Even the best-laid plans can be overturned when the unexpected occurs. Four women share tales of what went awry at their simchahs
“I never had specific requests about how I wanted my simchahs to look,” says popular children’s author Menucha Fuchs. “I was willing to go along with whatever my husband, child, or mechutanim wanted when it came to halls, bands, photographers, and waiters. But there was one thing I promised myself: At my simchahs, there would always be plenty of food. I know that people come from afar to attend a simchah. It’s not pleasant for them to sit and talk without having a full plate of food in front of them.
“My daughter got engaged right before Pesach. We didn’t want to push off the vort until after Yom Tov, so we held it during Chol Hamoed. But what do you serve all the guests when it’s Pesach?
“I thought of a great idea: I’d buy large quantities of fruits and vegetable from the shuk, and I’d hire someone who’s an expert at making artistic fruit and vegetable creations to make fruit and vegetable platters.
“Two days before the vort, our whole family drove to the shuk. We filled our car with tremendous quantities of fruits and vegetables, barely looking at the prices. We also bought out-of-season fruits like peaches, apricots, and grapes, which were incredibly expensive.
“The car was full, but I wasn’t satisfied. ‘It’s not enough,’ I told my family. We went to the hall, unloaded the produce into the refrigerator, and went to the shuk for a second time. We filled the car again and then unloaded the contents in the hall.
“The third time we went, we loaded dozens of watermelons and cantaloupes into the car. The giant fridge at the hall was packed to the brim with our produce, so we left whatever didn’t fit on the kitchen counter.
“The big day arrived. The fruit sculptor began creating works of art from the fruits and vegetables and arranging them on decorative platters. I was so busy receiving guests that I didn’t have time to check on the kitchen. But there was one thing I wasn’t happy about: Every time I glanced at the tables, they were empty. Once every ten minutes, a single platter would come out, and it would be emptied in seconds. How could that be? I thought to myself. We bought so much.
“Toward the end, I left my guests and snuck into the kitchen to ask what was happening. I found the sculptor there, relaxing. She said she’d used everything up and had finished the job.
“I couldn’t understand it. I went over to the refrigerator and looked inside and was rendered speechless. It was full. I was sure it was clear to the fruit sculptor that there were fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator, and that what was on the counter was food that hadn’t fit inside. But it hadn’t occurred to her to open the fridge and check what was in there.
“Not only wasn’t there enough food at my simchah, but I also had to figure out what to do with a fridge full of fruits and vegetables!
“The lesson I learned: When you’re hiring a professional for your simchah, explain everything to them. Don’t expect them to understand things on their own. It’s true regarding anyone you hire.”
Late for the Chuppah
“As we were planning my son’s wedding, one thing was a top priority for me: the time of the chuppah,” says Chavi. “We’re punctual people, and I wanted the chuppah to start on time. I called my brothers and sisters-in-law to inform them that we weren’t waiting for any latecomers, and that the chuppah would be on time. Our mechutanim also heard from us over and over about the importance of sticking to the schedule.
“But we plan, and Hashem deems otherwise. On the day of the wedding, we set out from our house many hours in advance because the wedding hall was in a different city. If things had gone according to plan, we would’ve been at the hall two hours before the wedding was scheduled to begin.
“The first part of our drive was smooth. But halfway there, we got a flat tire. My husband was sure that the flat could be fixed easily, so he called the police to block off the road. He crawled under the car — in his wedding clothes — to try and fix it. But it was more complicated than he thought, and he didn’t have the right tools. In the meantime, a major traffic jam formed behind us, and the police ordered us to move the car to the side.
“Now we were stuck in the middle of an intercity highway, with no way to get to the wedding. The clock was ticking, minute after agonizing minute.
“Suddenly, a black chevra kaddisha van passed by, and I saw my husband flagging him down. The van stopped, and we saw it was empty. The driver graciously agreed to drive us to the hall.
“I never thought I’d come late to my son’s wedding. And I never dreamed that I’d come to the wedding in a chevra kaddisha van.
“My entire outlook on planning and timeliness has changed since then. You can plan, but only up to a point. Afterward, you have to let go and let HaKadosh Baruch Hu run the world.”
The Bris That Wasn’t
“When my youngest son was born, we planned the bris down to the last detail, including balloon and flower arrangements on each table, a lavish buffet, and a sumptuous menu — the same look of all our simchahs, which we always celebrated to a very high standard,” Miri shares.
“On the morning of the bris, our family and friends gathered in the hall. The mohel inspected our son and, to our horror, announced: ‘The baby has an eye infection. He can’t have a bris.’
“More guests arrived, some of them from out of town. We didn’t know what to do. How do you tell people there’s no simchah? And what should we do with all the food?
“In the end, my father-in-law saved the day. He stood up and said to everyone, ‘Dear guests, we gathered here today to celebrate a bris. But HaKadosh Baruch Hu wanted it to be otherwise. He decided the bris will be held another time. Come, let’s sit down and have a meal in honor of the fact that we’re doing His Will. Let’s eat happily.’
“And that’s what we did. We sat down and ate, and my son’s bris was rescheduled for a later date. It was a small bris with only ten men present, but we celebrated it with gratitude in our hearts.”
“My husband is a yungerman, and I’m a teacher, and we had the zechus of marrying off six of our children very simply — in the least expensive halls, hiring someone to play a keyboard instead of a band, and using an amateur photographer,” shares Nechama.
“We did this to save money, but I also saw frugality as a matter of principle. I never understood people who make fancy events. Even if they have money, isn’t it better to give it to the young couple for a down payment?”
“After six mechutanim who saw eye-to-eye with us on wedding styles, we got to our seventh set of mechutanim. They were very wealthy and didn’t understand what we were talking about.
“When I mentioned some halls to my mechuteniste, she was sure I was joking. She informed me that there was no way in the world they would marry off their son in a hall like that. I tried to throw out names of more expensive halls, considered average and above, but she was unwilling to listen and looked only at the most upscale places.
“For us, this was a real problem. It was a serious expense we hadn’t planned for. But more than that, I was embarrassed to invite guests to a simchah celebrated in a style so different from my outlook and the way of life I chose for myself.
“Had I not already married off six children and understood what’s important and what’s not, I might have made a big fuss. But after thinking about it more and more, I concluded that my daughter’s happiness — and her budding relationship with her chassan and new in-laws — was much more important than my personal principles.
“So we committed to amounts of money we never thought we’d have to pay. We married off our daughter in one of the largest and fanciest halls in the city. We came five times to taste-test dishes whose names we couldn’t pronounce.
“On the day of the wedding, there were moments of awkwardness. For instance, when my coworkers came to the hall, they stood in the entranceway in shock. But it passed quickly, and in a way, I even enjoyed seeing our guests indulging themselves at the buffet. Everyone really had a nice time. It was a lot less cringeworthy than I thought it would be.
“A wedding is a very important thing, and principles are important, too. But your children’s shalom bayis is worth a million times more.”
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 820)
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