Buddhist wedding tips?
May 17, 2007 1:19 PM   Subscribe

We've been invited to a Buddhist wedding. How can we stay faux-pas-free?

We've never been to one of these, and have never been inside a temple. Is there anything I should expect around clothes, like taking off shoes or anything? My impulse would be to wear lighter colors, since it's a wedding and not a funeral, but are there any restrictions or expectations around attire?

Also, it's a same-sex marriage of two men, one of them a co-worker from my new job. I just met him and don't feel comfortable asking him all of this stuff, so I'm hoping you guys can help. Just don't want to be the straight, unenlightened dorks at this thing.
posted by frosty_hut to Society & Culture (23 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm pretty uninformed about this myself, but I think the ceremony could have a very different feel depending on which particular sect of Buddhism you're talking about. Do you have any other info about the location? Something at a temple that mainly caters to a specific culture is going to be much different from a ceremony in a park officiated by a western zen teacher, for instance.
posted by vytae at 1:24 PM on May 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

In all likelihood, you'll probably have to remove your shoes if you'll be entering a temple.
posted by maxpower at 1:26 PM on May 17, 2007

It will entirely depend on what tradition of buddhism they're from. There is no such thing as a buddhist wedding ceremony in the buddhist texts, so any buddhist wedding will be tied to the culture it's from rather than the religion as a whole. As it is a gay wedding, my suspicion is that it is a service that is contemporary and 'made-up' (absolutely no judgment implied in that term). I don't think you're in danger of violating some esoteric precept, as there will be none to violate beyond those of common decency. Follow the lead of the others there and you'll be fine.
posted by sid at 1:26 PM on May 17, 2007

The ceremony is going to be a lot shorter than what you are used to, unless - oh, karma forbid - they are writing their own sappy vows.

Don't think you have to dress or act very differently because it's at a temple, Buddhists respect the traditions of other faiths and cultures. You could dress-up as Johnny Rotten circa 1977 and the monk probably wouldn't care, but you friends might. Although you may have to take your shoes off, though I genuinely doubt it.

It proper to go with the prerogative of the wedding party here, rather than the temple.
posted by parmanparman at 1:27 PM on May 17, 2007

Considering that most people haven't been to Buddhist gay weddings, I think it's the hosts' responsibility to tell everyone what should be expected of them. If they don't tell you anything, just act as if you were at any other kind of wedding.
posted by pravit at 1:32 PM on May 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Leave your anti-Buddhism socks at home.
posted by pwally at 1:48 PM on May 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

if its in a temple:
in some cultures where buddhism is practiced...its faux pas to have the bottoms of your feet pointed in the direction of a buddha statue.
posted by hazel at 2:06 PM on May 17, 2007

There are lots of differences among the real (traditional) Buddhist sects - for example not all are vegetarian.

But my guess is that these guys are recent converts to Buddhism in general and may not belong to a particular sect.

So I would avoid anything that might offend vegetarians or Jews. Jews? All of the ex-Jews I have known who have converted to another religion have become Buddhists.

So don't give the couple a pair of matched pig-skin fanny packs.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 2:08 PM on May 17, 2007

The Buddhist temples I've been to (in Thailand) have asked people to remove their shoes before entering, and there is the taboo about pointing the bottoms of your feet at Buddha statues or at other people.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 2:16 PM on May 17, 2007

Since it's a buddhist ceremony, I think that you can't really make a mistake. The world of phenomenons isn't really relevant to buddhist philosophy. Actually, to a buddhist, an earthquake is no more important than a bird song. Feel comfortable.
posted by nicolin at 2:18 PM on May 17, 2007

You could also contact the temple directly and ask if there are any major faux-pas to avoid.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:30 PM on May 17, 2007

You can namaste as you see fit.
posted by phrontist at 2:39 PM on May 17, 2007

An awesome reasource is a two volume book "How to be a perfect Stranger: a guide to etiquette in other people's religious ceremonies". Check your library for it. Scanning through the Buddhist chapter, it mentions coming early and if late, not to enter (or leave) during mediation. Also, get approval from the priest or monk beore taking pictures. Address the clergy as Reverend, Lama or Roshi (depends on demonnation) and there are no parts of the ceremony that you either need to participate or it would be rude to not particpate (such as chanting). I agree, call the temple for guidance.
posted by saucysault at 2:49 PM on May 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Don't point the soles of your feet at anyone.

Don't touch anyone (even small children) on the top of the head.
posted by gergtreble at 3:44 PM on May 17, 2007

If your friend's temple is anything like the ones I've attended, they probably get at least one confused stranger at every service wondering where to sit and when to bow and all that. They're used to it, and they'll have had lots of practice guiding those first-timers through the ceremony. Dress respectfully, be nice, and show up prepared to go with the flow.
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:04 PM on May 17, 2007

I'd recommend getting some nice new socks. Beyond that, just follow along.
posted by chairface at 4:20 PM on May 17, 2007

My impulse would be to wear lighter colors, since it's a wedding and not a funeral

In the east, white is the color of mourning.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:37 PM on May 17, 2007

From my limited knowledge, I would say:

- dress modestly. No mini-skirts if you're a woman, wear slacks if you're a man.
- DON'T wear white. As BrotherCaine has said, it's the color of mourning. In Chinese weddings, red is always a good color, so I'd go with something red.
posted by nakedsushi at 4:50 PM on May 17, 2007

Chinese is far from Buddhist and I would really recommend you not wear red, unless you like that color. Raised in a Chinese Buddhist household myself, just wear whatever you want and make gifts based on what you know about the couple(as opposed to assuming they're vegetarian ex-Jews). I could understand the worries about faux pas if this were in another country, but for heaven's sake, this is in the US and it's not like anyone else at the wedding will have ever been to a Buddhist wedding. It would be pretty unreasonable of the hosts to get all snarky at people for making some faux pas they were never aware of. Dress nicely, behave as usual, and if you have any pressing questions, ask the couple or temple.
posted by pravit at 5:42 PM on May 17, 2007

Most of the stuff about colors, feet pointing, etc. above are culturally related and have nothing to do with Buddhism, BTW.
posted by pravit at 5:52 PM on May 17, 2007

Best answer: Of all the religions I can think of, contemporary/American Buddhism is probably the least likely context for a "faux pas." This will be an environment of lightness (in every sense including lightheartedness / non-somber-ness), total welcome and understanding. You're clearly coming at it with a positive attitude -- just let the worries go, you'll be golden.
posted by allterrainbrain at 6:42 PM on May 17, 2007

What's wrong with, "Thanks for inviting me to the wedding! How should I dress?" After the answer, "Is there anything special I should know about attending a Buddhist wedding?"

There is never any shame in asking questions to show you are interested in honoring someone. It just shows you are interested in being a good guest.
posted by The Deej at 6:54 PM on May 17, 2007 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I've been to North American buddhist weddings and a baptism (Zen, fwiw) and my $.02 is that you should dress as nattily as you would for any other wedding, be aware what other people seem to be doing at the ceremony, and enjoy yourself.
posted by everichon at 7:30 PM on May 17, 2007

« Older Balance tattoo?   |   NSA Surveillance in Las Vegas for Extortion Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.