Saturday, July 31, 2010

American Weddings and Rehearsal Dinners

Chelsea Clinton's nuptials got me thinking about the many differences between wedding traditions in Israel and the United States. The whole idea of an extended Wedding Party (as in the official participants in the ceremony, not the celebration itself) is very foreign to Israelis. We don't have a maid of honor, bridesmaids, best man or flower girl. Until recently, neither did we have any of the silly "who's next to marry" kinds of idiocies. Some Israeli brides do toss the bouquet nowadays, or some other variant of that is performed (like pulling strings out of a cake, one of which has a ring on it - a tradition imported from Argentina), but thankfully, I've never seen the very strange garter-tossing ceremony in any wedding I've ever been to in Israel. Weddings are also usually evening/night events in Israel, unlike American weddings, that are usually during the day.

But the strangest wedding tradition of all is the rehearsal dinner. First of all, what's there to rehearse in a wedding? And even if you do need to rehearse your vows, why have guests come to hear it before it's perfect? Well, I guess the answer is in the fact that the rehearsal itself is just an excuse and not the real focus of the event. The main attraction is the long series of toasts and roasts by family and close friends. This doesn't sound like fun for anyone. Being toasted (and/or roasted) is quite awkward for the bride and groom, unless they're megalomaniacs, and it's just boring for everybody else. Hey, even in the otherwise excellent film "Rachel Getting Married" the rehearsal dinner scene was extremely boring and should have been cut shorter. On the other hand, I've never actually been to a real-life rehearsal dinner so who knows, maybe it's actually fun. But I doubt it, based on speeches I've heard at weddings. The toasts were actually interesting to hear maybe five percent of the time.

It's nice to ramble on about something totally unimportant once in a while. :)

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