| Words Unspoken |

Dear Engaged Friend

I’m so happy you’re engaged, but what’s with all the expectations?


Dear Engaged Friend,

First and foremost, please know that I’m so happy for you on your engagement. Even though I’m single and davening to meet my bashert, I don’t feel an ounce of jealousy or resentment toward you. I understand that we’re on separate paths, and life isn’t a race to the finish line. You’re my good friend, and I’m overjoyed to see you move on to this next exciting chapter.

However, before you get married, we have your engagement period to get through. I say “we” because I, as your close single friend, am expected to play an important emotional and financial role throughout your engagement.

It began before the actual engagement, when your friends and I decorated your room. This involved an online order of party goods. We snuck into your room as your chassan proposed to you, and set it up with decorations. Hours later, we squealed and screamed as you entered your house.

Now that the l’chayim is behind us, the festivities continue with the vort. Your friends and I will chip in toward an engagement present — usually a sizable gift certificate toward a housewares store.

The planning is just beginning as we’ll get to work on your shower. Themes, homemade food, wedding gifts, games, and a personalized cookbook all must be arranged, requiring a lot more time, effort, and of course, money. At this point, you may ask some of us close friends to wear a long gown to the chasunah, sometimes even a specific color, which will warrant the purchase or rental of a dress. Hair and makeup for the day of the wedding is our personal choice, of course. Optional, but recommended.

But we’re not there yet. First, we’re busy securing shtick rentals, and in some cases, arranging Shabbos kallah details. At this point, the tally per friend is in the hundreds.

At the actual wedding, we’re ecstatic to do the mitzvah of simchas chassan v’ kallah. This is what it’s all about, and we dance the night away, sometimes into the wee hours of the morning. Of course, it’s now “customary” in some circles for the friends of the kallah to chip in toward a morning breakfast basket for the couple, because how else should two married adults figure out what to eat the morning after their wedding?

And the excitement isn’t yet over. Sometimes, a friends’ sheva brachos is called for, and payment per person per meal is expected.

Then, at last, you’re off! You’re on your way to Lakewood, or Israel, or wherever Newlywed Land might be for the two of you. We’ll keep in touch through the occasional phone call or brunch visit when you’re in town.

If I’m lucky, you’ll make it to my wedding. Well, at least for chuppah and first dance, because of course, you’re married now and rightfully busy. Money will be tight for you, and while you may chip in toward something or other when your single friends get married, the level of time and effort we invested toward your simchah will not be matched. So what I’m doing now is a true chesed shel emes, if you will.

I’m happy for you, I truly am. But monetary concerns aside, the endless giving and planning on a strict and specified schedule is starting to drain the genuine simchah of giving from me. Knowing it will not be returned, and sometimes barely acknowledged when you move away the very next day, makes it that much harder.

When I have several engaged friends at once (which, baruch Hashem, is often the case) the toll it takes is heavier than it should be. Please help me put a stop to all these extra expectations and let us refocus on the parts of the simchah that really matter.


Your Single Friend


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 799)

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