Guest Post: Our $3,000 Brooklyn Kosher Wedding
One of my commentors "French Press" was kind enough to share how she and her husband made a wedding for less than $3,000. I'm sure there is something in there for everyone.
You once asked me how we got away with making a wedding in brooklyn for under 3,000$ Here it is. Some of it applies to just brooklyn...
*Gemach gemach gemach! Table linens, silk florals, really uncomfy bedecken chair, dress.
*Nice invites from Staples and printed on your printer.
*Invite 100 peeps or less.
*Limited Bar, mostly wine. Joyvin bought by the case in Jersey.
*Rent your local hillel. At Brooklyn College, this can come with Kosher catering if Carmela is still there.
*Photos taken by art student. BEAUTIFUL.
*Even our Delish wedding cake came from a Gemach.
*Make your own wedding favors. Get jordan Almonds, little bells at a bead shop some tulle and ribbon.
*Opt for a bridesmaids bouquet rather than full size.
*Get your hillel rabbi to do the ceremony.
*Assign your bridesmaids a color, and let them pick their dresses.
*Hire a Deejay who is a friend.
*Have your brother tape the wedding.
*Have a very artsy friend design your ketubah.
Your really cheap wedding will also lack those odd dudes who crash weddings and eat food and ask for cash!
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Posted by Orthonomics at Thursday, January 29, 2009
Labels: Guest Posts, Money Savings Tips, Weddings
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How do you get a wedding cake from a gemach? It doesn't seem like something you can borrow.
My guess is that "day old" stock gets donated to an organization and is then distributed to those who need it.
I would actually think that a wedding cake is something that is pretty dispensable.
hmm, I'm confused about gemachs now. when I was getting married in brooklyn also I looked into gemachs for some things, they usualy charge a fee for borrowing. In some intances I found better deals than borrowing from the gemach. Wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses, and flowers.
The wedding dress gemachs all charges at least 750 to borrow a dress, I paid less than half. I never had bridesmaids, I told everyone that as long as they aren't naked I don't care. But once I went to borrow a dress for a dirrefent wedding. It isn't any cheaper than going to David's bridal and buying their seperates.
Flowers, I looked at gemach, and everyone warned me that theis silk flowers all have seen better days :). At the end I just went to small florists that don't do events and they got me excellent prices.
A ketubah can be bought in any Judaica store. Our rabbi preferred a printed one, to avoid errors.
"A ketubah can be bought in any Judaica store."
for about 10 bucks the RCA sent us a packet with a ketubbah, tenaim and agunah prenupt. for the ketubbah, in the end we used an antique printed ketubbah (that i didn't pay for).
our mesader kiddushin frowned on using fancy ketubbot (he didn't think a shetar should be made into an art piece for display)
We did without a cake - most couples never end up cutting it anyway.
A friend ordered a wedding dress online from China - it was beautiful and fit her perfectly and cost less than my gemach dress (which was under $200 and I *loved*)
Yes, dispensable! We had chocolate mousse. :)
Loud, wild applause for the $3,000 wedding!!!!!
David's Bridal is definitely the place to go for inexpensive but beautiful dresses.
For our wedding we picked up a few copies of a kesubah (just in case) from Chofetz Chaim for free. It's what they all use and what lots of people use. Good way to not have to worry about mistakes, and our mesader kiddushin also expressed a desire for a standard printed one rather than a fancy one.
My wedding was in Israel, it was definitely more than $3000 but there were no bridesmaids, no wedding cake, no fancy ketuba and no wedding favors (i was at a bunch of weddings in the US and had never seen them at Jewish weddings).
Other cost cutters: We had buffet style, which is very popular in Israel and at least here, you end up with a lot more variety and yummier food.
My dress and veil, including fabric, design and sewing, was $500.
You guys are a riot. A person makes a $3,000 wedding and you are finding areas to cut!!!
All that proves is not matter your level of frugality, there is always another level.
I say yashar koach to the guest poster because she demonstrated that you can find alternatives to some of the major costs like photography.
I have heard of people going to Costco for fresh flowers and arranging them as centerpieces. Candles are also nice centerpieces. I don't see many wedding cakes at Orthodox weddings.
Some friends had several little girls to dress up so they bought white communion gowns from a cheap store and made colorful ribbon sashes to dress them up and add color.
I have also seen beautiful wedding, mother of bride/groom, and bridesmaids dresses at Goodwill and Purple Heart thrift stores. They would probably need alterations or extra fabric added to make the gowns tznius. If someone in the family sews, it pays to look there. Craigslist or ebay might also have something.
"Other cost cutters: We had buffet style, which is very popular in Israel"
a) At least in NY buffets are more expensive than standard weddings.
b) Actually almost every wedding here does have a buffet--it's called the shmorgasboard. Now there's a way to cut money--don't serve two whole meals at one affair.
"I say yashar koach to the guest poster because she demonstrated that you can find alternatives"
I don't think she had any new ideas. A lot of what she did has already been suggested here and elsewhere. Yet I still extend a yashar koach because she had the "chutzpah" to actually implement those ideas, and that's more important than just talking about them.
I think the fact that a gemach fee for a wedding dress is $750 (25% more than my dress cost in 1988) shows how materialistic and fancy the frum community is. People would rather have a designer name on a dress they don't even get to keep. My dress was actually passed down to a friend's daughter, so it got worn twice. Why is the frum world so hung up on fancy clothes? Yes, I like to look nice. It's important to me and my closet is full. However, I bought everything on sale at great prices (and now I shop on eBay, I get even greater bargains).
Abba's Ranting-You said it better than I. Yashar Koach for implementing alternatives and not just talking about it!
I don't think it's an issue of cost cutting, so much as budgeting.
If you cut out ketuba, bridesmaids and wedding cake, you can spend more on food, band, etc.
Each person has their own priorities and I think that's the bottom line of budgeting.
Come to think of it $600 seems like a lot for the dress in 1988. I think that included the price of making it all tznius and everything. Also, back in those days they didn't have the David's type discount places, which I think are a real bargain.
Just a couple of points. There were less than 100 people at this wedding. Okay, let's be reaaaaly honest here--how many people who are married with families right now could count on having less than 100 people, for both sides together, when they marry off their kids? Our families are not large but my hubby and I have 4 siblings, married, and we have 14 nieces and nephews, all but three married (and there are already 22 great nieces and nephews). There is my mom and three uncles and aunts. Presumably most people would invite these relatives to a wedding. Now how about our 13 first cousins, all married? How about the friends of the choson and kallah, or at least the closest ones? Let's not even talk about friends of the parents. Now multiply this times two sides, his and hers. I've posted often about how wedding expenses are truly ridiculous, but the "required" guest list can't always be cut, nor should it be. Certainly your family is something you have to live with after the wedding hoopla is over--are you looking to cause a family rift that will last for a long time, if not forever? If a wedding is "only" about the choson and kallah, then all you need is the parents and a minyan of men. Weddings are more than just marriages--we should keep that in mind.
Question: did the choson and kallah pay for the wedding or was there help from the parents or did the parents pay totally? Makes a difference as to how many people were contributing to the costs.
ProfK, I think guest lists should be cut. I think the most meaningful guests are people who actually know the chosson & kallah, be they friends or family members. Usually this includes close friends of the parents, but not their casual acquaintances and distant relatives who are often invited. (The cynical part of me says these people are often invited because they give good gifts). Of course there are exceptions. It's nice but not necessary to include children, and the line can and should be drawn there if costs are an issue.
I know about huge weddings, but even these often include lots of extra people because the huge halls have minimums of 400-600 people. I have heard that these halls are cheaper per person, but once you pay for the minimum the whole wedding is not cheaper.
You can always invite those who don't make the cut to sheva brachos. I recall being excluded from a wedding AND from their sheva brachos that was held right near my house. My feelings were hurt, but my relationship with that family continued. I got over it.
I'm not refering to you personally with this comment but you remind me of the old joke of the guy who gets up by his son's Bar Mitzvah and says 'I would like to thank most of you for coming and make a special mention of those I invited so they shouldn't be offended and they came so I shouldn't be offended.
I've posted often about how wedding expenses are truly ridiculous, but the "required" guest list can't always be cut, nor should it be. Certainly your family is something you have to live with after the wedding hoopla is over--are you looking to cause a family rift that will last for a long time, if not forever?
It can be cut. It depends on the family. We cut it completely. In many families, cutting it to the minimum may well be easier; if no one is invited it may be less of an issue than if one hundred are invited, but someone was left out.
If a wedding is "only" about the choson and kallah, then all you need is the parents and a minyan of men.
Do you need the parents for a halachically valid wedding? I thought it was minyan, choson, kallah, and a Rabbi.
For secular weddings, you can, in some states, cut it all the way down to the bride and groom. No officient required.
Correction--I did not say that guest lists should be humongous. My point was that people with larger families, and who are close to those families, will have trouble in cutting the list down to under 100 guests for both sides included. Yes, you can cut out the great nieces and nephews, but the first cousins of the choson and kallah? And mine and my husband's first cousins are hardly distant relatives--they have been an integral part of our lives and the lives of our children. There are plenty of other areas of a wedding that can be cut down or out to control costs--the wedding cake and the favors (not something done at too many frummie weddings) come to mind. The frummer the wedding, there will be no bridesmaids--attendants are only the siblings of the choson and kallah, and yes, a whole lot of money can be saved on their attire. Oh yes, and the only requirement for alcohol at a wedding is the wine for under the chupah.
Dave, I suppose you could cut out the parents, but reading a kesubah in which the father's names are specifically mentioned without the fathers at least being present is somewhat tacky. As to cutting out the family altogether--you may have been able to do it, but we couldn't, nor would we want to.
ProfK-If a family doesn't want to cut down on the guest list and they want to put on a budget wedding, they can choose a different format that would work.
Everytime someone contributes somes suggestions about what can be done, someone else has a reason why it can't be done.
The real problem is the lack of courage to break rank from a culture of conformity that isn't helping the community as a whole an individuals in particular in the long run.
Want versus need.
What you need is a Minyan, the couple, a Rabbi.
Everything beyond that is a want.
I've been to weddings that were "potluck" and in the park, weddings that were simple announcements, and of course, the more formal weddings. For that matter, in years past, I helped lead a formal pike line for people getting married at Renaissance festivals.
The simple weddings always seemed nicer to me.
SL and David,
You are both right, in the sense that conformity is what is leading to financial overload when it comes to weddings. It is not that I, or other commenters, are necessarily shooting down suggestions as to how to change things. It is that substituting one type of conformity for another does not account for differing wants and yes, differing needs as well. Unless an approach is suggested that allows for individual taste, re wants and needs, it has no chance of being adopted.
The only "rule" I care to see is that weddings be paid for in CASH and that you don't dip into cash beyond what is reasonable.
If a family decides they wanted to have a bash of an affair and every household member takes on extra jobs to pay for it, so be it! I imagine many parents would. My father tells me that it was commonplace in 1950's Brooklyn to do just that.
Today we don't have the good sense to use cash. A realtor in my community told me nearly every wedding is paid for with a home equity line.
Perhaps the silver lining of the "credit crunch" will be that people won't be able to continue to put everything on the house and will have to come to terms different wedding formats.
This is one area where the normative American culture is just as full of naarishkeit.
I actively dislike the fixation on the wedding day. Focus on the marriage, not the wedding.
I left an important phrase out.
This is one area where the normative American culture is just as full of the same naarishkeit.
I did not mean to imply that the standard American culture was free of naarishkeit; it's just that it is generally different naarishkeit.
There are gmachs for just about everything today. (In fact, it recently occurred to me -- after we lent ours out to someone who had a flood -- that there shoudl be a wet-vac gmach; it's not so expensive to purchase, but most people don't own their own because they don't anticipate having to use it.)
I list the wedding related ones on the directory of www.kallahmagazine.com but I don't ask them all what their policies are. Some places that call themselves gmachs are really just rental agencies and charge nearly what salons charge to rent a dress. But others just ask that you clean the dress or pay $100-$250 or so to cover the cost of the cleaning. I actually borrowed my cousin's gown, but I got the headpiece and petticoat from the local gmach, and there was no charge at the time. I also insisted on silk rented centerpieces because I thought it a shame to waste so much money for the fresh flowers.
But I do agree with other commentators here -- a wedding cake, decorated ketubah, favors, and bridesmaids (BTW etiquette allows a bride not to pay for the maid's dresses) are not necessities for a frum wedding. The real problem is getting a guest list down to such a size when my first cousins alone amount to close to 100 people, so Prof K does make a valid point. A similarly situated couple would simply have to elope not to alienate the many relatives who had to be cut from the guest list.
When my wife and I were married, we cut costs whenever possible. For example, a friend drew a nice picture for us, and I took that picture along with some text to a printer in Tel Aviv and had him print the picture on the front, and the text in the middle on some nice heavy weight gray paper. Then we purchased some regular envelopes of the right size for those invitations. While we were at it, we had the printer print up a bunch of smaller cards with our names on it and also bought a bunch of smaller envelopes (for thank you cards, etc). We still have some of those blank cards left more than 11 years later!
As far as adult beverages, I went to the store and purchased a few bottles, and some relatives brought a few from duty free on the way to Israel. In the end, most of us don't drink, but the remaining bottles disappeared at the end of the wedding (maybe the hotel staff took them?).
The wedding gown we got almost for free by trading my sister-in-laws old gown for the use ("rental") of my wifes gown.
Finally the flowers ... we thought we would use what the hotel provided (minimal) until my father arrived 3 days before the wedding and insisted that we go to a florist to get a bunch more. In the end we got some nice peach colored flowers (my wife is from Georgia hence the color) for each table, some for the chuppah, and a small brides bouquet.
The Gerrer Rebbe made a rule limiting not only the cost of the wedding, but also the degree of relative who may be invited. I'm pretty sure the parents' first cousins didn't make the cut.
Like SL said, the point is not what the standards should be, each family can decide, on its own but to make weddings that they can afford.
Want versus need.
What you need is a Minyan, the couple, a Rabbi.
Everything beyond that is a want.
I may be wrong but I thing that all you "need" are 2 eidim, no minyan or rabbi. The eidim sign the ktuba. Isha niknait bishlosha dvarim: kesef (the ring), shtar (the ktuba, signed by 2 witnesses) and biah (intimacy).
Wow, how's that for a cheap wedding?
Tamiri, the couple will be married without it, but you are supposed to have a minyan for the meal for Sheva Brachot. I guess you could get married on a Friday afternoon like they used to, and the requisite number of neighbors could come over for dessert after Shabbat dinner. Bringing their own dessert, of course.
my son got married in israel 2 years ago near shalhevim in an outside facility,
there were over 350 guests, including a large part of my wife and my family who flew in for the wedding. it inculded video, pictures, band, smorgasgoard, and sitdown dinner (glatt/mehadrin ), flowers etc. i dont think there was any missing that people would have had in the US.
we split it down the middle with the inlaws. not counting airfare for us or our relatives and hotels the wedding cost in the nighborhood of 15k total (7.5 each family).
much more than what u quoted, but significnaltly less than most american weddings. (50k and up)
evevn if we paid for the airfares for the our (the parents) siblings and children, (which we didint) i think we still would have saved money from doing it a hall in the ny area for 400 plus people (since we had only a handful of neighbors and friends from the us.
it was heimish and fun and we helped the israeli economy to boot
Weddings usually involve 2 families unless the couple or one of them is a ger, BT, or orphan. It is not always easy to get both sets of parents plus the chosson and kallah to agree on everything. I saw a case where one side did their part of the chassunah the cheap way and the other side was really mad afterward. They did not walk away feeling that their child had a beautiful wedding. They felt that they and their child were cheated. They had to be warned not to make such as stink that would set the tone for all future encounters with their new mechutanim and in-law child.
I think that each side must be up-front about what they are providing so that there are no surprises on the day of the chassunah. Of course there are those extortionists that demand that because they are providing an expensive bedroom set, the other side must give an expensive dining room set. It is a miracle if any mechutanim still speak to each other at the bris (or kiddish) for the first child. It is a delicate situation and you must walk on eggs. Luckily, BH in our family, we got nice people.
rosi makes an important point about being on the same page about this. In truth, it is much easier to cut on the FLOP part of the wedding by getting the flowers from a gmach, eliminating all liquor (I've been at weddings were absolutely none was served -- not even wine, getting a one-man band rather than full orchestra, and scaling back on photography. But if the bride's side is opting for all the upgrades at an expensive catering hall and spending thousands on the gowns, etc., they would probably be none-too-pleased with such cost-cutting on the groom's side. If the two sides come from different socio-economic circles, they are more likely to clash on what should be spent on the wedding.
Sorry, Rosie, the e got dropped just above.
>>>no minyan or rabbi
You need the minyan at the chuppah for the 7 brachos there (Kesubos 7b - minyan l'birkat chassanim b'asarah... etc.) You need the mesader kiddushin based on Kiddushin 6 that you have to be a baki in hilchos gittin v'kiddushin to deal with those areas of halacha. Any Rav worth his title would (should?) volunteer his time to work with a couple and help them get married without sending them a bill for his services that he knows they can't pay.
One other technical point: the wedding meal has a halachic status of seudas mitzvah and hence is in some sense obligatory. As mother in israel wrote, in Europe when people were very poor the weddings were done late on Friday so the seudah would coincide with seudas Shabbos and not cost the family another large meal, but there was never an idea of getting married without food (who ever heard of Jews celebrating anything without eating : )
"The cynical part of me says these people are often invited because they give good gifts"
this is a bad reason (from an investment perspective) to invite someone to simcha, especially when we are talking about the typical orthodox guest. generally our gifts don't come anywhere even close to covering the cost of our presence at the wedding.
If you invite people because of their gifts, what will you do when they invite you to their simcha? Make an excuse?
"BTW etiquette allows a bride not to pay for the maid's dresses"
Please explain why a bride that wants to spend to much can force others spend too much also.
This is the main reason I didn't have bridesmades or the whole color coordination. I was not going to force anyone to spend money they don't have.
I now have to find a dress in a specific color for a wedding. If I buy it in America it'll cost more than my wedding dress cost. Not only that now I ear in shekels. $250 is a lot of money in shekels
For the fun of it I am trying to explain the concept of bridal party and color coordination to my israeli neighboors. The all start laughing and say "Americans are crazy/stupid". I think that sumarizes it.
who ever heard of Jews celebrating anything without eating
The Cynic's Guide to Jewish Holidays:
1. Something good happened, let's eat.
2. They tried to kill us and they failed, let's eat.
3. Something bad happened, let us not eat or drink, and then eat a whole bunch afterwards.
Dave- you missed Purim, for which you must substitute "drink" into one of those.
Weddings usually involve 2 families unless the couple or one of them is a ger, BT, or orphan.
Even when one or both are not from 'typical' frum families there are ALWAYS two sides involved.
Rachel in Israel, I agree with your view on bridesmaids. It does seem rather unfair to demand someone undertake the expense for a dress that is usually not her choice of style or color. But I assure you, I have done the research on wedding etiquette, and brides are not required to foot the bill for the dresses; some buy the fabric if the dresses are being sewn, but that's usually the extent of it. And it is traditional to give the bridesmaids some jewelery. But the bridesmaid thing is not at all integral to Jewish weddings, and some find it inappropriate to have such a procession.
I have seen cases where there was little or no participation from the family if they are opposed to Orthodoxy. I have also seen cases where the family came but did not contribute financially. There is someone in Lubavitch who raises money for BTs to get married on because their families refuse to pay. The 2 sides that are making financial decisions are the chosson and kallah themselves, rather than their families.
rosie-I have plenty of friends that are BTs and some of them not only have parents that have contributed to them generously (sometimes the parents prefer to give the children a gift and let them decide how to spent it towards their marriage-and many of them hope they will spend more on the marriage and less on the wedding), but have continued to "support" their children in kollel or with help on downpayments, and yes, even with help on tuition. Oh, and I know PLENTY of grandmothers of BT's who also babysit gratis.
As one mother who wishes she was not supporting a son in kollel with no aspirations to ever support his family told me, "what should I do, let them starve?"
Perhaps the problem you see is more accute in Chabad. Where I live, it seems the grandparents of BTs differ in how they help, but I don't very few people left out in the cold completely.
"As one mother who wishes she was not supporting a son in kollel with no aspirations to ever support his family told me, "what should I do, let them starve?""
now that's for a post
One note on the bridesmaid dress thing- if the bridesmaids are paying for their own dresses, it's the least the bride can do to pick at least one color that is fairly "normal", so that the dress can easily be reused at other weddings.
as uncle floyd said years ago
it takes two people to make a wedding
the girl and her mother
JLan, hardly anyone reuses bridesmaid dresses (or sister or mother of bride dresses in frummer circles that avoid bridesmaids), despite the best intentions of all involved. They're just so ... bridesmaidy.
(My cousin wore hers twice to two sisters' weddings, but those weddings were 8 years apart.)
I'm confused - how did bridesmaids become part of a frum wedding? (I'm not crticizing, just curious.)
Most of the frum weddings I've attended didn't have this, but I was a bridesmaid in two. For one, a woman in the community made our dresses and charged just enough to cover materials and a little bit of parnassah for herself. They were very simple dresses that we could wear again. In the other case, the bride paid for every expense incurred by the bridesmaids, since she is able to afford it and felt that it was so important to her to include her friends.
On the other hand, I was a bridesmaid in a non-Jewish wedding, where we were expected to pay for everything. My understanding is that is usually the expectation - you ask someone to participate in your wedding, then make them buy expensive clothes that they'll never wear again, as well as paying for your shower, bachlorette party, gifts, etc. It's a fantastic example of people expecting others to pay for your own extravagances, and a totally un-Jewish idea. So I truly hope this expectation hasn't made its way into the frum world.
A Rav told us it was kavodik for the kallah to have an "entourage". In his daughters' weddings all the available siblings, cousins, etc made up the entourage. My sisters were part of my entourage.
In both of these situations, wardrobe was simply standard wedding fare. Nothing color-coordinated whatsoever.
Some clarification- I paid 75$ to a gemach in queens for the dress. I know you don't really have bridesmaids at frum weddings. I am MO, i chose to have them. My wedding was not extremely frum. And to the poster that asked, we saved up for this wedding over a period of 8 months. we were both college students.
Any other questions? :)
I don't know why you're saying that a bridal gown at a Gemach is $750!?! I borrowed my gown at the local Boro Park Gemach (Ehrenfeld's), a stunning gown. I paid exactly $100. I think they charge a little extra for the headpiece. But you know what? My daughter was thrilled, she looked magnificent...And I was not in debt! I know a lot of Kallahs who got their gowns there... they are comparable to the rentals around town. Their drawback is that they're only open once a week, Sunday eves.
Zichron Yehudis Miriam bridal Gemach in Boro Park. I got my daughter's gown there, too. Was a great experience. Paid $130 got everything there... Gown, headpiece, veil, petticoat, shoes! Their number is 718 854 0334. I think they have children's too... not sure.
Got my daughter's gown at Ehrenfeld's Gmach in Boro Park too. It's a great place. They work with you as if you are in Kleinfeld's, and their gowns are comparable to the ones you rent for 2-3,000 a night. I did not give my daughter a choice. Had to cut costs, as hubby out of a job. B"H she found a gown she loved. I was so thankful. Also borrowed stuff to cut costs, like silk (lifelike) centerpieces and bridesmaid's dresses from Landaus Gemach in BP.
Got my gown at ehrenfelds too. Seriously can't imagine why anyone would choose to pay more if you can get a brand new gown for next to nothing. They rven do the alterations on premises. So its not like your left with any headache. I had a wonderful experience and would go that route for the rest of my daughters.
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