Growing up, my whole world was Jewish. I went to the YMHA for pre-school. When I hit public school for kindergarten, I couldn’t understand why my mom thought that my teacher might prefer a Christmas present to a Hanukkah one. (Shout out to Mrs. Wong, and apologies.)
I went to temple, to Hebrew School. Our house was kosher. One time, we had a leak in the ceiling and my mom told me to run and grab a tepple — Yiddish for pot. I sprinted into the kitchen only to sprint right back and ask if the pot should be meat or dairy.
This was what I knew.
So, it would make sense that my Barbies were Jewish, too.
My personal history with Barbie was cloaked in Judaism. I got my first Barbie for Hanukkah. In 1983, I asked for the Barbie Silver ‘Vette, a plastic convertible with Barbie Pink interior, which promised “on-the-go glamour for Barbie doll!” A few days before the holiday, I snuck around the house looking to see if my parents had gotten it for me. When — to my absolute horror — I found it, I immediately ran upstairs (hysterically crying) and told my mom. She shrugged, unbothered and told me I’d only ruined it for myself.
Age 7 and my Jewish Guilt Game was STRONG.
As was my Jewish-themed imagination.
So, when Ken (FINALLY) proposed to Barbie in 1986, it was time to plan a Jewish wedding.
As their wedding planner, I handled everything. We secured the venue (my parents’ basement) and set the date (today). As far as the time of the event, I had about 45 minutes before my mom called me for dinner, so we went with “now.”
The bride wore a fashion-forward gold jumpsuit (on loan from Golden Dream Barbie) with a sheer capelet that could be fashioned into a veil. The matching sheer overskirt — a confoundingly odd accessory that was meant to be worn as some sort of back apron — would unfortunately RSVP as a “no” (with regrets).
Barbie had planned to wear her hair up for the occasion, but the elastic broke, so she wore it down.
Maid of Honor Skipper, Barbie’s younger sister, borrowed Barbie’s Peaches ‘N Cream dress for the occasion. (It was wayyyyyyy too big in the chest, but we didn’t say anything since Skipper can be super sensitive about that.)
The bridesmaids (Barbie, Barbie and a rogue Cabbage Patch Doll named Jacqueline Addy) wore their own gowns, which wasn’t really done in the ‘80s, but Barbie has always been a trendsetter. Plus, there was no time to change them since the buttons always took forever, anyway.
Author’s Note: The groom wore a mustard yellow sweater vest, sans shirt, and some brown felt pants that may not have even belonged to him. He had no shoes. Honesty, who cares what he wore. She’s Barbie. He’s just Ken.
As guests began to arrive, the final touches were put in place. Barbie’s colors were pink and pink. (Rumor has it, this is what inspired Shelby’s “blush and bashful” wedding palette when “Steel Magnolias” was released just a few years later.)
The flowers were tasteful and plastic.
Turns out that Ken’s friend Ken was a rabbi, so we were all set in that department.
The ketubah signing took slightly longer than allotted for since the pen kept falling out of Barbie and Ken’s hands.
As I sang the “Growing Pains” theme song, the bride walked herself down the aisle. (Her father was in the hospital due to a recent decapitation and since Doctor Barbie was in attendance, the surgery would have to wait.)
Halfway down the aisle, Barbie and I realized that Ken had forgotten to set up the chuppah. (Ken is an idiot.) In a moment of panicked brilliance, I grabbed the previously discarded Golden Dream Barbie sheer capelet and affixed it to the top of Ken and Rabbi Ken’s heads. It was beautiful.
The couple recited their vows (“Do you want to get married?” “I do.” “Me too.”) and exchanged rings. Since only Barbie had a hole in her ring finger for a diamond to be inserted, Ken did not get a ring. No one noticed.
Rabbi Ken placed a pink plastic chalice inside a purple Barbie legwarmer and Ken stomped down on it. It did not break because Ken can’t do anything right. Thankfully, shouts of “Mazel Tov!” drowned out my exasperated sigh.
Barbie and I decided that cocktail hour was a waste of time, so the reception began immediately following the ceremony.
The house band, Barbie and the Rockers, took the stage and introduced the newlyweds. They played “Hava Nagila” but only knew the first two lines, so they just kept repeating them. Several Kens lifted Barbie in a chair, but groom Ken couldn’t find a chair of his own so he kind of just watched. The crowd thinned out quickly anyway since it’s incredibly difficult to do the hora with such high arches.
The couple danced their first dance to “Matchmaker” from the “Fiddler on the Roof” soundtrack. Despite the short notice, the band rocked. Everyone enjoyed their music, especially Dance Sensation Barbie, who showed off as usual.
Turns out, it was a good thing Ken couldn’t break that glass because Rabbi Ken used it for kiddush. Then, he said hamotzi over a loaf of plastic French bread. It was embarrassing, but the best we could do given the time constraints and Mattel’s lack of a kosher foods section. At least he knew all the words.
Skipper’s speech was sweet, bringing tears to many a painted eye. Ken’s speech was kind of dumb. Barbie’s mother would have welcomed guests with a speech as well, but she was at the hospital with her decapitated husband.
Dinner was catered by Barbie’s Dream Kitchen so everything smelled vaguely of vanilla. The menu included a turkey, a carton of milk, a dozen eggs, something that was probably a pie and a bottle of wine.
The wedding cake was three tiered and white, decorated with white flowers. Obviously, the inside of the cake was bright pink, you just couldn’t see it.
At the end of the evening, Barbie changed into a yellow terry romper and white slip-on sneakers. Ken did not change since this would have required foresight on his part.
As the guests waved, the happy couple drove off in Barbie’s Corvette. She even let him drive.
Mazel Tov, Barbie and Ken!