The wedding of your children is one of life’s most joyous occasions and I’ve had the good fortune to experience this twice over the past 4 years with two of my daughters. It’s a wondrous celebration and you only want to share the joy, but resource limitations force most people to make some hard choices.
Soon after the engagement is announced, the search for a hall begins, requiring an estimated guest count. After tabulating family, neighbors and other must-invites, attention turns to the Shul list and the unenviable selection task. Your closest friends and those you don’t really know are easy decisions, it’s the middle group that’s difficult. If you’ve been invited to a previous simcha, the reciprocity rule usually kicks in, and for the rest of the members you need to make your choices, and hope those that you couldn’t invite will understand the financial realities behind your decision.
About a month before the simcha, the invitations usually go out. Many of your invitees will not be prompt in their response and then you have to decide if, and whom, you’re going to call for followup. A day or two before the wedding comes the last prep task, seating and creating the table cards. For family, neighbors and some friends, we assigned specific tables, but for the Shul members on the men’s side, we assigned them all to the same table number, let them choose their own seats in that table pool. I wanted to do that for the ladies, but the idea was vetoed.
The day of the wedding itself is indescribably exciting. If your friends enjoy good beverages, you might want to be involved in the selection even though it’s traditionally the role of the groom’s side. You’ll be preoccupied at the Chuppah, so you might want to ask a friend to take some snaps of the ceremony, so you can relive the event before the photographer’s proofs arrive.
The 25-30 minute first dance usually begins (in the New York area), 3 hours after the beginning of Kabbolas HaPanim (aka the shmorg), and is one the centerpieces of the wedding, so you’ll want to make the most of it. After the initial dancing with the chosson, close family and Rebbeim, the breakaway Shul dance circle will form. Most of your friends will want to share a short dance with you, but most won’t initiate it, so reach for their hand and pull them into the center. Try to make each dance short, so that you can include as many people as possible. Pace yourself, because if you’re not in shape, 25 minutes of fast dancing can take it’s toll.
You should be aware that most of your Shul friends will leave after the meal and not stay for the second dance, which is meant for the friends of the Chosson and Kallah. It’s an amazing night, so enjoy and share the joy.