Get your hora dancing shoes on - it's the wedding season! Come rain shine or heat-wave, the summer months see more Jewish weddings than usual. It must be because we're such outdoorsy people. Jewish weddings place a special set of demands on guests. Below, some of the community's experts share their nous in our special Jewish wedding survival guide.
I'm invited to after-dinner only! What an insult. Should I complain to the couple on the night?
Never. The average Jewish wedding has between 150 and 300 guests. Sometimes, it's just not possible to feed everyone. So, if you're invited after dinner, heed the advice of Sarah Balfour, director of Orchid Events, and tuck your ego away for the night. She says: "If you're invited to after-dinner only, be happy to be invited to share the couple's big day. Focus on party and celebration rather than being insulted."
"I hate my ex-spouse and don't want to be in the same room as them, let alone under the same chupah."
This scenario is sadly common. Some couples spend heart-rending amounts of time worrying about how to handle their warring parents on the big day. Aaron Turner is founder of coaching firm One Thought. He's too kind to tell you to get over yourself for the sake of your child, instead offering this sage advice: "The answer depends on what you want to do. Enjoy the wedding or fight with your ex? Our obsession with negative experiences robs us of our natural ability to enjoy the moment. If you want to fight with your ex, focus intently on everything you don't like about them. If you want to enjoy the wedding you have to do the opposite: consider your own past experiences and hurt feelings as irrelevant."
How much should I spend on a present?
I've seen a spectacular array of items on gift lists over the years, including an Aston Martin, a dustbin and 12 silver napkin rings at £125 a pop. Whether you go for the ridiculous aspirational car or the ridiculous aspirational tableware is up to you. Guidelines on spending are broad, as Sarah Balfour says: "How much you spend depends how close you are and what you can afford." Good luck gift-wrapping the Aston!
I'm on the singles table. AGAIN. How can I meet The One before bensching?
My friend got so drunk at our friend's wedding that she fell asleep in her main course (lamb). I still cry with laughter when I remember it. Funny, but probably not optimum singles-table behaviour. Forget being annoyed, shy or paralytic if you want to win over your tablemates.
Dating coach Suzie Parkus says singles-table etiquette is all about being relaxed and friendly. She advises: "Don't be shy to say hello as soon as you get yourself settled. Coming across as happy and comfortable without being overbearing will get you noticed. Try to remember one fact about each person - that shows you're listening and taking an interest.
And just enjoy yourself and don't put too much pressure on yourself to meet 'the one'."
I've got loads of weddings with the same people – but I can only buy one dress. How can I avoid looking the same every time?
Don't despair, the world of accessories can save you. Sara Segal, founder of Personal Style London, says: "Buy a dress that you can mix and match with different shoes and accessories. As for the dress - make it colourful. The brighter the better, and don't buy anything that doesn't allow you to dance like crazy." There's no need to spend a load of money either, as Sara recalls: "My friend wore a dress to my wedding that looked like it could have been designer but was in fact from a shop on the high street. I liked it so much I ordered one for myself the next day.''
I have a broiges with family who will be at the wedding. How can I avoid rowing with them?
Other people in the family might annoy you, but on the day it's down to you to control your experience - because you can't control other people's behaviour. As Aaron Turner advises:
"It is easy to spoil things for yourself by worrying about possible tensions and arguments or by being really upset about actual arguments.
"In addition, feelings of tension fuel arguments, while feelings of ease and enjoyment diffuse them. Ironically, enjoying yourself and not worrying about things allows you to really enjoy your day." In short: chill out!
The seating plan has not worked in my favour. Why am I sitting with these numbskulls instead of my chums?
Probably because seating plans are a full-blown migraine and the bride and groom couldn't face any more changes after 10 versions of the plan. If you're not on your fun table of choice, don't panic. Instead do what Sarah Balfour advises: "Seating plans take up a lot of time and dedication. Don't complain to the bride and groom about their decision. Just do you best to try to get along. After the main course, and especially if there is dancing between courses, you can discreetly ask a member of staff to provide you an extra chair and you can go and sit close to your friends.''
I don't like Israeli dancing – can I get out of joining in?
The hora isn't for everyone, but even if you don't want to go berserk in middle of the circle you can still get involved.
Says Sarah Balfour: "You're there to make sure the bride and groom are having a great time. Get involved with the celebration as much as possible. If you don't like Israeli dancing you can stand and clap at the back."
And if you do like Israeli dancing, take your stilettos off first. Nobody wants your heel to skewer their ankle during Moschiach.