Thursday, January 26, 2012
The expenses begin as early as the matchmaking stage. Matchmaking fees, for example, have been limited to NIS 3,700 ($990), and the engagement party must cost up to NIS 800 ($215). Up to NIS 500 ($135) can be spent on a bouquet of flowers for Shabbat, preferably a synthetic one. So far, the families have saved some NIS 6,500-7,500 ($1,740-2,010).
In the groom's gifts chapter, the maximum sums are NIS 400 ($110) for a luxury watch, NIS 2,490 ($665) for the Orders of the Mishna, NIS 950 ($255) for a set of Shulchan Aruch books, NIS 800 ($215) for a goblet with a saucer and NIS 400 ($110) for a Passover set of books or a tefillin and tallit case.
There is a general restriction of six gifts and NIS 7,000 ($1,870) for the groom, and the bride's parents are expected to save NIS 12,000-15,000 ($3,200-4,000).
In the bride's gifts chapter, the maximum tariff is NIS 600 ($160) for a watch, NIS 2,600 ($700) for a gold necklace, NIS 2,400 ($642) for a bracelet, NIS 1,500 ($400) for a gold ring with a semi-precious stone, NIS 500 ($135) for pearls and NIS 600 ($160) for a set of holiday prayer books. And there is a non-financial restriction on a pair of candlesticks: They must weigh up to half a kilogram (1.1 pounds) and be up to 33 centimeters (13 inches) high.
The total sum spent on gifts is limited to NIS 10,000 ($2,675). The groom's parents are expected to save NIS 15,000-17,000 ($4,014-4,550). Other gifts between the in-laws have also been limited. In the Shabbat Chatan and Shabbat Kallah customs, the restrictions include throwing small bags with a selection of almonds, raisins and sweets when the groom is called up to read from the Torah; the groom's family will have the Shabbat meals at its own house; the Friday night meal will not include any guests, or only the father of the bride and grandfathers; the other family members may join the end of the meal with some refreshments. The family is expected to save NIS 10,000-13,000 ($2,670-3,480) on this clause.
In the wedding party chapter, the maximum price for the wedding dress is NIS 3,500 ($935), renting clothes for schoolgirls – NIS 200 ($55), renting clothes for high school or seminary girls – NIS 300 ($80), a chair for the bride – NIS 450 ($120), a bouquet of flowers for the bride – NIS 200 ($55), drinks – NIS 4,000 ($1,070), a photographer – NIS 2,500 ($670), and a band (including a singer and equipment) – NIS 3,300 ($885). Some NIS 19,000-23,000 ($5,085-6,155) are saved in this chapter.
Rabbi Avi Zarki of north Tel Aviv has convinced couples to have a relatively modest wedding more than once. "I've conducted weddings which cost millions of dollars, just to make others jealous," he says.
"It's unnecessary. When I see people investing money in a wedding instead of in an apartment, leading to debts, I ask the permission of the parents and the young couple and advise them to change their list of priorities."