How to Dress as A Guest at Jewish Weddings: Complete Guide


Jewish wedding couple with guests

It is important to look good at a wedding, but you have to watch what you wear when you attend a religious wedding. If you have been invited to a Jewish wedding but have minimal information on the dress code, you will have to research the dress code. Here is a detailed guide on what to wear to a Jewish wedding.

So, what can a guest wear at a Jewish wedding ceremony? In a Jewish wedding, your dress choices will be influenced by tradition, couple’s preferences, location, and time among other aspects. However, the most important thing to keep in mind while picking your attire is modesty. You have to dress in a manner that shows respect to the couple and the occasion itself. The Jewish religion has different rules regarding how women and men dress in a synagogue or religious event; rules might apply to a wedding ceremony.

Jewish weddings are happy and joyous events; hence, guests have to dress the part. Guests have to dress modestly and appropriately at the ceremony. Read on to find more information about how guests should dress at a Jewish wedding, what they can wear, and what colors you can wear at the wedding.

How To Dress as a Guest at a Jewish Wedding

After you have received the wedding invitation, you will start to think of the attire to wear at the wedding. The first thing that will influence your choice is the location. You might dress differently if the invitation says that the wedding ceremony’s venue shall be outdoors rather than in a synagogue. In a synagogue, you will dress appropriately and might choose traditional or official attire. But if the wedding ceremony is held outdoors, you can choose a bolder look, like a strapless dress for a woman and a casual look for a man.

When the wedding ceremony takes place will also influence your dress choices. If the wedding is held during the winter, you will dress accordingly to keep warm. If the wedding is held during a warmer season, then you need to dress in comfortable clothes. If it is during the day, you can leave the coat or jacket behind, but if it is in the evening or night, you can add a coat to keep you warm.

Tradition also influences how you will dress at a Jewish wedding. The Jewish reform movement does not have strict rules on how guests should dress at a wedding. You can wear whatever cloth you want as long as the couple is okay with it.

The Orthodox Jewish and Ultra-Orthodox Jewish movements have rules on how wedding guests should dress at the ceremony. You will have to dress per the laws, or you might not be allowed to enter the synagogue unless you change. For example, Orthodox Jewish do not allow women to wear dresses with slits; hence the dress you pick should not have slits.  

For the conservative movements, dressing modestly is important for anyone who will attend the wedding. For men, the rules are quite simple, but things become more complicated for women. Tzniut is a term that has come to be associated with the rules regarding the manner Jewish women should dress. Within the Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox movement, the tzniut is very important.

Women should cover their shoulders and elbows when they enter the synagogue. This requirement means that you cannot get anything sleeveless or open-backed when you are shopping for your dress. You will be allowed to wear them in some synagogues if you cover yourself with a shawl or wear a jacket. You are allowed to remove them after the ceremony is over.

If you are a man, the preferred look is an official one. You can wear a suit with a tie or even a tuxedo for the wedding ceremony. If you do not like suits or tuxedos, you can wear long pants and a button-down shirt with long sleeves.

In Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox Jewish movements, men also cannot show their legs and elbows. So, no short-sleeved shirts or short pants; the rabbi will not allow you to attend the wedding ceremony if you came wearing a polo t-shirt and a pair of shorts.

Inquire about the Jewish movement the couple belongs to; the three movements have different dress codes. If the couple belongs to the Reform Jewish movement, you will have the freedom to choose your attires. If they belong to the conservative movements, then your fashion choices shall be limited to the tradition and the specific synagogue or rabbi’s rules.

If you are not familiar with Jewish laws and traditions, speak to your Jewish friends. Ask them about the dress codes and get some ideas on how you should dress at the wedding. If you go shopping, let them tag along to help you choose the correct attire. Ask as many questions as possible because your dress choices might determine whether you attend the ceremony or have an awkward moment at the entrance.

The fanciness of the wedding can also influence your dress choices. If the wedding ceremony is simple and low budget, then the dress code shall be simple. If the wedding is fancy and the couple spent good money on the ceremony, an elegant dress is ordered. Wear your best dress or tuxedo and look the part. However, it will not be polite for you to show up in a dress or tuxedo that costs thousands of dollars if the wedding is simple.

If you have been given the freedom to choose your dressing style, you should ensure it is classy. Whether it is a fancy or straightforward wedding, your dressing style should have some class to it. Do not wear attire that you would be found in at a bar. It should be something that you will be happy to see guests at your wedding ceremony wear.

If you are not sure how to dress at a Jewish wedding, you can ask the bride and groom for their suggestion. Talk to them about your dress choices and see if they are okay with them. The bride and groom need to have a good time at their wedding, not wondering why you are dressed in a dress that resembles the bride’s outfit or a suit identical to the groom’s suit. Confirming the bride and groom’s dress code ensures that you avoid any awkward situation during the wedding.

Another important thing to note on how to dress at a Jewish wedding is not upstaging the bride. Do not dress in the same color as the bride. The wedding ceremony is her moment, and you should try your best not to take the attention from her. Jewish brides usually wear a white wedding dress, so you should avoid wearing a white dress to the wedding. Confirm the color of the bride’s wedding dress before selecting your dress.

Men are expected to wear yarmulkes during the wedding ceremony. In some movements, only men can wear yarmulkes, but the Reform Jewish movements also allow women to wear a yarmulke.

Yarmulkes

The couple can also decide if the guests at their wedding will wear yarmulkes. It is not only reserved for Jewish people, as long as you are attending the wedding in a synagogue, regardless of your religion, but the couple might request you to wear one.

Sometimes, your dress choice will require that you wear jewelry to make the outfit complete. When selecting jewelry, you should keep it simple. You should avoid statement pieces; jewelry that draws too much attention to you is not suitable for the ceremony. It will draw attention away from the bride. Do not overdo it; one or two small bracelets are enough. Having a stack on one arm that jingles every time you move will cause distraction during the ceremony.

What To Wear To a Jewish Wedding

After getting that invitation to the Jewish wedding, you will start to think of the attire you will at that ceremony. Some couples might give you suggestions on the type of attire you should wear at the wedding. Sometimes, they include the dress code in their invitation cards; hence, you should read the invitation thoroughly for more information about the wedding ceremony.

Other times, a couple would have a website dedicated to their wedding ceremony. The website has more information about the wedding, like the venue, the wedding program, and the dress code. If the couple has a website, visit it to get instructions on what the guest should wear at the ceremony.

There are three Jewish movements, the conservative, the orthodox, and the Reform Jewish movements. What you will wear at the wedding might be decided by the Jewish movement that the couple belongs to. If the invitation card does not state the Jewish movement the couple belongs to, you can directly ask them.

Orthodox Jewish Movement

The orthodox Jewish movement has strict rules on the dress code. The tzniut rule is significant in the orthodox Jewish community. Many of the rules tend to center around women. Some of the rules include women should wear a long dress or skirt that does not show their knees. Hence, at an orthodox Jewish wedding, you cannot wear a short dress or skirt that shows your knees. Dresses and skirts with long slits are also prohibited.

The orthodox Jewish movement also requires that women do cover their chest area and collarbones. Your dress should not show any cleavage or collarbones. When selecting your dress, ensure that it will cover your chest area.

You may be allowed to wear a jacket or cover yourself with a shawl during the wedding ceremony. You can remove them once you leave the synagogue after the ceremony is over. However, this exception is for non-Jewish women; orthodox Jewish women have to follow the rule in and out of the synagogue.

Women are also required to cover their shoulders and back area. You cannot wear a dress that will show your shoulders or your back. This rule means that strapless dresses and open back dressed are out of the question. Some couples might allow you to wear such dresses if you cover the skin showing areas and remove them during the wedding reception.

Women should also wear clothing that covers their arms up to their elbows. The orthodox Jewish do not like women showing too much of their skin, hence the rule to cover most of their bodies. Your dress should have sleeves that cover your arms up to the elbows.

It might seem restrictive for a non-Jewish person, but you should obey and respect their rules and regulations if invited to an orthodox wedding.

The orthodox Jewish movement also requires women to cover their hair. Married women must cover their hair. Unmarried women can cover their hair if they want to. If you are a married woman, you can wear a hat or scarf at the wedding. You are free to choose the item to cover your hair as long it is appropriate.

For orthodox Jewish men, the rules on what they can wear are simple. Men are required to wear suits for the ceremony. You can wear a black suit or a tuxedo for the wedding ceremony. An official look is the most preferred in most events, and some stringent Jews wear the same style in and out of the synagogue.

Men also are allowed to show too much skin. If you do not want to wear a suit or tuxedo for the wedding, you can choose a more straightforward look. You can wear a button shirt with long sleeves and long pants, you can add a jacket if the weather and time permits. Short-sleeved shirts and shorts are not allowed in the synagogue. You will have an awful time if you are the only one in shorts with other guests dressed in suits. 

Head covering for men is also important at the wedding ceremony. Men should wear a yarmulke during the wedding ceremony. A yarmulke is a skullcap worn by orthodox Jewish men in public at all times. You have to wear a yarmulke at the wedding ceremony.

If you are not Jewish, you should not worry about how you will get one. In most synagogues, there are yarmulkes at the entrance for those men who do not have them. You can wear one during the ceremony and return it after the ceremony is over.

Conservative Jewish Movement

The conservative Jewish movement also has rules regarding how their members should dress. However, they are not very strict as compared to the orthodox Jewish movement. The conservative movement seeks to conserve essential elements of traditional Judaism while incorporating some modern Jewish practices.

Women in the conservative Jewish movement are also not allowed to show too much skin. Women should wear clothes that cover most of their body parts. You cannot wear a dress with a long slit to a Jewish wedding. The critical thing to note is that the dressing style should be respectful. You can pick a modern dressing style, but it has to be appropriate and respectful.

Women do not need to cover their necks and shoulders. You can wear a dress that shows your collarbones and shoulders to the wedding ceremony. You have to cover your chest area. They may allow you to wear a strapless dress but showing your cleavage is a no-go. You can cover yourself with a shawl or jacket until the end of the ceremony and uncover during the wedding reception.

Covering your hair is optional. Married and unmarried women in the conservative movement are free to choose whether to cover their hair or not. If you feel your dress will need a hat or a head wrap, you can wear one at the wedding ceremony.

For men, an official look is the appropriate dressing choice for a wedding ceremony. You can wear a suit or tuxedo depending on the preference of the couple. If it is an outdoor wedding ceremony, you can just wear a shirt and long pants. Casual looks may be allowed at some weddings, but it is better to show up in a suit than a t-shirt and jeans.

Conservative Jewish men also wear a yarmulke. Some choose to wear it in public, but others wear it during prayers and events such as weddings. It is not a must for you to wear a yarmulke during the ceremony. If the couple decided that men should wear one, then you can do it. If the couple decides it’s the guest’s choice to wear a yarmulke, it is up to you to decide. The synagogue might provide some yarmulkes for those who do not have one.

Women are also allowed to wear yarmulkes in some conservative synagogues. As a show of equality, some synagogue will allow women to wear yarmulkes during prayers and other events. At a wedding, women can also wear yarmulkes if they want to wear one. If you have been invited to a conservative Jewish wedding, inquire if they allow women to wear a yarmulke. If they allow it, feel free to incorporate a yarmulke into your dressing style.

Reform Jewish Movement

Reform Jewish movement has modified or abandoned many traditional Jewish beliefs, laws, and practices to create a modern religious movement. One of the abandoned traditions is the dress code; the Reform Jewish movement does not have a dress code. The preferred dressing style borrows from the modern culture separate from religious requirements.

The dressing code can range from official to informal. The guest has a lot of freedom to choose what they can wear to the wedding ceremony. Most of the time, the couple will include the dress code in their wedding invitation. The dress code could be inspired by the venue, time, local culture, where the bride and groom met, among many others.

The couple can choose the dress code to be casual, formal, or black tie. If it is a casual dress code, men can wear khakis, jeans, blazers, and leather shoes, among many other choices. Women can wear skirts, tailored pants, jeans, or tailored shorts, shirts, and jackets. The casual option is open to all possibilities as long as it is comfortable and appropriate.

If the couple chooses a formal dress code, you can wear a lovely appropriate skirt and formal blouse for women. For men, you can wear a suit or a shirt and long pants. If the couple decides it is a black-tie wedding, men should wear a dinner jacket with matching pants, a white shirt, and black formal shoes. You should wear a floor-length dress or gown or a cocktail dress for women depending on your preferences. A black-tie wedding requires elegance; hence you are free to wear your best suit or dress.

It is your choice to wear a yarmulke while attending a Reform Jewish wedding. Men or women can wear yarmulkes if the couple requests the guests to wear them. The reform Jewish might have no dress code, but it is essential to dress modestly. Do not wear something inappropriate because the movement the coupe belongs to does not control what wedding guests can wear. Just keep it simple or elegant depending on the wedding ceremony.

What Colors To Wear To a Jewish Wedding

It is important to know the colors you can wear to a Jewish wedding. In the orthodox Jewish movement, the men usually wear black suits to prayers and other events. You can wear a black or dark-colored suit for the wedding ceremony. Women can also wear dark-colored dresses at the wedding ceremony.

The bride and groom can decide what colors their guests should wear to the wedding. They can include their color preferences in their invitation card or their wedding website. Always check the invitation card for the instructions. It would be awkward if you showed up in a black suit or blue dress when the other guests are wearing black attires as requested by the couple.

It is important to note that the wedding ceremony is a special moment meant for the bride and the groom. They do not need to be upstaged by their guests. It is a tradition for a Jewish bride to wear a white dress; hence you should avoid wearing a white dress.

As a guest, wearing a white dress might offend the bride as it is seen as you want to steal the show. Stealing the bride’s moment in the light is terrible; all the attention needs to be on the bride during the wedding ceremony.

The color blue has some strong connection to the Jewish religion. The bride and groom may decide to incorporate some blue into their wedding through the venue’s decoration or guests’ attire. The couple can suggest that you add something blue to your dress. For men, you can wear a dark blue suit, a blue tie or a blue shirt. You can wear a dark blue dress for women, accessorize your dress with a blue shawl or coat.

You should avoid dressing in excessively bright colors. In the orthodox and conservative movements, wearing dark-colored clothes is the preferred choice for guests. You can add on bright-colored items, but it should not draw too much attention to you. It might offend the bride and groom if you show up in a bright yellow dress or suit because most of the time, the guests will be staring at you and not looking at the couple.

You can also consult with the couple on the colors you want to wear at their wedding. Ask them their preferred colors and show them some of the colors you would like to wear. You can also browse the internet and look at some photos of Jewish weddings. They might show you some of the most popular colors that guests wear at the ceremony.

Finally

Dressing modestly is a vital thing to note for every guest at a Jewish wedding. The wedding is a religious ceremony; hence, you should dress the same way you would if it was a prayer and worship service. Several things will influence how you dress, such as tradition, venue, couple’s instructions, among others.

The Jewish movement the couple belongs to will influence how you will dress at the wedding. If it is orthodox, there will be restrictions on dressing styles, and if it is reform, then there will be no restriction on how you shall dress at the wedding.

Some movements have rules on what you can wear to a Jewish wedding. You just have to make sure that your wedding dress does not reveal too much skin for women. There are not many rules regarding color choices for a Jewish wedding. For women, you should note that the white color is for the bride only.

For men, an official look is the best; you cannot show up to the wedding dressed in the same outfit you will go to a bar dress in or a golf match. If you are not sure about what to wear, you can consult with the couple or some of your Jewish friends.

Photo Credits:

Yarmulkes – galit hadari Pikiwiki Israel, CC BY 2.5 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

Recent Posts