From the Other Side of the Mechitza

I have never been invited to a wedding where I couldn’t pick the bride out of a line-up. Despite the glow of joy and expertly applied makeup, it’s easy to recognize a friend’s face. But when you don’t know the bride to start with, it’s hard to pick them out. Thankfully, that’s why brides wear a white gown and veil.

Attending a frum wedding as a friend of the groom is a different experience. There’s no pressure to line up to greet the bride. There’s no concern over being ready to dance before the first beat of the drum. All you have to do, as a woman, is congratulate his mom and make sure not to step on the bride’s hem.

That, I can do.

Advertisements

Bridesmaid Hall of Fame

Two years ago I was a bridesmaid. Everyone agreed: I was a terrible bridesmaid.

I forgot to tell the bride I bought a dress.

When the bride asked me about the dress, I told her I had one and couldn’t be bothered to send a picture of it.

I didn’t plan or host the bridal shower. Actually, I didn’t attend it either.

The bride asked for my middle name and wouldn’t tell me why. I told her. Then I threatened to stop speaking to her if she printed it in a wedding program. At the wedding she gave me a beautiful dish, with my initials painted in gold. Oh.

I forgot to bring my present to the wedding.

I walked into sheva brachos, handed my gift to the bride – who was traveling by subway – and walked back out.

 

Despite my inherently non-bridesmaid behavior, I got a few things right.

I shared my joy with the bride.

I bought a dress in the right color.

I showed up to the wedding bright-eyed and dressed for success, despite working 50 to 60 hours per week in the months prior.

I bought a gift the bride loved.

I marched down the aisle like I meant it. Even though I had never intended, or known I was expected, to walk down in front of 200 people without tripping.

But none of those things would take to me the Bridesmaid Hall of Frame. I deserve a place there thanks to the bride’s sister. She, liked the bridesmaids before her, walked down the aisle with a radiant smile, holding her bouquet steady. At the alter, she pivoted to the left, and lined up in front of me. All the while she smiled beatifically at her family and her sister’s friends. Then, just as the ceremony started, so did her tears. She felt them gathering, and panicked. He mom, standing next to her, had left her purse in the dressing room. The tears were threatening to spill over, which would ruin her makeup and distract from her sister’s ceremony, and she discretely gestured to the rest of the bridesmaids for help. The rest of the wedding party were equally at a loss. I scoped out the room, and saw her salvation. Behind me was a box of tissues. I deftly swiped the box, held it out to her at waist level – hiding it from the audience’s view – and she plucked two out. As the rabbi spoke of the bride and grooms wonderful characters, the sister delicately dabbed at her eyes. I rested easy, having slipped off my heels and knowing that I’d done my duty and saved the day.

 

Happy Anniversary!

 

Dynamic Duo: Wedding Edition

My ride to the wedding called to tell me they were outside my building, ready for me to hop in. I didn’t know where my shoes were. One minute and a mad dash later, I had shoes on my feet and keys in my hand. I was ready to run out the door – except that I had nowhere to put my keys. So I grabbed my go-to wedding purse, which comes pre-filled with my wedding essentials, and ran to the car. At the time I was confident that my bag, which is about half the size of a flattened tissue box, had everything I needed to face the wedding.

I was right about the content of my purse during the ride to the wedding – my snack held up nicely and was perfectly proportioned to get me to the hall without hunger pangs. The bobbypins in my purse helped the bridal party make it through the kabalas panim without issue. That accomplished, I headed to the chuppa, purse in hand.

It was during the chuppah that my carefully curated purse failed me. The woman next to me coughed. Then coughed again. Her eyes began watering as her coughs turned into hacking.

“Are you ok?” I asked with concern.

“Just coughing,” she said weakly.

“Do you want a mint?” loudly whispered the grandmother next to us. The woman took it with gratitude. The grandmother turned to her friend – another grandmother, also dressed to the nines – and rolled her eyes. The young people these days, so unprepared for life, her face said. Her friend nodded sadly, pursing her lips.

When they first sat next to me, I had been surprised that these women, friends of the bride’s grandmother – women who had been around the block – had purses big enough to hold half a dozen of mine. I figured that the older ladies just liked their purses that size, having adjusted to using ones like them during the years of carrying around bags large enough to contain everything needed to entertain a generation or two of children. But I figured wrong; those women had packed their purses just for the wedding.

That they’d packed their bags just for this occasion became clear while the woman was still recovering from her coughing fit and the processional was making its way down the aisle. A woman behind us began to tear. With barely a backward glance, the other grandmother whipped out a single tissue from her red bag. As she did so I noticed that her bag was nearly empty. It seems that the two of them had split what they deemed emergency supplies, leaving the pair of them ready to handle any situation. Ready they were. And now, learning from their example, ready I will be too.

Add it to the list, wedding-goers:

tissues

cough drops

cigarette lighter*

And now, you’re ready to hit the wedding circuit without worry. Because nothing is coming that you can’t handle.

 

*Not used at this affair, but if the grandmas think it’s necessary to pack, who am I to argue?

 

California Grapefruit Cookies

I was invited to two parties on my birthday; neither was for me.

The morning was set to start with a bridal shower. I declined.

The nighttime engagement party was supposed to cap off the day. I intended to decline, but something got the better of me.  Rather, someone got the better of me. The hostess asked if I could bring someone sweet with me to the party. When I wavered, she told me that I should bring any sort of baked good at all, because everything I bake is great. I laughed. She didn’t.

She bribed me with flattery, and I caved like a fallen souffle. Having agreed to bake, I wanted to make something right for the occasion. Cookies were the obvious choice, since they’re perfect for parties – no need for utensils or being seated. But what kind of cookies would be appropriate for the Californian bride? Ones that had a zest for life, sweet, and were unexpected.

Grapefruit Cookies
1 c unsalted margarine
2.5 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1.5 tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp baking powder
4.5 cups flour
zest of two grapefruitsCream the margarine and sugars to a consistency of wet sand, then beat in eggs, vanilla, and zest. Combine all other dry ingredients, then add slowly to the creamed mixture. Drop cookies onto cookiesheets lined with parchment paper or oiled foil. Bake at 375 F for about 10 minutes.

Once the cookies have cooled, add Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
juice of 2 to 3 grapefruit segments (1 tbsp)
mix together. drizzle over cookies.
and if you’re me and making this for an engagement party, put sprinkles in the glaze before you begin the drizzling.
 
Perfect for a Californian.

Crazy Chairs

The crazy thing about this article http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-life-and-religion/92893/brides-aid isn’t that there is a universe of brides concerning themselves with minutia that most people don’t realize exists. It’s that if you tell another bride that someone started a blog because she couldn’t afford to decorate the chairs at her wedding, she won’t sypathize – she’ll empathize. And then she’ll tell you her own tale of woe.

Destination Wedding

The only destination wedding I’ve been to was in Baltimore. Which is known, among the locals, as The City That Bleeds. The wedding was nice. The city could have used a transfusion.

Between work and local friends, I haven’t been invited to any exciting destination weddings. Nothing that would involve jetting off to coral reefs or hanging out in an igloo. Though I once went all the way to the airport for a wedding – the ceremony was held a few miles from there, in Howard Beach.

I don’t travel much. So I can only assume that traveling for weddings in better than normal travel. It gives you something to base your trip around, and perhaps even a place to stay. Plus it seems like it’s much easier to keep a dress wrinkle-free if you don’t have to travel to the wedding by subway. So, all these thoughts have compounded my desire to log some travel miles for a wedding. Which is why I was thrilled to be invited to the wedding of a friend from Los Angeles.

I’ve never been that far west.

And I won’t be going that far west anytime soon.

I just got word that my friend is getting married in Monsey.

Wedding Responsibility

I’m a pretty responsible person. My bills are always paid on time – actually, they’re paid early. I have never run out of garbage bags at home. I know where the emergency exits are located at work. I pack balanced lunches. I have never accidentally set fire to the kitchen. And when I have unleashed small fires, I’ve always had aloe on hand.

But there are some things I refuse to deal with. I rarely check the weather report – I ask my dad. When I need new tech equipment – I have my sister review products and pick a winner. I don’t know if a new restaurant is kosher or a new store is worth shopping at – I wait for Special Correspondent Ellen’s report. Recently, I added something new to that list – I refused to find myself a floor-length grey or silver bridesmaid’s dress. I told Special Correspondent Na’ama that it was up to her.

Thankfully, she’s always up to a challenge. Within two months, she found something. The dress is grey. It’s floor length. It has sleeves. It’s cheap and returnable. Plus, it might even look good on me.

I don’t yet know if it’ll fit – we’ll find out once it arrives. But if it doesn’t I’m not worried. I’ve already given Na’ama that responsibility – and she’s on the case.

Coming Out of Retirement

I had written my farewell to weddings. After several years and several dozen weddings, I looked up one day and realized my calendar was empty. It had been six months since I’d taken out my wedding purse and traveled to the ends of civilization – in this case, the end of the Q line – to a wedding. I’d been so caught up in election season that I hadn’t notice that my social schedule was blank. No engagement parties, no bridal showers, no wedding-related festivities at all.

Retirement from the wedding circuit hit me like a load of bricks. More accurately, it hit me like a load of bricks falling off my shoulders. I could breath easier, seeing a future of lazy Sundays spent not attending weddings and losing sight of the harried weeknights shopping for gifts.

To celebrate, I wrote a blog post.

I was still editing it when the request came in. The one I’ve been dreading all these years. The one where a friend asks me to be a bridesmaid.

Friends, I’m back in the game. My swan song will have to wait.

Fishy Birthday Wishes

I don’t remember when I met Special Correspondent Derora. It must have been through my next door neighbors at seminary, since they were all good friends. I probably met her several times, and possibly exchanged pleasantries, but neither of us had made an impression on the other. Then, one overcast day, she came to visit my neighbors and they made soup.

I passed by their room, and was invited to join them for dinner. I kept them company in the kitchen, while the last few ingredients were being scrapped off the cutting board. A cutting board that looked a lot like this:

fishI found out it belonged to Derora. And then I decided that we should be friends. It took a little while, but we got there. At which point, I discovered that her excellent taste in cutting boards was the least of the reasons to be her friend.

Happy Birthday!

My gift for you is blessings for a year of goodness. And these handy-dandy tips for cleaning your cutting board.