaust and were married in Italy in a wedding ceremony by a rabbi in which many tens (if not more) couples were married all together. Total cost: $0. They didn't even have a picture of themselves to commemorate the day. My father and mother were married in Brooklyn in a small wedding hall for maybe $1000 (if that). Even with inflation that's not a lot of money. The lesson from my grandparents who were married over 50 years before my grandfather died was that money isn't what's important when it comes to a simcha. What's important is recognizing the good that Hashem does for us (my savta in particular looked for any and all opportunities to say sh'hechiyanu). What brought my grandparents unending joy was seeing her children and grandchildren achieve not the expenditure of money.

rosie said...

Thanks tessya. That is very nice of you. How is this hijacking? Are people only allowed to agree that weddings must stop if people can't afford them? Is disagreement and discussion allowed here or is there only one "kosher" way to understand things?
I don't put Bugaboos in the same category as a one time event of great importance to the person. You both misunderstood what I meant about DP weddings in DP camps. I agree with you tessya regarding the tiny slice of cake (if any food at all was served). What I am saying is that the frum world today is largely built from a post-holocaust rather than a 4th generation American tradition. Most of the Hungarian frum community was built in the 50's by the post-Holocaust yidden. Most people were eager to give their children and grandchildren that which had been taken away from them.
If most yidden had an American mentality, there would likely have been more receptivity to doing things more cheaply. Out-of-town weddings (which are more American in character) are cheaper.

Lion of Zion said...

JS:

for a different reason than rosie, i am curious if you have a wife and kids and how you relate to them in these matters.

i agree with you wholeheartedly that people need to be much more careful in deciding where they choose to live. too many people end up in neighborhoods that are not really for them, and once there they alter their lifesyles (in terms of consumerism, observance, etc.) to an egregious degree.

but as i get closer to searching the housing market i am coming to realize that it is not all black and white. few people are lucky enough to find a community that is 100% what they need and for most people (i'm refering to those who are trying to be honest about where they should be living) there will always be some trade off.

in sum, it's not always as simple as just picking up and moving ten miles to the west. (although, yes, it often is that simple.)

tesyaa said...

Rosie, to put the "one time event" being important into context, just look at SL's story of the quick divorce, or even my wedding -- my pictures didn't come out, but that has no impact on my marriage or family life. The Bugaboo MIGHT even be a better investment that a fancy wedding, because a stroller is necessary and is used every day, so it might pay to have an unusually sturdy and long lasting brand.

I wonder what the divorce rate is for the people married in DP camps compared with the divorce rate for people married in extravagant halls. Probably an order of magnitude lower.

Lion of Zion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lion of Zion said...

ROSIE:

i agree with JS that parents whose daughter can't find happiness in life without an unaffordable wedding got what they deserved.

and i'm simply having difficulty understanding how hosting such a fancy one-time affair brings that much happiness anyway. maybe its a guy thing?

JS said...

LoZ,

Married, no kids yet. My opinions on the matter are based on how I was raised and based on the shared values my wife and I have.

I think where you live is part of the issue (we're looking for a house now, actually), but one needs to realize that wherever one lives there are going to be things that are positive and negative about the community.

I think the trick (and how I try to live my life) is to do the best to find the people that share my ideas and then simply not care when what I do isn't in line with what everyone else is doing. I think a lot of it is just self-esteem and simply not caring. This goes to little things like the fact that I don't like to wear suits to shul on shabbos generally to big things like the fact that my car is 15 years old whereas nearly everyone I know drives new to 2-5 year old cars for the most part and keep telling me to get a new car. We're saving for a house, I don't drive much, and I don't have mommy and daddy buying me things (nor would I want them to).

Hope that addresses your question.

rosie said...

LOZ, what if you budget $1500 for gown rental for your daughter and the gown that she absolutely loves is $2500. She isn't throwing a tantrum over it and isn't saying that her life is ruined but you know as her father that she really would feel like a princess in that dress. She has dreamed all her life of being a bride. I have a picture of one of my daughters on her wedding day. There she was in her gown with her little nieces (who were both under 3 at the time) looking up at her in awe and admiration. Those girls played "wedding" for a long time after. Realize that your daughter has been dreaming of this day since she was in diapers.
Tessya, no one knows on the day that they get married what the outcome will be and I think that most people figure that they will only get married once. Life has a way of doing unexpected things. Also tessya, I agree with you that wedding photography, which is a huge wedding expense, is very overrated. Get an uncle with a fancy camera to take pictures.

tesyaa said...

But going $1000 over an already huge budget of $1500 for a RENTAL? I BOUGHT my gown for $600 which included altering to make in tznius ... and I passed it down to a friend who was marrying a learning man and did not have a lot to spend, and she had it altered to fit her and really appreciated it. It looked great, too (too bad the pictures are so poor).

A problem with big budgets is that when things are more expensive than the budget, people sigh and say, "It's already so much, what's another $1000?" The WRONG attitude.

Lion of Zion said...

ROSIE:

the question is irrelevant because just like i will never have a fancy lawn i will also never pay even $1,500 (in 2009 dollars) for a gown worn once (and in your scenario, a rental!).

but i'll play along for fun. if all i could afford (whether in cash, or credit for your sake) is 1,500 then that's all she gets. if i could squeeze out the extra grand for her, i still wouldn't spring for it. i like to think that part of my job as a parent is doing what's best for my kids. in this case the best thing would be to put that grand in a bank account for general expenses, or better yet a future down payment.

"her little nieces (who were both under 3 at the time) looking up at her in awe and admiration. Those girls played "wedding" for a long time after."

if you don't see the inherent problem in this statement, then the chasm between our views is so wide that there is no point in continuing this discussion.

tesyaa said...

Would the little nieces NOT have played wedding if the gown weren't a top of the line model? Would they have said, ugh, what a yucky dress? Would anyone? The problem you describe is not with the bride, who as you said isn't throwing a tantrum, it's with the parents who don't want to say no. Then they complain they can't afford younger sister's tuition and need a scholarship.

Dave said...

What would she give up for the gown? If the gown was a thousand dollars over, then where will a thousand dollars be removed from the wedding expenses.

Alternatively, what are her plans for earning the thousand dollars?

JS said...

Rosie,

I can't even begin to describe how frustrating it is to read your comments on this issue.

My wife bought her dress (which was beautiful) and had a seamstress add to it to make it more tznius and the total cost was under $1000. You're talking about renting a dress for $2500?

And your justification for all this expenditure is based on a false sense of happiness. Furthermore, your completely wrong on who has accepted the "American" values. Its you and those like you who fall in line and do like everyone else. When you look at the American bridal catalogs and you see the phenomenal cost and obsession with the right band, the right hair, the right makeup, the right dress, the right hall, the right flowers, etc etc etc etc then you can ask who has bought into the American values. The people who make the smaller, cheaper weddings are the ones who haven't bought the advertiser's marketing hook, line, and sinker.

Your whole nonsense about "being a princess" and "dreaming of this since she was in diapers" is all part of this American extravagance.

I notice you also ignored my comment on my grandparents. I'll add to it. When they moved to Israel they had literally nothing. My grandfather worked as a security guard and my grandmother worked as a maid scrubbing floors on her hands and knees. She went to the market and bought old vegetables and fruits that were about to go bad because they were cheaper. When my dad asked for a toy he was asked how much it cost and then told how much food could be bought with that money. They didn't schnorr for tzedaka, they didn't go into debt, and they didn't buy things they didn't need. They brought those values with them to America. It's an insult to say that spending and going into debt or big weddings and pesach vacations, etc are an "old world" value held near and dear to our beloved grandparents and great grandparents in Europe.

You're just 100% wrong. Why do you feel the need to blame these backwards values on them when really it's just American consumerism?

rosie said...

JS, I did acknowledge your comment about your grandparents when I told you that you misunderstood what I said about weddings in DP camps.
Those values are not "old world" or held dear but many Jews had wealth before the Nazis (may their memory be erased) took it all away. They rebuilt in America and wanted to shield their children from what they went through.
I don't think that very many frum Jews read bridal magazines due to their untznius content. The weddings in Brooklyn that everyone is complaining about are not influenced by American media. Most American Jews who got married in America after the war had cheap weddings. The huge competition for who could produce the most expensive weddings came after the rebuilding of the frum community.
While I agree that takanus and other measures to prevent debt that will never be paid need to be in place, at the same time I know why weddings are important to people and that some things are worth spending extra on.
Yes, the little girls would have been in awe of any fancy dress. My point is that girls dream of their wedding day and this is why people try to make it special.
In frugal homes where the girl might have always worn cheap clothing, this is one day in her life when it may be OK to spend more on the dress.
I am just trying to point out that even if parents have always said "no" to crazy excesses, there are times when it might be excusable
to spend the money. I don't think that it is a flaw in parenting to grant something special on such an occasion. And yes, if need be cut the guest list if some of the guests are less important to the bride than the dress.

Commenter Abbi said...

"Are people only allowed to agree that weddings must stop if people can't afford them? "

Please point out where anyone here suggested that weddings should stop because people can't afford them?

The call was for stopping stupidly expensive weddings.


And in case you haven't noticed, we're in a world wide recession, the likes of which haven't been seen in about 80 years. This "money" you're referring to (as somebody pointed out, it's actually debt) doesn't exist anymore. HELOCS and endless credit lines on multiple cards are a thing of the past. So the charedi community better get used to less extravagent or even no affairs. A rabbi, three eidim, a minyan, a ketuba and ring is what you need to get married. Nothing more.

Lion of Zion said...

JS:

regarding the housing question, there is still more to it. example: a good friend of mine moved to LI regardless of whether or not it was better for him than other choice in NJ because NY is more lenient in giving OT/PT/etc. services.
i can't say he made the wrong decision, even though he might have been happier elsewhere.

(and to connect your jacket policy to choosing a neighborhood. my 4-year-old constantly asks me why i'm the only one in shul without a jacket, hat, etc. he also wants me to grow a beard so i can be a rabbi like all the other "rabbis" in shul)

gavra@work said...

Rosie, JS, etc.

The point which SL is making is a simple one which explains your argument:

DON'T GO INTO DEBT FOR A WEDDING!

Now, if you have the money and have been saving for 20 years for your child's wedding (paying tuition, perhaps you have a small family), go ahead and throw a party. Spend 2.5K on a dress (sounds like too much, but what do I know; I'm a guy), just don't borrow to do so.

If you don't have the money, don't spend it, even on a $600 dress. Borrow one like tessya's friend. Debt is a very simple thing to get in, and very hard to get out, and a fancy wedding is just not worth the swamp.

Lion of Zion said...

JS:

oh yeah, the point was that his son will need those services for the rest of his life

rosie said...

Abbi, my daughter lives in Brooklyn. She is very frugal but is constantly shocked at what people around her are spending. Even while we are in a scary recession, these people spend as though they are oblivious. I don't know where the money comes from but they are spending it. Tzedukahs are still hosting Chinese auctions so that brides can have weddings (not the 2 aidim and the chuppah type) and kids can go to camp. Overnight camp is still on for this year. Bungalow colonies are seeing pullouts but they are not closing down.
Some financial experts predict that the recession will start to ease up in 2010 and others predict another 8 years.
As long as there is money to spend, and apparently there is, or at least money to borrow, and apparently there is, there will still be money spent on weddings.
It is push coming to shove but it hasn't reached the rock bottom where people are having a small wedding for 50 people and home cooked food.

Anonymous said...

I occasionally read this blog, and today was one of those days when I opened it up and felt compelled to comment. As a newly married (4 months today) female, I did not care the slightest about the dress, flowers, food, etc. I had not been dreaming of my wedding day since I was in diapers. I was dreaming of the "after" part where you build a marriage. I don't know exactly what the wedding cost; my parents paid for most of it, but my fiance and I helped out, and we kept things on the low end. I borrowed a dress, went with the cheapest flowers, etc. I actually told my mother we could pick dandelions (not around in December in the cold) and have them for all I cared. We had a very nice wedding, in a shul, that was not very expensive. And I am 28 years old, before that question comes up. And while I know the frum community thinks that 28 is old (I was 27 when I got married), I was not raised to think that was too old to get married, and yes, I went to a Bais Yaakov school, and seminary, and college and graduate school. I started working at 20 and have been in the non-frum world since. I was not raised to value expensive things. If I wanted, not needed something, that my parents thought was too much, and not because they couldn't afford it, they told me I could save up money and buy it myself. And I was taught to save. This resulted in my being able to move right into a house when I got married.

-Up Too Early

JS said...

"Those values are not "old world" or held dear but many Jews had wealth before the Nazis (may their memory be erased) took it all away. They rebuilt in America and wanted to shield their children from what they went through."

My grandfather and grandmother came from very wealthy families - my grandfather's family had children sent to elite schools all over Europe, my grandmother's family owned factories. They lost everything and rebuilt responsibly and within their means. They "shielded they children" by imparting them with good values.

"I don't think that very many frum Jews read bridal magazines due to their untznius content. The weddings in Brooklyn that everyone is complaining about are not influenced by American media."

You're very naive. Yes, maybe they don't read the bridal magazines, but this community isn't as insular as you think. Where do you think the model was taken from for these big weddings? Where do you think the heimish advertisers figured out what to advertise? Heck, the entire idea of diamond engagement rings only took off in the late 1930's due to American advertising sponsored by De Beers. As insular as the community is, their values, to the core, are American. The sad thing is that they don't even realize it.

"I am just trying to point out that even if parents have always said "no" to crazy excesses, there are times when it might be excusable to spend the money. I don't think that it is a flaw in parenting to grant something special on such an occasion."

Yes, someone should feel special on their wedding day. But that doesn't trump budgeting and spending what is reasonable. I wasn't deprived growing up, there were very few things I felt I lacked, but my parents never went overboard and "special occasions" like birthdays or Hannukah meant small gifts. When a child is raised properly he understands the situation and doesn't feel deprived or constantly jealous of others. I was also taught to save up and work for extra money to buy the things I wanted. On the contrary, kids I knew growing up and see today who have toy after toy lavished upon them are generally spoiled and have the attitude that they are owed something. They generally don't treat their possessions properly and lose interest in things quickly. The attitude that you describe starts at a young age, the expectations and fantasies start early. The problem is, you seem to think it's a good thing and should be indulged when little girls want to be treated and spent upon as if they're princesses.

"And yes, if need be cut the guest list if some of the guests are less important to the bride than the dress."

This is such a warped value I don't even know what to say.

Lion of Zion said...

TESYAA:

could you please email me:
arisblog@yahoo.com
(and leave a comment on my blog that i should check my email)
thanks.

alpidarkomama said...

I guess no one got married before there were credit cards and home equity loans...

Avi said...

My parents and in-laws paid for our wedding; it was almost 13 years ago, so I'm a bit fuzzy on the details, but I don't think either side went into debt to pay for things - we both come from realistically frugal families. I have absolutely no clue how much she paid for her dress or if was a hand-me-down (I know that we were storing it afterward, so it wasn't a rental). Still, because of budget issues we used a local New England band instead of importing a more expensive one from NY or Baltimore. I regret that decision - sometimes an experience is worth paying for, and the local band was pretty awful.*

Similarly, I skipped my college roommate's wedding the year before because the only way to pay for airfare (he was getting married in LA, I was in NJ) would have been to put it on the credit card. We're still close friends, he's still happily married, and to this day I wish I had paid for the ticket -- plus interest -- to have attended that event and done the mitzvah. And I generally agree with SL 100% on the debt issue.

*OTOH, my wife has no recollection of the band whatsoever, and the times I've talked about it up she's happy nobody had to spend more. Everyone has things that they care about more than others.

Ariella said...

Some of the comments point out that in some cultures, the wedding gifts of money are intended to cover the expenses. While you cannot force guests to give cash gifts, and it is, in fact, a breach of etiquette to show expectations for gifts at all, it makes sense that a couple whose parents cannot afford all the wedding expenses contribute the cash gifts they receive to pay for their wedding. I have an aunt with well over a dozen children who made simple bar mitzvahs and still had to have the kids fork over the money they received to cover the costs. While that may seem cheap to some people, it actually makes perfect sense.

But people marrying today seem to consider it their due to keep everything and have their parents foot the whole bill. In fact, some people go even further and collect from others to be able to not compromise on the standards for the wedding. They would rather be recipients of tzedaka than do without the frills and the right to keep not only the gifts of guests but of tzedaka organizations that provide new furniture, linens, and housewares.

Of course what makes the most sense would never be accepted. It is this: the communal standard should be that a person work before marrying so that s/he can save up enough to pay for the basic wedding or household expenses without forcing the parents into debt. If the person can only earn $15K a year, then the choice would be either a very economical wedding after 1 year of work or a more standard affair after 2 years of work. Obviously, no one will accept this. Girls are supposed to be married off by nineteen, and perish the thought that they should learn something about life before becoming a Mrs.

rosie said...

JS, there were tzedukahs in Europe to make weddings for orphans (such as my great-grandmother). Weddings have been bigger in some times and places than others historically but the size of the wedding is not an American invention. The Torah speaks of Laban inviting all of the town's people to Leah Imeinu's wedding. I do agree with you that the diamond engagement ring is an American custom although the gemorrah speaks of dowering the bride with 24 jewels (remember all the gold that was presented to Rivkah Imeinu when Eliezer found the she was the one he was looking for.)
It is wonderful that your grandparents were so careful to impart good values but the attitude in the frum community came from somewhere and some of it does not seem American. Americans spend an average of $27,000 on a wedding (somewhere in that neighborhood) and I don't know if that includes a honeymoon, gifts, etc or if that is just the wedding. The average American family though has 1.8 kids so even at $27,000, it is still lower that what the average frum wedding costs which is usually more than $27,000.
Now what I meant about the guest list is that when people make guest lists, they often put names of people that they haven't had much contact with. Some of those people would not make or break the happiness of the bride or groom by if they didn't come. The guests are invited to be'someach the chosson and kallah, although most people feel that they have to invite for the sake of the guests and that often makes a very big guest list. Usually corners have to be cut somewhere and that is usually were people start.

JS said...

OK. I give up.

Dave said...

My wife and I spent exactly $0 on our wedding.

Our parents spent exactly $0 on our wedding.

We didn't go on our honeymoon until our tenth anniversary.

Hasn't had an adverse impact, so far as I can tell. But I've only been married once, so I cannot really compare.

Al said...

A girl whose biggest focus is on feeling like a princess on her wedding day is a girl, not a woman ready to create a new household with her husband. A woman ready to be married is excited for the day that the world recognizes her and her husband as a new unit, a unit ready to tackle the world together.

There is a time to abandon childhood fantasies and prepare to become an adult... there is no age or time limit on this process (as 30 year old boomerang adults show), but it is a process. That change should happen before marriage... I realize it doesn't in Brooklyn, and the families suffer for it... I am stunned by how many wives whine to their husband like little girls toward their father, not like adult women with their life partner.

Rosie, you seem like a smart woman, your writing is coherent, even if you logic is often weak, but you have bought hook, line, and sinker (I apologize to non-fishers, but its a cool idiom) into the mythos of American Hareidism.

American Hareidism is NOT a continuation of life in Eastern Europe before WW2, because during WW2, Eastern European Jewry was wiped out. The ranks of holocaust survivors in the US was a small proportion of American Jewry, and they and their children intermarried with the other American Jews.

American Jewry was largely Germanic Jews of various levels of assimilation, and the "Orthodox" ones imported their Rabbis from Eastern Europe, so the Rabbi was an Ashkenazi Talmudist with a congregation of Assimilated Yeckes. For the young American Orthodox or Hareidi Jews of today, they are about 4 generations removed from WWII, that means 16 great-great grandparents... of those 16, how many of them were Holocaust survivors, and how many of them were American Jews.

The Hareidism and Orthodox worlds built in NYC in the 20th century were funded by assimilated American Jews... look into the origins of the first day schools and were they raised money, it was from families that didn't send their children there. The cradle->wedding Yeshivot followed a similar if less publicized manner.

One grandmother fled Nazi European, another fled Nazi Germany, they built responsible families that send their children to college and graduate school in hopes of a better life, and they were WEALTHY European Jews.

Very few of us are actually descended from poor Jews of Eastern Europe, because they died during WWII, and if we are, it's 1/4 or less of our lineage. The leadership has created mythos around that time, and claimed that they were the true Jews.

Sorry, we're mostly assimilated Yeckes here, even those of us that have embraced (or our family embraced) Orthodox or Hareidi lifestyles.

The Minhagim of the Ashkenazi Jews that we all seem to follow are NOT our minhagim, because its not our lineage. But since most American Jews had lost theirs, they embraced those of the Rabbi, who was an Ashkenazi or Chasidish Rabbi. We're mostly Yeckes, who may have similar Halacha as Ashkenazi practice, but whose lives over the centuries were VERY different.

A true "heimish" wedding, with men holding up the Chupah outdoors with a small surrounding and reception is a beautiful thing to attend, but the Americanized monstrosities with the Orthodox trappings around them are all day affairs of excess and silliness. (I happen to enjoy Americanized Orthodox wedding with mixed dancing after the "Jewish" dancing, those are fun too... but it's the 12 hour Americanized Hareidi weddings that are beyond silly). When wealthy families do it, fine, they are our royalty, but when families of modest means and can't afford it "fake it" for the wedding, its wasteful, teaches poor values, and if its because the children throw a tantrum, then those are children NOT ready to be married.

Treating the bride and groom as a queen and king means lavishing them with respect, not a bad Disney movie.

rosie said...

Al, there was a recent article in the Jewish Press about 2 months ago about the history of Boro Park. That community grew tremendously after the war, specifically in the early 50's with the immigration of the Hungarian Jews. Until then, it was American and there were non-Orthodox Jews living there with their synagogues. Another article by another historian talks about the chumrahs that were instituted by the immigrants and their rabbis. They clearly delineate when Orthodox Judaism in America became right wing neo-Orthodoxy (which was basically the way thing were in Hungary). Some communities in NY are heavily influenced by the Hungarian Jewish culture. Have you ever read books by Rebbitzen Jungreis? She talks about being one of those immigrants.
As far as girls/women and their gowns, I used the gown as an example of an expense that can become inflated if the bride has her heart set on a certain style. While I do think that all brides regardless of age want to be princesses on their wedding day, it does not mean that they are not focusing on the holiness and sanctity of the marriage they are entering. I don't know of ANY brides that didn't focus some attention to their attire, make-up and hair on their wedding day. While it shouldn't be the entire focus, it does have it's place.

Up Too Early said...

Rosie - While I can't say I didn't focus any attention to my attire, make-up and hair on my wedding four months ago, it was not by choice. I am the only girl (out of two kids, so not really a big deal), but my mother was the driving force behind the hair, makeup, attire, etc. We did not spend a lot of money on any of those, but the day of the wedding, I still wanted to walk down in a ponytail, and 15 minutes before pictures were to begin (just my family), my hair and makeup were completed, and I was still wearing a denim skirt and shirt, and I wanted to walk down in that. Obviously I did not, but I would have liked to.

miriamp said...

My gown came from a resale shop. Not exactly my dream gown, but it was there, it fit (or would with a little letting out) and it actually was made of fabric. (ie a real collar, and a sheer top front that could be fixed.) It cost $500 plus another $80 to make it tznius. The headpiece and veil were another $65. It made me sick to spend so much on a gown that I'd wear once. I still have it, and 2 kallahs tried it on but didn't wind up wearing it. I hope it will be appropriate for one or more of my daughters some day.

I was "only" 22 when I got married, with no savings, but my parents assured me that they had no intention of paying for my wedding, having paid for their own many years back. My in-laws still had kids in day school and/or college. We paid for the wedding on my husband's credit card. We kept it as low budget as we could (small band, no flowers, no official photographer, buffet style catering, etc.) and we did pay it all off within a year or two. If we'd been restricted to cash, we would have had to have a much longer engagement while continuing to pay rent on two apartments instead of one and trying to "save up."

And I did feel like a princess -- probably would have in any dress, though -- it was the fact that I was getting married to the love of my life that really made the day, not the decorations or lack thereof.

Lion of Zion said...

AVI:

"I regret that decision - sometimes an experience is worth paying for, and the local band was pretty awful."

the advice someone gave me when i got married is that there are 2 things that are worth not skimping on. the music (it provides the ruach) and the photographer (it helps preserve the memories). (of course this doesn't mean going overboard.)

i'm not sure about the photographs (we never look at ours except when guests ask to see them), but i think the music is on target.

Al said...

Rosie, you make my point. A small number of immigrants with their culture pushed it out as "true Orthodoxy" to a German Jewish America for whom that was completely foreign to.

And lest we white wash our history, the Hungarian Jewish immigrants were NOT a large portion of the Hungarian Jews, most died, and those that did leave were NOT a random sample... The Israeli leadership worked to help the Urban Marxist Jews enter Israel, and through questionable strategies, the Yeshivot were able able to send their students and families to the United States...

The general masses of Hungarian Jews, the ones that were not Yeshiva families or Marxist labor backers were left to die... what became "neo-Orthodoxy" was not the religion of the Hungarian Jews, it was the religion of the Yeshivot that were able to "cut a deal."

Our forefathers did NOT practice Judaism as we practice today, we practice mythos created by a SMALL segment of the Hungarian Jewish (and other Eastern European Yeshiva groups) that worked a deal.

American Jewish guilt from not doing anything to stop the Holocaust caused assimilated Jewish Americans to give to their brethren, which funded our new fangled religion claimed to be "authentic."

Ariella said...

Actually the cost for bride's attire, etc. is not what usually breaks the budget. Unless the bride insists on a "designer" gown that costs $2000 (or more) just to rent and upwards of $3500 to buy, her dress details should not make up a large percentage of the overall expenditure. And it is an area in which one can cut corners by borrowing from friends, family, or a gmach with only the cost of alterations and cleaning.
I got married before it was standard to have one's hair done in an updo, so that paying someone $100 or thereabouts still seems extravegant to me (and totally absurd for bat mitzvah girls who have it done regularly now), but even for that, there are people who will do it free for those who can't afford it. For those who don't want handouts, it is cheaper to have professional makeup and hair done at the salon premises than to have the artists come to the hall when they need to add on to the bill for their travel time. What is even more extravegant, though, is paying the makeup artist to stay for hours into the wedding just for touchups. Many artist will even offer to just leave a touchup kit to save on that.
So the bride can choose to act like a princess (as in JAP) and spend thousands on her dress and on the attendant artist. Or she can opt to just look like a princess for a few hundred dollars.

Lion of Zion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lion of Zion said...

Al:

i share some of your sentiments, but you are completely misrepresenting so many facets of modern jewish history that i don't even know where to begin.

rosie said...

Al, we ARE practicing Judaism like the Hungarian immigrants. I agree with that. What I don't agree with is that Jews get their spending ideas about weddings from the American media, although dress and jewelry fashions are media related. I think it came from the Hungarians. The white wedding gown is not really a Jewish custom and traditionally women wore other colors. Years ago women were often married in dresses or suits that they could use on other occasions. Beautifying the bride with cosmetics and giving her jewelry is straight from the Torah. A new bride or a woman seeking a shidduch can even wear cosmetics if she (G-d forbid) must sit shiva.
As I said before, a chassunah is made my 2 sets of parents as well as the chasson and kallah, if they are involved with the arrangements. The 2 sets of parents usually must negotiate all the details and sometimes they are not in agreement. It is hard to be in control of all the variables when you are only half the simcha. In some sects of frumkeit they don't even meet until the children become engaged. While you know when your son will be Bar Mitzvahed and can control certain things in advance, it is hard to predict when he will become a chosson and in some groups dating and engagement are short.
To make a long story short, the community as a whole as well as it's leadership can take steps to curtail excess spending for everyone in the group. Otherwise, a happy occasion can quickly become sour.

Avi said...

LoZ - we look at our photos all the time. Well, technically, the kids do. I consider that money well spent even though we have a whole other album from a family friend/serious amateur photographer who gave us his own album which the kids also love. We had a videographer, too, but it was just a member of the photographer's staff, which I remember was much cheaper than going with a dedicated video guy. We didn't want another person in the way, we didn't think we'd ever watch the video, and we didn't want to spend the money. In the end, the video is rarely watched, and when it is I can't get past how [censored] the VHS 200 line image looks when viewed on our HDTV. I just tell the kids that "back then, the whole world just looked fuzzy like that."

Anonymous said...

I realize this post isn't about the tuition crisis, but let me get this straight. We pay 120,000+ for a K-12 education and young adults come out (i) with no concept about money and financing and think that the stress to their parents of $50,000 debt for one event is worth it; (ii) that a joyous wedding requires big bucks; (iii)that marriage is about pretty gowns and a fancy hall with lots of flowers; and (iv) young adults who don't have the backbone to say I don't want to keep up with Goldbergs? So, explain if that 120,000 tuition is worth it.

Anonymous said...

Rosie - Mark, let's do the math. If a 1000 people attend a wedding and each contributes $100, that is $100,000. If $50,000 is spent on the wedding, that still leaves $50,000 for the couple.
Suppose large weddings and large families are important to a society but they decide to all take responsibility for this choice. Say that each family spends $2000 per year on attending weddings. When the time comes to marry off their children, the money will be spent on them. No family will have to face the burden on their own if the community shares it each time.
[space]

I was going to go through the math in my original post, but decided not to because I had to run.

Bad assumption 1 -
You are assuming that a family of 1000 people will only have 20 weddings a year? That means that over 20 years, only 400 of the 1000 people get married. But you need about 500 to get married (assuming families mix exactly evenly) over that period of time for stability (500 from family x marry 500 from family y, etc).

Bad assumption 2 -
You are assuming that each and every one of the 1000 people are giving $100 for each wedding. That family of 1000 will have huge numbers of little kids. Does it mean that if I attend that wedding, I have to give $700, or $100 for each person? What about my cousins with 15 children, do they have to give $1700 for each wedding to cover the costs you are describing.

Basically, it's a fallacy to assume that larger sums of money can be spent by a population unit just because the sum is divided differently among them. By the way, this fallacy even applies to nations as we are perhaps about to learn a tough lesson about.

Mark

Anonymous said...

Rosie - The shidduch crisis is caused by the general growth of the community and the fact that boys usually marry girls 3 to 4 years younger than themselves. Because there is a 4% increase in the frum population every year, at the end of 4 years there are more children than there were 4 years before. A 24 yr old boy has lots of girls aged 19 to 24 to pick from. If boys and girls were to marry those of equal age or if boys were to marry older girls, the situation would not be as bad.[space]

Then there is a very simple solution. The Rabbanim need to make a takanah that boys may not marry girls younger than they are until a better balance is reached.

This is coupled with the fact that girls want the boys to be everything that they dreamed of and the boys fall short of those dreams. I define shidduch crisis as the crisis that comes to your house when your child, regardless of gender, needs a shidduch!
Frum people are by nature stubborn.
[space]

Am Keshei Oref ....

Usually tough luck doesn't do much either because there are tzedukahs that make weddings for poor people. So far, no one has been forced to have just "10 men and a chuppah."[space]

Instead they've forced the yeshivas to not pay their teachers for months at a time, and when they do pay them on time, it's a pittance. I know this is a cheap shot by me, but it's absolutely true.

Seems to me that they've forgotten the d'oraisa mitzvah of Lo Talin Peulat Sachir. In today's world that means two weeks at most in the USA, and one month at the most in Israel.

Mark

rosie said...

No one said that the family had 1000 people. What was said was that a Cantonese wedding had 1000 guests, many of whom were distant cousins. This is family from both the bride's and groom's side. Those might not all be family members. How many weddings does the average couple attend per year as guests? Do couples bring their small children to those weddings? (Usually not). If a 1000 guests is 2 families we are talking about 500 family members on each side. Usually the guest will be related to one side. Now if a family has 500 members which is including 5th cousins, does 20 weddings a year sound like enough? In 5 years that is 100 people married or 20% of the family! I hate to tell you but there are families that give big when a niece or nephew gets married. I guess it depends on each person's wallet. People usually spend their money on things that they feel are important to them, unless of course they don't have any money.

Anonymous said...

JS - I think the trick (and how I try to live my life) is to do the best to find the people that share my ideas and then simply not care when what I do isn't in line with what everyone else is doing. I think a lot of it is just self-esteem and simply not caring. This goes to little things like the fact that I don't like to wear suits to shul on shabbos generally to big things like the fact that my car is 15 years old whereas nearly everyone I know drives new to 2-5 year old cars for the most part and keep telling me to get a new car. We're saving for a house, I don't drive much, and I don't have mommy and daddy buying me things (nor would I want them to).[space]

JS, it sounds almost as if you are describing me here. I don't particularly care what people think about me with regards to superficial things. I never wear a suit to shul. In fact, I believe it is assur for me to wear a suit and tie to shul due to a kal vachomer. I haven't worn a suit or a tie for quite a while, probably since the last wedding/bar mitzvah/whatever affair I was forced by my wife and/or mother to wear one. Though to my nephews bar mitzvah (in my sisters backyard), I did not wear a tie or a jacket, just nice pants and shirt. Hmmm, probably at least 2 or 3 years since I wore a suit or tie. I wore nice black pants and a long sleeve white shirt to my grandfathers funeral a few years ago.

Oy, and you should have heard the comments I got from neighbors and coworkers about my dumpy 1994 Nissan Sentra (manual windows) with the 3 car seats crammed in the back row (after my wife's 1994 Volvo was destroyed by a truck in the supermarket parking lot). But then we had twins and needed a minivan (in fact, 2 of them) instead. I donated that Sentra to the local JCC. Hey, it only had about 65,000 miles on it after more than 11 years and was still in decent shape!

Oh, and leasing, everyone, ok, almost everyone, tells us to lease a car. They say that's how you get to have a new car every 3 years or so. Nope. I've never leased a car in my life (other than the company car that I received when I was working in Israel, and the company leased it for me). Leasing is like that wheel in the hamster cage - once you get on, you go round, and round, and round, with payments forever. But you get to drive (and enjoy a host of other expenses) a nice new car every few years. I've heard some horror stories of people who returned leased minivans being charged all sorts of money to bring the van into good enough condition to resell it. A fact of life is that kids destroy things, especially minivans.

My wife and I live our lives as we see fit, not as other see it for us. We use lots of coupons even when the neighbors laugh at us in line at the grocery store (a real event that my wife described to me hilariously). We shop at the thrift stores. We accept bags of clothes. We also sort them and give away LOTS of clothes as well. We buy stuff on sale - even though when our garage door is open people comment about the tower of toilet paper and paper towels, and the mountain of diapers (at one point we had enough diapers to last us 2 years - hey when they go 75-90% because of new packaging and we have coupons, we buy, and buy, and buy some more).

Finally, Mom and Dad don't buy us anything. Well, not anything much. My Mom did bring some Pesach things from NY when my parents recently came for Pesach. And my Dad did pay for my Yeshiva tuition through the end of high school, and he did help somewhat with college tuition (with my working and a bunch of loans that I paid off when I started working in a "real" job).

Looks like we are quite similar. But I bet my wife is a better couponer than yours :-)

Mark [I think I had too much coffee today ... too much ranting this evening]

Anonymous said...

Rosie - LOZ, what if you budget $1500 for gown rental for your daughter and the gown that she absolutely loves is $2500.[space]

Are. You. Kidding.!!!!!!!

For something that will be worn only once for 5 or 6 hours???????

We spent very little for the use of my wife's gown. Basically, my sister-in-law had her old gown (maybe 8 or 9 years old at the time) just sitting somewhere in her house. So we took that gown and went to gown rental place in Petach Tikvah and made a deal with them that we will give them the old gown in return for the rental of one that fit my wife and was more appropriate (well, we did ask one of aunts to help us lengthen the sleeves a bit with some nice material that we bought cheap in Bnei Brak). My opinion is that spending $1000 on a wedding gown is Bal Tashchis and ought to be assur.

My sister was married in 1987. Her wedding gown was exquisite. We all had a part in making it. My grandmother, a seamstress, was the main designer and assembled it. The rest of us, boys and girls spent a few weeks threading sequins as evenly as possible for her to sew onto the gown. It really was superbly beautiful in the end (and of course fit perfectly). Even the fancy silk organza material (whatever that is) was purchased frugally since my grandmother worked at a material store at the time and was entitled to a large discount by the owner.

My other sister also had a gown made (or much modified, I lived in Israel by then and wasn't involved in the details) by my grandmother, but it was a much simpler design.

But $1000 for a 5-6 hour gown is sheer insanity.

Mark

Julie said...

Dave: How in the world did you spend nothing on your wedding? (Did I misread something?) Doesn't a marriage license cost something? And if you really spent nothing, there seems to be a halachic problem because you did not give your wife something that is shavei perutah. Are you lying?

Anonymous said...

Rosie - No one said that the family had 1000 people. What was said was that a Cantonese wedding had 1000 guests, many of whom were distant cousins. This is family from both the bride's and groom's side. Those might not all be family members. How many weddings does the average couple attend per year as guests? Do couples bring their small children to those weddings? (Usually not). If a 1000 guests is 2 families we are talking about 500 family members on each side. Usually the guest will be related to one side. Now if a family has 500 members which is including 5th cousins, does 20 weddings a year sound like enough? In 5 years that is 100 people married or 20% of the family! I hate to tell you but there are families that give big when a niece or nephew gets married. I guess it depends on each person's wallet. People usually spend their money on things that they feel are important to them, unless of course they don't have any money.Rosie, you are completely oblivious to the financial point that I made (or tried to). And that is really very unfortunate because it is a critical thing to learn in order to avoid future suffering, of family, community, state, country, and even world. Oh well. If you want to try to understand it, read the last paragraph of my post at 8:49pm.

Mark

Dave said...

Legal costs are dependent on the State in America.

In Colorado, there is no need for a license; the parties merely need to hold themselves out to the community as married. Or at least, that was the case at the time, I don't know if the law has changed.

I did forget to include the rings ($18 each as it happened, for silver rings), but I wasn't considering those a marriage expense since we had purchased them on our engagement.

There are no Halachic issues to worry about (or depending on your stance, there are a great many), because it wouldn't be a Halachically binding wedding anyway.

But assuming $18 for a single ring, plus the cost of the Kesuba, you're still able to do a Halachic wedding for less than a single flower centerpiece.

tesyaa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tesyaa said...

Tangent, but I clearly remember that my wedding ring was $27. What happened was my fiance's great uncle A"H told me to stop by his diamond booth (he was in diamonds, but not frum, so no stereotyping). My fiance was working but he gave me money because the ring had to belong to him. When I got there Uncle Abe had been called away but his chassidishe friend in the next booth recognized me and told me to pick out what I wanted. My engagement ring was white gold in an extremely simple setting and I just picked out a very narrow band that was about the same width. $27. The engagment diamond had to be reset after 18 years, but the wedding ring is still good, although after 6 kids B"H I had it enlarged from a 5.5 to a size 6.

Avi said...

Our wedding rings were simple gold bands - couldn't have cost more than $50 a piece in the late 90's. But I did do the whole 'spend thousands of dollars on a diamond ring' thing. I bought it wholesale from the uncle of my roommate who was "in the business" but it was still a lot of money for a tiny super-shiny piece of compressed carbon. Seemed important at the time - that was one piece of peer pressure we gave into completely. (She still wears it, but it's not super-shiny any more because she never cleans it. We have four kids, 2 jobs, etc. Cleaning a ring is not exactly a priority any more.) I did pay for it with cash, but it was a pretty big hit when we were first starting out, and if you count that as part of the wedding expenses it would definitely get its own line item.

rosie said...

Mark, I understand what you are saying that sharing the debt is still spending of lots of money but in most cultures throughout history, weddings were important ceremonies and money was spent on them. Obviously when there is NO money it cannot be spent but that is not yet the case here. Go to Brooklyn and see all the money being spent there. Someone has it.
I agree that weddings need to be cut back but we are not yet at the point of making them in the backyard with hot dogs for the seudah.
As far a takanus about the ages of women that men marry, takanus really only work when people are ardent followers of one rebbe. The rebbe must take into account all of the people he is the spiritual leader of. Sometimes there are men who at 45 are still single and looking and if they want the mitzvah of fathering children, must marry a woman significantly younger than themselves. A takuna means EVERYONE so that is why such a takuna cannot be made. There were some big rabbonim who promised brachas to men who married older girls as well as the Baltimore shidduch initiative that gives a bonus to shadchanim who make shidduchim for "older" (age 22.5 and up)women.
As far as costly gown rentals, that is a Brooklyn thing (check it out if you wish) and is part and parcel of the social pressure of making a Brooklyn chassunah. I know that lots of people will pipe up that they were married in Brooklyn wearing a dress from Goodwill but I doubt that they are the average Brooklyn bride. Being the veteran of making several weddings I have also spent much less on that.

Commenter Abbi said...

Rosie, none of here excuse outrageously expensive gown rentals just because "it's a Brooklyn thing". Brooklyn better start growing up, fast, because sooner or later you do have to pay the piper, literally.

As many people have already described, social pressure does not excuse debt. "Everyone else is doing it" is an excuse that doesn't really work past second grade, if that (I don't even let my four year old use that excuse. Come to think of it, she doesn't have to because she's very good at thinking for herself. If my four year old can do it, why can't all the grownups in Brooklyn do it?).

Being part of a "frum" community that demands that you spend beyond your means isn't much of a frum community to begin with, no matter where they got these values, whether it was Europe, America, because they felt bad about the Holocaust, whatever.

aml said...

As with many of the conversations here, this one turns my stomach. As I have shared in the past, I am a convert to Judaism and I am ashamed at this type of indulgence. When I joined this community a decade ago I had no idea these were norms and I find myself regretting my decision more and more (not the decision to convert- that's between me and God; I'm writing of my decision to join the community, which is part-and-parcel of the conversion process).

Firstly, Rosie, I'm sure you are a very, very good person, but I have to agree with the others in stating that it sounds to me like you've been greatly influenced by American consumerism. Also, I too cannot relate to a little girl growing up dreaming of her wedding day as the defining experience of her life. There just a disconnect there for me that is hard to describe and I really feel like we're on different plains of reality. Others have said this better in the comments above.

I would never pay $1500 for a wedding dress, let alone $2500. I can't remember how much I paid for my own dress- I had it made for a few hundred dollars I think, with the understanding that I would donate it back to the seamstress who made it. She, in turn, put it in her gamach- a system, I think.

When I got engaged, parents (not Jewish) sat down with me and said, "We have $10,000 in cash (not a lot- this was only eight years ago) to work with. No more." My husband's family didn't put money towards the wedding because we were married in the States and they are from Israel, so they had travel expenses to cover for his side of the family (which were roughly $10,000 between fights, hotels, and food).

We had a wedding with about 150 people. It was beautiful and to this day, people pull me aside and tell me it was one of the nest weddings they'd ever been to.

I have a friend, another convert whose family basically disowned her after her conversion, who married a kollel guy. We "made" her wedding for less than $1000 and it was AMAZING. We all got up early and went to the shul and cooked in the shul kitchen. Nothing special- some sweets if I remember correctly. The huppa was his tallit. The ruach was amazing. And we sent them off into the world feeling like royalty.

When my brother got married, my parents gave him $10,000 too, and his in-laws gave them $10,000. They spent $10,000 on the wedding (this was four years ago) and took the other $10,000 and put it towards a down payment on a house (they had both finished grad school before they got married, so they were ready to settle into a house).

I do have to say that there is something to being married young. OK, maybe not 19, but in your early 20s. I work on a college campus, so maybe I'm a bit jaded, but there is a lot of temptation out there and my best students are the seriously religious (mostly Jewish and Muslim) married "kids" (I'm not much older than than so its hard for me to call them kids). They are much more grounded and they seem to realize that there is more to lose from slacking in their studies. But of course, these married students have no problem "living poor" in studio apartments (some sleep on air mattresses) and eating rice and beans. And I suppose they are delaying children for a few years. They have lowered expectations and they are gaining skills to go out into the world and make a living. I think this is beautiful and inspiring. This is what my husband and I did too, which is maybe why I relate so well to it.

Anonymous said...

Since so many posts on this site are about the tuition crisis, how about killing two birds (or burdons) with one stone. Schools/yeshivas should say to families if you spend/spent more than 10,000 on a wedding for you or your children (even if borrowed) then obviously you don't need tuition assistance and you are not eligible for assistance. Same for Shul dues, etc.

ProfK said...

One of the problems in discussing weddings is clearly money--who has it and who doesn't. Are we really saying that couple X, who have the money to make any type of wedding that they want to, should not be allowed to make that wedding because couple Y cannot afford to copy them? The problem is not with couple X--the problem is that couple Y feels entitled to the same type of wedding. If a community adopts as its "standard" that weddings must be lavish for everyone then that community is flying in the face of the reality of how money is distributed across the community.

Al, your grasp of the history of the Jews in Europe and America is idiosyncratic at best; it's dead wrong for so much of what you said.

To the commenters about diamond wedding rings, one of my most treasured items, found by my mom after she came back from the camps, was my grandmother's diamond engagement ring. Said grandmother got married in 1919. Talking to others my age will bring out that my grandmother was not unique; there were others who received diamonds or other precious stones. DeBeers and American advertising had nothing to do with it.

Re the white dresses, that style is only a few hundred years old. But it's not just an American secular custom that we adopted in the Jewish community. An existing picture of my great grand parents on their wedding day in Europe shows my great grandmother in a white gown with a long "shlier"--veil. That marriage took place in the 1800s.

What seems to me to be the problem is that we can't decide whether we're communists/socialists or democrats. Should our frum society be one in which everyone has to be the same and act the same and do everything in the same exact way as others in the community do them, or will we allow for individual decisions, conceding that no one has to be the same or do things in the same way as others. Me? I'm a democrat, and I frankly don't care how you make a simcha (always assuming you aren't asking me to pay for that simcha one way or another) as long as you return the favor and keep out of my decisions.

rosie said...

AML, as you stated, these are NORMS! Now as others such as Abbi has stated, not everyone holds by "norms" if they have the gumption to stand up to them. What happens with chassunahs though, is unless children from families with similar values marry (which they often do)someone will usually want something spent that others would feel is a waste of money. As I keep bringing out and it is hard to relate to if you don't have married children, there are more players in weddings than in other simchas. A Bar Mitzvah boy has been raised for 13 years by his parents but the chosson is now an adult (you hope) and the chassunah marks the formal end of his childhood and the culmination of the brochas said at his bris, "Torah, l'chuppah, l'maasim tovim. It is understandable that the family will want to celebrate the event. Now if you want to swim against the tide when making your child's wedding, hopefully your mechutanim and future son/daughter-inlaw are in agreement with you. As Jay(led) said in another thread, they keep chiding him for his lack of bitochon every time he tries to get cheap with them. Chances are this fellow will spend more that he feels comfortable with due to family pressure from all sides. If you are passing judgment on those who succumb to social pressure, make your child a wedding and see what happens. It is harder than you think to keep it under control especially if you live in a community where it is frowned upon. Obviously those who live in communities with takanot are spared the embarrassment of having to say "I can't afford it."
Aml, like many converts and BTs you probably became Jewish/frum due to a desire for a closer connection with Hashem. I am sure that it comes as a shock that much of religious life comes with a high price tag. Some of it can be curtailed but it has to be done the right way, otherwise a simcha becomes anything but.
Prof K, while you are right to say that what you spend is your right and your business, you have to be ready for your mechutanim to say the same thing when making a wedding. They may want to spend more or less than you and some have the unfortunate experience of having mechutanim that pressure them into spending more than they can. No one wants to go into a simcha with bitter feelings. If the whole community does one thing, it would be harder for someone to apply that pressure.

tesyaa said...

Rosie, it's nauseating that you tell aml (a convert for quite a while apparently) that having a closer connection to Hashem comes with a high price tag. What can you possibly mean when you say "Some of it can be curtailed but it has to be done the right way, otherwise a simcha becomes anything but." ?? We have already ascertained the true minimum cost for a frum wedding. Kosher eidim don't cost a lot. A ring has to be worth a prutah!

aml said...

Rosie: I'm not sure why a "religious life comes with a high price tag." That's suggesting that only the rich can be religious and that's my point in all of this... and that's why is heart wrenching and makes my stomach turn.

I wonder how many of my muslim or christian students tell potential converts that a religious life comes with a high price tag.... you gotta have money to get close to God?

SephardiLady said...

Heck my MIL had a blow up right before our wedding over something she thought should have been done better. I was in a room downstairs davening mincha and asking mechila for my averot. Not quite the time to be making decisions about stepping in to defend my mother's choice, or to step back and not create any back blood.

But then I heard my now husband tell his parents not to be so darn petty over something that has so little relevance and to ignore whatever it is that they may not like because life isn't about having a perfect wedding but establishing a home.

At that point I was able to get back to my davenning knowing that we were well on our way to establishing a MARRIAGE.

Kids should dream about getting married. But dreaming about the details of a wedding. . . . . please. Perhaps there is another unfulfilled need that could be met which would take the emphasis off of the Bar and put it back on the Mitzvot.

rosie said...

Aml, if you look into the history of the Jewish religion, korbonos were expensive, bichurim (coming to the Bais Ha Mikdosh with the first fruits)was expensive, the building of the Bais Ha Mikdosh itself was expensive, etc, even though poor people were given the option of bring flour and birds as korbonos. Today we have expenses such as tuition. Poor people can be just as religious but the Torah does not extol poverty (although it also does not advocate running after money at the expense of learning Torah). Judaism is not just a religion of the heart; it involves all aspects of life. While a wedding can be conducted with just a glass of wine, a ring, and 2 aidim, it is not the religiously preferred way. If it were, all weddings throughout history would be conducted that way.
If you look at what I said and stop twisting things to suit your own agenda, you will see that I said that much of religious life comes with a high price tag. Tuition, matza, etrogim, simchas, tefillin, mezuzzahs, Shabbos and yomtov food, kashrus, Brit milah, etc (what did I leave out?)all cost more than what someone would pay if they were not Jewish. While there are ways to lower these expenses, they are part of Jewish life. What is there to argue about that?

rosie said...

SL, you have little girls I assume. Don't they ever dress up as kallahs? Would you be upset if they did? Is there really anything wrong with a young girl picturing herself as a bride in a beautiful gown?
The men who posted here would spend the same $1500 (the usual Brooklyn cost) on music that is often charged for gown rental (I hate to tell you but that is a really cheap rental). It is the same amount of money for a one time event but if it is important to them, it is OK to spend it but a dress? Why should his expense be OK and hers not?

miriamp said...

The price tag is much lower outside of metro-NY.

Sure it's expensive to be Orthodox (Kosher meat and cheese, more dress-up occasions, "dinner party" every week for Shabbos...let's not even discuss tuition!) but it doesn't have to be *outrageously* expensive. (Except in NY!!)

Born and bred on LI, I was so glad to become frum, marry, live and raise my children elsewhere!

Rosie, you are making me think I should avoid shidduchim for my children with NY Jews and certain Israeli communities as well!

I have no problem with the concept of a Chassanah for under $10K. If the other side does, then we'll all have to be reasonable, or it just won't work. If they can really afford it and really want it, then we'll go with some aspects of it, but I'm still going to argue for toned down and a big donation made instead of a fancy shmancy event. I want no part of the rat race! (And my oldest child is not yet Bar Mitzvah, so we have a while before it's an issue anyway.)

Anonymous said...

If $1500 is "a really cheap rental", then there is something messed up (would prefer to use stronger language) about the community that is following this practice. That is sickening.

SephardiLady said...

Rosie is right. The Torah does not extol poverty. And that is why we shouldn't treat our money so lightly. More over, we shouldn't treat other people's money lightly. Mechutanim, Chatanim, and Kallot that demand, demand, demand, as far as I am concerned, are not acting with proper yirat shomayim. Going into a wedding planning session with little thought outside of your own grandious desires is quite juvenille. And it happens all the time!

JS said...

Rosie,

For the love of God, please please PLEASE just stop already. Your values are so warped it's frightening. I can't even believe we're observing the same religion. Did you actually say you can't be poor and be religious - it's not "religiously" preferred? You are completely warping the Torah. The korbanot that were available for the poor were specifically established to NOT embarrass people. If your values were true, there would be one gigantic, expensive korban for all. And people would go into debt to bring the korban and be the same as everyone else. The only place we're instructed to be like everyone else is with the half shekel and the whole point there is that the coin is small! We don't require everyone to give 20 shekel! You've taken the teachings of the Torah, turned them on their head, and say that this is what Hashem wants from us. You refer to Avraham and Eliezer presenting Rivka with gifts. Avraham was wealthy!!! You forget Yaakov who came empty-handed and had to work for 14 years to earn his bride. Has this conveniently been edited out of the Torah?

You keep saying people have the money in Brooklyn to make these lavish simchas. It's call debt. It's called Tzedaka. More accurately, it's called bankrupting a generation on nonsense. It's taking communal money that could be better spent on things like lowering tuition and instead fressing and dancing for 5 hours.

You keep saying we haven't yet gotten to hotdogs in the backyard. Well, what's so embarrassing about that? It's the end of the world? It's not a "real" simcha? I'm sorry, but I've seen people at fancy simchas and people at not so fancy simchas, and they both look equally happy to me.

If your stupid decisions only affected you and those who think like you, I'd keep my mouth shut. But, this nonsense affects us all. You're slowly destroying Judaism by burying it in debt.

My MIL went crazy with our wedding. There was simply no talking to her (this is part of a larger issue that can't be addressed here) - after numerous arguments with her that we wanted a simpler wedding, my wife gave up. She was too embarrassed to admit she couldn't afford a large simcha. Even after my parents said we can only contribute $X she persisted. She is in tens of thousands of dollars in debt (she was in debt before, this compounded the problem). My in-laws are completely stressed out, it affects their marriage, and is slowly eating them alive. My BIL is now getting married and they have nothing for his wedding and are trying to borrow more money (and this is with the girl's family paying for the vast majority of the costs). My BIL's wedding will be much simpler than mine and even though my MIL has no money, she is constantly griping that she feels the wedding isn't going to be nice enough. There are two more children to marry off. My wife and I are also stressed by this as their money problems are slowly becoming our problem - will they be able to retire? Will their marriage survive this? Will they have to move in with us one day? etc.

I don't understand where your position comes from or why you keep advocating so strongly for it. You're 100% wrong, and such seriously think about these issues before commenting again on this.

Anonymous said...

I don't know how many chareidi readers there are, but if you are, can you confirm if what Rosie is saying is standard for weddings is correct? Is there such a dichotomy between the chareidi world and the rest of Orthodox Jewry that we don't even know that a $1500 gown rental is considered cheap?

SephardiLady said...

Rosie-I have no problem with little girls playing wedding, school, house, or auto shop for that matter.

We seem to have more boy energy running through this house than girl energy. I saved my own inexpensive bridal hairpiece should I ever have a girl who wants to dress up as Queen Esther or a Kallah for Purim. But she wants to be a bear next year, like in her favorite book (plus she sees the Bear Costume on the top shelf of our not currently in use clothing closet). The neighbor girls offered to paint her nails. Once again she wasn't interested. But she likes to wear a kippah.

Do I have a problem with a girl picturing herself as a beautiful bride? No, not really. But if she is ready to get married, I think she better be ready to start with a budget and put wants after needs.

Perhaps we aren't normal. My kids imitate my own bargain shopping. The funniest scene I ever saw was my son around 3 years old, playing grocery store with his girl cousin. She was putting everything she saw into he cart and he was pulling out half the stuff and declaring that they would have to wait until the item went on a good sale to buy it. Then when they got to the cash register he found some paper to serve as coupons.

rosie said...

A chassunah can be made for under $10,000 if the only people who eat the seudah are immediate family members and out-of-town guests and you limit the simchas chasson and kallah refreshments to cake, fruit, and soda. Cut out the open bar, have a bouquet of flowers for the kallah only, and hire an amateur musician and photographer. Email the invitations. There will still be the costs of clothing for every member of the family,(do your own hair and makeup), feeding the out-of-town guests, as well as sheva brochas, the l'chaim (sorry for going backwards)chasson and kallah classes (maybe someone will do it as a gift) rings, gifts such as kallah necklace, chosson's watch (get it at Walmart or Costco)and household set up. (Let a friend host a bridal shower). For the hall, rent a school gym or lunch room. If both sides agree, you could have a chassunah for under $10,000 ($5000 a side) Don't forget the SHADCHANUS though and the going rate today is over $1000 per side. It is a halacha to find out what the going rate is and give it. If you don't believe me, ask a rov. If you want to skip this fee, meet on Frumster. Date in someone's living room since dating can be very expensive.
For all of you with little kids, have a great time sitting in judgment of those of us who got taken to the cleaners at chassunah time. Your day will come!

aml said...

Rosie, I quoted you directly... not twisting anything. Just trying to point out how absurd it is.

Dave said...

Getting back to root causes. How much of this is due to the very high pressure for social conformity inside much of the Orthodox community?

aml said...

I'm VERY confused. I must have missed this in conversion class... necklace and watch? household set up??? we slept on mattresses on the floor for the first two years, had used sofas my old boss gave us, and bought dishes and post and pans at the dollar store

open bar? I think we had exactly one bottle of wine at my wedding- for under the chuppa.

l'chiam? how much does that cost? most I've been to include punch and cookies and everyone saying mazel tov...

this is just silliness...

JS said...

Silliness? It's religiously required! See verse mumble mumble in sefer ahem and gemara masechet ummm daf cough amud beis as well as shu"t rabbeinu ahem se'if cough cough.

aml said...

LOL JS... thanks for making me smile.

Anonymous said...

Rosie - Obviously when there is NO money it cannot be spent but that is not yet the case here. Go to Brooklyn and see all the money being spent there. Someone has it.[space]

Rosie, you're changing the topic again (that's what people do when they begin to realize they are on the losing side of an argument). If someone has the money, and they are up to date on all their other bills, they can spend it however they want to. Big house, big weddings, big cars, a new sefer torah, whatever they desire, if they can afford it. But we were talking about going into debt, or spending more than prudent, on a wedding.

I have a relative that made very large weddings for his children, one of those weddings was at the NYC Hilton and had over 1200 guests. So what? He had the money and that's what he wanted to do with it (personally, I disagree with spending so much money that way, and think it's a waste, but still it's his choice). I think I heard that the gown was somewhere in the vicinity of $12,000. Sick.

miriamp - Rosie, you are making me think I should avoid shidduchim for my children with NY Jews and certain Israeli communities as well![space]

It's probably a good idea to be very careful, but don't tar everyone in NY with the same brush. There are still folks that haven't perverted our wonderful religion (like Rosie and friends have perverted it) living there. For example, I grew up in NYC (Washington Heights as an infant, Boro Park as a boy, and Staten Island as a young adult) and I turned out okay. My brother also turned out okay, though he is a bit more steeped in the gashmiut-perversion though not entirely. My sisters also turned out pretty well grounded. I don't know which Israeli communities you may be referring to here, but most are fine other than some of the very wealthy enclaves that live like we are discussing.

Rosie - I said that much of religious life comes with a high price tag. Tuition, matza, etrogim, simchas, tefillin, mezuzzahs, Shabbos and yomtov food, kashrus, Brit milah, etc (what did I leave out?)all cost more than what someone would pay if they were not Jewish. While there are ways to lower these expenses, they are part of Jewish life. What is there to argue about that?[space]

Yes, nobody denies that being a frum Jew is more expensive than simply being secular in America (or pretty much anywhere). And we all know it and live it. But that is exactly why I rail against people (like you) who by their actions and words are making it even more expensive, even prohibitively more expensive. Telling people that spending $1500-2500 on a 5 hour wedding gown is "the norm" is a perfect example of this. Other examples include discussions about how it might be important to go away for Pesach, or how important it is to send your kids to sleepwaway camp. Heck, pretty much everything you've discussed recently fits into this category or "norm-ing" things that directly cause the costs of being a regular frum Jew (like me) who is shomer mitzvot to rise inexorably.

JS - The only place we're instructed to be like everyone else is with the half shekel and the whole point there is that the coin is small![space]

JS, excellent point! I'll have to remember it for a future argument.

rosie said...

AML, I was not suggesting that only the rich could be religious. What I was saying is that people look for inspiration and guidance and find that people are living superficially.
JS, you are really twisting what I said. I said that although a wedding could be made with a glass of wine, 2 aidim, and a ring, it is not religiously preferred to do that. It is religiously preferred to make a seudah and dance, drink wine and have music. What I was saying about korbonos was that there was expense involved and their was a hierarchy of giving corresponding to the financial ability of the giver. The larger animals that were brought were expensive. The poor had other options. WHAT IS NOT TRUE ABOUT THAT? Sorry for shouting at you JS but I DO NOT ADVOCATE IT. I do say that IT IS WHAT IT IS AND IT IS HARD TO CHANGE. WHAT IS SO HARD ABOUT THAT TO UNDERSTAND? I am one of the cheapest, most frugal people alive and found that it was impossible not to spend when it came to weddings. What is going on in your family is common and unless the entire society makes takanot , IT WILL NOT CHANGE. I SAID THIS ALL ALONG. BTW, Yaacov avinu worked for Lavan for 14 years not because he was too poor to get married. Lavan tricked him as well as tricking the people whom he hired to cater the weddings. Yaacov avinu's wedding was very large.
Anonymous, as to the cost of gown rental in Brooklyn, this happens in the most frum of neighborhoods so I guess that the rabbonim who marry off daughters know that this is the cost. Buying a gown costs more. Gemachs rent used gowns that may have been worn several times and since they only hold up for a few wearings before they really look shot after awhile. Gowns are very delicate and all the dancing and picture taking and repeated alterations take a toll.

Anonymous said...

Now you are bringing in Rabbonim as a haskama for expensive gown rental. What do you bet that 1/2 of the rabbonim are never told the cost by their wives and the other 1/2 are given the rental free as good PR? Maybe it's a segula to get married in Rabbi X's daughter's dress!

rosie said...

Anonymous, since you are posting anonymously I guess it is OK to say that what you said is idiotic. I did not change the topic. I replied to someone who said that because of the recession there is NO MONEY for that any more. I replied that there is still plenty of money being spent. Why is that so off topic? Any are you afraid of something? Why are you anonymous?

rosie said...

Anonymous, everyone in Brooklyn is holy, don't you know that? The holier you are the more you pay because you are royalty.

ProfK said...

Sorry SL but I can't help myself from playing "mother" here for a moment. All you warring siblings go to your room for a time-out and do not come out again until you can speak to each other in a respectful manner.

There are no facts being discussed here, only opinions, and an opinion can't be wrong. It can only be wrong when someone tries to say that that opinion is a fact. Here is the only fact we actually have, or facts. People who get married have weddings. Some people go into debt to have those weddings.

It is not a fact that a wedding must have X,Y,Z at a specified cost in order to be a wedding. It is a fact that some weddings cost more than others do, for a variety of reasons. Those who have been advocating that cheaper weddings should become the rule are stating personal opinion. And just out of curiosity, how is that advocating for cheaper weddings, in the tone and language seen on some comments here, any different from the social pressure that advocates weddings that are more expensive? It is still one group trying to make its agenda the social rule.

We aren't going to settle the question of how weddings should be made through any mud slinging here or elsewhere because we aren't going to change human nature by fiat. We can, however, agree to disagree in a far more polite manner and with far less venom.

tesyaa said...

Rosie, you're anonymous too, like almost all the posters here, unless you're signing your complete real name and an address or phone # too (I imagine there are several Sarah Cohens in the phone book, for example)

SephardiLady said...

I spent way too much on my dress and it was nowhere close to $1500 even after alterations and making the gown tzniut. One should be able to buy a dress off a rack, alter it to look tzniut, buy all of the other stuff to dress it up from the veil to the pettycoat, to shoes, for under $1000 without trying.

If you live in an area with Hispanic shops, that is the place to start. I wish I had started there. I discovered such when I went to buy a veil after decided there was no way (over my dead body) I would spent the prices asked for veils. It is a piece of tulle and a few pearls or rhinestones for crying out loud.

And, yes, everyone needs to give a little here and there. But I would question if I wanted to marry into a family that expected my family to cough up ridiculous sums of money. That middah isn't a good one and compromise needs to go both ways.

tesyaa said...

ProfK, because social pressure for cheaper weddings leaves more communal funds available for true needs such as food, shelter, health care, special needs children, and tuition. No one is asking the wealthy to cut back on their weddings, but to the extent those who can't afford it don't feel pressured to make huge simchas and can give a little tzedaka, there is more left over for worthwhile causes.

JS said...

rosie,

Your opinions seems schizophrenic. You say you're so frugal and penny-pinching then you say you spent a ton on a wedding. You say everyone in Brooklyn spends a fortune and that this is the norm and has to be done, then you deride those that do so. You talk about how it could be done for less, but then you list a myriad of completely unnecessary expenses such as watches and necklaces and l'chaims, etc. You say spending lavishly on weddings is religiously preferred then you say you don't advocate this. To top it all off, you're posting this on a blog devoted to frugality and money sense in the Orthodox community.

I don't know what to make of you. I can't tell anymore what in the world you're saying or advocating. I'm just at a loss for words.

SephardiLady said...

ProfK-I'm advocating one thing:

Wedding should not put families into financial peril and debt that does not produce wealth is bad debt.

If someone has millions of dollars and wants to spend $100,000 on a wedding, so be it. If invitde, I will attend graciously, although the girl I bring will be in line with the gift I would bring to any other wedding I'm invited to.

I don't mean to scream, but when I see a family (clients) without a penny in retirment savings, debt all over town, trying to put on a regular wedding, I want to scream from my blog. What will happen when they can no longer work? What will happen if the day school providing the bulk of family income collapses? Why are they trying to please mechutanim while their own house is falling apart? Why is their daughter so oblivious to the situation that she in her chatan (both college graduates with jobs) think that some "support" is part of the deal?

I understand why the conversation is heated! It is nice to speak nicely, but I'm hearing passion.

JS said...

"My wife and I are also stressed by this as their money problems are slowly becoming our problem - will they be able to retire? Will their marriage survive this? Will they have to move in with us one day? etc."

SL,

Not sure if you've blogged on this point before, but I think this is where all this spending is going to leave us. A future generation of grandparents that are eyeball deep in debt. Forget about what this means for yeshivas in terms of the current situation where grandparents are expected to pay for their grandchildrens' tuition (which these future grandparents obviously won't be able to do). Have you ever posted on what this debt does to the children of these future grandparents? I can't imagine my wife and I are the only ones confronting this issue.

rosie said...

JS, you really like twisting things don't you.
A wedding is a seudas mitzvah and always has been. Saying that is not the same as advocating lavish overspending. Vorts have been around for a long time as well but now they are called l'chaims.
A gift of jewelry to the kallah is from the gemorrah and as we said Rivkah Imeinu.
Yes I am frugal and don't like overspending but did it when making weddings. This is not a new thing and if you learn from history, people often went into debt marrying off children.
In Brooklyn there is more pressure to overspend than in some out of town communities. What I am saying is that unless there is a large campaign or takanot or some outside thing that happens, the pressure to overspend will continue. Most people do not want to make their simchas conspicuously cheaper than the "norm" for their community. In some smaller communities there is no "norm" so people are freer to do what they please. To say that people should "grow up" is not going to change anything.

JS said...

I'm going to ignore your other points since they've already been hashed and rehashed back and forth.

"Yes I am frugal and don't like overspending but did it when making weddings."

Did you go into debt for your children's weddings?

If so, are you still in debt from them? How much?

rosie said...

We are BH, no longer in debt. It was temporary. We did it to make our children happy and it did make them happy. They had weddings like their friends had. To me that was important. We pay full tuition and never stiffed anyone.
I would love it if some of the "norms" change before the next one gets married but I am not going to force him to be the one to change the "norms". If rabbonim want to make takanot (some of these that agudah made actually would have cost me more), it would help. Wouldn't it be nice to email wedding invitations? It is one of the biggest chores (as well as a significant expense) related to a wedding.

Anonymous said...

Rosie - Anonymous, since you are posting anonymously I guess it is OK to say that what you said is idiotic. I did not change the topic. I replied to someone who said that because of the recession there is NO MONEY for that any more. I replied that there is still plenty of money being spent. Why is that so off topic? Any are you afraid of something? Why are you anonymous?[space]

Sorry, that was me, Mark, couldn't you tell by the style? I forgot to sign it. Even if I remembered to sign it, you can call it idiotic if you feel that way :-)

The point is that if the money is there, spend it as you like, on weddings or whatever. But:

1. Don't come to the yeshiva later and say you don't have enough to pay tuition.

2. Don't tell me that it's the "norm", because that pressures others into conforming (my opinion is that this falls under the gravest aveira of publicly embarrassing someone).

3. Don't suddenly reduce your level of tzedaka because you "had to" make a big wedding that year (I consider this a great aveira as well). You wouldn't believe how many times fundraisers hear "I can't give as much this year because I had to make a wedding".

Finally, I just wish you would realize how wrong you are. I mean how could you include things so trivial as a "Chossons watch and a Kallahs necklace" in your minimal wedding list???? There is no such religious requirement, and it is in fact complete nonsense. My wife and I did no such thing, we had rings, we had wine, we had a glass to break, we had the requisite brachot, we had a seudat mitzvah. THOSE ARE THE REQUIREMENTS!!!!!! Not any $2500 dress, not a fancy watch, and not a necklace of any sort. THOSE THINGS HAVE ZERO TO DO WITH JUDAISM, AND EVERYTHING TO DO WITH PERVERSION OF THE RELIGION! They are optional and have nothing whatsoever to do with a proper Jewish wedding (minimal or not). I really truly hope you aren't too far gone to "get it".

Rosie - For all of you with little kids, have a great time sitting in judgment of those of us who got taken to the cleaners at chassunah time. Your day will come![space]

I don't look at it as "sitting in judgement" but rather as giving good advice about how live ones life prudently. That's what this blog is all about!

I surely hope that such a day doesn't come for me. I know myself, and I know that I am weak when it comes to my children, but I hope I can be strong and do the right thing when the time comes. So far, for each girl, we made a small kiddush (actually for the first girl, it was a bigger fleishigs kiddush) at shul on shabbat. For the boys, we had a small sholom zochor at the house. They were born on Friday, I rushed out of the hospital, ran all around to get stuff before the stores closed for shabbos, arbes, candy, cakes, snacks, something for a lechaim, balloons, paper goods, etc. My mother-in-law helped me set it up. Then we did the two brisim in our house as well, rented a few tables and a bunch of chairs. Bought prepared food from the local Jewish Association for Residential Care (JARC*) that does food preparation and service, has reasonable prices, and most of all is a huge mitzvah (go read the link below to find out why). One sister did her first Bar Mitzvah in her backyard, it was very nice and she did hire 2 people to help her set up and clean up. My Bar Mitzvah was in my parents house in Staten Island. My other sister did her first and second Bar Mitzvah in a hotel (a relatively cheap) hotel in North Miami Beach, but only because her husbands side has many people, all very frum, and they insisted ... and paid for it, of course. My first sister skipped the whole Bat Mitzvah nonsense (it exists nowhere in Judaism) and instead sent their daughter to visit her grandparents in Israel.

Weddings. First and second sister had their weddings at the Manhattan Beach Jewish Center. My wedding was at the Sheraton 4 Points hotel in Yerushalaim (my wife and I lived in Israel when we met and married), and I paid for almost everything (however see below) and we did it very frugally. We designed our own invitations with the help of an artist friend, and had them printed ourselves in Tel Aviv for a few hundred shekels (including printed thank you cards!). I went to the bowels of Bnei Brak to get Benchers printed, very cheap, still have lots of them. Got the rings on Allenby street in Tel Aviv for a few hundred shekels. We forgot to get additional flowers (other than the minimal ones provided by the hotel), so 3 days before the wedding when my father arrived, he rushed us into a flower shop in Yerushalaim and insisted that we at least get a few flowers. So we got some peach colored flowers because my wife is originally from Atlanta, Georgia. It was really very nice. The morning after the wedding, my father and my father in law each gave me a check to cover about half of the wedding expenses that I had paid for. I thought that was super nice of them!

Shabbat Shalom all.

Mark

* JARC - http://www.jarcfl.org/

JS said...

rosie,

I'm glad you're no longer in debt. I don't agree with your attitude, but at least you're able to handle this debt responsibly and you seem to have the means to do such.

Would you have done things any differently with the weddings if it meant knowing you'd be in debt for many years and not know for sure how you'd get out of that debt, if ever?

ProfK said...

"I understand why the conversation is heated! It is nice to speak nicely, but I'm hearing passion." Sorry, but I beg to differ. There is a difference between being impassioned and speaking with heartfelt emotion about something near and dear to you and belittling others or scoffing at them or name calling. Etiquette is not some namby pamby set of rules that has no relationship to "real" life. Etiquette,in this case abiding by the rules of courteous debate and controlled argument, allows reasoning to take precedence over personal attack. Normally I see the commenters here stick with the issues you raise. There may be differences of opinion but then we would expect there to be such, and they are treated far differently than some of the comments on this thread. Honestly, I wondered for a moment if I were not reading a VIN comment thread, so personal and bordering on the vicious did some comments get. An "ad hominem" (attack the man)approach to argumentation is considered a major logical fallacy as well.

tesyaa said...

ProfK, at least we can mostly spell and use correct grammar, so rest assured VIN has not invaded this space :)

SephardiLady said...

Point well taken ProfK

JS-I will be featuring part of your post as a Guest Post. You aren't the only couple wondering if you will have the parents/in-laws moving in.

rosie said...

Mark, ask a rabbi is gifts to the chosson and kallah are perversion of the religion. The chassidishe takanot allow for the kallah to receive a strand of pearls from the chossons mother and there is a gift given to the chosson. Most chossanim also receive a shas. Before you label something an aveira, ask if it really is. Otherwise, it is as you say "in your opinion" an aveira. As you stated you haven't been tested yet. A kiddish for a newborn girl is by far different from her wedding!
JS-sorry you don't agree with my attitude. Marry off a kid and see if you stay in your budget. Maybe you will be better at it than I was. Would I do it again if I couldn't pay the debt? I doubt that I am a bigger angel than the average Jew who overspends on weddings. My own wedding was paid in cash and because it was in a small out-of-town community, we (our parents and us) rather than the community called the shots. We were both from the same town, our parents knew each other but we still got into a fight about a party-planner that my inlaws wanted us to hire. I was told that when a great happiness such as a wedding occurs, the Satan does everything possible to destroy it. Some fight or skirmish usually occurs and often it involves money.
Look, I wish the norms were different. Those same fundraisers that Mark states are told repeatedly that people can't pay up because their daughter is engaged make the same weddings that everyone else makes. I really have not seen too many that were different unless it did involve gerim who married on their own. How many wedding invitations do you (any of you) get from poor people that are expensively printed? So far, I haven't received any printed on regular paper or sent without a stamped response card. The weddings are almost all alike in fact. I don't see many couples starting life with as little as aml describes. That it must change is probably true. Maybe your children Mark and JS will be the catalysts for change.

aml said...

Hum rosie... I wonder is we stop throwing our hands and saying "these are the norms"... what if we stopped referring to these as norms and started scaling down significantly. We don't need a rabbi to tell us what's the right thing to do.

We are all adults and if enough of us say "enough" the norms will change.

We just have to be brave enough to do it.

I'm brave.

How about you?

rosie said...

No, I am not brave. I might be able to purchase the jewelry somewhere cheaper than where everyone else goes but I still intend to buy it. I might buy beds for the newlyweds at Ikea but they won't be sleeping on the floor. As much as I would love to do email invitations, someone else would have to try it first. I wore cheap dresses to 2 of the weddings and was miserable and won't do that again. We always get a one piece band anyway. Pictures? I would love to just get my brother-in-law to do it but there again, the bride's side may have other ideas. Shabbat candlesticks and a sheitel for the kallah: I bought them for my other daughter-in-laws so I wouldn't want to do less for the next one except to maybe try to find those items cheaper. Shadchanus and chosson classes, price won't change.

aml said...

Oh, OK then. Nevermind.

You will (unfortunately) have to continue to bow to the "norms" of your community.

We (my husband and I), OTOH, will try our darnedest to change things. We're brave.

We're putting my kindergarten in a great public school next year. We're starting a small after school Judaics program. We plan to keep him there through 5th grade. But we'll of course, have to see how it goes.

We're long away from bar matzvahs (the kindergartner is our oldest), but we'll try to change things there too. We're thinking of a small ceremony at the Kotel. It should be meaningful and memorable. My family isn't Jewish, my husband's is, and they're in Israel. We think that's a nice way to go.

Weddings? My own wedding is the closest I can relate to... I have a long way to go until my kids get there.

But I think perhaps the hard part it raising kids who aren't afraid to go against the "norms."

I think we'll do well. Time will tell.

Shabbat Shalom

Anonymous said...

Rosie - Mark, ask a rabbi is gifts to the chosson and kallah are perversion of the religion. The chassidishe takanot allow for the kallah to receive a strand of pearls from the chossons mother and there is a gift given to the chosson. Most chossanim also receive a shas. Before you label something an aveira, ask if it really is. Otherwise, it is as you say "in your opinion" an aveira.[space]

First of all, everything I say and write is my opinion. Therefore, nothing I write needs to be prefaced by that disclaimer.

Second of all, go back and read my post a little more carefully. I didn't say that giving the chatan and kallah gifts is an aveira (it most certainly is not one). I said that diverting money that would normally go to tzedaka towards such a gift is an aveira.

As you stated you haven't been tested yet. A kiddish for a newborn girl is by far different from her wedding![space]

No kidding! The big fleishigs kiddush is $500 or so, and the small parve one is $250 or so. A very far cry from a wedding. By the way, IY"H, I will have a nice wedding for my children, I just will avoid going over the top regarding anything. I will do my best, which is the most that can be asked from anyone. We abhor debt, so that will help.

So far, my kids seem to be learning their lessons well. They love shopping at the thrift shop with my wife (one of the best eshet chayil in our neighborhood), they are ecstatic when we get a bag of clothes for them, you should see them dive into the bag and try everything on. They like their second-hand bicycles and other toys. One of my 3 year olds is the "coupon helper", when we sit and cut out coupons, he piles them into piles for us.

How many wedding invitations do you (any of you) get from poor people that are expensively printed? So far, I haven't received any printed on regular paper or sent without a stamped response card.[space]

Our invitations were beautiful. We picked a nice thick light gray stock, and had it printed with some color (I don't quite remember, maybe reddish?). We folded them ourselves and put them into appropriate sized white envelopes. The response was by phone (to my wife or to me) or via email (again my wife's email or mine).

The weddings are almost all alike in fact.[space]

Doesn't that become a little boring after a while? That's one of the things that is so nice in Israel, people have weddings in all sorts of places. Different kinds of halls, shuls, kibbutzim, indoors, outdoors, nature areas, etc.

I don't see many couples starting life with as little as aml describes.[space]

My wife and I, baruch hashem, has much more than little when we were married because we were a little older and I had been working for 10+ years already. But still, we didn't go crazy spending money on stuff right away and instead saved for the important things (a house, children, etc). We didn't even have a washer and dryer for the first 9 months - I did our laundry by hand in the bathtub! Guess which appliance I appreciate most in our house right now? THE WASHER :-)

That it must change is probably true. Maybe your children Mark and JS will be the catalysts for change.[space]

Let's hope so! Thanks for your good wishes, and I am sorry you are "trapped" in your lifestyle with all those "norms" putting pressure on you.

Shabbat Shalom.

Mark

Ateres said...

I will give another charedi perspective.

Just like in the MO world or anywhere else for that matter, there is a wide variety of ways that weddings are done--and financed--that varies by city, neighborhood, family, personality, etc.

I married at 18 in a dress from a gemach. This is Brooklyn, and yet most of my friends did likewise (however I am an out-of-towner and my parents aren't charedi). My wedding was in a school gym with a very simple outdoor chuppah (as is our custom). We had a relatively simple chicken dinner at the lowest price offered by the caterer. Admittedly the photographer and video were a bit overboard, but that was at the insistence of my in-laws.

I know many people who have weddings like mine and many others who have weddings that go way beyond their budgets. Just like in every other community, some of us manage are money well and some families live beyond their means. The difference is that instead of wasting money on $4000 plasma TVs or $25,000 bar mitzvahs (which are very rare in the charedi community), the money is wasted on extravagant weddings.

Some of these things are not "charedi" things at all, but rather New York things. I haven't heard of anyone outside of NY getting brand new furniture for their wedding or putting their babies in designer clothes.

Lion of Zion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lion of Zion said...

MARK:

"So we got some peach colored flowers because my wife is originally from Atlanta, Georgia."

1 of the 2 nicest weddings i ever went to was in atlanta. it was also the cheapest (by far) i've ever been to.

ROSIE:

a watch and shas for the חתן is a religious obligation? the overwhelming majority of people in europe couldn't even afford a shas, nor were there anywhere/anytime anywhere near enough sets for all חתנים, so how could it have been an obligation?

and i'm not at all a fan of anonymous blogging/commenting, but you should be careful about criticizing others for anon comments when no one knows who you are

AVI:

funny. we watched the video a lot more than we looked at the pictures. ok, my wife watched the video a lot (i only like a few parts). and my son likes to watch it.

"I just tell the kids that "back then, the whole world just looked fuzzy like that."

hah! and what do you tell them when they see something in black and white?

Zach Kessin said...

My wife and I just made a brit, we spent a total of 1600NIS, of that the largest chunk was for the Moil. The next most expensive thing was 36 bagels. (We held it in our flat). When my daughters get married I fully expect to pay for their wedding without any debt. If it means that they get a simpler wedding then they may otherwise have wanted then they will live with it, or pay for what they want with their own money

rosie said...

LOZ, I never called it a "religious obligation" to give a chosson a shas or a watch. Those who did not grow up with the intense poverty of the European shtetlach gave these gifts to chossonim. It may have originated in America but there were wealthy frum Jews in European countries prior to WWII. Obviously there were those in Europe who were so poor that if the chassunah was in a city far from where a chasson's parents lived, and the parents couldn't afford a train ticket, they missed the chassunah.
What I meant about posting anonymously is that it is hard to tell if there are several anonymous posters or only one who keeps posting (and at times attacking). While you are always LOZ and I am always Rosie, anonymous can be 10 people and then while someone will attack "Rosie" because they know it is one person but they will not attack "anonymous".
A video, which the last time we made a wedding was about $1400 before adding extras such as extra copies, special effects, etc, is obviously not rooted in Jewish tradition and some chassidishe communities outlaw them because eventually boys will watch the video of the girls dancing. It also means that they will have a video player in the house that can be used for other videos. We made one chassunah in Israel and had a chassidishe videographer who was very cheap but did not photograph the ladies dancing! Everyone is busy screaming about gown rental, jewelry and a shas, what if those things are more important to a couple than a video for the same price? (Who makes videos anymore anyway? It is now a DVD.)
I do think that the next generation will be more frugal than the previous two because:
1)The recession has made frugality "in".
2)Environmentalism is "in" and mainstream rather than barefoot hippy counter-culture.
3)Easy credit will be less easy.
4)They may have grown up hearing their parents have heart attacks and nervous breakdowns over credit card statements.
5)Computers have made some groups of frum people more worldly and that might break down "norms".
6)Lack of jobs and housing may decentralize Brooklyn as the hub of Jewish life and as has been said many times, out-of-town communities are more relaxed about gashmius.

Shelley said...

I don't know why anyone is shocked at Rosie's comments, she has always said that finances shouldn't influence a couple's decision on how many children to have. And now all this talk about spending the moon to make your kids "happy", even spending an extra $1000 that you don't have on your daughter's wedding gown so that she'll feel like a princess...I can only assume that Rosie is a millionaire and doesn't have the same financial worries as the rest of us. I don't mean to attack you, Rosie, you're certainly entitled to your opinions, but you have to understand that the way you think about money is so completely backwards to the vast majority of us who don't live in your world (Brooklyn) where you are used to everyone thinking the way you do.

tesyaa said...

I'm not sure that Rosie actually lives in Brooklyn, since in other comment threads she has stated that she lives out of town but visits Brooklyn a lot.

rosie said...

Shelly, I don't live in Brooklyn and have stated this many times. I did marry off children in Brooklyn though as well as other places so I have the ability to compare it. No I am not a millionaire. Most of my posts from the other days were interspersed with cleaning the house. I don't have a maid and was cleaning the floor on my hands and knees. I even said that if something is terribly important to someone, such as a gown to the bride, cut the guest list or only feed the meal to the immediate family and out-of-town guests. I am just trying to say to people that before you judge someone for getting into dept over a wedding (or several weddings) realize what it costs and that it is a juggling act to keep everyone at peace with each other while planning the wedding. Everyone is pushing for what is important to them and 2 families that may have met for the first time when the children became chosson and kallah are trying to negotiate. Hopefully the next generation will opt for smaller and simpler weddings if this is what needs to happen. No one wants to be the first on their block to do something different. Usually people "owe" or feel like they "owe" invitations to those who invited them. This keeps guest lists big which ups the cost of the wedding.
I read about a wedding in a DP camp where the chosson knew that his kallah dreamed of a white gown so he had one sewn from a used white parachute. (It is now in a museum after having been worn by numerous DP camp brides). They had 400 people at the wedding but it was free because there was no food served.
Obviously most people today feel that they must give their guests a shmorg at the chuppah, then a meal, then a desert table with fancy pastries for the 2nd round of dancing. Every guest gets a bentcher to take home. Add that to the costly invitations with the double postage and each guest has cost the host and hostess an estimated $40 to $50 easily. (Don't forget the floral arrangements for each table.) Of course most of these costs can be cut but I am stating that it is hard to be the first one to give their guests less than they were given as guests.
I also made the point that in frum communities it is hard to change things. Sometimes a maverick comes along like the rabbi that started dor yeshorim but look at the trouble that Dov Hikend is having swimming against the tide to prevent child abuse in the frum world! Unless some brave person puts himself (and his family) on the line to fight for change, or unless rabbis make takanot and people take them seriously, people will continue to go into debt for weddings.

SA said...

Uh, rosie, Brooklyn is "the hub of Jewish life" only for people who make it so (Guess all that Torah learning in Israel is for naught. Should I call them to close the yeshivas or will you take care of that?.) I grew up in southern CT and spent all of my high school and college years in NYC, and after my great grandmother who had a house on Avenue I died, never had a reason to visit this so called "hub of Jewish life". And i led a relatively frum life.

The point we are all trying to make is that you don't have to wait for "the next generation" to make a simple wedding. Many people manage to do this right now. It's Brooklyn (that so called "hub of Jewish life") that has the problem. Everyone else is managing just fine to make normal weddings.

The points that keep coming out of all of your arguments is: a) It's too hard to compromise so many needs, so spend the money (don't want to break up the shidduch!) and b) it's too hard to swim against the tide of consumerism (and since it's religious, it's AOK! We're probably even obligated (though you seem to flip flop on that one)) so don't bother; it will all work out in the end.

None of us really buy either of these excuses.

rosie said...

SA, I don't know who the "US" is that you are talking about and I have not flip-flopped by saying that someone is obligated. I never said that they were religiously obligated. What I did say is that some purchases, such as jewelry for a kallah is based on tradition.
I also meant that Brooklyn is the hub of Jewish life in America but you could say that certain other cities (such as LA and Chicago) come close.
Speaking of Chicago, they have a group of volunteers that help to make weddings for poor people there. So far, people still feel that weddings are worth their time, effort and tzedukah.
If you don't buy these excuses, by all means SA, you should stand your ground when marrying off your children, even if someone gets upset at you or there is tension at the chassunah or bad feelings every time that you get together when the new couple makes a bris or other simcha. Maybe you SA and all the comrades that you infer to when you say "US" will make an organization to educate those of us who fall prey to manipulation when we are vulnerable while coping with the emotions that one goes through when marrying off a child. That is my challenge to you SA and all your friends. Don't just waste time blogging about us overspenders who cow tow to the "norms". Be like Dov Hikend and be a maverick and get out there and fight city-hall!

rosie said...

Also, SA, as another poster Ateres said, if there is not an extra $1000 for a gown, there are always gemachs. The gemachs get gowns donated and sometimes the borrower ends up getting a donated gown that needs hundreds of dollars from a seamstress to make the gown tznius. Some gemach gowns are donated because stores could not sell them so at least they get a tax receipt. Since most gowns sold in America are strappless, they need to be practically rebuilt. Some gemach gowns are donated by over-spenders who purchased gowns and are now donating them for a tax receipt. While this may still end up being a happy choice for a kallah who does not have money for a gown, someone obviously feels that such an endeavor as a gown gemach is worthwhile.
I have volunteered in one so I know of the tremendous effort that goes into it. Obviously those who put their time, effort, and money into it, do so because they know of the happiness that it will bring a kallah.

rosie said...

Pardon me SA, it was Shelly who was concerned about the parents of the kallah without the extra $1000. As far as out of town weddings, it is true that there is less pressure to overspend. Still, if someone has no money, then even coming up with $15,000 for a small wedding is tough. In small communities, community members are usually asked to help. I don't know what role the recession will play in this because in my community, there hasn't been any recent engagements in my crowd involving someone who couldn't pay but I hope that no chosson and kallah will have to be disappointed.

SA said...

Rosie, you really don't get it- you really can't believe that there are multiple families who believe in only spending what you have, you really can't believe that there are children who don't want to put their parents into debt, there are girls who don't need to be Cinderella to enjoy their wedding, and believe it or not girls and boys from these types of families meet and get married! I guess not in Brooklyn, but everywhere else in the world.

So no, I'm not planning for there to be any tension with my future inlaws, but even if there is, so what? I would only be ever forced to see them at family smachot and we can still be civil even if they don't agree with my spending habits. Really , who cares? My husband's parents are barely on speaking terms with either sets of the other inlaws, but it really doesn't affect their lives in any serious way. Neither does it affect their children's marriages. You really have to let go of this idea that having different ideas about money is the absolute worst thing on the planet and will jeopardize everything you hold near and dear.

(Abbi, unfortunately i'm stuck in my work account right now).

rosie said...

SA, I am sure that the world is made of all types of people with all types of feelings and attitudes. I just don't have close connections with any of them.
I have seen friends who could not meet the demands of mechutanim and this was not easy to deal with. I agree that this tension is not life-threatening but something that people often try to avoid if they can get the money rather than to stand on principal.
I also know of someone who says up-front that he will not give cent #1 towards his children's weddings (because he doesn't have it) and those who did get married did it with help from tzedukahs and whatever they had of their own.
Also SA, it OFTEN does affect the children's marriages when the inlaws speak badly of each other and when the feelings carry over to the inlaw child.
Personally SA, I have seen few families that only spend what they have because usually there is someone to bail out those that don't have. I know more of those who mortgaged their homes and bought daughter-in-laws jewelry that they could not afford.
As to having different ideas about money, as I said, except for weddings we were a frugal family. I tell my children to discuss that when they date so that they do marry someone with their desire for thrift. Money disagreements are a MAJOR cause of discord in marriages.
I personally enjoy getting together with my mechutanim at simchas and this makes my children's simchas all the more enjoyable for them.

Mike S. said...

Rosie you said: "No one wants to be the first on their block to do something different." This is the fundamental problem with the frum community. Not only does it cause all kinds of economic problem, it leads to all sorts of religious, educational and family problems. Those who teach their children to do whatever their peers are doing rather than what is right and right for them, or obsess about how this or that behavior will be bad for shidduchim are abusive, or at least incompetent, parents.

rosie said...

Mike, I guess that the frum community is in serious trouble because of all of us incompetent parents who turn to complete mush when our baby girls try on wedding gowns. We just try not to cry as we sign on the dotted line. I guess that our kids should be removed from our homes and given to someone Conservative or maybe even Reform so that they could have a better upbringing. In my case, they are all over 18 so I guess you won't need to find them new homes.

SephardiLady said...

Rosie-I think that you are l'sheim shomayim in that you want to have peace with in-laws and plesant future gatherings.

The problem Mike points to in parenting manifests itself in far more areas than just weddings. I've spend more than enough time with children, frum, non-frum, and non Jewish. People are free to take or leave my own observations, but many of our children are extremely fragile and entitled. Weddings are only one tree in the forest.

I've been writing about a "Parenting Crisis" since a ridiculous serious of letters in the Yated about parents feeling pressure to buy Gedolim Cards they thought were a waste of money. I guess by the time these boys are chatanim, throwing away $5 on a pack of cards because throwing away $5000 on jewels for a kallah for which they have yet to earn the equivlent in income, and may not do so for another handful of years if that.

SephardiLady said...

BTW, I do believe the frum community is in serious trouble as our children, as a whole, have become quite fragile.

rosie said...

Mike, while we are on the topic of peer pressure being the fundamental problem in the frum community, we can imagine what type of peer pressure produced the suicide bombers of the muslim "frum" community. Peer pressure is a powerful force and is hard to reckon with.
Maybe you and your friends SA, Shelley, and others should rent an RV and go through frum neighborhoods with brochures on how not to succumb to peer pressure since this is something that you feel strongly about. I am sure that you personally would never ever do something out of fear of ostracism.
In Reform and Conservative circles, the big peer pressure for enormous Bar and Bat Mitzvah celebrations has led to non-Jewish classmates having faux Mitzvah parties so as not be left out of the coming of age parties.
Hispanic societies make a big deal out of coming out in society for girls and they need fancy gowns for this.
I guess that we frum Jews need help with our group dysfunction. This I mean for real but pointing the finger of blame at someone else is not going to get the job done. Mavericks can cause change as well as leadership can cause change. Anyone who is brave enough to swim against the tide should certainly do so and hopefully it will work out happily. Anyone not brave enough will pay in dollars and cents. I know that someone is going to pipe up about how the money "squandered" should go to the yeshivas but I have yet to see anyone mortgage their house to donate money for a yeshiva (tuition maybe/ donation not).

rosie said...

SL, the fragility is an over-protection that I think is a post-Holocaust phenomenon. I have seen people who were actually afraid to allow their kids to wear hand-me-down shoes (it is totally safe) or eat day old bread from the bakery. They were afraid to miss visiting day and cause home-sickness or even let their children know about scary events in the Torah or in the news. Tough love rarely works in Jewish families. Basically you have to change an ENTIRE society to see anything change.

Anonymous said...

Mike - This is the fundamental problem with the frum community. Not only does it cause all kinds of economic problem, it leads to all sorts of religious, educational and family problems. Those who teach their children to do whatever their peers are doing rather than what is right and right for them, or obsess about how this or that behavior will be bad for shidduchim are abusive, or at least incompetent, parents.[space]

Are you referring to things like spiriting away (usually at an institution, but sometimes with family that lives out of town) children with genetic diseases because it is "bad for shidduchim" for the siblings?

Mark

Dave said...

Outside of New York/New Jersey, I've never seen either the massive Bar Mitzvah's or the "faux Bar Mitzvah's". Actually, I've never seen the latter at all, but I have heard of them. They seem to only exist only in affluent regions with a relatively large population of Jews in the public school system.

rosie said...

Also what I said about the over-protection is an American thing. In Israel, even the post-Holocaust generation believed in toughening up kids.
Dave, google it, but there was a bat mitzvah in Florida that was grossly expensive and the family minted chocolates and perfume to give out in honor of the girl as well as hiring celebrities to entertain the kids. I was in Florida then (a few years ago) and an article about it was in a local Jewish paper. There were apparently a few copy cat parties afterword.

Dave said...

That would not surprise me, it falls into the same demographic as parts of New York and New Jesey.

And if the family can afford it, I really don't care. It's not the way I'd spend money, but I'm sure plenty of people consider my expenses wasteful.

The issue only arises when people aren't capable of funding their wants. And a multi-thousand dollar event is a want. Not a need.

Mark said...

rosie - Also what I said about the over-protection is an American thing. In Israel, even the post-Holocaust generation believed in toughening up kids.[space]

This is quite true. I wonder if psychologists and/or sociologists have ever studied this specific phenomenon. Though some families, maybe many families, did toughen up their kids. My fathers family, for example. When my father turned 18, my grandfather forced him to start paying rent if he wanted to live at home. My grandfather was also a fabrante yekke.

Dave, google it, but there was a bat mitzvah in Florida that was grossly expensive and the family minted chocolates and perfume to give out in honor of the girl as well as hiring celebrities to entertain the kids. I was in Florida then (a few years ago) and an article about it was in a local Jewish paper. There were apparently a few copy cat parties afterword.[space]

But that has nothing to do with this particular issue - that of overspending compared to what you really can afford on such things. Those people are multi-millionaires and can afford any type of simcha they want. I personally think it is disgusting, but it's their business, not mine.

Mark

PS - Rosie, I think I figured out how to create a google account so you can see my name all the time.

SephardiLady said...

Rosie-Hispanic communities have a great deal of competition in the gown market. Yes, they do put on quincineras. And, yes, they do dress their children in fancy clothing for the occassion.

But. . .they have a lot of competition and prices are low as a result. I purchased part of the wardrobe for our own wedding through Hispanic vendors. I wish I had purchased the actually wedding gown. Prices are super competitive. I got my hairpiece for less than $25. Something similar in a bridal shop would retail for over $150. I bought dresses for our nieces for less than $20 a piece. Merchants were more than happy to compete to get our business. We have people spending upwards of $200 to rent gowns for pre-Bar Mitzvah sister(granted our gowns were not as adult like, they were kids party dresses).

rosie said...

Don't everyone through rotten onions at once but I will confess to buying a wedding gown for one of my daughters at an Arab-owned store for only $400. At least it was a Christian Arab. It did cost another $400 in alterations though, to bring the dress size down from a size 12 to a size 2 (size 2 brides being itself a controversial issue).
One thing that we can say about renting gowns from Jews is that at least the money goes back into the Jewish community. Some feel that this is not worth the extra cost but it is some consolation!
Mark, glad you figured out the google-blog thing. Sometimes my name Rosie comes up and sometimes I have to sign in.

Commenter Abbi said...

Sorry, still not buying your rant about how frum people can't swim against the tide because many of people commenting on their simple weddings are frum.

Also don't buy the post Holocaust thing. My Zayde is a survivor and didn't treat my mother or her brothers with any kind of kid gloves. Guess what? He also didn't settle in Boro Park until retirement. He brought his family up in the wilds of CT.

It's simple American consumerism. Stop trying to paint it in some kind of glowing survivor halo thing, as if we're supposed to feel sorry for these families because they're just reacting to the Holocaust. It's insulting to the memory of those who died al kiddush Hashem and to those who survived.

rosie said...

Abbi, you really missed my point! Of course there are all types of survivors and their children. There is and continues to be fallout though from that cataclysmic event in history known as the holocaust.
That some frum people made simple weddings does not mean that they went against the tide to do it. One of the cheapest weddings that I have ever been too was my son's wedding in Jerusalem. His wife's parents picked a small hall that was usually used for smaller simchas and we did not have table decorations and all of that was fine but no one swam against the tide. As Mark said, in Israel anything goes.

Mark said...

Rosie - (size 2 brides being itself a controversial issue)Why on earth would the size of the bride be an issue???? My sister was size 0 or maybe even less, she is 4'11" and weighed 87 pounds at the time. Her first son weighed at birth about as much as 10% of her normal body weight!!!!!

Mark

rosie said...

Mark, if a person is naturally small and petite and is not starving or anorexic to be skinny in order to catch a shidduch, that is fine. What has unfortunately happened in the frum world is that many girls starve themselves to be that size. Many boys will not date large (size 14 or more) or even medium (size 10 to 12) and their mothers often ask what size they wear before considering the shidduch. Some people see this as normal and understandable and others strongly feel that these boys have been raised wrong. (People love to judge the parenting methods of others, don't they?) That is why it is controversial.

Mark said...

Rosie - Mark, if a person is naturally small and petite and is not starving or anorexic to be skinny in order to catch a shidduch, that is fine. What has unfortunately happened in the frum world is that many girls starve themselves to be that size. Many boys will not date large (size 14 or more) or even medium (size 10 to 12) and their mothers often ask what size they wear before considering the shidduch. Some people see this as normal and understandable and others strongly feel that these boys have been raised wrong. (People love to judge the parenting methods of others, don't they?) That is why it is controversial.[space]

That's disgusting. People come in all sizes, shapes, and shades. That's how Hashem made us. Don't generalize to "the frum world" because that kind of behavior isn't universal everywhere in the frum world. Sure everyone has a "type" they are attracted to, but it's far from universal in my frum world, because different people are attracted to different types. I hope what you describe isn't universal in your frum world.

It definitely cannot be universal because as I think about all the young couples in our neighborhood, the women some in all sizes, some tiny, some thin, some tall, some fat, most somewhere in between. My two cousins that just got married recently (in NYC, one in Brooklyn) were pretty zaftig. Interestingly enough, both of the guys happen to be extremely good looking.

Mark

rosie said...

Nothing is universal in the frum world, but lot of people are focused on size. Some groups are more into it than others. There is a large concern about anorexia in some groups. If the majority of men in a group want thin girls, then there is pressure on the girls to be thin.

SephardiLady said...

I've been asked about dress size by a person playing shadchan for a family member. The obsession with dress size is definitely more prevelent in certain communities.

I told her the person in question was just fine and that if he wanted to find out if her size was acceptable to him the best course of action would be to take her out.

I'm not about to ask someone their dress size or weight, nor do these figures give that much information about how a person looks. If you want proof of that, just stand in line for the scale at any gym. There will be decently slim women who weight more than that heavier appearing counterparts.

rosie said...

But see, because dating (for boys anyway) is a huge expense especially in NY where the parking is astronomic, mothers want to hedge their bets on girls that their sons are likely to want to continue dating. If a mother thinks a girl is likely to be rejected by her son, she will usually pass on the idea.

rosie said...

I just received an email about an article on chabad.org called The daughter of survivors. It is on this weeks women's forum. It is an article about how this woman grew up very protected and how her mother's experiences in the holocaust colored her life. Read it and possibly understand how a large portion of a generation would rather knock on doors begging or go eternally into debt than disappoint their children when they are engaged.

Dave said...

Wait.

So, enormous amounts of money are spent on the wedding (whether the family has it or not).

But the cost of dating is so high that mothers are filtering out whole swathes of potential matches based on (probably) transient physical characteristics?!?

The cart is so far in front of the horse it can't see the horse any more.

rosie said...

Dave, the Derby is on Saturday. Are you betting on the winning horse or not?

Dave said...

Betting on horses is not one of my vices. Actually, betting isn't one of my vices.

Mark said...

rosie - But see, because dating (for boys anyway) is a huge expense especially in NY where the parking is astronomic, mothers want to hedge their bets on girls that their sons are likely to want to continue dating. If a mother thinks a girl is likely to be rejected by her son, she will usually pass on the idea.[space]

There is nothing at all wrong with this method. When I was dating, I always made sure that the person setting me up was clear about my hashkafa and my looks and made sure that the girl (or the mother as the case may be) was fully informed. It really is the right way to do things because it saves time and heartache on all sides. If a girl didn't want a frum modern orthodox, short, balding guy, then I was much happier for her to find out before we went out and spent time and money for no real purpose. Instead I went out with girls whose requirements or preferences included people like me.

I remember a few of the mismatches clearly, and can't imagine why someone would even imagine that such a match would be appropriate. I also didn't give people many chances after that, if they messed up so badly, I didn't accept any of their setups again after that. If it was just a slight mismatch, I would give them a second or third chance. Don't get me wrong, I was always appreciative, but still, some mistakes were just beyond the pale. Oy I remember one very Chassidish girl from Boro Park ... completely inappropriate, I didn't even know where I was allowed to take her. Maybe the shadchan put us together because I grew up in Boro Park???? Who knows?

And dating in NYC really was a huge expense. My wife is jealous of all those girls that I took out on $150+ dates (and this is back in the 80's, when $150 still meant something), while we rarely go out together, and certainly not so fancy. Instead we pay tuition, B"H :-) I lived in Staten Island, and worked in NJ, and just getting my date and getting to the city cost something like $12 or $15 in tolls alone. Parking was $22+ at the time, unless I parked on the far west side under Lincoln towers for $6 and then walked to wherever we were going. Dinner at a nice place was $60+ at the time. And a comedy show, or something else, was $30+. Of course, some of my best dates weren't even in the city, one of the best ever was a picnic I prepared and took to Bear mountain.

Here is a link to the article Rosie mentioned above -

http://www.chabad.org/theJewishWoman/article_cdo/aid/849204/jewish/A-Daughter-of-Holocaust-Survivors.htm

I've also always thought that those bug zappers that fry the bugs using electricity were cruel. Sometimes they struggle for a while as they are being fried. The citronella candles are much better because they just cause the bugs to avoid the area without killing them so overtly. I still kill dangerous (to family or property) pests, but that bug zapper is just too much.

Mark

rosie said...

Mark thanks for posting the link since I am not good at that. I also see how your dating expenses were similar to our sons' expenses. It is astronomical and I am glad that someone understands how frustrating it is to be set with someone that has a small or no possibility of being the right one.

Avi said...

Let me see if I've got this straight: Rosie thinks that the norms in her community are out of hand, but doesn't want to swim against the tide because she's concerned about shalom bayit. I actually think she's got a fair point. Everyone agrees that the norms she's describing are nutty (a watch for the chatan? How come I didn't get one of those? Actually, I'd prefer Ateres' HDTV as a chatan gift. What community do I need to sign up for to get that?) I've been to plenty of reasonably cheap Brooklyn and Lakewood weddings, so I'm not convinced that the "norms" are always followed in those neighborhoods either. But if you're dealing with people who do have these expectations, sometimes you make compromises to keep the peace. And before you all jump on me, no, I don't recommend compromising so far that you go into long term debt, and I agree completely with SL about the problem of parents who have lost the word "no" from their vocabulary.

But those of you who say, "I'm not doing any of this fancy wedding stuff, I don't care about machatonim, screw em!" are modeling horrible behavior for your children. We all talk about "building a bayis neeman b'yisrael" when getting married, and starting that bayis on a foundation where everyone hates each other -- because one side insists on stupid things, and the other side absolutely refuses to pay for any stupid things whatsoever -- means your bayit neeman is in danger of crumbling from the outset because of stupid things. Rosie may be willing to go farther than a lot of you on this blog and her daughters were clearly influenced by Disney's Princess brainwashing, but she's got a point: wait till you have to make weddings, and see where you draw the line. If your kid, their future spouse, and the machotonim are all super-frugal and expect nothing, great. If you're a millionaire, great. If you're somewhere in between...

Avi said...

Dave, I grew up "out of town" and attended plenty of insanely expensive bar mitzvahs, and this was 25 years ago. My parents couldn't afford such a thing, so my bar mitzvah was a shul kiddush - with lots of extra candy! it was AWESOME! CANDY! - followed by a lightly catered lunch for the billion members of my immediate family.

rosie said...

I saw an ad in the Jewish Press before Pesach. A jewelry store in Brooklyn was selling watches for $2950 each but they offered a chosson/kallah special: his and hers watches for $5000 a set. A bet they all came running!
Even reasonably cheap weddings can put someone in debt if they are living paycheck to paycheck and have no money put aside. $15,000 borrowed and paid back at interest can cost quite a bit. Parents obviously still prefer that to doing the minimum required by halacha. There are poor people that I know that saved money by making the wedding during the day rather than at night. Halls and caterers often give breaks at off peak hours. Some caterers charge less for buffet rather than if they have to hire waitresses. People also consume less alcohol during the day. When PUSH COMES TO SHOVE as I said before, people will swim against the tide. When the Argentinian economy fell, formerly wealthy people had to crowd several families to an apartment just to have shelter. I am sure that the pomp and circumstance at weddings plummeted from grandeur to the minimum. I doubt that any chosson in those circumstances got a new watch!

tesyaa said...

My wedding was during the day and my parents were not poor. My parents were inviting some elderly relatives and knew they would not want a late night. Also, it was great since we only had to fast for a short time. We got married in Queens even though our families lived in NJ and Monsey because the caterer gave us a great deal. I did give my husband a watch, a $300 Movado. (Why is buying the watch at Costco, as Rosie jokingly mentioned above, a bad idea? They have really nice stuff). We bought the Shas together at that time with our own money. And so on and so on.

Rosie, I don't mind you having your own expensive ideas of what a wedding should be, but I resent being called poor when all we and my parents were trying to do was get a good deal. I'm sure they could have spend twice as much on our wedding, but they consciously decided not too.

My parents are very frugal since one grew up in the Depression in NY and one grew up in wartime England, evacuation, rationing, the whole deal. Even though they can afford things they prefer being frugal.

The wedding was really nice and no one could tell it did not cost as much as the same wedding at an expensive hall.

SephardiLady said...

Those mechutanim who are in the business of pushing the other party into more, more, more, more also need to remember that less is a valid desire too.

We went into our engagement with the realization that our parents had two different "standards" for what a wedding should be. We told everyone they should think of the thing they wanted most and we would concentrate on those things. My in-laws like to impress, so we really had to get them to pinpoint something that was more important than other things that could fall by the wayside. My parents have a bit belief in not going overboard. So although our wedding was more than they might have thought ideal, we told my in-laws they also had to recognize that a LACK of focus on something had to be respected too.

Avi mentions that it isn't a good midda to say to the mechutanim "screw 'em". That goes both ways, not just in the way of the "cheaper" person.

rosie said...

Tessya, you can decide what you want to resent but all I said was some poor people that I KNEW did that. Maybe there are rich people that I don't know that do it too. As far as going to Costco, it was part joke and part truth. My daughter told me that she would advise someone getting engaged to buy their jewelry there. I know someone who wanted to give her son's kallah a necklace but couldn't afford the overpriced frum jeweler so she had a Macy's coupon and bought a nice strand of pearls.
I don't have expensive ideas of what a wedding "should" be. I have just lived with the reality of what weddings were when our kids got married. A hall was $2400 and part of it could be a donation because it was in a yeshiva lunchroom. A smaller hall was available for $800 but would not have handled that many people (250) dancing. These are realities however if someone has no money and no way of getting money, they can forgo the larger hall and the dancing. If this is what most people (note disclaimer language) are doing, then how is it my expensive idea?

Anonymous said...

When PUSH COMES TO SHOVE as I said before, people will swim against the tide.[space]

Hmmm ... I wonder why is it that Jews always wait for "shove" before acting? Maybe everyone is like that? Or maybe Jews have had it beat into them over 2000 years of golus?

Mark

JLan said...

"But see, because dating (for boys anyway) is a huge expense especially in NY where the parking is astronomic, mothers want to hedge their bets on girls that their sons are likely to want to continue dating. If a mother thinks a girl is likely to be rejected by her son, she will usually pass on the idea."

This is, again, another reason why I'm glad that I'm not part of "that" community (though I live in NYC). I've driven my fiancee somewhere precisely once- to a wedding out in NJ (I took out a ZipCar, and the other two people in the car helped defray the cost). Otherwise, we do what most New Yorkers do when they want to go somewhere- we take the subway. We take the subway even when we go out to a nice dinner, like the one I took her to for her birthday (funny how my Hannukah present from my parents went entirely towards paying for the birthday dinner, but her birthday present from my parents...aaaaanyways).

"As far as going to Costco, it was part joke and part truth. My daughter told me that she would advise someone getting engaged to buy their jewelry there. I know someone who wanted to give her son's kallah a necklace but couldn't afford the overpriced frum jeweler so she had a Macy's coupon and bought a nice strand of pearls."

My fiancee's pearls came from a childless great aunt who is, unfortunately, quite ill, and wanted to give them to someone who would use them. She wouldn't have gotten pearls otherwise. I spent a good amount on her engagement ring, out of my own pocket, but the wedding ring- you know, the one that's required to be a plain band- was purchased from Amazon.com. And yes, she knows it was bought from amazon.com.

Ateres said...

BTW, when I went out with my husband. I actually drove him on all of my dates, since I had a car and he didn't.

And the most he ever spent was on parking at the Brooklyn Marriott.

Afterwords people asked me how I could do something as weird as drive the boy on the shidduch. I told them that I could really care less. In fact, I like driving :)

Al said...

Can we also discuss the insanity of a community that is increasingly segregating boys and girls in supervised arenas encouraging them to be alone in a private car for a "Shidduch" date? A subway, bus, or taxi would all prevent issues of "Yichud," but instead we ignore that and have them alone in a car? Nothing advanced the "sexual revolution" more than the automobile, which gave teenagers a "private space" unavailable before the widespread availability of cars.

Shouldn't Shidduch dates start in a public area that they could meet in (a coffee shop) and progress to restaurants that they could meet in or cab to? Did we all watch too many 50s/60s sitcoms where the boy meets the father who impresses upon him the importance of getting home on time?

Eliminating the "expense of parking" seems easily, require Shidduch dates to be in public venues and public transportation (or parental transportation) be used... seems like an easy thing for the Rabbeim to do to drive down costs AND increase modesty...

Anonymous said...

Can we also discuss the insanity of a community that is increasingly segregating boys and girls in supervised arenas encouraging them to be alone in a private car for a "Shidduch" date? A subway, bus, or taxi would all prevent issues of "Yichud," but instead we ignore that and have them alone in a car? Nothing advanced the "sexual revolution" more than the automobile, which gave teenagers a "private space" unavailable before the widespread availability of cars.[space]

No, no, no - didn't you hear, they crack the window open so it won't be considered yichud :-)

Mark

Lion of Zion said...

MARK:

i actually read in a sefer that at night you have to keep the inside lights on while driving.

Anonymous said...

LOZ - i actually read in a sefer that at night you have to keep the inside lights on while driving.[space]

Oh yeah, that makes all the difference :-)

Mark