By offering just the smorg or a dinner, “waistful” weddings can be avoided as well, and for people who attend several simchas a week (this includes bar mitzvahs, brisim etc – a few years ago I went to a Shabbat brit that had over 400 guests and enough food to enable people to fast for a couple of days and still feel full) being offered lighter fare could be life-saving. There is an alarming increase in obesity in North America, with adults and children alike being way overweight.
Our community sadly has not been spared. Our tendency to overeat and be sedentary, especially in yeshivas where children are hunched over their books most of the day, including Sundays, has put members of the community, young and old, at risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke, even cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.
The fact is, people are not using up the calories they are imbibing, with the unfortunate result that the body stores these unused calories for a “rainy day” as fat.
Human nature is such that when presented with delicious food – especially if you are paying for it via a wedding gift – it is hard to maintain your resolve to eat “just a little.” Chances even those intent on watching what they eat will indulge, “just this one time.” But for many, it is not an occasional occurrence. Like I earlier mentioned, it is not unusual for the typical frum family to be invited to several simchas a week after the Three Weeks. Between family, friends, colleagues and neighbors, the mailbox is full with invitations.
A more modest wedding would be less waistful and wasteful for host and guest alike. (About wasteful, in my opinion, the minhag of providing benchers at simchas should be discontinued. Every balbatishe home very likely has hundreds of them stashed in some out of the way drawer and they become unwanted shaimos. Every guest should bring his or her own bencher. The money saved can be donated by the baal simcha to a charitable cause – or used to pay his bills.)
At the end of the day, a torrent of bills will come in and the simcha will be yesterday’s news. The bottom line (literally) is that every baal simcha should do what he knows is sensible and right for his household, and not let a misguided fear of what people will think if he makes a cheap wedding influence his decisions on how much to spend.
For the fact is the people who in turn will host simchas, will actually applaud and breathe a sigh of relief – because like Bnei Yisrael at Yam Suf, they are waiting for a Nachson ben Aminadav to take that the initiative and jump in first, so they can safely follow.
For both host and guest, it is the smart thing to do.