While the band began playing and my friends rushed the chuppah, everyone was hugging each other and wishing “mazal tov” over and over. After a few minutes, ASoG and I descended the little steps hand in hand. As we danced toward the yichud room, all my friends were lined up, arms around each other’s shoulders, dancing, singing, and jumping up and down. There were one or two times where someone grabbed my free hand and started dancing with me, or rather, half of me, since I refused to release my new wife’s hand. Flashes were bursting all around us as every single young woman in attendance, and a number of guys as well, took the time to capture the moment.
Thankfully, it didn’t take long to get to the yichud room. I’ve been to several weddings where the hall’s yichud room is located quite some distance away from the chuppah area, which required a long backward march for all the cheering friends, down several hallways, and a handful of turns before reaching the proper destination. One on such occasion, we danced the newlywed couple to what we thought was the yichud room, but turned out to be a broom closet once someone opened the door. Luckily, we found the right room down a nearby corridor.
When we reached the yichud room all the guys went crazy, in the usual “we don’t want to let you go just yet” fashion. Sporadic circle dancing broke out, much to the chagrin of the wedding hall planner, who tried several times, unsuccessfully, to get the guys to back off and let us proceed. After a few minutes, I was getting a little tired, not to mention that I was hungry, thirsty, and really wanted to spend some quiet time with ASoG (don’t try to read too much into the order of that list), so I stepped out of the circle and into the doorway. I totally forgot who I had wanted to be the Eidei Yichud and didn’t want to bother looking for someone who had my kibbudim list, so I grabbed two of my nearest friends and appointed them to their new job. With a few waves of our hands, ASoG and I entered the room and the door was shut behind us.
DISCLAIMER: I’m not going to go into any mushy details of what happened there for the sake of tzniyus, but I will report some of the other odd and exciting happenings.
Waiting for us was a decent sized banquet of food, which I had requested per the advice of a long-married friend of mine that there needs to be real food in the yichud room, and not just cake. The caterer had prepared servings of sushi, mini hot dogs in buns, kasha varnishkas, salad, and deli-roll (which was the appetizer served at the seudah). We washed and began to eat. I realized that the caterer had only provided us with various sodas to drink, which is really the last thing I wanted after being deprived of liquids all day. What I really needed was plain ol’ water. We poked our heads out the door to find the wedding hall coordinator standing nearby, told him what we wanted, and he quickly brought us back a pitcher of water. I thanked him profusely, and we went back to our meal.
From the Department of How to Lose Your Recently Performed Segulah for Marriage: Losing the Kallah’s jewelry that you were entrusted with.
A kallah, and the groom as well, for that matter, is not allowed to wear any jewelry under the chuppah, as a symbol that the chosson’s reasons for marrying her have nothing to do with wealth or her personal possessions. As such, the kallah normally wears her jewelry during the initial photography sessions and at the badeken, but removes them in her ready-room prior to marching down the aisle. She hands out her jewelry (necklace, earrings, bracelet, engagement ring, etc) to some close friends for safeguarding. They eagerly who clutch the jewelry during the ceremony, while hopefully davening as well, in an effort to obtain a segulah to also stand under their own chuppah in the near future.
ASoG put her best friend and shomeret in charge of distributing and collecting the jewelry before and after the chuppah, with explicit instructions to return the valuable items to the yichud room prior to our arrival. Shortly after we washed, ASoG went over to the safe and opened it up, only to discover to her horror that her jewelry wasn’t there! Frantically, she grabbed her cell phone and called her shomeret to ask where she had put it. The friend insisted that the jewelry was right there in the room, just like ASoG had instructed. After quickly tearing through the room, both ASoG and her shomeret were understandably upset about this development, though I have to admit I was busier enjoying the food, confident that something would work out. In the end, it turned out that ASoG’s shomeret had mistakenly put the jewelry in the safe located in the room next door, which she discovered and brought over to us. With that crisis concluded, we closed the door again and went back to our eating and drinking.
I’m not sure how much time we were accorded, but the photographer knocked what seemed like shortly thereafter to summon us to do another round of family pictures and all those cutesy touching pictures. We immediately dismissed him, since we wanted more time to relax and eat. I think this happened 2 or 3 times before we finally gave in and went back to the chuppah room.
The family pictures we had to take were primarily mine, since a number of my relatives characteristically came late to the hall and totally missed the first set of pictures. Some had simply forgotten they were needed at the hall early, while one actually flew in trans-Atlantic from a business conference and barely made it in time for the chuppah. However, while the previously absent relatives made sure to be there, several other formerly photographed family members couldn’t be located, having dispersed to who-knows-where. As such, we have several almost identical Grey family pictures with a few people switched around, and some relatives standing in place for others.
Once we finished those dozen or so pictures, everyone was kicked out of the room except for ASoG and I. The photographer suggested it was a good idea, because the “hold her waist and cutely kiss her forehead” pictures are awkward in the first place, and even more so when a little pre-pubescent sibling is standing there saying “ew” and making faces. However, we did get a nice couple of pictures from this set, which makes me very happy.
After the last posed picture was taken, ASoG and I went dashing back to the yichud room to change shoes. Yes, you read right, I also changed my shoes for dancing, replacing my oh-so-shiny black dress shoes with some very comfortable, slip-on, not-quite-as-shiny, black semi-athletic shoes.
Why did I do this, you may ask? First, the shoes I wore during the ceremony were brand new, and as I have learned from experience, wearing new shoes to dance at a wedding is a recipe for blisters and trouble walking for days afterward. Second, as I have also learned, shoes worn to dance at an Orthodox Jewish wedding inevitably get scuffed up, scratched, and beaten up in the extreme. Why waste the money spent on my pristine wedding shoes and ruin only to them in a few hours raucous footwork? For this reason, I have a specific pair of nice-ish shoes that I wear to weddings which are already a bit worn – though the shoes I donned then were not that particular pair.
After the quickie footwear change, we snuck back through the connecting corridor area, past a few people milling about or heading to the restroom, and into the chuppah/picture room. There was a divider connecting it to the ballroom, which the wedding hall coordinator had slid open partially so we could peek in and see all our friends eagerly waiting our arrival. The band cued up the special entrance theme I made from a particularly popular movie score (I say made, because I spent about a hour the night before cutting it down and speeding it up). The fervor of the people inside reached a crescendo along with the pumping orchestral music.
ASoG and I held hands, looked into each other’s eyes, took a deep breath and ran in as we were introduced for the first time as Rebbe and Rebbetzin* Shades of Grey!
Look for Part 7 soonish!
*Yes, the singer did announce that, funnily enough.