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Kallah Wants Kosher

Monday, April 29, 2013
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Dear Miriam,

I'm getting married this winter, and everything is going well with the planning except for one thing: the food. My fiance and I are committed to having kosher food at our wedding, and my mom doesn't understand why this is important to us. She thinks it's a waste of money when we could just serve vegetarian food, but the actual kosher certification matters to us and will matter to many of our guests. How do I keep our relationship and the wedding planning on the right track without compromising on this point?

Signed,
Kallah Wants Kosher


Dear Kallah,

You and your fiance believe that kosher food belongs at a Jewish wedding, and more importantly, that it belongs at your Jewish wedding, and, since you're planning your Jewish wedding, you get to make that decision. Talk to your mom in real numbers about what this decision means for the rest of the budget. You may need to cut back in other areas, or you may need to make some financial contributions of your own to the wedding in order to cover the cost difference of kosher food. (By the way, if your mom isn't paying for the wedding but just thinks that this is a waste of someone else's money, then you definitely get to ignore her objections and just move forward with things the way you want them.) 

Even if you end up compromising about some of your other preferences, if you've decided that this is your wedding deal breaker, then it's worth making other adjustments to make the kosher food palatable to everyone involved. Speaking of palatable, kosher food can be of highly varying quality, so it's also important that you're not letting your mother's financial concerns back you into a corner of choosing the cheapest kosher option. Ask around to your friends and members of your community who have had catered kosher affairs to get recommendations. As much as possible, involve your mom in the tastings and menu planning so that she feels included and doesn't end up feeling like you trust her opinion any less just because your observance levels differ.

Every wedding planning story has to have a hitch in it, and hopefully this is the only one you're going to encounter. The fact that this conflict with your mom hinges on a disagreement about Jewish values, rather than, say, dress color, you actually have  more to work with in resolving it. She may come to appreciate that the way she brought you up led you to a deeper observance level. She may come to respect your convictions and see that the fact that you and your fiance agree about this indicates that you're on the same page about important life choices. Through this process, she may come to see you as an independent adult in a new way, and the struggle over this issue may help prepare her for you starting your life as a married woman. Then again, it might just be an annoying fight, but if you approach future conversations on the topic with the idea that these interactions may help you grow in your adult relationship with your mother, you may be able to take a more mature and long-term view, rather than focusing on the way it's holding up the rest of your planning, and you may be able to lead her to having the conversation on a higher level beyond just the financial considerations.

Kallah means bride, but it doesn't mean Bridezilla. Nothing in your letter indicates that you're expressing preferences that are outside the range of what any bride (or groom) has the right to express. At the same time, you want to honor your mother and any other family members who are supporting you financially and/or emotionally during this exciting time, so it's important to approach these difficult conversations with respect.

Mazel tov, and be well,
Miriam 

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