Mesorah (Jewish stuff) · Motherhood

How to Crash a Jewish Wedding

I love weddings.  The beginning of a new life together, a couple full of dreams and hopes, excited and nervous about the new phase of life they are entering into.  And the dancing, oh, the dancing!

The Proposal

Two Sundays ago, there was a wedding.  I hadn’t received an invitation to said wedding, but one of my friends, who was coming into town for it (her husband was officiating the wedding), said,

“You should come!”

“Hmmm,” I thought.  “I *did* meet the kallah in May.  She was nice.  We shmoozed a little.  Why not?”

So I decided to crash the wedding.

With my three kids in tow, and no husband (he had to work).

Why, you may ask, would I do such a thing?  I’m a grown woman, not an impulsive young adult!  Isn’t it rude?  And what kind of example am I setting for my children??!!???!

Three reasons:

  1. It’s a huge mitzvah to make the bride and groom happy.
  2. When the bride and groom are standing under the chuppah, it’s a tremendously auspicious time to daven because the Divine Presence is right there in the chuppah.  That’s pretty close.
  3. I really didn’t think the bride would mind if we popped in.

Note:  As ima2seven pointed out below, not all frum brides welcome unexpected guests.  If you are unsure of how the wedding party would react to your presence, have a friend who is invited ask them.  It’s no mitzvah if you make the bride and groom unhappy!

The Plan

Now, when crashing a wedding, I have a rule that I don’t eat the food.  Wedding food is not cheap, my friends, and I don’t know how the caterer is charging, and I certainly don’t want to incur any expense for the new couple.  No way.  Also, I bring a present.

Since we won’t be eating there, this requires some strategizing on the part of my kids’ tummies.  It was an afternoon wedding, so I fed them a late lunch, and really encouraged them to eat.  Also, since I wouldn’t be able to bring food into the hall, I packed snacks for the trip there and the trip back.  Plus lollipops, because incentive might be necessary.  Anyways, here’s a pictorial explanation of the day:

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Giant canvas bag, to be filled with diapers (cloth and disposable), wipes, change of clothes for the kids, bibs (for the car), and my fancy dancing shoes

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Reading material for the chuppah.  It’s not a long service, but anything over five minutes can seem long to a 2- and 4-year-old

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My sefer Tehillim.  I doubted that I would have a chance to use it, but better to be prepared!

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The filling lunch for the kiddos (No, it’s not a lot of food.  Yes, they were full).

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Snacks for the car.

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The view from the cooler (it was a hot day, and, remember, the food had to stay in the car).

The End Result?

It was a resounding success.  I got a chance to teach my kids about the mitzvah of making the bride and groom happy.  I was able to daven during the chuppah (at which I cried copiously, as usual).  Not from my sefer Tehillim, but from my heart.  My children were amazing during the chuppah, and I praised them considerably for their excellent behavior.  They enjoyed watching the bride and groom walk to the chuppah, and while the service was going on, they read nicely. They even answered “amen” to the brachos!

While we were waiting for the dancing to start (the wedding party usually takes pictures in between the chuppah and the dancing/meal), the boys ran around with the other children and I was able to shmooze with my friend (as much as I was able to as I was also supervising my children).  As a bonus, I was able to connect with an acquaintance who is becoming a friend.  Yay!

When is was nearly time for the bride and groom to start dancing, my oldest son got to help hold up one of the arches the couple runs under (it’s a shticky thing a lot of people do), and he felt SO BIG.  We had a blast dancing, and we even got a chance to dance for the bride as she sat on her chair.  Towards the end, I thought we would go, but my son asked to stay because he “wanted to see the kallah!”  Excellent.

How did I manage with all my kids?  The boys were with me, and the baby fell asleep in the stroller.  It worked out nicely.

And how did the bride feel about our crashing?  She was thrilled to see us!  We got an ear-to-ear smile, a big hug and a thank you.

We piled into the car, passed out the snacks, and headed home, full of smiles and a great mitzvah.

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weddingcrash

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22 thoughts on “How to Crash a Jewish Wedding

  1. Funny. You have a great sense of humor. I contrast the simcha life of me and my parents- my parents could go to a wedding every night if they wanted, and here in Memphis there’s as wedding once a year… maybe.. :)

  2. I think it must depend on the couple, the location, the culture… but I had a frum wedding and someone crashed it and I was really, really upset about it. It still bothers me when I think about it. We had a limited budget, an intimate wedding, and I had invited the people that I wanted there. It was a tremendous distraction to me on my special day to have someone there that I kept wondering “why is he here? How did he hear? Why did he think it was okay to come?”. He did in fact seat himself at the meal with friends (we had assigned seating at the affair) and it really bothered me that he had done so. If he had had a friend check with me ahead of time, I would have been happy to say that it wasn’t that kind of wedding. I am so glad that it worked out so well. For the record, I would never have ever acted anything but completely thrilled to see this person, so there is no way to this day for him to know that I actually hated it. I think you have to know the circumstances, the kallah, etc., I just wouldn’t want anyone to assume that every frum kallah at every frum wedding (and/or her family) would feel so happy about it.

    1. I’m so glad you shared your experience, and I’m sorry that you had such an unpleasant experience on your wedding day. Having a friend check with the couple ahead of time is an excellent idea, and doesn’t take much effort on the part of the “crasher.”

  3. I just took my first trip to Israel, which happened to fly out of JFK. I’m a budding ba’al teshuva from Michigan. A friend and shlucha that I learn and spend Shabbos with set me up in a basement apartment in Crown Heights and a few friends to hang out with on the day before I left and the day I came back until I left the next evening. On the first day we “crashed” a chuppah outside of 770, which may have made me a little later for dinner with my friends sister-in-law! Ooops, but she knew what we were doing. :) On the night I came back, we went to two l’chaims, there were at least three others my friend wanted to make it to but we were so tired at 1 a.m.! Those were all my first experiences with frum wedding culture, and I was very excited to be a part of it.

    Thanks for sharing your experience!

    1. Hi Chana! I’m so glad you’ve had such fun experiences with frum simchas! They can certainly be a time of great joy. I still remember fondly the wedding I “crashed” when I was becoming frum. It was unforgettable!

  4. Omigoodness! I can’t even imaging crashing a wedding! I understand the concept of going to an event where you don’t really know the bride or groom — and I understand the idea of sharing their joy (because next to babies being born, who doesn’t love a wedding?) — but I can’t imagine having enough ovum to do it! I’m so glad that you were warmly welcomed! As always, you make everything sound so delightful. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. :)

    1. The ovum. Hehehe. Wedding crashing seems so counterculture, in a way, but it was presented to me like a fairly normal thing. I’ve crashed in at least three states and two countries!

    1. Then get out your scissors! It’s actually the same wig as the one I’m wearing in the picture in the sidebar there, just parted in the middle. I’m telling you, it is the best investment. I save on time, hair-product, and frizz – what frizz? If you come to Bmore, I can so hook you up. ;)

      1. Rivki! It’s so fantastic. I’m stunned. Really. I love the no fuss element. Very appealing. Believe me, the more time I spend at Chabad, the more interested I become. Just baked challah this morning with a bunch of women. So wonderful.

  5. It takes a certain personality to appreciate wedding crashers. I’ve done it a couple of times, but I usually warned the bride/family beforehand and don’t eat the food, so I guess it’s not really crashing as much as hanging out and dancing. But great job on getting your kids ready and teaching them what Jewish weddings are all about! My girls love seeing Kallahs and dancing, but sadly we don’t get out to many weddings these days. Great post, and I love the photo “essay”.

    1. I’m beginning to realize that since I became frum in St. Louis, which is small and out-of-town, where every warm body is very helpful to bring ruach to a wedding, my perception of wedding crashing may be different than say, a New Yorker’s!

  6. I had a small (only very close friends/family) wedding with NO kids in attendance at the wedding or at the reception. I’m very private, so if a near -stranger showed up (with 3 kids!) I would have been completely flustered and mad. I guess you REALLY need to know that the bride and groom will be OK with this….

    1. I can see you feel very strongly on this subject! Thank you for commenting, and for reinforcing the fact that anyone considering “crashing” should certainly okay it first.

  7. If everyone were awesome ‘gatecrashers’ like you and your kids, who would mind? :)
    Also, way to go with the organizing and think-aheadness!

    1. haha, thanks. Some of my neighbors were discussing crashers with bad etiquette, and it can really be appalling! I’m happy to pass on good-crashing skills to my kids. ;)

  8. Late to the game here…just wanted to say that it was awesome seeing you Rivki!!! Also wanted to add that Orthodox weddings are typically bigger and more casual and thus far more open to respectful and responsible crashers like Rivki. And Renee…honestly we must meet IRL one day.

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