I very much enjoyed the beautiful surroundings, ballroom and the lovely outdoor chuppah area for the first wedding, and the food and four piece band were excellent. I also very, very, VERY much sitting both with my husband and with the group of ladies I spend most Shabbat afternoons with. I knew everyone at my table and I knew the groom's mother and I could dance (and it was very spirited, joyful dancing) with my friends. And,yes, my husband. :)
Last night's was a different affair. This was in a catering hall in Bensonhurst - instead of renting a car, I took the subway. While the room was very beautiful, everything - bride's reception, chuppah and dinner - took place in the same room, various arranged with screens and chairs and such. And I expected to know no one - we were invited by the bride's father, who works with my husband. Turns out I was wrong. I knew three other people, all from my synagogue. Two were connected to the groom's family and the third was another coworker. But, you know. More than I expected.
Food wasn't so great but it was edible, and the crowd was less eclectic. It was funny, though. I was wearing the identical outfit from top to bottom, and I actually felt more in place here than in the first wedding.
I sat next to a lady I'd never met before during the chuppah, and by the time the groom came down between his parents (with yet another mother who looks younger than I am) I knew her entire life story - the abusive ex-husband, the two sons after years of infertility, the disappointing daughters-in-law, the mother who died when this woman was sixteen, leaving her a house and three brothers to take care of.
The ceremony was the ceremony - pretty much like any Jewish wedding ceremony. Many grandparents, which is a blessing. Very happy parents. Lovely bride (who sensibly wore a wedding dress without a train). The other girls wore cream and blush, not black. I do prefer that.
Separate seating, as expected. I sat at a table full of strangers - wonderful, friendly strangers, and I sat down with the intention of being friendly myself. So.
"Who are you related to?"
Big smile. "You just walked in off the street? So you wouldn't have to make dinner?"
"Exactly. Lucky I was dressed for it, and there was a place card with my name on it." This became a running joke. Also, the beautiful older lady on my other side - in her eighties, married for almost 65 years - was tickled that her place card had her as "Miss." "We've been living in sin. We need to have another wedding." And during the first spate of dancing, another woman came to talk with me, since the dance floor was crowded and we didn't want to dance. I watched it instead, as the bride and both mothers had their own happy, energetic circles. I had a great time.
On his side, Jonathan sat with friends and danced - which *he* hadn't felt like doing on Sunday. Okay, there was no wine on the women's tables, and the chicken legs were over-cooked (although the vegetables were very yummy.) There was a lot of joy and spirit. Just like the wedding on Sunday.
And in the end, two young people were married. Two families were joined together. And those are the only things that matter.