The groom wore a traditional black suit. The bride wore a flowing white dress with a cathedral-style veil. The couple exchanged vows under a chuppah by Lake Como. The wedding cost around £11million. When hedge fund manager Alan Howard’s nuptials to gluten-free chef Caroline Byron appeared in the papers last month and a yarmulke was spotted in photos, the joy of realizing it was a Jewish “doing” was tainted by what can only be described as this “simcha sinking feeling”. And as more and more details emerged – Lady Gaga’s performance (£1.2m), the month-long exclusive rental of lakeside mansion Villa Olmo (1.2m £), flowers (£500,000) – the more this feeling grew.
For all the wrong reasons, we don’t mind an extravagant wedding with a huge price tag; until someone Jewish pays the bill. “What are they going to think?” is what we consciously think, though we inwardly rejoice in the good fortune of our people. But we had barely recouped the £3million spent at the Beckham/Peltz simcha in Palm Beach before the cash register ker-ching sounded again for another Jewish couple. For couples who said “I do” at Dunstan Road in the 1950s or partied at the Doric Ballroom in Soho, this kind of extravaganza is a mystery. But since some of them have been married for over 60 years, they know the cost of their “big day” had no bearing on the happy years that followed.
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“It was the wedding your parents could afford,” says Gina Altman, who married her late husband, Stanley, in 1956. “It was still a beautiful wedding.”
A beautiful Jewish wedding these days has a very different complexion. Governed by the couple’s wishes, the parents were reduced to bank tellers allowed to offer few opinions even on the guest list, and only after the first round of invitations and some were turned down. Invitations to destination weddings are routinely turned down by those without air miles or a desire to spend their summer vacation in an overpriced paradise chosen by someone else. The absence of those with financial difficulties, however, is not a reason for excited couples to move.
It doesn’t matter if their only connection to Greece is that they enjoyed the movie Mamma Mia! You don’t need the middle name Zorba to get married in Mykonos. And if there’s no Vito Corleone in the family, you can always break the glass in Sicily. Speaking of breaking glass, the popular Jewish wedding website is full of destination weddings that have been the new black (or should it be white?) for a very long time. The site’s founder, Karen Cinnamon, has done an amazing job of rounding up the most stylish simchas for inspiration and recommends companies that provide the pizzazz.
“There are only three things that make a good marriage, and how much you spend isn’t one of them,” says Karen (pictured, left). “The first is authenticity, the second is creating an experience, and finally, making your guests feel comfortable and included.” As many of the “themed” weddings on smashingtheglass.com look like a Merchant Ivory movie costumed by Givenchy, replicating them in real money depends on your sewing skills. But there are some on the site who have worked wonders with baskets and garlands which are beautiful, and as Karen says, “Always remember: your wedding is not meant to be a perfect day, but rather a day that truly celebrates you and your partner. , the journey you have made and the one you will undertake together.
With no gatherings or travel during the pandemic, many about to embark on a life together had little choice. Getting married with a mask? Unite in the garden? Or just put the whole caboodle on hold and wait for the green light. Ready. Adjust. Go. Weddings are back and they’re bigger than ever, it seems. Planners are pushed to the limit, rabbis are ferried across the Mediterranean to officiate, and popular alliances have more tour dates than the Rolling Stones. Take the function band. Rewarded and sought after, its general manager Dan Rosen, a sublime singer, was recently seen with his musicians at Faro airport. After a birthday gig in the Algarve, the team barely had time to hug their families before heading to a wedding in the Balearic Islands and then another in Marbella. Considering that in 2019 the band logged 500,000 miles, delivered 14,600 hours of songs and entertained 150,000 people, bookings for 2022 will see those numbers increase, long before they fire their sold out bows.
Pulling out of a destination wedding is tricky, and if the invitation comes from Brooklyn and Nicole or Alan Howard, it’s unlikely to be turned down. Why say no to an invitation including flights and accommodation, but what are you giving as a gift? Going there also means dress appropriate for the occasion and climate, but see how quickly the temperatures rise if you don’t attend. “They haven’t spoken to us anymore,” said a guest at a Riviera wedding, who prefers not to be named. “It was our third invitation and they were all out of the country. It was going to cost a fortune, so we said no to everyone.
If you’re worried about becoming a simcha outcast, accept them all, but RSVP with caution. If overseas weddings come and go, attending one in Israel and then another in Ibiza the next day, it’s worth chartering your own plane and keeping your luggage with you. Simcha star hairstylist Kym Mullem knows what it’s like to be at the mercy of baggage handlers and prays her hair tools will arrive when she does. “I bought Apple Air Beacons so I could track them,” Kym says. “But it’s been really busy this year because Covid has postponed the weddings, so they’re all happening at the same time. So I’ve done a lot of things in the UK and I’ve been to Mykonos, Crete and Ibiza before. I also have my niece’s wedding in the south of France in September.
Kym does trial wedding hair before the function wherever it takes place, but encourages an update for hot spots. “If a bride wants her hair down, we do a lot of product testing to make sure it stays. But I’m a perfectionist, so I make sure I’m organized. I also love every minute.
Kym was on duty at Atlanta Beck’s recent spectacular wedding to Joshua Platt in Ibiza and for the bride it was ‘the endless love and having family and friends under one roof the whole trip that made the wedding a truly magical and unforgettable experience.” It’s having all of their family and friends with them for an extended vacation that couples enjoy most about charrabang and why destination wedding planner Michelle Jacobs of elegantebymichellej .com is so busy sorting out destinations, without a planner or a Posh Beckham entourage to escort, keeping control of everything is difficult for parents who have to worry about transporting guests, transporting babies and aunts with babies. sticks that can’t handle the hills. No wonder our cousins looked frazzled before planning an August wedding in Italy on a rocky volcanic island; FYI no eruption is planned. As difficult as it may be, Jewish parents tend to accept what their children want if they can afford it and if it’s a chuppah in Chang Mai, so be it.
Once upon a time, the biggest wedding hassle was finding a parking space near the Grosvenor Rooms, but since the Cotswolds and Cancun replaced Willesden, the Waze app on your phone and a valid passport are what you need. need. Israel is 58 hours (3,432 miles) via the A3, and is a popular and spiritual alternative to marriage here. We are still playing our part in the UK wedding industry which is worth £10billion a year. The average outlay, however, is £27,000, so Lady Gaga won’t be up to much, and without a platinum-selling artist or drama these weddings won’t make the news. The lavish name simchas we know still do. Of course, we love seeing photos of our friends’ kids on Insta on the proudest day of their lives. But there are weddings we’d appreciate more if the budget was limited to the bushel instead of being lit by fireworks over a chuppah by Lake Como.