In case you missed the buzz, our oldest son got married a few weeks ago, and we now have a new daughter (cue the happy simcha music)!
The wedding day was everything we could have hoped for, and I’m pretty sure our new machetonim and the bride and groom agree. The weather, which had been iffy leading up to the weekend, was perfect! Sunny and warm for pictures, and by the time it got really hot we were already inside. Literally a picture-perfect day for a wedding.
But let me back it up a bit, and give you a glimpse into how the day turned out as perfect as it did.
About a month before the engagement (spoiler: SHE SAID YES), the parents were clued in and started planning the l’chaim. That was when we (thankfully) realized that we would be able to work well together. Planning that party was so much fun; the hardest part was keeping our then-future daughter-in-law in the dark, especially as it got closer.
Note on l’chaim planning: Amazon is your friend. And if you will also be hosting a shower, aufruf or any other celebration leading up to the wedding, buy extra of everything. It’s fun to keep the theme going!
The happy couple finally got engaged (mazal tov!) in November, courtesy of a beautiful surprise engagement in Central Park, secretly planned and expertly executed by the groom (our oldest), with a lot of help from his friends and family. Followed by a beautiful l’chaim that night.
From there the planning just took off!
You may be wondering what that planning entailed, and perhaps you think I have some words of wisdom to impart based on my months of wedding-planning experience. Here, I must give credit where credit is due, and confess to much less involvement in the actual planning than I had perhaps anticipated. The bride and groom were amazingly organized and really took the lead on everything, from band to food to flowers.
Note: Start visiting venues ASAP, especially if the wedding is not intended to be that far in the future. Dates book up quickly! Once you have a date and venue, you can relax for a few minutes (I mean weeks).
We backed into our wedding date, due to many conflicts on all sides (thank God for so many simchas, though). Then the bride and groom happily set off to check off the many other items on our to-do list.
Note: Create a to-do list. Right now. And make sure everyone has access. Take an Excel class if necessary, because spreadsheets are your friend.
Invitations. Does anyone remember printed ones anymore? They are beautiful, and of course something to put on your fridge, but Paperless Post or a site like that is SO. MUCH. EASIER.
It took some time, but we created our invitation lists, inputted and uploaded everything, and we were good to go.
Note: A creative friend or relative comes in really handy when designing invitations. And remember to PROOFREAD (said the editor)!!
Now let’s discuss attire. Most likely, the bride will pick colors for the family and bridesmaids to wear. Our color was gold. So I set out to buy basically every single gold item to be found online. You think I’m kidding? Ask our local UPS Store, which had the (dis)pleasure of helping me return all the rejects. From gowns to sandals to sneakers to jewelry, I ordered everything. And loved every second of it.
Note: When ordering online, make sure you pay attention to return-by dates, and keep everything well organized. The last thing you want is to be stuck with … well, anything.
After a beautiful engagement party in January, courtesy of the bride’s family, planning continued.
Note: Definitely schedule a tasting with your caterer, and not just because it’s delicious. Make sure you’re happy with the food, and try to have something for every palate.
Additional note for the women: Ask around to find a great seamstress, makeup artist and hair stylist. Chances are you will need dress fittings (they’re not just for brides anymore), and most likely you’ll have your hair and makeup done the day of the simcha, either at home before you leave or at the venue.
As the wedding day approached, we started discussing kibbudim. I think we found a great mix that made things meaningful for everyone.
Note: Everyone has their own customs, wants and needs, so make sure to be respectful. And ask the mesader kiddushin if you have any questions.
Additional note: We had a spreadsheet for that, too. Every honor had a backup person, just in case. Fortunately we didn’t need them, but I’ve heard of weddings where having a backup ready to go would have been helpful.
I know everyone freaks out about tables, but it’s really unnecessary stress. Seriously. Do your best to have someone at each table who can “talk to anyone,” and try not to put people together who hate each other. That is the best you can do.
Note: If you haven’t taken that Excel class yet, you’re behind the eight ball. A spreadsheet is helpful here also.
Don’t forget about shtick. It is definitely not what it used to be, with people dancing, moonwalking or break-dancing in front of a smiling bride and groom. Today there are props, lots of props. Think about it in advance to find something meaningful and funny. These days nothing is too “out there,” including dressing like a gorilla (that may or may not be a reference to my husband, for everyone at the wedding who didn’t know who was in the gorilla costume).
Note: Here, too, Amazon is your friend.
A few months later, we had a bridal shower, happily hosted in our home (using the leftover paper goods from the l’chaim). Who knew that guys (and even the groom) now attend the shower?!
And then somehow, seemingly in the blink of an eye, it was the wedding weekend.
We hosted our son’s amazing friends for his aufruf Shabbat, which really started the weekend on a joyous note. Of course, I had known his childhood friends for years, but now I got to know so many of his friends from college and beyond, and they are all such great guys. It made me so happy, seeing my son surrounded and supported by this very special group of young men. It was truly a Shabbat to remember. But the cleanup…
Note: If you can make the aufruf a few days to a week before the wedding, consider it. If you’re having the aufruf on Shabbat and the wedding the next day, just know that you are in for an amazing, yet totally exhausting, weekend. And maybe plan to drink a lot of coffee.
We packed the cars after Shabbat, checking and double checking that everything that needed to go to the venue the next day was in one of the cars. Cars, you ask? Plural? If you have both males and females in your house, trust me, you will need more than one car.
Note: Remember those hair and makeup people I mentioned earlier? Well, let’s just say that they need to start quite a bit earlier than the time the men in the family need to arrive for pictures. (Don’t forget to use waterproof mascara.) That effortless beauty that we all rock in pictures? Not so effortless (insert smiley emoji here).
Also, again for the women, it is best to wear a zipper/button top, or a top with a wide neck, for hair and makeup, so you don’t mess anything up when you change into your wedding attire.
Additional note: Have a staging area in your house for everything that will need to go with you to the venue the day of the wedding. We had a spreadsheet (courtesy of the extremely organized bride, a woman after my own heart) listing every single item that we could possibly have needed. DO NOT forget the tissues!!
And then it was time for THE BIG DAY. I started getting teary right away. Hair, makeup, wardrobe—check. Then pictures. Did I mention tears?
The bedeken was so lively and fun, even before the groom and his friends danced in. I would be remiss if I failed to mention one beautiful thing that happened. My dad, ever the old fashioned gentleman, approached my mom, sitting next to me, and asked her to dance. And my parents got up and danced in front of everyone at the shmorg. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room, and my very-soon-to-be daughter-in-law turned to me and said, with tears in her own eyes (makeup artist, time for a touchup!!), “They are a beautiful example of how we all want to be.” I couldn’t agree more.
Now I need to give a shoutout to one of my son’s friends. As the guys were dancing out of the bedeken, he got to his knees so my son could get on his shoulders. Why is this a big deal, you ask? Doesn’t every groom do this? Well, my son is almost 6’4”, and is always the one to hold people on his shoulders. This considerate and sweet (and clearly strong) young man wanted him to have the experience of being on someone’s shoulders at his wedding … and the pictures showing my son’s face, grinning from ear to ear as they danced out of the room, are (hopefully) worth the backache this young man likely had the next day.
Note: Remember that you will need a plate for the moms to break. Make sure the plate is actually breakable (as so many are not today), and if the venue offers you a hammer (and your mesader kiddushin is OK with it), use it!
I should mention that our son, the groom, is a fairly emotional young man. And we have always been very close. So basically, when he cries, I cry. And vice versa. Let’s just say that a lot of (happy) tears were shed that day.
The ceremony was beautiful. Smiles and tears competed for center stage, but it was the bride and groom who stole the show (as they should have). And then they were married.
And soon enough, our son and new daughter joined family and friends at the reception. And the party began.
I would like to wish Rena and Joey a life together as beautiful as their wedding day was. May the party never end. I love you both!
Jill Kirsch is the senior editor of The Jewish Link and hopes you have enjoyed this glimpse into her “very best day.”