The Art of the Chassenah

by Marnie Macauley May 27, 2016


ask marnie june


DEAR MARNIE: I’m getting married at the end of June and one of my fiancé’s best friends has a girlfriend who I really don’t want to come to the wedding. I don’t think there is any way to ask him not to bring her without making him and my fiancé angry. What can I do?

– Worried Bride   

MARNIE SAYS: Well, you could eliminate dates and confine your guests to those with rings OR you could use your Yiddishe kop and finesse the girlfriend problem.

Here’s an idiea: invite Little Ms. Vilda Chaya to share a corned beef sandwich. Hold out a hand, and remove a thorn from her paw.

Enlist her! Casually share the conservative nature of your nuptials and elicit her opinions, and heck, she may show up like Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

Should the corned beef and convo maneuver fail, then recruit your bridesmaids in Operation “VC” (Vilda Chaya). A few women in major taffeta can scare the heck out of anybody, never mind divert the lady, cue up the band, or drag her to the powder room to get her opinion on the crisis in the Middle East. And, even if she does squawk, you’ll be so busy bustling in your chassenah-joy she’ll land like a mosquito.

Most important, your effort on your fiancé’s behalf makes you the soul of generosity. A true mitzvah.


DEAR MARNIE: My fiancé and I are getting married soon and I’m not sure what to do about the gift registry. I really don’t want to get 50 toasters or electric carving knives when what we could really use is money. (We’d like to buy the condo we’re presently sub-letting.) My fiancé told me that a friend of his displayed a money tree. How do you feel about that? Also, is there a clever way I can make it clear I don’t want gifts without offending my guests?

– Money on My Mind

MARNIE SAYS: Mamala, offend them?  You just managed to offend me so clearly tact isn’t your forte. Neither is taste, if you think even “Marnie’s Mouth” can “clever-ize” a truly tacky con.  Indeed, I was so flustered, I almost re-read the 613 commandments to see if “abusing trees during chassenahs” is a sin.  It should be.    

Prune the money tree, kiddo, or a witty guest might prune it for you — with an electric carving knife (an altogether superior use of their gift). A wedding is the spiritual and religious joining of two souls, not a rip-off op. Good will is the only gift requirement. Get it!

Do not cajole, manipulate, demand, request, or mention gifts in invites. As most guests expect to bring something (and yes, they often put a check in an ugly gravy boat) a registery is a good start. I should say, that personally, I loathe “registering” — especially when young brides consider a $100 fish fork a “must-have” instead of saving for really something important — like marriage counseling.

Now that I’ve trounced you, you can let others do the talking, discreetly. Should someone ask Mama, sis, or one of your 50 bridesmaids for gift ideas, they can gush over your condo concept with a “Well … Hmmmm … cash is always nice” chaser.

Oh … Another concept. I know brides are wedding-wiggy, but instead of stuffing little kosher Cornish hens into 250 people you barely know for the bucks, cancel the caterer, and serve a buffet courtesy of Manischewitz for the 75 people you actually do know. Then ask Mom and Pop to spend the difference on a down payment.

A little compromise, angel, and you can have your cake and condo, too.


DEAR MARNIE: I’m getting married soon. We are Modern Orthodox. The problem is, my mother is planning to wear the most hideous dress! Not only is it ugly, it’s not very flattering. (She’s a large woman.) I shudder to think that when I look at my wedding pictures, I will have to see that awful dress. Please help!

– Dressed in Distress

MARNIE SAYS: Well so much for Tz’ni’ut. Your letter had me shredding photos of “modest” vintage spandex disco pants at magazine racks! Tell her. But, be careful mamala. You want to trash the dress, not her beliefs, ego or enthusiasm for the event.

Lend her a vision. Say, “Mom, that dress just doesn’t do you justice.” Point out her unique features, and tell her she deserves to look and feel terrific on your special day.

There are new designers out there who have found a way to blend modesty with fashion from “tichel” to toe. Check out, for example, Hadar Magazine. Get cheerleaders, e.g. sisters, aunts, friends, to coo over your picks.

If Mom balks at the expense, gift her. It’s your special way of saying “I love you.” Insist it’s your last mother-daughter thing as a single woman. Hopefully, once you reassure her that modesty need not mean “mieskeit” you’ll fire up her imagination and she’ll sail down that aisle with you, spiffy and in appropriate style.

Finally, if she’s “wedded” to the ugly thing, Tante Marnie offers three words: “Let it go.” Do it for you. Do it for her. Do it so you don’t ruin this wonderful day over a hunk of fabric.

You see, a long time from now, you’ll look at those photos, and you won’t see that dress at all. You’ll see the woman in it. And you’ll be so glad she was there with you, on your special day, to share it.


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