Navigating the shidduch system is like rowing across the Atlantic in a leaky kayak, and mazel tov, you’ve reached the other side safely!
Illustrations by Esti Friedman Saposh
Navigating the shidduch system is like rowing across the Atlantic in a leaky kayak, and mazal tov, you’ve reached the other side safely! Only to realize you landed on a desert island absolutely infested with mothers-in-law. Unless, of course, you’re a boy, in which case you have no worries whatsoever. Simchah-goers submit their questions.
Mazel tov! I’m engaged! My chassan is totally perfect. He’s a real baal middos, a baal kishron, and a yerei Shamayim, he treats his mother like a queen, and he sends me flowers every Shabbos. I’m so lucky! There is one little thing… we don’t text, of course, but I noticed he was texting his friend Sruly about an apartment that might be good for us, and he wrote “ganna discuss w da kalla.” GANNA? W? DA? I’m not sure our relationship can withstand this stress. What else do I not know about him? What if he claps when the plane lands? What if he says SUPPOSEBLY? What if he returns empty orange juice cartons to the fridge and then when I want orange juice there won’t be any left???
Relax. As a future wife, it behooves you to realize that there is very little you cannot control in your husband’s life (a Two Cents of its own, if we’re being honest). In this scenario, it’s easier than you think. Ask to borrow his phone so you can put your birthday in his calendar — but actually find his text shortcuts and input a few of your own. You can auto-change “ganna” to “going to,” “w” to “with,” your name to “perfect wife whom I could never get annoyed at” — you get the picture. For future problems, we highly recommend nagging. Luckily this is probably the biggest disagreement you’ll need to overcome. Drive off into the sunset and enjoy wedded bliss forever.
My mother-in-law just called me to ask if I minded handling booking the hair and makeup for our side for my brother-in-law’s wedding, and I’m thrilled to help. Except she didn’t give me a budget and hasn’t really said anything about reimbursing me for the deposits I gave to @hairbyindependentlywealthybusinesswoman and @rakingitinMUA, which amounted to $5,000 to each vendor for four faces/heads. How do I remind her that we can’t really afford to be out $10,000 on our kollel budget?
Luckily, this is a clear-cut case. Get the CC from your father-in-law, who will likely have no frame of reference for prices of anything makeup or sheitel related, aside from the fact that it’s probably a lot.
I left all our gowns for my sister’s wedding hanging neatly in my closet in Flatbush* for my husband to bring to the hall in Lakewood since I had to be there much earlier with my kids for hair and makeup. Short story long, he left my daughter’s gown at home (whether I could/should have clearly prepared and confirmed what needs to go and what doesn’t really isn’t the point here), and we needed to run to Little Princesses to buy a gown off the rack for her. The wedding color was coral and she had to settle for salmon. No pointing fingers here, but who should be responsible for telling my mother that she’s going to have one granddaughter out of 23 not matching?
*the only detail of this story that has been changed
Sounds like an honest mistake. Theoretically, could you have put the things you needed in dress bags? Maybe. Could he have called you to confirm he was getting everything? Also maybe. Sounds like you need to resolve this the way all great conflicts have been resolved for millennia: with a high-stakes game of rock, paper, scissors.
I know I should try to relax at my own daughter’s wedding, but the other side is handling the photographer’s arrangements, and they just told him it was a great idea to run over to the Brooklyn Bridge to take casual pictures with the chassan and kallah. Cute, except the chuppah was two and a half hours ago, and we haven’t even started dancing! Pictures last for a lifetime, sure, sure. But more importantly, my guests are getting impatient!
Easy. Tell everyone that the show cannot go on because the kallah accidentally lost her diamond ring, and your guests can spend their downtime searching. Oh, wait, someone found it? Looks like you just got yourself a brand-new ring! That should solve at least some of your problems.
We made these massive life-sized shtick caricatures of the chassan and kallah (eeeeeek, can’t believe Shoshy is marrieeed!!) but when we brought them out for the second dance, I caught a glimpse of Shoshy’s mother, whose face was clearly registering “what on earth is going on at my daughter’s wedding” vibes. Do you know how hard it is to figure out creative and unique shtick in this day and age? Impossible. We hired a graphic designer and purchased a Cricut for this! Does it have to be a white parachute with rose petals Every. Single. Time?
Hate to break it to you, but it kinda does have to be a white parachute with rose petals. White parachutes with rose petals are so ubiquitous that some hold that it’s now officially part of our mesorah, and you need to do hataras nedarim before deleting it from your shtick repertoire. Doesn’t mean there’s no room for life size caricatures, you just need to know your audience (anyone but Yekkehs and Hungarians).
I’m at my niece’s wedding right now, and the other side just cleared the dance floor so every grandchild could do some choreographed dance we don’t know while a choir of seven-year-old grandsons sing an ode to their bubby, harmonies and all. It might sound touching, but my niece — you know, the one in white? — is standing around aimlessly just waiting for her wedding to start back up. When did simchas chassan v’kallah turn into simchas Bubby v’Zeidy?
Okay, hear us out, but is there any chance, any chance at all, that this is actually sweet and emotional and you maybe just don’t like the other side? Think of it this way: They’re probably enjoying their sentimental family moment but side-eyeing the aunt on the corner of the dance floor who’s clearly emailing a cynical advice column with a discernible sneer on her face. If they can deal with you, you can deal with them. As for us? We’ll be right here to remind you about your narishkeit when you decide to commission a grandchild choir of your own for your mother someday.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 798)
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