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Monday, July 07, 2008

Pay My Way: FLOP+S+B

I am more than convinced that some of my generation and the current crop of young people will go down in the annals of history as a group of very entitled and spoiled people. I'm sure most readers of my blog are aware of the prevailing custom that the chatan's family pays for FLOP (Flowers, Liquor, Orchestra, and Photography) when their son marries. Some have more recently added S (Sheitel(s)) to that list. Now I have learned a new letter is part of this alphabet soup. The letter of the day: B. Bochurim expect their transportation to a wedding be paid for. A poster at YWN has taken the time to inform the readership of this writing:

"I just wanted to point out to the YW readers, that when yeshiva bochurim come to a wedding (and there can be alot to go to, as they and all of their friends are in the parsha), they expect to be compensated for their travel costs. Before everyone starts jumping about this practice, I'm not endorsing it, but I just wanted to bring it to people's attention, as sometimes the uncomfortable situation arises when a bochur who doesn't have money expects his expenses to be paid for, and then by the wedding he is told to fly a kite. The matter only gets more complicated if other bochurim hitch a ride from one who is stuck with the bill (and he doesn't know their names or #s)."

One commentor that writes "How about the boys give a gift instead of exercising their outsized sense of entitlement." Funny how the girls are expected to give a gift and contribute to a wedding shower for their high school classmates and the boys are asking to have their transportation paid for.

But another commentor thinks the others are too hard on the bochurim. She writes, "My son's friend got married in Chicago recently and provided him and 8 other bachurim with tickets to fly in to the wedding. My son said that was the best money that was spent at the wedding; to quote: 'Ma, we didn't stop dancing for a minute. They didn't need fancy flowers or even food. We bachurim are the ones who made the wedding for the chassan.' So, when you look at it in this way, the car fare for bachurim to come to an out-of-town wedding should be included in the wedding expenses."

I can't help but let out a sigh. It seems that a group of young boys are suffering from a large ego trip. Furthermore the mother reminds us that these boys need a helping hand because they are also dating and that is expensive, "i.e. renting cars, paying for drinks, and of course, paying the dry cleaning bill so the suit they danced in at those weddings is presentable at the date." Someone (perhaps the parents who are really paying for the date from behind the scenes) should give these boys a budget and directions to the local Starbucks or ice cream parlor.

Sometimes when we receive an invitation for an anniversary party or even a second wedding a note is attached "Your presence is your gift." Perhaps the parents of the chatan should attach such a note to the invitations of the bochurim lest they get presented with the bill.


Unknown said...


I've *never* heard of this stupidity before. My brother got married in Harrisburg, PA - and the way it works there often is that the wedding is split in two places, too - and not only did a busload of guys take a bus down all the way without complaint, but eight guys drove from Milwaukee to Chicago, flew to Baltimore, drove to Harrisburg, and then did the entire trip in reverse early the next morning. One of them did it with a foot he'd broken the previous Motzei Shabbos. And guess what - they paid for it, not my parents, not my SIL's parents.

A guest is not invited to do a "favor" for the chosson or kallah that he/she should be "reimbursed" for. They're invited because they're ostensibly friends who WANT to come. If they can't shell out a few bucks to come or work out rides, they probably don't want to be there all that badly.

Are there times where someone is getting married further away and it's expensive for friends to go? Sure. And usually that means that only the really close ones can make it, and it's usually pretty amazing knowing that everyone who is there really WANTS to be. And are there times where a really close friend simply can't afford to come? Yes - and in those rare cases, if the parents/chosson/kallah are able to and wish to, they can choose to fly those really close friends in. But it's certainly not something that is expected, and among menschen, accepted with much humility and thanks (if at all).

I'm hoping this is just a really small segment of the population, it bothers me so much. Whenever I've driven people anywhere or gotten a ride, the people ask the driver about helping to defray the costs. That's about the only "reimbursement" that should ever be given.

Zach Kessin said...

Wow, just wow, what a bunch of self centered *CENSORED*. Get a job and pay your own **** bills.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps this comes from the expectation that males don't earn money? If these guys expect that their material needs will be taken care of by someone else, and that no thanks be given there, this is a natural outgrowth.

Mind you, I'm not a fan of that approach - I treat "six days shall you work" as a positive commandment.

ProfK said...

My family and friends are far flung across the US and Canada and Israel. Traveling for simchas happens often. We go and we pay, because we want to be there. Only twice did one of the baalei simcha pay for airplane tickets for the best friend to come to the wedding because there really was no money in that family to buy the ticket.Note: those two baalei simcha had the money to be able to offer the tickets. If they hadn't have had the money I very much doubt they would have paid anyway. One cousin paid for a bus to come from Baltimore to NY for a chasoneh. Another paid for a bus from Lakewood to NY for a chasoneh. But these cousins offered the service--they weren't told they had to provide it.

Yet another example of money being no object--someone else's money.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

. They didn't need fancy flowers or even food. We bachurim are the ones who made the wedding for the chassan

Its becoming more and more common in Israel for the friends of the Chatan and Kalla to have a "cheaper" meal at weddings. The reason they come is to be misameach chatan v'kalla, so there are now tables and tables that are much cheaper per person that regular guests.

Saves alot of money and no one seems to mind.

Rafi G. said...

when I got married in Los Angeles, I was nervous that I would have nobody at the wedding. I am from Chicago, and had learned a number of years in Israel, where most of my friends still were.

Needles to say, my fears were unfounded. a couple childhood friends flew in to LA from chicago, on their own dime, and I had a few friends from yeshiva who lived in LA and were there at the time. So I had a handful of friends and it was a great wedding. Without flying a single bachur in.

G said...

I'm not endorsing it, but I just wanted to bring it to people's attention,

How kind of you...give me a break

as sometimes the uncomfortable situation arises when a bochur who doesn't have money expects his expenses to be paid for, and then by the wedding he is told to fly a kite. The matter only gets more complicated if other bochurim hitch a ride from one who is stuck with the bill (and he doesn't know their names or #s)."

Here are two quick rules for life:

1- Never assume
2- LEARN TO OPEN YOUR MOUTH AND ASK possibly uncomfortable questions or ones that you may not like the answer to.
Not doing so and then complaining about the outcome is a special blend of cowardice and irresponsibility.

Anonymous said...

I always thought Torah was supposed to make someone more of a mensch.

These are the same people who have no problem spending other people's money (and demanding it from them) and yet when it's their own cash are miserly to a point.

These are the same people who look around to see what everyone else is receiving and demand no less if not more, but when it's their turn to pay find out the smallest amount someone else is giving so they can give the same.

My wife and I got married before many of our friends. And we got married when many of them either were in school or had just started working and had no money. We didn't expect gifts and were happy with whatever (if anything) we received. Now our friends are getting married and my wife and I, thank God, do well financially. If I were like one of these bochurim, I would consult my list to see what each person gave me back then and give the same (never mind that they were a single person and we're two people). Thankfully, our parents raised us better and we believe in being generous with people and that there's no price on friendship and all the kindnesses these friends have done for us over the years.

Lastly, when people lived far away we didn't expect anything other than a mazal tov. If they did come, that alone was enough of a gift. And if they did give a gift, it was so unexpected anything was considered generous after the expense they paid to come.

How much more so with these bochurim who not only don't give a gift, but expect to paid for coming!

Leah Goodman said...

I can understand a situation in which a bachur has a lot of friends who would have a hard time making it and someone's parents hire a bus from the yeshiva. It's done in some places in Israel.

If the host (chassan and kalla) can, it's nice to help people from the same area arrange carpools if they don't know each other - but this is NICE, not an obligation.

I don't have a car, and was making a poor salary when I worked (now that I'm married, my husband makes b"h, a reasonable living & I'm a SAHM, but we still don't have a car.) I've paid fortunes in taxis to go to some simchas, begged rides for others, and simply stayed home and called/sent cards for some as well.

While it's reasonable to expect parents to help siblings get to a wedding, transporting bachurim is not a reasonable expectation.

Juggling Frogs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

There's a sub practice here that drives me bananas. At sime point in the last decade someone decided that it was the obligation of the chosson's friends to foot the bill for the limo for the couple after the wedding. the first time i had seen this, i fugred that it was a nice gesture that they wanted to do for the couple for whateverreason.
then at every wedding i was asked to chip in 25 bucks.
i didnt have 25 bucks.
Its nice for those who want to use that as their wedding present and have the dough from their parents to do so. but for some of us, yes indeed, our presence is our gift, we came bu train and bus, and although YOU and everyone in YOUR CIRCLE has an unlimited suopply of cash from daddy dearest, doesnt mean WE should embarass ourselves at every wedding feeling like some kind of cheapskate cuz we only offered 2 dollars (which you threw back) for the silly stretch limo.

More than money, perhaps these people who feel that the bachurim need be compensated can give me back all ofthe hundreds of hours i spent on the new york city subways going to those halls in williamsburg.

Unknown said...

Somewhat agreed on the last comment - we borrowed a car for a couple days, and didn't have a fancy limo.

However, Its nice for those who want to use that as their wedding present is an important point. For some, this IS the wedding present they're giving, and they feel it's a nicer gesture than just giving $25 or a small gift.

I was asked to chip in for such a limo for my friend's wedding tonight - the suggested was $50 (it's a small group of friends), but it was made clear to give whatever I felt comfortable giving. I said I'd give $25, and the guy who was organizing said thanks - no pressure. [Most of the other people chipping in don't have any kids, and aren't shelling out for a babysitter at the same time.] I don't know that we'll be able to get them a gift, so this is our nice little gesture.

Leah Goodman said...

My husband took a taxi to our wedding and my mom drove me. (My dad had to drive some out-of-the-country guests, so he borrowed a car from friends) My mom drove us home.

I don't get how a limo is a necessity.

the apple said...

While I DON'T agree with what the guy in the letter is saying, I do think it's not unreasonable for the baalei simcha to provide some form of transportation to a wedding that is very far away for many of their guests. (Note the emphasis on many.) For example, I know someone getting married in Maryland, but the other side is from New Jersey. So rather than have all the people from New Jersey drive themselves down to the wedding, the wedding hosts hired a coach bus to take people from New Jersey to Maryland on the day of the wedding. This solves a lot of issues as well as gives people another option - they don't have to go via the bus, but can drive themselves if they so desire.

Anonymous said...

the apple,

When people make a "destination wedding" (and I fully admit Marylan is not necessarily a "destination" for many in NJ) they recognize that many of their guests will be unable to attend due to distance, expense, time, work obligations, etc. The simple and reasonable thing to do is to expect people can't make it and plan accordingly. Similarly, the simple and reasonable thing to do as a guest is to say "mazal tov, but I can't make it" - not to show up with your hand sticking out.

Lion of Zion said...


"it was the obligation of the chosson's friends to foot the bill for the limo"

i've never understood the whole limo thing. besides beging hukkot ha-goyyim (but then again, so is most of what we do at weddings), its just a waste of $. but again, its one of those things that's just part of the required formula.

(not that i didn't waste some $ on transportation at our wedding. i rented a plymouth prowler to get there and back. but it was still cheaper and a whole lot more fun than a limo, and i got to enjoy it for 24 hours)

Anonymous said...

This is at first a response to Jameel above, followed by an on topic point below.

I'm in my thirties now and married now, but in my younger days I recall being offended that while I and many of my friends were being treated as a recognized professional (think lawyer/doctor/wall street prefessional) in most of my day to day life I was still relegated to being placed in a "kids table" situation at frum events.

Notwithstanding that I was likely to give a present on the larger side of average (I would guess), it is hurtful to place an adult at an inferior status table (lesser menu, etc.) merely because they were were single. The same is true for being placed at an all male table when married guest were placed at mixed gender tables. Is there less halchik dispensation for a single man to set next to a single woman than for a married person to be seated next to someone else's spouse. It was not intended to be hurtful, but it certainly let me know my place.

It wasn't that I was hungry, but the way I was being treated made feel that I had no real place in the community--that I was only an adjunct member. The same feeling was reinforced by my never being considered for any sort of communal leadership position (people younger and less devoted to e.g., a bikur cholim or similar commitee or a youth committe were more likely to be invited to join an organizational/shul board than I was).

To this day, I make it my business to make sure than single men and women are included in communal events and meals (they understandablyv can easily be overlooked in our often child focused communities), receive communal honorifics as part of the normal cycle (aliyot and what not) and are encouraged to become active parts of the community and regular parts of social network.

If you call people "boys" and "girls" when they are old enough to be attorneys and physicians or run for political office, seat them at the kids table and thell them that is "pas nisht" for a bucher to e.g., lead the services for musaf or for a "maidel" to be involved in the organization of a sisterhood event you may as well just tell them that they are worthless until they are married and will they please run along and head back to the kid table with the fourteen year olds.

Back to the topic at hand -- if we treat people as children (as unfortunately we treat yeshiva "bochrim") of course they will expect us to pay for their ride to the wedding. After all, when they were going to their friends bar-mitzvahs no one thought they were going to get their on their own, Daddy drove them and Mommy pickedc them up. All that changed is that they now have a bigger shoe size. They are still at the kid's table, in their mind and ours.

Anonymous said...


You make several good points. In our community, you cannot be a board member unless you have paid membership for 3 years and own a house. Certainly this disqualifies many young couples.

However, the main difference between you (a then single professional) and these bochurs, is that you had a job and were responsible. Even if we demanded these bochurs act like adults and treat them as such, I don't see how it could realistically work. So much of being an adult and being responsible is working and spending/saving money responsibly. It's hard to be an adult when you can't even chip in for gas money. But yes, there is a vicious cycle here in which we baby them and provide them with their every need and are then surprised when they ask for more and can't seem to stand up on their own (or show any desire to do such).

Anonymous said...

You have to own a house? That sounds like only landowners get to vote...

Anonymous said...

Those buses that the chattan's family charter are not free for the guests. It's a somewhat common practice in my community (in NJ); a neighbor did it for a wedding down in Maryland, and my family did it when my brother was married in MA. The family organizes the bus (actually, it's usually a friend of the family who does so as a favor because the family is busy with wedding planning), the family lays out the full fee for the bus as well as a hotel room for the bus driver so that s/he can rest during the wedding, but the guests pay X amount of dollars/person or per couple, with a cap up to a point (e.g., say there is a family of guests coming). The chattan's family does not recoup all of the money they spent on the bus, even if the bus is 100% full. It's a nice thing to do, not expected, but nice, and even with the guests paying a certain amount, it's still cheaper for them than it would be to drive/fly on their own and get a hotel room (which they would probably have to do otherwise, because it's a lot to drive 4-6 hours in each direction AND enjoy a 4-8 hour wedding all in one day).

The only time I can think of when the chattan's family paid for a guest to come was when a cousin was married in another country, and my aunt and uncle paid for the misader kiddushin's travel, since he was the chattan's childhood rabbi. Clearly, this was more than just a guest.

I get so disgusted with the entitlement people exhibit. I used to see it daily in my work (until I went back to school for an advanced degree). Sometimes, I really wish things were like they were when my parents were my age - back when people actually took responsibility for their actions and (generally) lived within their means. We have it so good now that people don't remember what it used to be like. I count myself lucky that my parents offer certain things to me that they never got to experience themselves because they (and their parents) could not afford them back in the day. One of my biggest fears in life is that I will not be able to provide for my future children in the same way that my parents were able to provide for me. It's too bad that more people in our generation don't think that way...

Apologies for the rambling, I tend to get really heated about these issues.

Lion of Zion said...


i understand the 3-years residency. why the house requirement? is to ensure that people making decisions about the shul have demonstrated a commitment to remain within the community?

Jewboy said...

I went to numerous weddings as a yeshiva bachur and always paid my own costs. It's ridiculous to expect otherwise. If you can't afford it, just don't go.

the apple said...

JS - for sure. I don't think people *have* to provide transportation, but it's a very nice thing to do for your guests, especially for people who really do care that most of their guest list would be able to show up.

Anonymous said...

elitzur, loz,

The "party line" is that if someone owns a house they have a permanent stake in the community. Someone who lives in an apt is more "fly by night" and wouldn't take a more long-term view on community decisions.

Hooey in my opinion. As you can imagine, this leads to considerable tension in the community.

Ariella's blog said...

I've heard of a bus being hired for a large number of guests who have to travel to an out of town wedding, and it is possible that the hosts paid the entire bill for it. But this is ridiculous. As for limos, my transportation to and from my own wedding was in my own car.

Anonymous said...

Just back from a Yeshiva wedding in Williamsburg. All I can say is what my husband and I always say: We have more in common with the waiters than the guests. And this includes my beloved family who mean so much to me. These people speak a different language, live in a foreign country, are living in a completely different culture than we are. And what boggles my mind is that somehow they all seem to have more money than me. Here we are with advanced degrees and professions and we struggle to pay our bills each month. How is it that all of these Yeshiva Bochurim and young marrieds have a steady flow of money from their parents when their parents have upwards of 6 kids?!!! How?

Anonymous said...

The clothes for the adults, the clothes on the kids, the gown rentals for the immediate family, the beautiful new apartment the couple is getting, the more than two custom sheitels, the new sheitel for the Chosson and Kallah's mothers...and the room is packed with these Bochurim (aside from teh ones outside smoking--which does cost money too--do the parents pay for the cigarettes also?) and all these Bochurim are going to get the same treatment, the same amenities. How?

Anonymous said...

It is quite common in Israel for the families of the Chatan and Kallah to hire buses to transport people to the wedding. I've been to a few such weddings (sometimes I used the bus and sometimes I drove myself, depending on the circumstances). Most of the time, there are buses from 2 or 3 central areas, like a bus from central Yerushalaim and from central Tel Aviv (actually usually on Kvish Geha near Bar Ilan because it is a common crossroads). And if the boy or girl are from yeshiva/seminary, sometimes there are buses from the yeshiva or seminary.