FOR THE PAST 15 years I’ve owned a small bridal-day beauty business in Jerusalem. My staff and I style the hair and makeup for the kallah and her family. The work is high-pressure because the simcha is rife with “expectations.” Nevertheless, there is a famous phrase that states, “Find something you love to do and you won’t ever work a day in your life.” Indeed, I’m very, very lucky.
For the sake of brevity I’ll say that almost all of the young girls are cute, sassy, enthusiastic and optimistic. Many a tender bride mistakes the wedding day for “the most important day of her life” and I frequently inform her that while it is an important day, the day after is far more important. Because without the flowers, band, confetti and champagne, the way one grows with his/her spouse is more telling without the flash of cameras and sparklers. Most of the girls nod but probably have no patience for guidance from a “Debbie Downer” like me. They grab their bouquets, give me a heartfelt hug and run off for pictures.
The ones who do “get it” however, are my favorites because they are older; an occasional first-time marriage at a time when her peers are experiencing grandparenting or those who have been divorced or widowed. At the prerequisite makeup/hair trial, we laugh harder, sometimes cry a bit, squeeze one-another’s hands and always, always take a few moments to thank G-d for the miraculous opportunity of holy partnership. The older brides don’t agonize over eyelash length or how many centimeters the veil cascades in the back. They are humbler, funnier, less “serious” while, at the same time, being deadly “serious.” Many of them have paid hefty dues and come to the marriage altar with a wisdom and clarity that cannot be purchased with hard cash. Understanding cannot be gleaned via a slush-fund. The cost of the actual wedding party is typically assumed by them and/or their spouse-to-be instead of a parent with deep pockets and, consequently, the celebrations are simpler. Adult children are usually part of the equation and this, too, involves greater sensitivities.
I was one of these aforementioned brides not too long ago and it is for this reason that, when I receive a call about adorning a peer for her upcoming nuptials, I become particularly emotional. I understand the complexities of melding two already formed families into one discordant but – hopefully – blessed entity and almost relive the trepidation and prayers-for-success that accompany such adventure.
More than anywhere else in Israel, Jerusalem is a marrying-kind-of-town and I’d recommend that any man or woman who wishes to find a life-partner seriously consider moving here. Not only those who are religiously observant but even those who are secular. Certainly there is a traditional kind of vibe in this neck of Israel and much of the socializing in all age-groups is geared toward coupledom. A dear friend who just turned 64 is getting married after Rosh Hashanah, and I have a 55-year-old bride this Friday morning. While I once joyously prepared a 17-year-old Chassidic girl for her chuppah, I had more fun with my oldest bride who was approximately 75 years old.
Both the Jewish Agency and Nefesh B’Nefesh will professionally offer advice concerning careers and housing, but if and when one has questions about the dating scene in Jerusalem, please do not hesitate to drop me a line. I’m ready and waiting to assist, armed with hair-spray and a fresh-tube of lip gloss.
New York native Andrea Simantov has lived in Jerusalem since 1995. She is a contributing write to Jlife magazine.