What Kind of Jewish Wedding Were you Invited to?
If you’ve been invited to a Jewish wedding, you may have a hard time deciding what type of dress is appropriate, especially if it is the first Jewish wedding you’ve ever attended. Dress code depends on the type of Jewish synagogue the wedding will be taking place in: Orthodox, Conservative, or Reform.
The dress code for a Jewish wedding also depends on the time of day and location of the wedding, just like any other type of wedding. And of course, read the invitation thoroughly to make sure a dress-code is not specified. If the couple has a wedding website, also check there to see if instructions for dress are listed as well.
Finally, speak to close friends or family members to see what they plan to wear. This will help you plan your outfit and make sure you fit in with the rest of the crowd. Though, the following recommendations for Jewish wedding dress are traditional, the bride and groom may not be as strict in their practices, so the etiquette may vary.
Women’s dress etiquette at a Jewish wedding is very conservative. Women should wear a skirt or dress without slits. Dresses or shirts must cover the chest area and reach the collarbone in front and the nape of the neck in the back. However, the neck does not have to be covered. Sleeves must be long enough to cover the women’s elbows. Pantyhose or tights must always be worn, though nude colored nylons are permitted. Colors should not be too flashy or bright.
Married women and women that have been formerly married should cover their hair. Unmarried women do not need to cover their hair.
Married and single men traditionally wear a yarmulke on their heads. Men should wear long sleeves, jackets, and ties. Men should wear long pants; shorts or short pants are not acceptable.
Conservative Jewish weddings have less guidelines that Orthodox weddings, but there are still some guidelines depending on the type of temple you will be attending. Women should dress in a conservative fashion, without too much skin showing; however, it may not be necessary for them to cover their necks and backs, or to wear nylons.
Etiquette also varies on whether women need to cover their heads; this will also depend on the synagogue where the wedding is taking place. Men may be required to wear yarmulkes, but clarify this with the family of the bride and groom before attending.
Jewish weddings that take place in a Reformed synagogue are the most non-traditional of all the wedding types. Jewish reform weddings have no requirements on dress code. Dress for the type of wedding you are attending based on whether it is casual, formal, or black tie. Men may be required to wear yarmulkes, depending on the bride and groom’s preference. Do your research before attending the wedding just to find out exactly what is expected of your dress code.
Photo by Jennie Faber, Flickr.com
Read all of the articles in our Jewish Wedding Traditions series: