I'm a firm believer in not sweating the small stuff. Or if I do, I find a little perspiration is more easily contained than the gobs generated by bigger stuff. That's why I'm going for simple as I plan my wedding. Headache free. It is, after all, the second time around.
We both had the big wedding with fancy hors d'oeuvres and tiered cake, billows of satin and lace, guests kicking their heels to Hava Nagila. This time, we chose a color scheme in matching shades of a recessionary budget. A wedding in the woods, decorated by nature. Just us, the kids, the rabbi. No need for throngs to gawk and cheer. Not even a crescendo of Mazel Tov! What, is it a performance?
We chose a color scheme in matching shades of a recessionary budget.
Our wedding would be intimate. No sweat. Or so I thought.
It all started with the rabbi. "If I may offer my opinion . . ."
Whenever Jews offer opinions, it's never a slight thing.
"We need four people just to hold the chuppah," he said. "I also like to have a different person say each of seven blessings."
"I like that!" The words burst from my mouth without thought of ramifications.
"Great!" he said. "You'll need seven people for each cup. Plus two witnesses."
"We're going for intimate," I protested. The rabbi nodded with a knowing smile. "Have 20 people. It'll be intimate. Trust me."
I agreed. Twenty wasn't exactly Weddings Gone Wild. And thus, the beast took on a life of its own.
Does it really matter if I hike through the woods with a handful of friends and just happen to leave married? God would never charge us for using his turf. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the people who run our State parks. While hardly exorbitant, something in me reacted toward renting a portion of wooded area about half the size of my living room, with higher prices for the better forested neighborhoods. All I wanted were a few trees, perhaps a trickling stream, and less than an hour to get from Point A to I Do. What if we just showed up? No big scene. Just a handful of inordinately dressed hikers enjoying the outdoors. We could almost get away with it, if not for the chuppah. Chuppahs can be obtrusive. Like overtired children during an extended outing, there's no hiding the fact they're there. Just as parents crack a half-baked smile to outside glares, I too could act nonchalant, laugh nervously and say, "We were just out walking the chuppah."
Renting a portion of green is really quite affordable, but for various reasons, we decided on my backyard. It's not big, but will work for a small group.
The Guests, formerly known as "a small group"
As I see it, the evolution of my guest list parallels stories from the Tanakh, such as Adam and Eve. It started with the creation of a scenic outdoor spot, two suitable people, and the party who brought them together, in this case, God. Coincidentally, the same party brought my fiancé and I together, but not to digress. During the planning phase, before the part where Adam's rib becomes Eve, one thing led to another and now you've got the fish, the birds, the cattle and wild beasts. That's a lot of creatures for one party, but not to worry. All manner of seed-bearing plants were provided to feed the menagerie of guests. It was all good, which is probably why God couldn't stop until Day 7. The creative juices just wouldn't quit.
And on Day 3, we created a guest list. And behold, the list grew, and the list was good.
If you ever think you don't have any friends, just plan your wedding—even if you're not engaged. Just for fun. And when I say "friends," I'm not talking Facebook.
When I say "friends," I'm not talking Facebook
"I have to invite so-and-so. I love so-and-so!" What's fascinating about inviting one person is that you feel compelled to invite everyone you mutually know, so no one feels slighted. Now take those people and multiply two-thirds by two because that's roughly how many are coupled. It seems Noah was similarly challenged. He even built a monstrous ark to hold every creature and its companion. How nice for him, but my backyard isn't as big as his. I fear I'm in violation of some building or safety code. The upside is that the ratio of people per square footage of land gives the illusion of immense popularity.
Chuppah hunting is the new Jewish sport. It's our version of the search for holy grail, at least if your wedding takes place outside of a synagogue. My research tells me I'm far from alone in my frustration. In a city like Los Angeles, you'd think chuppahs would rain from the sky. On the other hand, we're experiencing a drought and it's been a while since the sky rained much of anything.
I did find Chuppahs ‘R Us (not the real name) and for several hundred dollars, they've got you covered. I found more reasonable chuppah rentals, but they weren't geographically close, so by the time you a) pick it up; or b) have them deliver, you pay more for gas, delivery and setup than the chuppah itself.
Having embarked upon a full-day safari in search of the four-legged prize, my head throbbed when I realized I hadn't spotted a single chuppah. At least not within reach. That's when my fiancé suggested we take a lesson from Noah. He'd build one. Great idea, I thought. No sweat. At least not mine.
Getting married is a big deal, even if the wedding is not. Just because we're shooting Take Two of ‘Til Death Do Us Part doesn't make it less meaningful. If that were so, we'd have no business reciting homespun vows under a makeshift chuppah.
I knew a couple who got married on their lunch hour, then went back to work. I'm guessing they didn't sweat much. Dogs don't sweat much either, but they also don't get married, even if a few have bar mitzvahs.
If I've learned anything, it's this: A little sweat reeks just as much as a lot. Don't lose sight of the end result and be sure to hold your nose.