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A Wedding a Night

Rachel Bachrach

For the chassan and kallah, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. But for those who work behind the scenes — or in the forefront — to make the wedding happen, it’s a nightly occurrence. What’s it like being part of someone else’s very important day, again and again and again? How do these professionals keep the experience fresh and meaningful? And, with hundreds of wedding behind them, what can they tell us about this momentous event?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

wedding imageRabbi Benjamin Yudin has been the rav of Congregation Shomrei Torah in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, for more than 40 years.

  1. 1.      When planning for the wedding, baalei simchah often overlook …

the details of the kesubah. If you have a custom-made kesubah, be sure the rabbi and artist are in constant contact so the rabbi sees the final draft several times, otherwise — and this has happened — there may be a mistake, and you won’t be able to use the custom one. Also, people are nervous at weddings. Anyone can make a mistake with a name or the date, so bring an extra blank kesubah or two just in case.

Remember that there are several similarities between a wedding and a Yom Tov; a wedding is a Yom Tov for the family. The laws of Yom Tov teach us to include individuals who might be forgotten. While the number of guests we can invite to our simchah might be limited, we should try to include some people who don’t usually get invited or who will find the invitation especially meaningful.


  1. 2.      People worry too much about …

every detail of the wedding decor, when the energy and focus should be on what’s happening after those five hours — the marriage, the lifetime. Weddings have become too much of an end rather than a means to an end.


  1. 3.      One thing I’ve learned along the way is …

shorter engagements are often healthier and better. Whenever possible, I encourage the couple not to have a long engagement.

Also, the wedding start time is significant, because earlier weddings are often fuller, so I encourage the couple to start earlier. Their good friends will stay until the very end no matter what, but most other people will leave at 10:30 — they have work the next morning — and a half-hour makes a difference in terms of who’s there to dance at the end.


  1. 4.      One way weddings have changed over the years is …

they’ve become more lavish. Yes, you should have a nice centerpiece, but that can be a flower on the table — you don’t have to be enveloped in a forest! Unfortunately, the rabbi isn’t usually privileged to this information, and I can’t say I won’t perform a wedding in a certain place because it’s lavish.


  1. 5.      I remember the first wedding I worked at because …

it was a private ceremony, a second marriage, and I was probably the only one who was nervous. The proof: after I read the kesubah, someone said, “Wait a minute, what about the ring?” I said, “Ah, thank you very much.” That was a mistake I never made again!


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