One cute note: the groom from last night has the same last name as the bride from Sunday. (blueraccoon, do you have an Orthodox cousin from Chicago named Yonnim?)
I left from work. This meant I took my good navy suit to work with me and changed there. Then I took two buses to the catering hall in Williamsburg. This worked okay, except we didn't realize there was a detour and I had to walk an additional long block to get there. Since I don't wear heels, this was not a problem. I got there at about 7PM, which was right on time. Really. Even if kabbalat punim (the bride's reception) was called for 6PM, and the chuppah was for 7:15.
I got to the catering hall, put my keys in my tiny little silver evening bag, slipped my cellphone and my pda into my suit pockets and checked everything else. Evening bags complete the look and all, but they don't hold anything.
Once again, this was the wedding of a friend's daughter. This is going to happen a lot more often. I know Karen because she's part of my Shabbat parasha group - the group of ladies who meet every week with one of us leading the discussion. So I spent the evening with those ladies, all of whom had been invited as a matter of course. I was there alone because 1. My husband takes a weekly Talmud class, and this was the first session of the year 2. He didn't really know anyone but a couple of the husbands - I'd already taken him to one wedding where he'd known few people this week and 3. I really believed it would be separate seating. It wasn't. And I think he'd have enjoyed himself.
The reception itself didn't have quite the variety of food (and 100% fewer ice sculptures) of the previous wedding, and I held myself to one plate of food because I knew there would be a big dinner. Also. No alcohol at all. The bar was fruit juices and soft drinks.
Only 40 minutes late *g*, the groom was danced in by his friends and future brothers-in-law (all four of them) to veil the bride and be danced out again.
I sat with the ladies, next to one friend who is long divorced and looking very, very hard. Weddings are difficult for her - I spent a lot of it with my arm on her shoulders.
The groom walked in, between his parents. (Judging from the invitation, they're divorced, but otherwise, who could tell?) Then his future brothers-in-law gathered around a microphone and started singing. It was lovely - and very different. They had to stop, though. First the groom's sisters walked in, one by one in age order, then the bride's grandmother, then the bride's siblings in age order (she has a sister, too), followed by the bride and parents. And they had the ceremony, and I didn't even see Yonnim give Avital the ring. One interesting note: one of the witnesses didn't show up, so they called someone else from the guests.
An elderly rabbi, the principal of the bride's school, read the ketubah, and then there were the seven blessings (done by various friends and uncles) and then the boys sang some more. Finally, the groom broke a napkin-wrapped glass. No, the pieces weren't saved.
We all filed into the ballroom for the sit-down meal while the newlyweds went to the yichud room. (This is a private room where they would be alone together for the first time, and break their fast. O brides and grooms fast on their wedding day unless it takes place on a New Moon.) I sat with half the women from my group, plus a couple of husbands. The rest sat at another table.
The bride and groom didn't appear until we'd finished the appetizer, the soup and the salad, which is a long time, but I guess they needed it for pictures. In O circles, the bride and groom don't see each other AT ALL for the week previous to the wedding, so this would be the first chance for pictures.
It was mixed seating, but there was a mechitza, a partition, for the dancing. It works like this - when the dancing begins, everyone moves to one or the other side. I happened to be sitting on the "men's" side, so we all moved over.
I didn't dance with the bride at all. We in the class formed our own circle and drew Karen into it and she danced with each of us in turn.
After an hour or so, we got tired and the music wound down and I fixed my headscarves and we sat down for the main course. My ride home wanted to leave early, so I picked up a bentcher - a pamphlet containing the grace after meals, the special blessings for after a wedding, the Sabbath home services and table songs, with a personalized cover for the occasion. These are the equivalent of the "favors" that apparently people give out at different sorts of weddings. The guests take them home as a practical reminder of the wedding/bar mitzvah. Most people have a drawerful. The other equivalent are printed yarmulkes for the men.
At blueraccoon's wedding, they placed notes on the table saying that in lieu of favors, they were donating the money to a charity, which was lovely. Are favors that expected? And are they something new? No one mentioned them for my wedding fourteen years ago.
Anyway, I bentched and then we went home. Jonathan had taped Jon Stewart for me, so I got to watch that.
(Otherwise, I might have stayed until the end, when they would say the grace as a group and then finish with the same seven blessings.)