There are all these articles written on how to make a vort – what to do beforehand, what to prep, how to set up, whether to rent a hall or do it in a house – but there are never really articles for the people showing up at the simcha. Especially the people who don’t really want to be there. I mean, they’re happy for the baalei simcha, but… I don’t want to have to go to your stuff.
What Kind of Thing is This Going To Be?
Most vorts are not sit-down affairs. The main reason for this is that no one should have to say a vort.
Like a sholom zachor, vorts are often done in the baal simcha’s house, the difference being that at a sholom zachor, the dining room table is in middle of the room, and at a vort, it’s supposed to be at the side of the room, so that everyone bumps their heads on the chandelier.
If the house has multiple entrances, there will be a sign telling women to go to the back door. This is not anything against women. It’s because men don’t read signs. A man would just cheerfully barge in, say, “Oh!” and then try to make his way through to get to the men’s section. He will climb over the buffet table, thinking that that’s what you’re supposed to do.
“You know; the food was prettier on that side.”
How Long Are We Going To Have to Spend There?
In general, you don’t want to show up before the chosson and kallah get there. Although if they’re arriving in separate cars, they’re going to get there significantly faster. In fact, the main reason a chosson and kallah aren’t allowed to see each other right before the chasunah is so they won’t show up in the same car. This is also why the pictures at a chasunah are scheduled to happen beforehand – to give everyone an earlier point to aim for. Because what other reason could there be? “I know we’re spending the rest of our lives together, but here’s a picture of the rest of our family without the kallah.” By the time you get these pictures back, they’re outdated.
“Remember when the kallah wasn’t part of our family?”
“Yeah, good times. Look how happy we were!”
Once you show up, the amount of time you stay at a vort is determined by how close you are to the baalei simcha. If you’re physically related, you have to arrive before the chosson and kallah do and stay until the next day. If you barely know them, you can power walk through from one door to the other, stopping briefly to nod at the baal simcha from across the room and do a little wave, like you’re recognizing him on a Chol Hamoed trip.
A vort is the only simcha that has an end time posted. Chasunahs don’t have an end time. And because it’s posted, some people will show up right before the end time, like it’s a supermarket, and go, “Oh, good; they didn’t close yet!” and then stay for an hour. This is a good thing to know if you’re a relative who has to stay until everyone else leaves.
What Do I Even Wear To This Thing?
For at least a few hours before, your wife will be loudly wondering what she’s going to wear. This might cause you to be self-conscious about wearing a suit.
“I was just going to wear a suit. Is that okay?”
Call the baalei simcha and ask. This is what they want to be bothered with the day they’re making a simcha.
If you’re only going to be there for a little while, as a man, you don’t really have to put on anything special. In fact, you always see a couple of guys there dressed in baseball caps and jeans, like they came straight from heavy-duty work, and they’re standing around for a while and eating like a full supper, because they’re going right back to work afterwards.
But if you don’t work in construction, you can probably just wear a white shirt and a weekday jacket. No one’s checking to make sure your jacket matches your pants. Especially if you’re not there long enough and you keep moving. Just don’t stand still. Power walk through.
Do We Have To Get Like a Gift or Anything?
When you come in, you will probably see a whole bunch of presents in the corner. This is for an ongoing grab bag. Put one in, and then take whichever one you want on the way out. This is a fun game that is played at many a vort.
Okay, just kidding. You want to bring a gift, because yes, you’re planning on bringing a gift to the wedding, but what are they going to do between the vort and the wedding? They’re two separate, unrelated simchas, right? I mean, what if the wedding doesn’t happen?
Most people get things that are meant to be used after the wedding. What’s an engaged couple going to do with a set of glasses? She’s going to take half of them to her parents’ house and he’s going to take half to his parents’ house? When I was engaged, a couple of my aunts and uncles got together and got us some nice down blankets. And I was like, “Awesome! I can use one of these for yeshiva!”
Also, once the chosson and kallah get a chance, they might make up a gift registry, and then you have to get them certain specific items or they will get really annoyed. So you want to beat them to the punch.
As for what to buy, people generally buy housewares, because it’s a known fact that any housewares that a couple owns has to have been given to them before the wedding. It’s like how you specifically have to buy certain food items before Pesach.
Checks are always good, though. If you show up with a check in an envelope and you don’t want it to get lost, make sure to bring a piece of tape, so you can attach it to one of the gifts.
You should also be aware that there’s a trend nowadays, if you have time, to make your gift into a whole huge display and wrap it with clear cellophane, like shalach manos, so that everyone coming to the vort goes, “Ooh, look what they gave!” and the vort becomes about you. Basically, there’s this corner of the room that is like a museum of gifts, and provides hours of conversation for people who are tired of talking about how they know someone who knows the other side.
So I guess if you’re bringing a check, the thing to do these days would be to just frame it. (“This is my check.”) Hang it on the wall over the other gift displays. Bring a hammer.
“Ooh, you brought us a hammer!”
“No, that’s for me.”
So Which One is the Chosson?
This is a fun game people play at vorts -- trying to figure out who the person you know is engaged to.
“Okay, so we know the girl; who’s the guy? Which guy do you think it is?”
It’s basically like an unveiling, because until the vort, it was a big federal secret who the chosson was. Nobody would tell you anything. And then at the vort, you get to stand there: “Is that the chosson? Is that the chosson?” There should actually be more of an unveiling ceremony, like an art unveiling, where when you get there, there’s a guy standing with a drop-cloth over his head, and the kallah’s on the other side of the room with a drop cloth on her head, and when enough people show up, the shadchanim unveil them. Maybe someone says a short vort first, because it is a vort. I mean they kind of do a similar thing at a chasunah with the kallah, but by then everyone already knows who the kallah is. When they showed up at the shmorg, she was on a big throne in a white dress. No one is surprised. But no one’s in a white dress today.
So here are some tips:
- Usually, if it’s a really tall chosson or kallah, it’s not that hard, because you just look for the really tall person on the other side of the mechitzah. “That must be them! They’re the only ones I can see!” But this isn’t guaranteed to work, no matter how much shadchanim try. They can only do so much.
- If you’re a man and you’re not sure who the chosson is, wait until the dancing. It’s going to be one of the people in the middle of the circle. If the chosson has a lot of brothers, good luck.
- If you’re a woman and you’re not sure who the kallah is, I’m not sure how to tell. I guess she’s going to be the only person with a new piece of jewelry who’s not wearing a sheitel.
- According to my wife, the kallah is the one who’s glowing. I don’t know what that means. I guess turn off the lights and see what happens.
But see, this is why I think we shouldn’t all dress up for a vort. We really shouldn’t. Only the chosson and kallah should dress up, so we know who they are. Everyone else should wear weekday clothes. That way, you can say, “Oh; he’s the one whose pants match his jacket.”
Anyway, we’ll continue with this next week. Just sand there awkwardly until I get back.