Be a Sexy Bride

In the US, I think brides usually try to achieve a look that says "dewy," "virginal," "elegant." Israeli brides, on the other hand, tend to go for... well... not so virginal.

Take a look at the wedding dresses in this clip from a show by the Israeli comedian Adi Ashkenazi, whose insights about Israeli culture inspire me to write this blog:

There's a powerful trend among Israeli brides to wear, basically, thin polyester lace over white bra cups. If you dare, take a look at this Yediot Ahronot article about trends in bride dresses for winter weddings-- I would place the top photo here, but it is literally too skimpy for me to post on this blog. Winter weddings, people. Those girls look cold. (The bride looks cold, too.)

The thing that is especially impressive about these gowns is that they will inevitably be worn in traditional Jewish weddings, presided over by orthodox rabbis. My wedding in the US was performed by a Chabad rabbi, so I made an extra effort to insure that not even my collar bone was showing-- I modified the McCall's pattern for a long-sleeved dress so that its neck reached even higher than on the dowdy bride on the pattern bag. In this dress, on the other hand, I'm pretty sure I can see the bride's belly button:


In reality, I don't think Israelis look at these dresses and think "sexy." They look at them and think "yafefiyah" (soooo pretty)... which, as we know from Isra-fab home decor, usually involves dangerous levels of crackle paint and glitter. Furthermore, Israelis believe that showing skin is snazzy, not skanky. (See some terrifying examples of snazzy Israeli fashion in this post.) To the average secular Israeli, covering up too much skin is sad, while wearing skin-tight spandex at age 60 is festive. By logical extension, on your wedding day you should wear almost nothing with maximum sparkles and embellishment, and all eyes will be on you! Er, parts of you, at least.

If you're invited to an Israeli wedding, wear whatever you normally wore on Friday night in Jewish summer camp, and you'll be dressed appropriately. See this post from What War Zone??? for more insight into the frightening and festive beast that is the Israeli wedding. But if you're the Israeli bride, ask yourself whether Madonna would have worn your dress in a music video during the 1980s. If the answer is yes, your dress is probably yafefiyah.

Have you had any adventures in Israeli weddings? Was your wedding dress "yafefiyah"?


  1. Btw, I'm trying a new thing on my blogger template where "related posts" are automatically generated beneath each post. There seem to be way too many in the list there, though. What do you think? Is that list annoying?

  2. I wrote about this very phenomenon earlier! http://www.jewlicious.com/2009/07/hideous-israeli-wedding-dress-awareness-day/ It is indeed horrible.

  3. I think the post is better without it, because there are already links on the right side..

    Weddings in Israel are usually not as big of a deal as they are in the US; they're mostly seen as a big party and everyone only comes for the food. :) I think that a part of what makes wedding ceremonies in the US be so conservative is that many of them are celebrated in churches, which is the main reason why the clothing attire is so formal and virginal, as you say. And don't forget that it's a gigantic money-grabbing industry in America..girls are brainwashed from birth to imagine their dream wedding based on an expensive and implausible ideal. I think that it's refreshing to see weddings be a big informal party that's a celebration rather than a serious and formal event.

  4. Hi Maya,

    I came across your blog today and it's fabulous! After 15 years in Israel I begin to suffer from familiarity blindness, but these posts are a sure cure.

    At any rate, I find Israeli bridal fashions extremely disturbing. We were at an outdoors wedding a couple of weeks ago and the bride was wearing sleeveless. (I though I would die of cold wearing layers and a jacket).

    This goes hand in hand with same lack of taste in clothes that allows female senior managers to leave half of their buttons open. Then again, I saw an Israeli fashion show on TV recently and it was horrifying.

    These dresses have disrespect written all over them.

  5. Vicki, hilarious post! I think you and Benji covered this issue better than me... glad we're all here on the front lines...

    Sivan, I really hate to disagree when someone says something positive about Israel, but I actually think weddings here have many of the same flaws as weddings in the US (ridiculous costs, huge expectations of gifts, showiness for no good reason)... just fewer ties. On the other hand, the only wedding I've actually attended in Israel was beautiful and meaningful, but I think that was because it was the wedding of two idealistic young people who want to start their own religious kibbutz and raise goats. :)

    Leah, stick around! I know what you mean. I watched an episode of the Israeli Project Runway and was shocked by what the judges thought was really hip... I thought it looked hideous. In defense of brides in tasteless dresses, though, I don't think they actually mean disrespect... I think they just think these dresses are how they look beautiful as brides. I'll admit I sometimes look at my wedding pictures and wish I had a little collar bone showing! :)

  6. Hi Maya,
    Your post came just in time, as I am going to two weddings in my first 10 days in Israel - one secular and one Syrian. I would have been overdressed and surprised. Though I will still be covered, this might be a good occasion to pull out my sparkly sweater. Maybe your next post could be gift giving, from what to bring to someone's house when you're a guest for a meal, to what to bring to a wedding. I would love to see your wedding dress.

  7. Yosefa,go on the dressy side of summer camp wear and you'll be ok... amd I'm always more comfortable being overdressed than underdressed, so definitely make sure all your accessories, etc. are fancy.

    Hmm... gift giving is a good one. I'll think about that! Anyone have any suggestions?

  8. Mia, don't forget that in the only wedding we'd been to, the bride and groom were driven off on a tractor.. There is something to the "less formal" thing.

    As for gift giving: Matza bowl?

  9. Matzo bowl... no comment. (Ok, a comment-- for hosting Thanksgiving dinner for a bunch of Israelis, I was given the hostess gifts of a nice vase and a ceramic bowl that looks eerily as if it's made out of matzo.)

  10. Everything you write is hilarious!
    I don't know what makes this so funny, but it IS: "To the average secular Israeli, covering up too much skin is sad, while wearing skin-tight spandex at age 60 is festive." The "festive" just gets me!
    thanks for the great read...


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