The style of the wedding celebration is a reflection of the personal values of the couple and their families, and of their perception of communal standards.

The tradition calls for dignity, simplicity, and integrity. Coarseness, loudness, exhibitionist display, and revelry are not the hallmarks of a people who were taught the ways of modesty (hatzneia lekhet). A religion that considers the quality of pe’ritzut (licentiousness) despicable, and whose highest encomium is reserved for those who are tze’nuim (modest and humble), cannot abide the grossness and vulgarity of weddings designed for show rather than for genuine rejoicing.

Many medieval Jewish communities wrote limitations on wedding expenses into their statutes. In fifteenth century Castile, officials legislated against the imitation of the colorful excesses of their gentile neighbors. In Forli, it was noted that Jews expended on sumptuous banquets "more than they could afford and more than the wealthy Christians among whom we live." In the eighteenth century, the rabbis of Fuerth clearly delineated limitations on expenses—only one soup could be served, no more than four musicians could be hired, and they were not permitted to play after midnight. In Constantinople, the community restricted the amount of dowries even wealthy people were permitted.

The dangers of conspicuous consumption were many. First, it unnecessarily excited the envy of non-Jewish neighbors. Second, it emphasized competition in spending to keep up with others. Third, it underscored the distinction between the haves and the have-nots. (This problem arose at funerals as well, where limitations were also imposed. Rabbi Gamaliel in the Talmud therefore ordered the use of standard shrouds for all deceased.) Even worse, the extravagances of a wedding often bankrupted families and thereby undermined the economic structure of both the family and the communal treasury. This is presently occurring at an alarming rate in the state of Israel among traditional families.

There is no reason why one who has the funds should not spend them on a sumptuous wedding—it is an expression of joy. But ostentatious overspending is gross. Those who cannot afford large weddings need not feel that they must sink into a decade of wretched indebtedness to pay for one truly magnificent moment.

A great Jewish wedding consists of the genuine rejoicing of the guests. The wedding should reflect the deepest and most sensitive feelings of the bride and groom. This atmosphere can be achieved by the tone of the service, the presence of true friends, and the communal dancing of the guests who are expected by Halakhah to "rejoice the bride and groom" at the occasion of their most serious life decision.

Historically, a wedding was not necessarily a closed family affair. Many of the city’s poor were customarily invited, even though they were not relatives or close friends. How often would they have the opportunity to celebrate in this fashion otherwise? Contributions were often made to charities by the two families. If charities were to receive the equivalent value of one extra course that could be eliminated at every Jewish wedding, they would all thrive. A wedding, as Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler noted, should signal a life of giving, not taking, and that is the chord that should be struck at the very beginning of marriage.