If you are not Jewish and even if you are, then this style of wedding is going to be different to what you are use to. Here are some helpful hints as what to look out for. You will also benefit by taking a peek at the Jewish Weddings segment of this site. If you are jewish and the religious ceremony incorporates another religious tradition, it is worth taking some time to learn about their wedding customs and traditions, so that you will be able to follow and understand what is taking place. Its all part of being a good guest, but when in doubt just do what the others do, as long as it doesn’t disturb your own religious sensibilities.
Don’t be surprised if the wedding invitation is either in whole, or in part written in Hebrew, or even Yiddish, or both. There will usually be a translation into English. You won’t be expected to speak Hebrew at the ceremony and during the celebrations, not even in Israel, where people who don’t speak English will probably speak Russian, French, Spanish, or Arabic.
What to wear
It is customary for men where dark formal suits, or the invitation especially in the UK may specify black tie. Women will also dress just as formally and elegantly. If the religious ceremony is taking place with an Orthodox rabbi, there will be an expectation that everyone will dress “modestly.”
A Tisch (for) you
In some Ashkenazi communities there is a custom of the groom meeting with the Rabb and some, or all of the male guests.This is called a Tisch which is the yiddish for a table.It can be a serious opportunity to study a rabbinic text.It can also be an opportunity to have a drink, share a few jokes and support the groom before the ceremony begins.In another room, the bride, can similarly be entertained by her female friends and members of her family.
The origins of this custom was to help the newly weds furnish a home together, when they left their parental homes. Nowadays, couples may already have been living together for some time, or from their lives as single people. This is not so say that presents are not appreciated, as some things may need replacing, or others may be required in anticipation of starting a family. Some couples will have a list with a large store and guests can choose from it, what to get the couple. This avoids duplication.
Know when to say “Mazel-Tov” and when to say “Amen.”
At the end of the religious ceremony, when a glass is broken, all the guests shout out Mazel-Tov, which means good luck. This expression is also said to the couple and their family, in the sense of congratulations. It is a custom at traditional ceremonies to say Grace after the meal, known in Hebrew as Birkat Hamazon. It last 5-10 minutes and is said and sung in Hebrew. Guests may join in, or just say Amen after some of the blessings have been said.