As I’ve written here, I have had the pleasure of planning a wedding in Israel. From understanding the rules of etiquette to our frantic venue search, the process hasn’t always been easy. But luckily, I had the wedding of my dreams just over a month ago.
- The wows and hows of an Ashkenazi girl’s henna
- Here comes the bride, all dressed in leather and tefillin
Weddings have become big business. From reality shows documenting the search for a gown to competitions on wedding extravagance, there are some crazy, over the top weddings and planners who garner millions of TV viewers every year. In Israel a few years ago, Onat HaHatunot provided its own Israeli spin on the phenomenon, and rather than lauding indulgence, provided a humorous look at the lengths couples go to for that “perfect” wedding.
CNN recently reported that couples in 2012 spent more than they had in four years on a wedding in the United States—an average of $28,400. In Israel, wedding costs are also extremely expensive: NIS 100,000 to NIS 140,000 for 300 guests.
And as someone who planned a wedding recently, I can understand why. Wedding sites preach bigger and pricier dresses, flowers, invitations and more, a modern day keeping-up-with-the-Jones’. And I’ve seen dozens of my own friends take out loans and spend insane amounts of money just to have that “perfect” day. I too blogged about the tiny details, as they dominated my thoughts.
Previous to my actual wedding, I focused on the “whats” and the “hows”: what kind of flowers will I have? How will the food taste? What will the DJ play?
And yet, the day of my wedding, my whole schema got flipped around. What was once important—those tiny details—truly faded away. What did become important was the why: why I was getting married.
The ceremony had previously seemed like small detail, a blip on the wedding radar, as unfortunate as it sounds. But on the day of the wedding, everything changed. The ceremony, enhanced by my family and friends coalescing together to see my husband and I wed was indeed one of the most beautiful moments of my life.
Being in Israel and having everyone together—and the backdrop of the spirituality Israel provides—created a perfect mix. All the details faded away—from the music that was played to the food, I honestly couldn’t care less. The thirty-minute ceremony stands out, beyond anything else, as the highlight of the day.
This echos what many of the married folks I spoke to about the wedding planning process said—that the important part was that my fiance and I were getting married. My parents couldn’t understand what my stress was about—they continuously told me that what was important was the fact I was getting married. My soon-to-be-parents-in-law reiterated that as well.
In the end, maybe all of these reality TV shows, programs, and websites are really for those soon-to-be wed. Because now, I couldn’t care less about the flowers, the music, or the invitations I receive for an upcoming wedding. What I am truly happy about is the coming together of two people in marriage.
So while I’d love to write here that my flowers were perfect or that the food was out of this world, I don’t really remember all that much about those things. I remember standing under the chuppah, looking into my future husband’s eyes, and seeing my friends and family around me. And isn’t that what a marriage is all about?
Yael Miller is a professional working in International Affairs in Washington, DC.