5 Often-Overlooked Things Needed For a Wedding at Home

There is nothing quite like having a wedding at home, especially if it is your childhood home. It can be a very sentimental and special place to have your wedding festivities, with a meaning unlike any other potential wedding location. Planning a wedding at your house is a big undertaking, however, and there are many extra details which must be considered. These are 5 very important often-overlooked things needed for a wedding at home.

One: Insurance. How unromantic, right? Indeed, but adequate insurance is critical when hosting a wedding at home. Start with your homeowner’s policy and find out what type of coverage it already has that would be applicable to a large party, such as damage to your property, theft from your home during the party, and personal liability insurance (in case a guest is injured on the premises). Wedding insurance is also a wise investment, and it covers things which would not be covered by a homeowner’s policy, such as if the wedding has to be rescheduled due to severe weather or if a vendor does not show up. It costs very little, but is important to purchase.

Two: Security. This is another thing which you hate to think about, but if your home is open for hours during a wedding, who is watching to make sure that no one wanders upstairs and swipes your mother’s wedding jewelry from her dresser or the silver from the dining room? You may feel absolutely comfortable with all of your wedding guests (hopefully!), but big parties can be targets for professional thieves, particularly in certain upscale neighborhoods. They know that if everyone is in the backyard at the wedding, no one is watching the rest of the house to make sure your jewelry and other valuables are safe. A couple of security guards can be discreetly stationed around the property to keep the house safe from thieves, and the reception free from wedding crashers, if that is also a concern.

Three: Parking. Having 100 people come to your house for a wedding? Where on earth are you planning to put all those cars? Most residential streets have no where near enough parking spaces for that many vehicles, and there may be local parking restrictions or required permits that make the situation even trickier. Hiring a valet parking service to manage the cars is often your best bet, especially if there is a nearby field where they can all be parked. Another option is to hire a shuttle bus to transport your guests from their hotel to your home and back again at the end of the night. Valet parking or shuttle services should always be paid for by the hosts, not the guests.

Four: Noise. If you are having a late afternoon wedding, the chances are that your party will run well into the evening hours. Check with your local police department about the noise ordinances in your town to find out what restrictions exist regarding both volume of music and what time music must end at night. It might well be earlier than you had planned to end your reception, like 9 or 10pm. You might discover that you can have your band switch from amplified to acoustic instruments after the cut-off time for noise, or it might be best to move your wedding to an earlier time. The last thing that you want is the police knocking on your door at the height of the party and telling you to pull the plug!

Five: Neighbors. Smart couples know that the key to having a great wedding at home is to get the neighbors on your side. After all, your wedding can cause a fair amount of disruption to their lives, everything from contractors coming to renovate your house pre-wedding to a loud band to people parking in front of their driveway. Your best bet is to kill them with kindness. Inform your neighbors about your wedding well in advance, be considerate of them when setting up the event, and if any damage occurs to their property, be sure to fix it immediately. Best of all, invite all of your neighbors to the wedding. If they are there enjoying the party, they will not be sitting at home feeling annoyed by all the commotion next door. Remember that these people will be your neighbors long after the wedding is all done, and treat them accordingly.

The Jewish Wedding Crashers

One of the more popular films of 2005 was the comedy hit “The Wedding Crashers”. It related the antics of two bachelors who crashed weddings in the hope of meeting eligible women.

Jewish tradition also deals with the issue of unexpected wedding guests, but of a highly different nature.

A brief look at the three types of visitors who might “crash” a Jewish wedding provides wonderful insight into the law and lore of Jewish values, as well as a profound understanding of the Jewish wedding itself.

The three unexpected “crashers” include departed souls, the Creator, and the poor and needy.

While conventional texts of Jewish law make almost no mention of afterlife, according to the Zohar, the classic work of Jewish mysticism, souls of departed ancestors may be present at the wedding.

It writes: “Even though his (the groom’s) father and mother have departed from this world, they participate in every ‘simcha’ (joyous occasion). The Holy One, Blessed Be He, goes to the Garden of Eden and takes the groom’s father and mother, who are partners with the Creator (in giving birth to the groom) and brings them along with Him to the simcha. And all of them are present but the people are unaware.”

Other opinions go so far as to say that even the grandparents and great grandparents are present as well.

What’s so remarkable about this passage is not only that the souls of the departed participate in the wedding, but the Creator, Himself, takes them by the hand, so to speak, and personally escorts them to the wedding. And, as if this were not enough, the Creator too is a guest at every wedding!

Being the skeptic and rationalist that I am, I never placed much faith in this idea until the birth of my youngest son, eleven years ago.

Several months before he was born my mother passed away.

When we conducted his “brit milah” (circumcision) eight days after his birth, as is traditionally done, I had the strangest feeling that my deceased mother was amongst the celebrants.

I can’t explain it, but I felt her presence near. I had never experienced that feeling prior to this event, nor have I since. But I’m convinced, on that special morning, she was with us.

The third type of Jewish wedding crashers I’ve become accustomed to see are more prevalent in Israel than in America. These are those whom the Kabbalah refers to as society’s “broken vessels”. The poor, the hungry, and the homeless.

At my own wedding, twenty six years ago in New York, the planning of seating arrangements was a major undertaking. Taking care to make sure that each guest was seated with the right people, required considerable thought and sensitivity. Every table and chair was carefully accounted for.

In Israel, where I’ve lived for the last twenty five years, weddings are much more informal.

Usually there is no reserved seating. Guests tend to sit wherever they feel comfortable. It is not uncommon at Israeli weddings for a number of uninvited guests to also attend. These include the indigent and the less fortunate members of society.

Jewish law is very explicit in it’s demands that the wedding feast is not complete unless such guests are present and seated. The groom himself must take special care to personally attend to these guests and show them honor and appreciation. He must do his utmost to make them feel welcome.

In reward for such behavior the bride and groom are assured a life of happiness and blessing. Which they most certainly deserve.

So the next time you attend a simcha, look for the Jewish wedding crashers. These are the departed souls, the Creator, and the poor and needy.

And if you, like I, initially have difficulty finding them, rest assured that when you witness the hungry and homeless leaving the wedding hall, their handbags filled with rolls and overflowing with food… you’ll know for certain that the first two “crashers” are also present.

And you will understand why the Creator, who takes particular pleasure seeing His needy children fed and cared for (especially by the bride and groom, on this, their wedding night)personally escorts the souls of the proud, departed parents, to witness their precious children’s wedding.