Dear Emuna,

My sister-in-law’s brother is getting married this summer. Of course, I’m happy for them but I don’t know him very well and I don’t think I’ll know anyone at the wedding other than my husband and my sister-in-law, who will obviously be busy with her family.

The wedding hall is about an hour from our house and between the babysitter, the tolls and the gas, this will be an expensive venture. Additionally, it will be hours and hours of “unproductive” time. I’d really like to just stay home but I don’t want to disappoint my husband or my sister-in-law. I also don’t want to appear curmudgeonly. What do you suggest?

Wedding Weary

Dear Wedding Weary,

You had me until I saw how you signed your letter. It’s not that I’m not empathic. It can be overwhelming - physically, emotionally, financially - to go out too frequently at night. The house suffers. The kids and their homework suffer. It’s just plain draining. But it is also a simcha, a joyous occasion and I think that we should never complain about the opportunity to participate in a simcha.

I don’t want to be melodramatic but I just imagine what people during the Holocaust would have given for the opportunity to add just one wedding, let alone a whole neighborhood’s worth. In addition, we need to remember how we felt at our own celebrations, how important it was to us to have our friends and family come and share the occasion with us.

We want to give that gift to others. And we want to be grateful that we live in a time and a community where such celebrations are frequent.

One possible solution that covers the issues mentioned and the tremendous time drain is to try to curtail the amount of time spent at the wedding. Instead of attending from the chuppah through dessert, it's possible to go for a much shorter time span - for just the chuppah or the first dance or...well of course that’s up to you. It doesn’t alleviate all your issues but it does reduce the frustration over wasted time as well as a significant portion of the expense.

It is definitely difficult standing around at a wedding waiting for the bride and groom to come out for the first dance but remember that each family and each couple have their own separate story. Each one of them has challenges they conquered and faced that led to this moment and we want to help them celebrate this effort. It is a big mitzvah to participate in the joy of another. If we really put ourselves in their shoes we would be so overwhelmed with joy, we wouldn’t even consider not attending.

Even in our most frustrated and overwhelmed moments, we need to remind ourselves how lucky we are to live in a flourishing community where simchas are so commonplace. They are not a cause for frustration; they are an opportunity for rejoicing.