I just bought my niece an Elizabethan bridal dress from Woolworth’s. In attempting to enamour myself to her, (after all I want to be her best-loved London Aunt) , I find myself irritatingly supporting the myth of weddings, and reinforcing the misinformation of another generation of Jewish girls who daydream of their big day, to the detriment of a realistic and mature approach to life, relationships and independent self-fulfilment.
So many of my incredibly well-educated female friends; all to some degree careerists and feminists, were misty eyed when planning ‘their special day’. I wanted to shake them out of their reveries of white tulle and napkins, chuppah designs and bridesmaid flowers and diamonds, but felt it would be misunderstood as an act of a sour singleton. I felt propelled to pull the plug on their treadmill of consumerist and patriarchial fantasies, but such moves were swept aside as they swallowed up voraciously the available extensive library of bridal magazines. I wanted to ask them : How is a big white dress, which they agonize on, customizing slightly to flatter them generously, and given just that special touch of ‘personality’ with a bow here, little lace and ribbon there, an act of an independent woman? Can’t they see they are pandering to a world of yore where women were pretty little virgins offered up by proud fathers, and even in the ritual texts, they are valued and ‘handed over’ to their new husbands becoming a new man’s responsibility, with no acknowledgement of independence and self-ownership? My girlfriends are delighted to be objectified, desperate to hear the phrase ‘isn’t she pretty’, and all their other real world achievements are negated, and minimised as they become sweet, docile, and silent for the marriage ceremony. It’s not even my friends themselves who are really the most desperate to look good through this, but their parents, who save for years, or more worryingly, almost bankrupt themselves to sell off/ send off their daughters with a flourish, flattered by the gasps of admiration and perhaps a tinge of jealously from their fawning audience of family, friends and community. But I think most worryingly was how each of my friends had to a more or lesser degree a gnawing feeling of emptiness afterwards, a flatness and slight depression, as they awoke in their marital beds to a husband and a life not as fantastical and glossy as the wedding invites seemed to promise. Real love ain’t about a big party.
I would say to all those women who become girls through their weddings, put away those childish fantasies. Make your life; don’t wait to be given a home/ move out, through marriage, through your husband. If funds are available ask for your wedding money to go towards a deposit for a home for you to actually own in your own name. Enjoy the independence so many generations of women have never had available. Don’t become daft in the flurry of florists but chose to own yourself and your significant life-ceremonies. Spend less time on sugared almonds and more on giving a Dvar Torah of significance. Don’t sell out to over-priced, out-dated and infantilising community traditions that do no one any favours. And leave the lacy froufrou dresses to 5 year olds in Tel Aviv.
Therefore we hereby announce the creation of The Jewdas Wedding Crashers Squad’. Let us know of a wedding happening (preferably within a 2 mile radius of Finchley) and we promise to rock up with banners, shofars and wild goats. Our live band will immediately strike up ‘Moshiach, Moshiach Moshiach’ causing all the guests and the Rabbi to break into a frenzy of wild dancing and immediately forgetting all the nuptial and kiddushin nonsense. The Jewdas Beth Din will make sure that the chuppah is trashed and all the cake is eaten while any virgin brides will be dealt with by Rabbi Jeffrey Cohen. Any wedding between a Jew and a gentile on the other hand, will be treated with total respect as long as the Beth Din receives its required amount of glace cherries (55lbs).