I went to a wedding, too. I remember when Aunt Ida got married. I was a bit older then. The wedding didn't take place at the synagogue; it was at the Matanot Laevionim. Matanot means 'presents' and Laevionim 'to the needy,' so presents for the poor.
See text in interview
There was a special room for ceremonies. You would pay and with the money they would maintain the establishment. After a wedding there would usually be a dance. The dance would be at the Matanot, and if the wedding was at the synagogue, the dance could still be at the Matanot. Because it was a very large hall and could accommodate many people. It had an orchestra with a piano and violin. They used to dance the waltz, tango, foxtrot, dances of the time.
The married couples would always go on a honeymoon trip. And many times, in the wagon the loss of virginity would take place. Many used to go to Constantinople [today Istanbul, Turkey] and Vienna and Paris. Those were the favorite destinations.
Uncle Daniel went to Paris after he got married. I remember his wedding, too, because we had a large house and my uncle used to live upstairs and we used to live on the ground floor, and the bride left from our house. She was from Volos and they had brought her to our house. And she left from our house to go to the synagogue where she was going to get married.
From my uncle's wedding I remember that we really liked the sister of our aunt. She was younger than her sister but she still seemed very old to us. She too was very beautiful. There wasn't any difference, like they say now, for example, that at a first class marriage all the lights of the synagogue will be turned on and the large chandeliers, and if it's a second class marriage there would be fewer lights lit. No.
There was only one way and the wedding lasted the same length of time. In the end the rabbi gave the newly-weds wine to drink, and the bride, I think, or the groom that steps on the glass, I cannot remember. It is a quick and very joyful ceremony, and there are many songs.
In order to have a rich wedding and to have a social event, one had to have more flowers. Also, there were many synagogues at the time and depending on the wedding it would take place in a certain synagogue. In other words, not everybody could get married in the Beit Saul synagogue, because it was more expensive. There were smaller synagogues where the ceremony was simpler. What they read was exactly the same, it would take less or more time, it would be identical.
The bride wore a wedding dress, of course. And it would be a great story, how the wedding dress was made. And Father would get a new suit or a tuxedo. The whole family would be restless, to make their dresses and the men's clothes and the rest of it. The bride had a very nice wedding dress and a great flower bouquet that the groom would give her. This wedding dress was white, similar to the Christian wedding dress. And they had small children holding the tail of the wedding dress.
We don't have best men, we have witnesses. They sign, too. They used to say that if the bride was a virgin, then the wedding ring had to be all gold. The rabbi used to show the ring to one of the witnesses and say 'gold ring' no matter if the bride was a virgin or not.
I remember my aunt Daisy's friend, who was very naughty, and would go to the doctor all the time so he would sew her up again, and at some point the doctor tells her, 'What will we do with you, put a zipper and stop.' If they had lost their virginity they had to sew it up, so that on their wedding nights they would appear to be virgins. So they would go to the gynecologist, who would do that. In fact, I can even remember on some occasions that the wedding would take place and the day after there would be a divorce because the bride was not a virgin. And that was a serious reason for a divorce. You can imagine the shame for the girl and her whole family.