Tourist Tip #86 / What to Wear to a Wedding in Israel

Israeli weddings have broad, flexible dress codes, so if you’re more comfortable leaving the tie at home, you’ve come to the right place.

There’s nothing sweeter than a simcha, so if your Israeli travel plans include attending a wedding, get ready for a seriously fun-filled evening. But before you pack that tux, read on.

Israelis take their celebrations seriously, and the wedding industry in this country is happy to accommodate. There are untold hundreds of wedding halls across the country, where teams of experts choreograph the entire event, from reception to chuppah to the party that follows for dancing the night away. Be prepared, however, to encounter some cultural differences on your way to bless the bride and groom.            

While weddings in the United States and Europe are almost uniformly formal affairs, wedding attire in Israel walks a more flexible sartorial line. Israel is a laid-back country, and its fashion follows suit. That means that even at a wedding, it’s not uncommon to see young men in jeans (with a button-down shirt, no tie or even a T-shirt), and women in short, tight cocktail dresses rather than elegant gowns.

And while in many countries, wearing white to another woman's wedding is uniformly taboo, Israelis seem to be blissfully unaware of this rule. If you're attending a wedding where you only know the groom, don't rush to congratulate the first woman you spot in a snow-white frock. You might make her blush, but there's no guarantee that she's the bride.

A black-tie wedding is as rare as snow in Tel Aviv. And even at events where the groom and his father truss up in a suit, for guests, ties are almost undoubtedly optional.

Israelis tend not to specify dress codes on their invitations, which further lends to the laissez-faire, anything goes attitude. If you’re concerned about what to wear to an Israeli wedding, you can always ask the host in advance. But rest assured that in this laid-back country, as long as you arrive with a smile and a big “mazel tov” for the happy couple, you’re likely to fit right in.

Check back tomorrow for another tip on the culture of Israeli weddings.

Gil Cohen-Magen
Gil Cohen-Magen