Etiquette

Requesting Modest Attire?

Hi, I'm recently engaged and we are having a traditional Jewish wedding. As part of the religious ceremony, our guests are required to dress modestly. Shoulders need to be covered, skirts/dresses should be at least to right above the knee, no jeans or shorts for men, etc. Should I word this on the invitation or website? Probably about 50% of our wedding guests will not know that the ceremony requires modest dress but I don't want them to feel stupid about it.

I'm asking because I grew up non-religious and was invited to a friend's brother's bar mitzvah and I wore a sleeveless dress. The rabbi took me aside privately and told me I needed to cover up or leave. It was SO embarrassing! I don't want that to happen to any of our guests.

Re: Requesting Modest Attire?

  • MobKazMobKaz Chicago suburbs
    5000 Comments Seventh Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    member
    I agree with @MobKaz about including a link to a website if you have one. I am curious about why you wouldn’t put this on the invitation like you would say, black tie attire, or other required attire like jackets/ties for a reception venue. 

    I defintely think you need to include it in the invitation suite, either one the invitation or as an insert, but I’d also put it on the website if you have one and spread by word of mouth. I would spell out what modest dress means to your synagogue because what is modest to one person might not be modest to the Rabbi/synagogue. I agree you want to make sure your guests have all the information so they don’t, unknowingly, attend in something that is not acceptable. 
    I don't have a "legitimate" etiquette/propriety answer.  However, for me, "Black Tie" speaks to the level of the event and is self explanatory in two simple words. The gist of it is "ballgowns and tuxes".   In the event of this religious accommodation, a couple of simple words discreetly added to the bottom of an invitation is not enough.  I think a link listing all the specifics is necessary.  As @STARMOON44 alluded, simply adding "modest dress attire" would not be helpful and could be construed as offensive.
    short+sassy
  • I didn't realize that putting modest may be considered offensive. Thanks for pointing that out! Maybe I should just put what's not allowed on the website and offer some suggestions of what to wear. It's really only important during the ceremony. We're getting married in a hot climate so people here think that short, revealing cocktail dresses are "black tie."
    charlotte989875short+sassy
  • I didn't realize that putting modest may be considered offensive. Thanks for pointing that out! Maybe I should just put what's not allowed on the website and offer some suggestions of what to wear. It's really only important during the ceremony. We're getting married in a hot climate so people here think that short, revealing cocktail dresses are "black tie."
    Yeah, cocktail dresses are often acceptable black tie attire, especially in hot climates! People aren’t going to be changing in between? 
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston
    10000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    member
    I agree with PPs that I would list specific requirements and/or link to your synagogue's website rather than using the word "modest."

    Aside from the fact that people may find it offensive, they also may not know how to interpret it. One's person's "modest" can be another's "you need to cover up."
    MairePoppyPrettyGirlLost
  • lovesclimbinglovesclimbing Alaska
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    member
    People's modesty standards are so different. I consider what I wear to be fairly modest. I don't wear anything low cut enough to show cleavage and I don't wear skirts shorter than a few inches above my knees. 

    However, I wear sleeveless tops all the time, including to church! I don't think they are immodest at all. I'm also a very warm person, so I would quite possibly, even if I knew it was a religious wedding, wear a sleeveless top. I've worn sleeveless tops to several weddings, and my two sisters, both of whom had weddings held in churches in which I was part of the bridal party, had bridesmaid dresses that were sleeveless. Heck, I wore a sleeveless dress to my own wedding held in a church! 

    I consider mysef fairly modest, yet I know many people who dress considerably more conservatively than I do. I know people who only wear long skirts or dresses and people who don't wear shirts that go any lower than maybe an inch below the hollow of their neck. 

    So yes, it's important to specifically state the requirements. 

  • Just put what's not allowed as part of the invitation package somewhere, and also on the website. A lot of people won't go to the website so that's not enough.

    Do NOT give people suggestions as to what they SHOULD wear, simply tell them what they cannot wear. 

    "Please note that the synagogue requires knees and shoulders to be covered, and does not allow the wearing of jeans or shorts". I don't think there's anything wrong with putting that right at the bottom of the invite. This isn't about your own personal preference, but is an important piece of information necessary to know to attend the event. 
    SP29InLoveInQueenscharlotte989875PrettyGirlLost
  • I'd echo the PPs that you shouldn't tell people what TO wear but I'd also ask that they specify what a bare shoulder means.   My wedding dress was sleeveless but my shoulders were mostly covered.     The dress was a V neck top that had lace shoulders approximately 3 inches wide.    So I'd hope that they specify what does and doesn't pass on their own website. 
    charlotte989875
  • banana468 said:
    I'd echo the PPs that you shouldn't tell people what TO wear but I'd also ask that they specify what a bare shoulder means.   My wedding dress was sleeveless but my shoulders were mostly covered.     The dress was a V neck top that had lace shoulders approximately 3 inches wide.    So I'd hope that they specify what does and doesn't pass on their own website. 
    I would assume that sleeveless=bare shoulders, and would therefore not be allowed. 

    It's probably a good idea to have some shawls available for guests who thought otherwise if the rule is sleeveless=bare shoulder=not allowed. 
    charlotte989875sparklepants41
  • MandyMost said:
    banana468 said:
    I'd echo the PPs that you shouldn't tell people what TO wear but I'd also ask that they specify what a bare shoulder means.   My wedding dress was sleeveless but my shoulders were mostly covered.     The dress was a V neck top that had lace shoulders approximately 3 inches wide.    So I'd hope that they specify what does and doesn't pass on their own website. 
    I would assume that sleeveless=bare shoulders, and would therefore not be allowed. 

    It's probably a good idea to have some shawls available for guests who thought otherwise if the rule is sleeveless=bare shoulder=not allowed. 
    That's my point.   I was married in a Roman Catholic church that requested "modest dress" of me and the WP.   The strapless dresses of my BMs meant that I provided them with linen wraps for the ceremony.   There was no issue with my dress though.   It met the modesty requirements.  

    So I'd ask that they be specific because we're talking about the difference in about 1.5 inches of lace.
    PrettyGirlLost
  • MairePoppyMairePoppy Connecticut
    Moderator Seventh Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its
    mod
    I didn't realize that putting modest may be considered offensive. Thanks for pointing that out! Maybe I should just put what's not allowed on the website and offer some suggestions of what to wear. It's really only important during the ceremony. We're getting married in a hot climate so people here think that short, revealing cocktail dresses are "black tie."
    I don't think the term 'modest attire' is offensive. But it is open to interpretation. I would assume, no cleavage, knees covered. But are sleeveless dresses okay? It's important to make sure every guest has this information and I second or third including the synagogue dress code on an insert with your invitation. Include a link to your website, but keep in mind there may be guests who don't internet well.
                
    southernbelle0915lovesclimbingeileenrobSP29
  • I didn't realize that putting modest may be considered offensive. Thanks for pointing that out! Maybe I should just put what's not allowed on the website and offer some suggestions of what to wear. It's really only important during the ceremony. We're getting married in a hot climate so people here think that short, revealing cocktail dresses are "black tie."
    I don't think the term 'modest attire' is offensive. But it is open to interpretation. I would assume, no cleavage, knees covered. But are sleeveless dresses okay? It's important to make sure every guest has this information and I second or third including the synagogue dress code on an insert with your invitation. Include a link to your website, but keep in mind there may be guests who don't internet well.
    I also don't think it's offensive and understand modesty is a spectrum.

    It's a house of worship, so when they use the term "modest" it's probably on the more conservative side of the modesty spectrum. I feel like the average person understands this.
    *********************************************************************************

    image
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston
    10000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    member
    Aside from differences of opinion over what "modest" constitutes, putting the synagogue's dress code in your invitations will clarify that you personally aren't requesting that your guests dress a certain way. That would help the information go down better with any guests who would otherwise be offended by a dress code.
    InLoveInQueenscharlotte989875eileenrobMairePoppy
  • SP29SP29
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    member
    I agree. Be direct with what the dress code states, "The synagogue requires covered shoulders, dresses to knee level, no jeans, etc, etc" and do not give it a term or qualifier such as "modest". Modest is up for interpretation.

    Otherwise, someone could wear this dress, and it would be considered "immodest":



    charlotte989875MissKittyDanger
  • CMGragainCMGragain
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 25 Answers
    member
    edited November 19
    While the words "modest attire" in understood in Mormon, Eastern Orthodox and Jewish congregations, it is not generally understood outside that cultural area.  I get it, but if you are having people from other cultures, they might not.
    I agree with the others that you should insert a card of explanation copying the synagoge's requirements for people who might not understand.
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
Sign In or Register to comment.
Choose Another Board
Search Boards