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Sunday, September 25, 2005

The Drive-in Chupa

Last week we went to a wedding in Chicago. A wedding in Chicago means that in addition to the hours spent at the affair itself, there is an extra 3-4 hours of driving. And if you add that on to my predisposition against weddings to begin with, you end up with a sure-fire formula for a cranky PT. As we drove down through traffic to get to the hotel, we passed through sheets and sheets of hard rain.

So imagine my dismay when, as we arrived at the hotel, we spotted a Chupa and rows of chairs set up in the parking lot. I know it is a custom to have the wedding ceremony and the Chupa (the canopy) outdoors. But too many weddings don't seem to allow for a "Plan B" when the weather doesn't cooperate.

It was not a surprise to anyone when it started to drizzle as we were asked to go outside for the ceremony. As I stood there in my freshly dry-cleaned suit ($9.47), I seriously thought about going inside. Then I though, well, it's not too bad yet, and it's only water; maybe they'll hurry up and it'll be over before it really starts coming down.

No such luck. Before anyone started marching down it began to rain heavily. And by the time they were doing the blessings under the Chupa, it was dark, wet, and thunder and lightning could be heard and seen. And the occasional airliner taking off (it was near the airport).

Something funny happened. Instead of running inside, more people came out. In fact, the heavier the rain, the more people rushed out to participate. And instead of sitting bored in the rows of chairs, which were now soaked through, people got up and crowded around the Chupa, the better to see and hear what was going on. A few people got into their SUV's, and drove them around to face the ceremony. Some turned on their headlights. Of course, I didn't sit in a car; not that I was invited. But one Rabbi was inexplicably dry when he ran up to say his blessing.

It ended up being incredibly cool. I was only a few feet from the canopy, and every few seconds, a flash from a camera would go off, and thousands of drops of rain would suddenly flash motionless into view, as if the ceremony were taking place in a field of stars. The feeling of genuine joy was palpable through the damp air. I turned to see a semicircle of cars surrounding the group, their occupants sitting quietly and observing the ritual. It was surreal.

I had arrived at the wedding annoyed, and feeling sorry for the bride, the groom, and their families, thinking that their wedding had been ruined by the weather. I left realizing that this was a celebration that none of us would be forgetting any time soon.

16 comments:

Jewish Blogmeister said...

Nice post, although I see they rip you off on the dry cleaning there. I never pay more than $5 for a suit cleaning.

Doctor Bean said...

that's really beautiful. you've written about a few bittersweet or just plain sad events recently, so I'm glad you enjoyed a happy one. Rain just makes it happy and wet.

New rule: at the end of your comment copy down the word verification and make a sentence that would have that word as an acronym. Extra points if it's relevant to the post. rgbeip

Rainy Groom & Bride Enchant & Intrigue Psychotoddler.

tuesdaywishes said...

I remember one chupa out near O'Hare when the chatan and kallah practically sprinted down the aisle because of an impending thunderstorm. I think that whole ceremony lasted about 8 minutes. That was the one that convinced me to have mine indoors.

mjlaqk
Milwaukee Journal Lacks Any Quality Kibitizers

torontopearl said...

Does nobody get married in Milwaukee these days? You always seem to be traveling for weddings, even as a guest, not just as a bandleader.

You painted a lovely picture of a wedding for us; interesting how dampened spirits become lively for the simplest readsons...

egmwt: every good milwaukeean wants tourists!

Acrophobia Maniac said...

If you like this acronym thingy, play acrophobia on uproar.com

This is not a paid advertisement...

ghoajw
Going hungry over a jewish woman...

Ugh, now I have to stay anonymous. People will think i'm lesbian...

Ezzie said...

Another inspiring post!
nnlnwqp
No, no, look: No wedding's quite perfect.

MC Aryeh said...

What a beautiful wedding scene! The last one I was at where it rained included a bride in tears and a furious mother-of-the-bride. Nice to hear about one where people were abe to enjoy the moment and not get caught up in the things that are not important...



SZOWUGJ

So Zis Orthodox Wedding Up-ended-in-it-did Great Joy

Safranit said...

One memorable Chicago wedding was too close to the Airport...we couldn't hear the ceremony at all, and there were less than 50 people there!

jpaiayom

Just plan all indoor activities yes, outside Milwaukee.

PsychoToddler said...

You can save this comment and call me on this later, but unless one of my boy's future wives lives in Chicago, we will not be hosting any weddings there. If only three people manage to find their way to Milwaukee, that's fine with me.

I'm assuming there are issues such as catering, music, and hall availability that drive people to look at Chicago. None of those are particularly important to me. The choson and kalah are all that matter in my book, and usually, they don't care about that stuff. At least, I don't think my kids will. But who knows?

I want to thank you, Doctor Bean, for once again raising the bar so hight that now I myself am afraid to comment on my own post.

stgarno

somehow, this got another random non-related opinion

despite the spam blocker (i deleted the comment)

Doctor Bean said...

You're welcome!

cmobt

Catering Milwaukee Orthodox bridal typhoons.

Kiwi the Geek said...

So that's what the weird sentences are all about! I will abstain, as I stink at acronyms. Anybody else can feel free...

But I just have to share about my wedding. It was very loosely planned, and we were unable to get the marriage license in time because of logistical difficulties. It was at a friend-of-a-friend's art studio. We had three guests, plus the friend who officiated. My parents boycotted, because they consider my husband a complete loser. My stepdaughter and I were both barefoot, because we hate shoes. Although I was a virgin, I didn't have a white dress. My parents actually had to mail my fanciest dress because I had left it in my things stored at their house. The friends/guests, one of whom we had never met till that night, took pictures, baked a cake, brought flowers and fake wine, and really made the ceremony. I sang "If You Could See What I See" by Geoff Moore. The friend who officiated wrote the service, based on the traditional Lutheran version with extra vows for me to say to my little sweetie. Unfortunately, we had trouble coaxing said sweetie to smile in the pictures. The wedding became legal soon after the ceremony, and after 19 months, we're very happy that we disregarded everybody's advice and committed to each other. (happy most days, at least. Gotta act loving whether or not you feel it.) After ten years or so, when we feel we've been vindicated, we'll renew our vows and maybe have the ceremony I've always dreamed of. At that time, I'll sing "You're Still the One", which makes me teary every time I hear it on the radio. Now I'm getting all nostalgic and lovey...

PsychoToddler said...

I don't know what wedding you've been dreaming of, but the one you described sounds like fun.

I can't get into big weddings with 400 or more guests. I like a small crowd where I know everyone and can actually talk to my guests and enjoy the occasion.

Kiwi the Geek said...

I could never deal with more than 50 people in one event. 25 would be more comfortable for us. But the wedding I've been dreaming of would involve a white dress, pink sweetheart roses, and a bakery cake with that wonderful fluffy frosting and sugary flowers. A real pastor, my mother, more friends. Accompaniment when I sing to my beloved. (or lover, I can never remember which is which) Fake champagne made of ginger ale and apple juice. Real champagne if we ever both get off drugs. (not likely for him) I could never spend thousands of dollars on a wedding -- that's more appropriate for a 50th anniversary if you really feel the need to waste money -- but I could see a budget of $200 or so.

Ezzie said...

This post has been included in Haveil Havalim #39, hosted by SerandEz - take a few minutes and check what it says. Shana Tova!

muse said...

Outdoor chupot are easier in Israel, where it doesn't rain 3/4 of the year.

PsychoToddler said...

We had an outdoor chupa at the lakefront. It was sunny and nice, but we almost blew away with all the wind.