QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

An evolving catalog; please visit this page again soon for still more questions, and do let us know if you have one of your own that we have not yet addressed here.

When's the big day?

5 Kislev 5767.

And what's that for us Gregorian-calendar users?

26 November 2006, at eleven in the morning.

Will the moon be waxing?

Yes; it will be crescent, 33% illuminated.

That's good luck, right?

Yes.

And where will these nuptial festivities occur?

At the Salmagundi Art Club, a venerable (and, if we dare say so, very kooky) Fifth Avenue institution.

How should I get there?

If you are coming from within New York City, a taxi or the subway would be your best bet. The A, C, E, B, D, F, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, R, W, N, Q and L trains all stop near Salmagudi, which means that you're only out of luck if for some reason you're on the G. (Though when planning your route, but sure to log onto the MTA's website to check for weekend service disruptions, which are legion.) From anywhere on the Isle of Manahatta, it's wise to plan 30-45 minutes of travel time; from Kings and Queens Counties, more like an hour.

And should I be driving in from elsewhere, where would I park my vehicle?

Manhattan is iffy for street parking, even on a Sunday morning; though stranger things have happened than someone finding a spot. We know of two parking garages close to the Salmagundi Club: one is at 12th and University, the other is on 13th between 5th and University.

What would be appropriate attire?

Ladies should wear whatever makes them feel most lovely and festive (though we might plead for shoes comfortable enough to dance in), and gents should probably wear a suit or sportcoat. Tuxes and evening gowns are quite unnecessary; morning coats are technically appropriate, but perhaps a bit twee? Think: Beaux Arts art club, Sunday morning, brunch, Jewish wedding, and Hopkins and Barton, and you'll probably get the idea.

What if I am a lady and want to wear a three-piece suit and spectator shoes? What if I am a gent and want to feel lovely and festive in my tiara?

You go, girl!

Why aren't my adorable children invited?

We are very sorry to be unable to invite your adorable children. We love them all, and would enjoy dancing with them. However, so many of our guests have children that if we invited them all, it would have meant leaving scores of friends off the list; and we wanted to have as many of our loved ones around us as possible. We apologize for any inconvenience, and hope you understand.

I have been issued an invitation with only my name on it. Is "plus one" implicit therein?

How dearly we would like it to be so! But as much as we wish each invited guest could bring a companion, the small size of the Salmagundi Club precludes that possibility. We can, however, make it up to you by guaranteeing scintillating conversationalists at your luncheon table.

How soon do you need to know if I'm coming?

Well, as of this point (I'm writing this on November 18th), I'd have to say that if we haven't heard from you yet, it's probably too late. But we're hoping that everyone who's reading this has responded.

I would like to make a thoughtful toast at the reception. How shall I properly proceed?

Send us an email so that we can put you in touch with our toastmaster, Andrew Kaplan; he will determine a suitable sequence of toasts in advance, and will also act as master of ceremonies at the reception.

Rather than plan a speech in advance, I would prefer to dive deep into my cups and, commandeering the microphone, recount a prolix, embarrassing, and of course rib-tickling yarn—ex tempore. Will this delight you?

While we are quite familiar with the macabre amusement of the intemperate wedding-day disquisition, we ask that you refrain (and we refer you to the previous question).

Might I perform a satirical song or medley?

No.

May I insist that the band at the reception play a particular number, such as, say, Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart"?

We are very lucky to have Matty Charles and the Valentines, a wonderful country-music trio (think Louvin Brothers harmonies, Merle Travis or Chet Atkins country blues finger-picking, Hank Williams or Willie Nelson or Steve Earle songwriting), playing at our reception. Matty and the Valentines will be playing two numbers at our special request (one, we are hoping, with the inimitable Cynthia Hopkins on lead vocals; and Barton is still holding out hope for a trumpet solo); beyond that, we've asked them to entertain us with two sets of their own marvelous (and danceable) songs.

Is Hopkins converting to Judaism?

Yes.

Will he be fully converted by the time of the ceremony?

No.

Does the rabbi have a problem with that?

No.

Will the whole ceremony be in Hebrew?

Our ceremony will be a Reform ceremony, which will contain sections in English and in Hebrew. We know that many of our guests do not speak Hebrew, and will make sure that all Hebrew texts are translated.

Will you have huppah? Can you explain to me what a huppah is?

The huppah, or wedding canopy, is a piece of fabric under which a couple is married. Some couples use the husband's tallit (prayer shawl) as a huppah; ours will be a lace bedspread that belonged to our friend Elinor Fuchs's grandmother, and under which Elinor's daughter was married. The huppah symbolizes the home the couple will establish: a shelter, yet metaphorically open on all sides. Our huppah will be held aloft by four of our dearest friends, reminding us that the love of friends and family is among the most important foundations of a home.

Will any other family artifacts make an appearance?

Quite a few. Barton will be wearing her grandmother's watch and carrying a purse that belonged to her mother; for her "something borrowed" she'll wear a necklace and earrings belonging to her friend Elizabeth Martin. Hopkins will be wearing a tie his mother made and (assuming that all goes well) a kippah that Barton made. Barton and Hopkins will both have hankies that belonged to her grandparents, and the rabbi will give them a blessing by wrapping them in the tallit (prayer shawl) her father received for his bar mitzvah. The cake topper (which will not be atop a cake because we are not having a cake; but don't worry) is from Barton's Aunt Edie's wedding.

Sometimes I've seen the bride at a Jewish wedding walking in circles around the groom. What is this, and will you do it?

This is an interesting question. Barton, for one, long thought that this custom meant that the bride was marking the groom as her territory, sort of like the way a cat rubs itself on all the corners of any significant object to appear in its environment. In fact the custom may refer to traditional texts about Hashem's bethrothal to Israel or may represent the act of binding one's beloved to one. Whatever it means, we like it, and we'll do what most modern Jewish couples do: the bride will walk three circles, the groom will walk three, and we'll walk one togther.

Why aren't there any vows?

Traditional Jewish weddings don't contain vows. We will recite the traditional texts that signify our acceptance of the marriage contract (or ketubah—which we'll sign, in the presence of witnesses, before the ceremony). When we have a more Christian-ish ceremony up in Massachusetts for Hopkins's father, we'll recite some vows there, if that makes you feel better.

Why does the groom stomp on a glass at the end of a Jewish wedding ceremony?

Some say the groom steps on a glass to signify the diaspora of the Jewish people and the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem; others, that the broken glass reminds us of our fragility even in times of joy. Some think that the glass symbolizes the irrevocability of marriage, and others think it's a sign (like throwing your wine glasses into the fire) for the festivities to start. We like pretty much all of these explanations.

What are the Seven Blessings, and who'll be giving them?

The Sheva Brachot are the traditional blessings recited over a bride and groom at their wedding. The rabbi will chant them in Hebrew, and then we'lll ask everyone assembled to recite the first blessing, and honored relatives to recite the other six. (The text will be printed in your wedding booklet.)

Who made your invitations?

Barton made them herself on a Vandercook proof press at The Center for Book Arts; Hopkins's friend Shanna Compton provided crackerjack help and inimitable expertise (and singlehandedly printed all those red ampersands!).

Who did the lettering on the envelopes?

Hopkins.

Who made this website?

Hopkins designed and built it. (The images at the bottom of each page, and in the nav bar, are copyright-free, taken from a Dover clip-art book). The copy throughout is a collaborative effort, written by both Hopkins and Barton.

What are some words that the two of you like because of what those words mean?

Antinomian, ecumenical, catholicity, tikkun, synecdoche, palimpsest, apostasy.

What are some words that the two of you like merely because of the way those words sound?

Whey, prune, quay, moon, blowzy, coeval, tinnitus, grovel, fug, hew, snake, dew, tapioca, sacerdotal, zaftig, frangible, lisle, fetlocks, gelato, catafalque, cenotaph, purview, mangosteen, lawn, sedimentary, caducous, susurrus, architectonic, sesquipedalian, consanguinity, unfortunately, chlamydia.

 
   
  "I had my doubts at first," thought Doctor Hamm as he absentmindedly smoked his evening stogie while lounging on the velvet chaise longue that had been given to him as a graduation present by his favorite uncle on his wife's side, the Baron of Sax-on-Whey; "but this list of particulars puts them to rest, and confirms, to my mind, the inarguable logic of this merger."