Monday, June 29, 2009

Dressing Modestly for the Catholic Wedding

Train up a girl in the way she should dress, and when she marries, she will not depart from it.
Dr. Marian T. Horvat addresses the importance of Catholic brides choosing modest wedding gowns in this article at Tradition in Action, which features helpful photos as well as excellent commentary. The photo of Philomena de Joras shows a great way to "fix" a dress with an immodest neckline and/or no sleeves: the addition of an elegant little jacket. This really opens up a path to great savings, because many otherwise lovely gowns are available at thrift stores and resale shops.

I think most of the problem of immodest bridal apparel comes from the lack of an everyday church dress code. A simple reminder of what is expected, posted prominently, makes all the difference. Our chapel has such a sign in the vestibule. The expectations are backed up by solid teaching from the pulpit. It seems to work for our regular parishioners, girls and women alike. Except for a few rare occasions, when I have seen a woman with her head uncovered, in pants, or a low-cut or sleeveless blouse, she has been a visitor. The same goes for the occasional man in shorts. The ones who return conform to the congregation's standards.

Likewise, at traditional Catholic weddings, the problem of immodesty (and disrespectful behavior) is generally from the non-traditional Catholic guests. They do not do so intentionally; they just do not know what the Real Presence requires of them. Some brides have addressed this problem by adding to the wedding invitation an explanatory note about proper dress and behavior.


Emily G. said...

We used our home computer to print a short note inside our wedding invitations to tell guests how they were expected to dress and behave. Surprisingly, people did well as far as modesty went and many women acutally wore head coverings.

Weddings are difficult as far as modesty is concerned. Sadly, most brides do not see a problem with a strapless gown because they wear strapless shirts to Sunday Mass regularly.

Communion is a problem at weddings, too. We knew at ours that there were many relatives on both sides who would scorn the rule that only practicing Catholics could recieve the Eucharist, so we just had the wedding party receive and no one else was allowed.

Wendy Haught said...

Good idea on receiving communion!

John said...

I play at a lot of weddings here in California, where modesty is not so much a virtue as a psychological failing that can be overcome with counseling. But I don't see that many immodest bridal dresses.

The bridesmaid's dresses, however. . . mercy. Do they even make modest bridesmaid's dresses any more? Some of these lassies look like they got lost on the way to the Folies Bergère.

To their credit some of the girls do seem very uncomfortable. They put on a jacket or sweater as soon as the ceremony is over. And probably not because it's cold on an 85 degree summer day, either.

It's one of the many difficulties when living through the collapse of a civilization. Modesty aside, it's a problem simply to tell what consitutes appropriate dress for so many situations any more.

Ah, well. No one said it was going to be easy.



Wendy Haught said...


That's strange about the bridesmaids' dresses, because usually the bride chooses them.

I'm also surprised that in California you don't run across immodest bridal gowns. You are leading a charmed life! I would have thought that the strapless/backless styles would be abundant there.

Probably the brides who have the good taste to hire you to provide music have the same good taste in gowns.