QUAERITUR: Tarting-it-up for a church wedding

[Raising my eyes to heaven even as I grope for that third rail with my outstretched toe.]

From a readerette:

I’m having a bit of a conflict with my bride-to-be best friend, who has gone Bridezilla on me. She asked me to be her Maid of Honour, and she agreed on the conditions (I could only witness her marriage, nothing else because I’m a student with no time or money to plan or pay for her bridal shower and stagette, and no immodest dress). When it came time for dress shopping and only being able to find strapless dresses, we agreed that I could wear a matching bolero. [Dunno “bolero” … ummm … really big hat?  Some sort of bull-fighting cape?  Okay.. I have no idea what a bolero is, but I assume it will make you look less of a tart while wearing it.]

That was eight months ago, and now that the wedding is almost here, she has decided she wants all of her bridal party to having matching necklines. [Lord, strengthen me to the end of this…] She is strongly convinced “it will look funny” if we don’t all wear strapless dresses and won’t let me wear the bolero in the church or for pictures.

Things are getting ugly and I’m trying to be patient with her because I know these are stressful times.  [I know what you mean.] I know strapless dresses are inappropriate, especially in a Catholic Church.

This brings me to the other problem. [There’s more?] When the dress was undergoing alterations, the seamstress and I didn’t make a big fuss that the huge bra support-band [?!?!?] was visible in the back because it was going to be fully covered by the bolero. It really should not be worn without the bolero. [The … ummm… right… ]

I want to make one last attempt to try to make her to understand why it’s important to wear modest clothing in the church, but I don’t know what to tell her, or how to tell her. Her priest doesn’t want to get involved with this either, [NO!  Really?  How come?  Actually, I’d be more concerned if he wanted to get into this.] so I’m on my own. What would you recommend?  [Who… me?]

If that doesn’t work, given the situation, would it still be inappropriate for me to participate in the wedding party in a strapless dress with the bra visible in the back, [I am guessing that the strapless dress and no bra sort of defeats the aim of modesty.] or should I stick to what I know to be appropriate and quietly bow out of the wedding party?


Okay… I have the perfect solution.  King Solomon himself could not do better, and it doesn’t involve threatening to cut anything in half, especially straps of any kind or … purpose.

Switch to the groom’s party and wear a tux.

Seriously, if the bride wants you to wear what you consider immodest clothing in church, and you don’t want to wear immodest clothing in church, then don’t.

Graciously bow out.

Still on the serious note … I am sorry that this is causing strain in your friendship.  You want to be part of this happy event, but you are in a bind.  You have to chose if your friend won’t budge.

Thanks for wanting to be modest.

Part of situations like this is the incessant imposition on women and girls that they have to look like tarts.  Another part of situations like this is that the Catholic Church has in so many places abandoned decorum and a true sense of liturgical worship, has neglected to instruct people what sacraments are, that women and girls think they can and even should tart-it-up in church.

No tarts in church, please.  Well… let me rephrase that.  Tarts are welcome.  We are all sinners, after all, and sinners are welcome in their Father’s house.  BUT, for any tarts reading this… if you are a tart, please don’t dress like a tart for weddings.  Please?

And then there are the funerals.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. shortside40 says:

    LOL, Father, a bolero is a term for a woman’s sweater that is actually only half a sweater. It hits above the waistline on a woman. Generally around the middle of the rib cage. Right underneath the, er, bosom.

  2. anniemw says:

    Father – Greetings in Christ!
    A bolero is a type of close-fitting short jacket… you were on the right track w/the bullfighting cape :-).
    Some friend! I think this young woman should just follow her conscience [everyone’s doing it, right?] – in this case, a rightly formed conscience.

  3. APX says:

    For those who are more visual and need a picture of a bolero,

  4. Londiniensis says:

    Readerette should develop an unsightly stain on one of her shoulders (Indian ink?) and – all means short of lying – a plausible reason for it being there. Bridezilla will acknowledge that female vanity trumps uniformity of bare shoulders (let alone decorum in church) and agree to Readerette wearing the bolero. Also, the the Maid of Honour is top-bridesmaid anyway, and can look slightly different. And anyway, just a wicked thought, Bridezilla wouldn’t want a girl with nicer shoulders to outshine her on her big day …

  5. biberin says:

    Londiniensis has a great idea, but there is a more practical way that involves no shade of lying. Readerette should put on a strappy tank top in the privacy of her own yard, and get a touch of sunburn. Swimming and waterskiing work well for this, too.

  6. Henry Edwards says:

    I go to Wikapedia to look up “bolero” and at the top-right of the page I see a painting of a nude with the caption “Ida Rubinstein, the inspiration behind Bolero. Portrait by Valentin Serov.”

    I don’t see what this has to do with wedding tarts. [Having to do with the cake, perhaps.] Fact is, I originally thought a bolero had something to do with bull-fighting. I guess I’m totally losing the thread of this discussion.

  7. APX says:

    I choked on my popcorn while reading this. It at least cheered me up.

    [I am guessing that the strapless dress and no bra sort of defeats the aim of modesty.]
    LOL! It would likely cause it to…umm…slip down in the front and be a little more than “tart” Seamstresses won’t even measure for alterations unless the person is wearing the same undergarment that will be worn with the dress because it changes how it fits.

    Is there a prayer, perhaps, for the conversion of Bridezillas? Exorcism perhaps? [I absolute prohibition of photography in church for weddings would cut down a lot of this.]

  8. Au contraire, Father, the priest MUST be involved, the sooner the better. The best hedge against the great scourge of marital preparation known as the “Bridezilla,” is competent marriage preparation. This involves some mention of the virtues, and being told before the little princess so much as cracks open her first bridal magazine, that this is an official event in the life of the whole Church, and that she is in no position to invite the cast of Skanks-R-Us into the Holy of Holies.

    A reading of John Chrysostom’s homilies on Marriage and Family Life (a little volume available from Saint Vladimir’s Seminary Press) is excellent preparation for Catholic marriage (if you can ignore what the introduction says about certain teachings about Orthodox Christianity). This church Father dealt with many of the same issues then as parish priests, and the couples whom they counsel, do now. [I like St. John C. He is the one who says that if someone demands that people should never drink wine, are are to hit them in the mouth.]

    Finally, for our worried would-be bridesmaid, a last-minute contingency: matching wrap-shawls (just over a foot wide, about five feet long) of like material, to go around the shoulders, and any amount of décolletage as is called for, of the bride’s attendants, never to be doffed until the reception. Very chic, sufficiently modest, and a good face-saver.

  9. Random Friar says:

    Life is simpler in a habit. MUCH simpler. :)

    God bless her for trying to do the right thing. I can’t imagine being the object of a Bridezilla’s ire.

  10. Choirmaster says:

    Hehe. It was at a wedding that I learned about the bolero!

    My sister, for her wedding, wore a bolero for the Mass because her gown was strapless and shoulder-less. That way she was “modest” for church, but “tart” for pictures. Other than that little piece of trivia, the rest of the day is pretty fuzzy for me…

    On the topic: I think this nice young woman should just do whatever the bride wants. In my estimation, brides are really really crazy, and you must, MUST bow to their wishes. The readerette knows why she shouldn’t show skin in church, but, clearly, the bride has no idea why this is a problem. The bride is, most likely, not completely at fault for not knowing this, as the culture in church around her may have always been a bit… tart.

    Managing people in church is really the responsibility of the Pastor. If he did not address this, or will not, then there is probably a reason, and it probably has something to do with mitigating his stress levels. It was also the responsibility of the bride’s parents and her pastor (while growing up), and they seem to have had other priorities.

    The readerette must judge her intentions, too. Is she interested in fraternal correction for her good friend? Is she interested in modesty for herself out of respect for the sacred space? Or is she interested in modesty for more… superficial reasons? The answer to these questions may have some bearing on the final decision.

    One possible way to look at the situation is this: The readerette is not dressing herself for church, she is an agent and an attendant of her mistress, the bride. Choice of attire is not granted to the bride’s maids/matrons, but to the bride. Some culpability, at least, is lost to the readerette because of that. Also, her [uniform] attire would not shock the other guests, as they probably have no clue that modesty is violated, and are only waiting to see if the bride’s hair looks ugly or not when she passes close enough to get a good look. (Sorry, I get a little cynical at weddings.) Finally, as I said above, it is not the responsibility of the maid of honor to define the criteria for modesty at this wedding and in this church. It should be decided by the priest, and he should be left with the freedom to address it or not, at his discretion, without the intervention of bridesmaids.

  11. SemperAMDG says:

    I must take respectful issue with choirmaster’s comments. I am in the situation right now and will not be wearing an immodest dress because I don’t want to offend God and His Mother. Going along with the bride as a maid of honor does not trump being an obedient child of God. Prayerfully yours…

  12. benedetta says:

    Yes, Maid of Honor ought to be a little different and not exactly match all of the Bridesmaids. Bridesmaids are actually optional whereas Maid of Honor is necessary as witness.

    It is horrendous, what is happening for girls and young women in terms of the brainwashing from the “fashion” magazines and tv and now even pornography…I have heard that it is not totally unheard of for middle school or high school young ladies to say openly on myspace or facebook profile that they aspire to be like this or that porn star…it’s not even the ‘celebrities’ you might think…and most of the celebrities who are celebrated through the ‘reality’ phenom are not there because they have any ‘talent’ but so it inevitably becomes about the less they wear all the time, the better. People don’t really get that real housewives, snooki and jersey shore, the kardashian sisters, etc etc is just kind of to mock how absurd they are and they wind up trying to imitate their appearance. And the mothers who permit their young ladies to go around like that say, so she is proud of her body…There’s nothing wrong with being proud, and there’s nothing wrong with showing dignity either.

    It would be one thing if young women (and their mothers, ahem) all rose up around the country and said, “We want to look like (fill in the blank…tramp is a possible word). Please, fashion industry, hollywood, magazines, help us.” But it’s not a free choice at all. Women are made to feel completely compelled to dress this way. One can say that to dress this way gives confidence but that’s a false confidence that doesn’t pay off in real life or in psychological health. I concede it carries with it a certain power which brings about a sort of animalistic response, but, that in and of itself is no great feat or accomplishment one would want to brag about on one’s resume. Young women need to ask themselves, do I want people to see, first and foremost, the parts of my body or do they want to see me for who I am as a unique individual, multifaceted, with dignity? Why send young women the destructive message that the world is going to be at your feet based on the amount of skin you are willing to display? So many of the successful fashion designers, in all honesty, are men, and so many seem to even show a certain hostility towards women that I really distrust the entire trend of this “hooker-chic”.

    HSH Princess Grace certainly had talent and a brain. Hers is still one of the most beautiful wedding photos I’ve ever seen.

    Have worshipped in a very, I don’t know if you want to say, “liberal” but, let’s say, very open-minded, very encouraging, youthful congregation (not in this country) where young women are provided with simple shawls for modesty in the sanctuary and it is no big deal. Indeed the young women there by and large are helped to be aware of a dignity in the eyes of the God who loves them that they often never knew they had.

    Manners, good taste, decorum, it’s all still good. I hope this Maid of Honor will be able to wear her bolero and enjoy her role as witness to this union.

  13. Philangelus says:

    The MOH should get a big tattoo across her shoulders and back, and then it will have to be covered up because the bride won’t want the MOH’s new tattoo to be the center of attention. Henna painting would also work but as it’s less permanent, the bride might figure out a way to get it off her prior to the ceremony.

    Honestly, this should not be up for discussion. If I were the MOH, I would show up on the day of the wedding with my bra strap showing and wearing the bolero. I would not ASK for permission to wear the jacket. I would just wear it. If the bride flipped out, I would show her the exposed bra strap and ask her what she wants the guests to remember: her gorgeous wedding, or my underwear.

    It is not The Bride’s Day. The MOH has to keep in mind the care of her soul, and therefore she needs not to do something she feels is disrespectful in a church. Agreeing to be MOH doesn’t mean you sign over your soul to the bride for the duration of the engagement period.

  14. Philangelus says:

    BTW, I never understood the strapless, sleeveless wedding gowns. When they take close-ups of the bride, she looks like she’s wearing a towel. Why spend a thousand dollars on a dress that’s going to make you look like you just stepped out of the shower? Get something with lots of beads, lace and pearls *at the top* so when the photographer takes close-up shots, you look radiantly adorned.

  15. Sigh. I’m a professional tailor. I always hide undergarments, or strongly urge the client to go purchase a more suitable one. The bra band should have been concealed as a part of the alterations on the dress.

    My reaction to a bride who, having previously given me permission to have my shoulders covered in church and then attempts to rescind that permission, would be – too bad, how sad, either I wear the bolero which you told me I could wear, or get married without me there.

    Of course I am 47 and rather set in my ways, so YMMV.

  16. Choirmaster says:


    Thank you for pointing that out. I did not mean to state that “going along” with the bride in any way trumps obedience to God, only that her culpability for such disobedience (if, indeed, that is an accurate characterization) may be mitigated because she is not in a position to choose her attire, and was under a false impression (that the dress would be modest) when she agreed to assist, and that it is the right and duty of the pastor alone to intervene. Moreover, I would characterize this not as disobedience, but as immodesty.

    Also, this is only one possible way to look at the situation–a situation for which I have very few facts–and I did not imply that I had come to a conclusion.

    No, clearly, if your assessment was correct, that would be shamefully relativistic of me! I apologize for my lack of clarity. Thank God that this is the Internet, where authors have a chance to clarify already-published works!

  17. ckdexterhaven says:

    A bolero is another name for a shrug. Hope that helps all the men out there. LOL ;)

  18. Ernesto Gonzalez says:

    Sadly, tart is the not the proper analogue for the way most normal women look in strapless dresses. A more appropriate baked good would be muffin.

  19. pfreddys says:

    Since she is the Maid of Honor the point could be made that the bolero thingy is there to distinquish her status.

  20. SemperAMDG says:

    Choirmaster, (smile), no harm, no foul. I’m just tired of brides being Bridezillas (fortunately the bride in my case is not!!).

    In any case, I hope the original poster sticks with the bolero or a shawl/wrap! I also do wish all priests would be firmer in their modesty regulations… As it is, I imagine that this priest, like many, has so much on his pastoral plate that perhaps he forgets this kind of thing until it’s too late (e.g, when the bride is coming down the aisle)!

  21. jmhj5 says:

    It has been a long day —>right? I am laughing with tears..thank you….
    God Bless you…(looking up to heaven)
    Serious note…let’s pray for Japan and our broken country.

  22. Choirmaster says:

    @Ernesto Gonzalez: You’re right, immodesty does have it’s down-side!

    @SemperAMDG: We must pray for priests. They probably do think of things like this, and even more probably they are held-back by powers greater than Bridezilla!

  23. Denise says:

    Some 27 years ago I wore my mother’s wedding dress. It was a timeless design–much lace and long sleeves. When my sister was married the year prior, she purchased her dress. Again, fully covered and long sleeves. Today when looking through catalogs of wedding dresses you would be hard pressed to find one with sleeves at all and, by far, the most common styles are strapless. However, if you google Mormon wedding gowns you will find several sites that cater to those seeking modest wedding dresses. Obviously, the Mormons are adhering to standards of modesty while our Catholic churches are not. It would be most helpful if pastors set out some guidelines for bridal party attire. Parish guidelines requiring some minimal standards of modesty would prevent the awkward situation this poor maid of honor now faces.

  24. inara says:

    I say wear the bolero…because she agreed to it, because hopefully she at least cares enough about you as a friend to realize how upsetting it would be to you to not wear it, and because (and this may work the best, since apparently she’s round the bend & will only listen to arguments plucked from bridal magazines) the Maid of Honor’s dress is *often* different than the other maids~ a 2 minute google on bridal party dress etiquette brought up the following:
    “the maid of honor generally stands out with a different style or different color dress”
    “The Maid of Honor could have a dress designed differently from the other bridesmaids to make her stand out in the entourage.”
    “Usually, the Maid of Honor has something different about her so that everyone knows she is the MOH.”

  25. MargaretC says:

    I am puzzled by the vogue for strapless wedding dresses. Strapless gowns work only on a small number of women with perfect figures — neither too thin, too plump, nor too, um…voluptuous.

    There’s a show on TLC called “Say Yes to the Dress”. It is based in what seems to be a very expensive showroom for wedding dresses, and the action centers on watching young women spend fortunes for radically unflattering finery. An excellent illustration of the effects of worldly vanity.

  26. templariidvm says:

    Absolutely there should be no tarts in church! Think of all the crumbs that would need to be vacuumed and if the fruit filling . . . oh, not that kind of tart?? nvm. Be modest. The important choices are seldom simple. If standing up for something of this nature were easy, then most would be modest.

  27. JKnott says:

    Father I enjoyed your post immensely . It was a wonderul laughing moment which was very welcome today.
    There is a local area church which is so beautiful that many brides love to get married there. A few years ago the pastor had it with the strapless set.
    After informing brides in the bulletin and personally, he actually sent a letter to ALL of the local stores that sold bridal gowns and informed them that strapless, backless and low cut wedding gowns would no longer be permitted in the church. Just wanted to warn them not to bother showing them. New policy!
    It made the New York Times.
    Weddings in that church decreased by 50% but he rule still stands.
    I knew what a bolero was but I never heard the expressiion “tart” before. Is it European?

  28. @Henry Edwards, I was confused too. I just couldn’t figure out what wearing a Bolero had to do with bare shoulders, much less a Maid of Honor, lol. Cowboys wear a Bolero as seen in the photo at the end of the link below. I could just picture the scene, only with a turquoise Bolero or a bucking bronc depicted.

  29. JulieC says:

    I had to put my cup of tea down for this since I was laughing so hard at your red comments I almost choked. Thanks, Father, for bringing light and sanity to this mad, mad world.

  30. Talking about tarts; yesterday we couldn’t drive our usual two hours to the TLM because of sick kids. Hubby went to the neigboring town to an early Mass and I stayed in town for a later one. Three highschool or college-aged girls walked in and sat in front of me. One looked as though she had a towel and nothing else wrapped around her. The others weren’t dressed much better. So if we have sick kids and can’t get to a TLM, can we get a dispensation? Yeah, probably not.

    Also, has anyone tried to get a decent confirmation dress for a 15 year old.? Our daughter is required to wear a white dress with 3/4 inch sleeves. There ain’t such an animal. Everything is strapless these days.

  31. AndyMo says:

    The MOH should get a big tattoo across her shoulders and back, and then it will have to be covered up because the bride won’t want the MOH’s new tattoo to be the center of attention.

    That won’t work. As an organist, I’ve seen it all, including a MoH in a backless dress with an enormous scorpion tatoo right behind her shoulder. There are no words.

  32. wanda says:

    As someone else mentioned above, it is and has always been proper that the Maid of Honor be dressed similar, but not identical, to the bride’s maids. Bigger bouquet, deeper/lighter shade of dress than the bride’s maids, etc. The bottom line here for the writer is to stand your ground and tell this bride – ‘I’m wearing the jacket, or I’m not in your wedding.’

    Hey Catholic Bride’s – cut out the nonsense – NO STRAPLESS GOWNS, okay? Cover yourselves up for heaven’s sake, for modesty’s sake for the sake of revernce and decorum in the house of God. ANNNND, for the sake of the priests who have to stand inches away from you and try to not look at you – you know where!!

    Father, I am sorry for yelling in your combox.

  33. Thomas S. says:

    Our son is getting married this summer (Feast of the Sacred Heart, EF Mass). Included with the invitations was a note requesting that, out of respect for Our Lord, the men wear a suit and tie, and the women’s dresses be below the knee, no bare shoulders or cleavage. We were surprised that two people actually objected to that note – both of them men in their sixties. And, it wasn’t because of what they were being asked to wear, but because of the audacity of informing the women that even slightly “tart” outfits would not be acceptable. Go figure.

  34. benedetta says:

    You see now that’s just what I’m talking about…Ernesto gets to make comments like that but what if the groom and his ushers and best man felt compelled for reasons of being au courant with the latest fashions to show up wearing wife-beaters? Then where would we be? In the moderation combox, yes we know all too well…Oh, the humanity!

  35. introibo says:

    At local church here in CT (might be the one JKnott above is referring to), pastor will not marry brides who do not have their shoulders covered.
    By the way, making these little jackets to cover immodest dresses could be a good “cottage” industry..

  36. Fr. Basil says:

    May I point out it’s NOT the bride’s wedding.

    It’s the CHURCH’S wedding service, and it’s being bestowed on the groom as well as the bride.

    (I’m not talking about the Sacrament of Matrimony as such here.)

    BTW, I think a matching or coordinating bolero on the bridesmaids would be very chic.

  37. inara says:

    Suz in OK ~ bravo to your pastor/DRE for upholding Pope Pius XI’s standards for proper dress!
    try here: http://www.lds-index.org/clothing.html
    All the links under the “Temple” heading (bottom right) will have only white dresses, mostly floor length & long sleeved, some are spendy but some are reasonably priced.
    I have often dreamed of starting a modest dresswear business, so I wouldn’t have to keep going to LDS websites to clothe our 4 girls…

  38. AngelineOH says:

    Thank you, Fr. Basil, for making the point that it is not the bride’s wedding. As the mother of 4 sons, I’ve had to listen to that claptrap way too much. As I recall, my sons were also getting married on those days!

    I pray for the day when standards of modesty are enforced in the Church. I hope the MOH who wrote in stands her ground. A “friend” who would try to force her to betray her beliefs is no true friend.

  39. skull kid says:

    This has to be one of your funniest posts ever Father! But you do realise that you have offended grievously all the liturgical tarts who read this blog. That damage is irreparable.

    But seriously, I’d say to the lady – get out, now! I’m sorry to say it, but I can’t imagine you didn’t see this coming. We must witness to the faith, and that means, for one thing, not dressing immodestly.

  40. Cathomommy says:

    @inara: Please DO start your modest dresswear business! So far my husband and I have been blessed with all boys, but I have often thought despairingly about where I would have to shop in order to dress any daughters modestly. For myself, I will be your first customer. As it is, I have resorted to buying gently used Mennonite dresses off of Ebay.

  41. Philangelus says:

    AndyMo, I was thinking if the tattoo was brand-new and no one had seen it before, the bride might want it covered because it would be a curiosity. If it already existed and was an established part of the bridesmaid’s persona, well, I imagine she put it there to be seen, so no one would ask her to cover it.

    My mom said that once when she was still doing the PreCana ministry in her church, the priest made the bride tuck a white handkerchief down the front of her wedding gown because it was obscene. I dread the day my daughter decides to get married (she’s only nine) and my husband has already offered her money to have a Church-elopement. :-)

  42. fieldsparrow says:

    In terms of finding modest dresses with sleeves, I have recently gotten a few things from eShakti.com where you can customize the length (most have a below-the-knee or longer option), neckline (no plunging Vs here!) and sleeves, so you can pick cap sleeves, or short, or 3/4 length, etc. I have been pleased with their clothes so far although their ship times are a bit longer than what they advertise, but it gives you lots of options on some very tasteful, more retro than frumpy dresses.

  43. RichardT says:

    Fr Z said ” if you are a tart, please don’t dress like a tart for weddings”

    Surely it is even more important that girls who are NOT tarts avoid dressing like one?

    After all, if a real tart showed up at Church, it might just be the start of repentance. As the judge sang in Patricia the Stripper, “Case dismissed… This girl was in her working clothes…”

  44. RichardT says:

    Oh, and I love the St John Chrysostom quote about wine. Does anyone have a source for it? [I will put on my old Patristiblogger hat for a mo, and refer you both to St. John’s Homilies on the Statues 1,7 as well as my patristicblog entry about the same.]

  45. LadyMedievalist says:

    I ran into this very problem last year; the bride would not budge on the dresses even though she was to be married at our diocese’s cathedral, so I bowed out of the wedding. Sadly, it caused a rift in our friendship and she is rather cool towards me now.

    As an aside, I think whenever I’m called to this sacrament, I’ll have my dress made to avoid this issue

  46. PhilipNeri says:

    A Very Cranky Response: the more weddings I perform/witness/celebrate, the more convinced I become that couples are focused on the wedding and not the marriage. I vote for weddings with no one else present but the couple, the clergyman, two witnesses, parents, one friend each, and a total budget of $500. Flowers, extra personnel, big budget items, etc. will be limited to the reception. Marriage is a sacrament NOT a time for the bride to become an Intolerable Diva.

    Going back into my cave, Fr. Philip Neri, OP

  47. Charles E Flynn says:

    This may be off-topic, but there was once a priest who had a few deficiencies in his celebration of the mass, including the use of a glass pseudo-chalice, but he made one observation that deserves to be remembered:

    The longer the limousine at the wedding, the shorter the marriage.

  48. THREEHEARTS says:

    I was once not too long ago told a story by a Phillipino Priest who helped I believe be the Church’s witness at a wedding, a society wedding in Manila. The brides dress was slashed unbelievedly down the front. At the accompanying liturgy as The Priest bent over the Bride as she received communion. He looked down and as he said afterwards, he nearly said Christ what a Body

  49. benedetta says:

    THREEHEARTS I think you’re testing the new moderation/combox system with that one.

    Anyone else have the spaghetti for supper tonight?

  50. APX says:

    The bottom line here for the writer is to stand your ground and tell this bride – ‘I’m wearing the jacket, or I’m not in your wedding.’
    Sadly, in today’s world of “me, myself and I” the bride would choose the MOH to not be in the wedding, accuse her of being “selfish” and get her family on her side to think the same thing.

    The wedding is all about the bride, and the ceremony is just an inconvenience that the priest should hurry up and get through because they still have to get pictures done before the reception, before the sun is shining in the wrong direction, and will cast an ugly shadow in the pictures, aside from the one the bride’s attitude is casting. I don’t know how priests don’t lose their patience and charity towards brides.

    Only a bride could get away with treating her friends like cacca, and convince her other friends and family she’s “totally justified in acting this way ’cause it’s MY day.

    How many men would put up fits of rage from the groom, over chair covers, flowers, centerpieces etc, spending $400+ on a dress they’d only wear once, hair, make-up, nails, shoes, jewelry, etc., another $400+ on a stagette, $200+ on a bridal shower, only to have the groom complain about it, and having to assist the groom in the washroom repeatedly throughout the night (the other honor the MOH gets. Sigh). No man would. They’d take the groom out back and “rectify the problem”.

    Priests need to strictly enforce the rules on modesty in Church. If something is revealing, give them a surplice. IMHO, I’ve seen nicer looking surplices than dress bodices. Hopefully people attending weddings in the EF wear more modest apparel with higher necklines. Nothing quite like giving the poor priest that aeriel view at communion.

    It’s a sad day when vanity comes before respect for friends and God.

  51. AnAmericanMother says:

    Since the bride already agreed to let her wear the bolero, she ought to hold her to her promise. Sometimes you just have to put your foot down, and certainly showing ones undergarments in church is a non-starter.

    Obiter dicta: The western string tie is called a “bolo”. It has nothing to do with “bolero” – it’s named after the bolas or weighted lariat used by Argentine gauchos.
    The “bolero” is the abbreviated jacket, also called a “spencer” if it’s the style worn with an Empire dress with a high waistline.
    The easiest way to get modest clothing that you like is to sew it yourself. It is not difficult – I taught myself because my mom can’t sew and although my grandmother could have taught me, I wasn’t interested in learning until after she passed away (too soon old; too late wise). I made all of my daughter’s dresses when she was little, and I still make special occasion things for her, as well as Scottish Country Dance attire and Cowboy Action attire for my husband and myself. Seriously, if I can learn to do it, anybody can.
    I avoided the whole wedding issue by wearing my mother’s very modest wedding dress at my wedding – heavy weight silk satin, jewel neckline, cap sleeves, princess bodice and chapel train. If it fits my daughter, she’s going to wear it too. Oddly enough, my bridesmaids and maid of honor wore boleros! (they were peach colored, and the guys’ tuxes were matching peach. Hey, it was the 70s!)
    Since we went to the reception in a ’62 Studebaker convertible (hey, it was the 70s!) our limo couldn’t have been much shorter.

  52. ajbasso says:

    God bless the Maid of Honor for her modesty. May more young women adhere to this truly lady-like trait.

    on a side-note, St. Cyril of Jerusalem offered this advice on our apparel: “But let your apparel be plain, not for adornment, but for necessary covering: not to minister to your vanity, but to keep you warm in winter, and to hide the unseemliness of the body: lest under pretence of hiding the unseemliness, thou fall into another kind of unseemliness by your extravagant dress.”

  53. chadmyers says:

    Did I read this right?

    Fr. Z: If… you don’t want to wear immodest clothing in church, then don’t.

    Did Fr. Z just tell a young lady not to wear clothing in church?

  54. Chad: Hmmm … that would probably lead to liturgical dance. Not good.

  55. tioedong says:

    a bolero jacket has short sleeves, is short and doesn’t button. I wore one for the wedding and formal party of my nephew here in the Philippines,..with the Bolero, I could cover up in church but remove it to cool off. Immodest? that depends more on the cut of the gown…
    Strapless is not the same as immodest, but for those of us “full figured” women, going strapless is not as comfortable as a normal gown…and of course, unless all the bridesmaids are size six and under age 25, the group will probably will probably look more silly than immodest.

    This EHOW link has suggestions to make it more modest.

  56. chonak says:

    One little detail: the dress has already been made, so has the original questioner paid for it already, or would the bride’s family be paying for it?

  57. APX says:

    One little detail: the dress has already been made, so has the original questioner paid for it already, or would the bride’s family be paying for it?

    I’m the original questioner, and I paid for it.

  58. Torpedo1 says:

    I didn’t ever want to believe it, but it’s really true. Lots of traditionalest Catholics really are cranky. My sister will not read this blog any longer because she has seen too many comment threads like this one. I introduced her to this blog in the hope that she’d understand why I have become so traditional in the past few years. I believe that this blog is a great thing, a much needed thing and it has taught me more about what the Mass really is, what it should be and what our part in it as Catholics truely is, but because 90 percent of the commenters do nothing but complain instead of pray and advocate for the conversion of people they don’t like, she left with the same impression of Traditionalist Catholics that she came in with. She said the nature of the comments reminded her of the 2 men in the temple. One says, “Thank you God for making me not like them.” and the other says, “Have mercy on me Lord, a sinner.” I’d like to think that we were the latter man, but it looks as though we, more often times, are not.
    This particular post really struck home with my sister. She does dress modestly all of the time and she worked very hard to find a gown that was modest for her as well as her brides maids. I’m the maid of honor and believe me, I would’ve told her flat out what wasn’t appropriate. But after this post she really does feel like a cheap, 2 bit Tart because her dress is strapless.
    I know I’m emotional right now, because this is my twin sister and I love her more than anyone else aside from Christ, but frankly, I think we should all take a good look at ourselves before we launch into another venting comment thread. Because while venting is good and needs to happen, we shouldn’t let our justifiable anger grow into something which can only produce rotten fruit.

  59. americangirl says:

    Here is the way to solve the problem of strapless dresses at a wedding. When I was married 38 years ago I was told unequivocally the bride and all her attendants needed to make certain their shoulders were covered. We knew it was a house of God and appropriate dress was expected. Today a million and one rules exist on what to do and not to do (here’s a ridiculous rule) a simple gesture of leaving a small bouquet of flowers near Our Lady should be considered only after the ceremony is completed. Yet, many of our clergy are allowing young ladies to enter the Church quite frankly exposed (to say the least) It is time to restore sanity to wedding ceremonies and remember who is present and why a couple chooses to wed in a Church. If the directives of covering oneself is not acceptable to the bride then she should not be married in the Church. Simply put if she can not find it in herself to respect the Lord it isn’t the Lord she wants but the fantasy of a Church ceremony. The length of time for a wedding Mass to be celebrated is probably no more then an hour and fifteen minutes. I believe it is fair to ask her out of respect for the God whose blessing she desires to dress appropriately and modestly. If that means a cape, a sweater, a bolero or a towel so be it.

  60. Singing Mum says:

    I love the stain/ sunburn idea. Hee hee.
    MOH, if you made a deal and paid for the dress, I don’t see how it can be fair that your friend would demand this if you. And to ask you to flash your brastrap to those in attendance on top of it? Incredible.
    Fr. Z, this whole… Ahem… indecent affair must be quite vocation-affirming for you. Silver lining and all.

  61. APX says:

    @ Torpedo1
    “But after this post she really does feel like a cheap, 2 bit Tart because her dress is strapless.”

    Unless you’re sister’s strapless dress is tasteless and trashy, she shouldn’t feel like a “tart” (In all fairness, I didn’t call anyone a tart. I had to look it up myself.), but strapless dresses really aren’t appropriate for a Catholic Church. I have never attended a Catholic School which permitted wearing any type of clothing that showed one’s shoulders, let alone was strapless, so really, why would it be appropriate for a Catholic Church, where the Most Holy Sacrifice takes place right on the altar? Some churches still even keep the Tabernacle right there on the altar front and centre with the Blessed Sacrament. It’s out of respect and decency that women should keep themselves covered, especially at Mass.

    On a side note, not everyone on here is a “traditionalist”. I despise being labelled that because I just prefer to go to the TLM whenever possible and prefer not to pick and choose what I believe in.

  62. Dear Father,

    I almost choked on my Mystic Monk coffee reading your comments. It’s been a long day and the humor break was nice. Thank you :-)

    To the MoH, stick to YOUR convictions, not the bride’s. When I was 9 yrs old I was a junior bridesmaid in my Aunt’s wedding and the dresses were low-cut with off the shoulder sleeves. My Grandmother had a seamstress make my neckline higher and sew a ruffle on it. On the day of the wedding in the Church basement the bride’s mother loudly complained that my dress was different in front of everyone and threatened to rip the ruffle off. When I told her it was because the neckline was too low she immediately looked ashamed and shut-up. Sometimes it takes our actions to show others the error of their ways. My guess is that the bride doesn’t want to be shown or told that she is immodest. I have a friend who has slowly come to the realization that modest clothing is really more appropriate. She told me once that she never felt more immodest or ashamed of her clothes than when she was around modestly dressed women.

    You might lose a friend, but will save your soul.

    God bless

  63. RichardT says:

    Excellent, thank you Father. Looks like I should read some St. John Chrysostom.

  64. Imrahil says:

    I think @Torpedo1 is right. Well, what is modesty? Modesty is, in this case, fitting dress. It may be a (relatively unimportant – which is, of course, not saying that it ought in any way to be neglected) matter in the area of faith to wear fitting dress. It is a matter not of faith but of fittingness what dress is fitting.

    What dress is fitting in Church? The dress the Church accepts. Is there any verse of Scripture, any decisive tradition or any papal or diocesan order that forbids straplessness as intrinsically immodest? I doubt it. The Church could, maybe (I don’t discuss that) even should order something. But as seems clear, the Church, in this case represented by the assisting priest and his superiors, has not spoken.

    What is then, among things allowed, fitting – in normal circumstances? What oneself carefully chooses with respect to one’s habit, the custom of the country, certain intrinsical necessities which covering of the shoulders does not belong to, and all these kind of things. It may be said that dress usually considered modest is at first simply most beautiful in most cases… but I disgress.

    Anyway, a wedding is no normal circumstance. The Sacrament assuredly is not bride and groom’s property in the sense that they can do everything with it. But as long as the Church has not spoken to the contrary, in a wedding fitting is still what the bride and groom consider fitting. And it is not a thing necessitated by one’s faith (except, you know what I mean, in the sense of general charity) to fight one’s friend’s bridezillaness.

  65. jflare says:

    Don’t know if it precisely matters, but…
    …even as a teen, I typically had a terrible time holding a girl or woman with any respect if she insisted upon wearing a shoulderless and/or backless dress or insisted upon wearing skirts that only went an inch or two past the knee. Doesn’t matter to me whether she’s going to church, school, dance (prom), or whatever.

    Honestly ladies, I’m a guy. For whatever reason, God made me prone to SEE whatever stuff you put in front of me. If you’re wearing something loose and you bend over, I may see a good deal of you that I don’t need to see.

    If I’m not your husband, I don’t need to see it.


    PS. Even if I AM your husband, I STILL don’t need to see it most of the time…..

  66. Imrahil says:

    I admit, of course, that – as far as a male layman can evaluate on this question at all – who has chosen strapless dress in Church, in the said normal circumstances, has probably gotten something wrong. At least (in the following cases, I simply don’t know) if not a bride or bridesmaid or graduating studentess in the thanksgiving service or any of these things of rare occurrence.

  67. albizzi says:

    My conclusion is that the priests of the times being look too ignorant about all the feminine fashion’s technical terms. If they want to better understand their female penitents, since they are not allowed to have any adviser on that issue together with them in the confessional, the diocese must arrange fashion’s courses to their intention. Regular updatings would be needed too, since the trends are changing so quickly.
    Just joking…

  68. benedetta says:

    Imrahil, I think we need to focus on the task at hand and not get bogged down in a discourse on “what is modesty”. These are the facts as we know them. The Maid of Honor asked, could she wear a bolero, in church. The bride apparently agreed. Acting on this the Maid of Honor then goes for her fittings for the gown, and she and the seamstress decide that it won’t matter that undergarments will be showing since she will be wearing a bolero. She was proceeding on what the bride agreed to, not some sort of campaign for vigilante modesty…So then at some point, the bride renegs and tells this Maid of Honor that she does not want her to wear this bolero. So the choices available to this Maid of Honor are, wear her gown with undergarments showing which would apparently appease the bride, or bow out of the wedding party. She is not looking to make a federal case out of modesty. And truly perhaps the parish itself ought to have some guidelines. Have seen locally one Eastern Rite parish post an item about decorum and reverence at Mass so it is not totally unheard of.
    As to what is modesty one could ask, on the jersey shore show (or whatever it might be) why do they dress this way…it is not only because it is “fashionable”.
    No one is saying that strapless dresses should be forbidden but a lovely shawl or bolero for the church doesn’t seem much to ask at all. It is still a standard, for church, in many places. Undeniably our bodies are created as good. But the Lord doesn’t see women in the way that society or fashion views women, thankfully. No, the Lord looks upon us with a chaste, unconditional love. I don’t think given the immensity that it would be so much to ask to make a worthy response to this.
    I wonder if those who work in the prayer shawl ministries in parishes could also put together baskets of sewn or crocheted, simple cloth shawls in baskets near the Church entrances in summertime as a wrap for someone so that their lack of coverage doesn’t distract others from prayer.

  69. Maria says:

    So, she,and he, wish to get married before God Himself in The Catholic Church.

    She, or he, or both must be Catholic then.
    They know the protocol and reasons for it then.

    If they want to make a mockery of The Church and the Priest is for it, then its up to them, but you should not have to compromise for ANYONE, except God.

    Don’t do it I say and let her find some other lukewarm friend to oblige.

  70. snowowl1234 says:

    LOL! Both kinds of tarts can be a little fruity.

  71. APX says:

    @ Imrahil
    Is there […] any papal or diocesan order that forbids straplessness as intrinsically immodest? I doubt it.

    Yes, there is, quite a bit, actually.

    “A dress cannot be called decent which is cut deeper than two fingers breadth under the pit of the throat; which does not cover the arms at least to the elbows; and scarcely reaches a bit beyond the knees. Furthermore, dresses of transparent materials are improper.”
    The Cardinal Vicar of Pius XII”

  72. soontobemrs says:

    I give up. No one bothered to even listen to my sister, torpedo1. I think I am done reading this blog. [Okay.] I tried to give the TLM a chance [?] but the people who attend it and their attitudes of arrogance towards others turns me away from a beautiful mass that should bring out charity and love and patience. [That’s your reason? Really?] I see from this blog that that is not the case. [That’s your evidence?] I will defend or apologize for my actions on what the Church herself tells me not some traditionalist Catholics who think they are better than everyone else because they go to a different Mass. [I suspect you have other issues. But if you are making a decision about which Mass to attend based on how some people ON A BLOG failed to meet your expectations… then… I think you should rethink your starting points. Till then… Arrivederci!]

  73. Gail F says:

    A woman’s bolero jacket is named after a bullfighter’s jacket and has the same short, boxy look (but not usually the gold trim and epaulettes!).

    Strapless dresses ARE the top style in wedding dresses right now, women will have a hard time finding anything else unless they go to a store that caters to Mormons, Orthodox Jews, etc. Or, of course, unless they have their wedding gowns made for them — an option that is actually less expensive in many cases and that results in a gown that actually fits. But your typical woman who is used to buying things at a store is going to end up with a strapless gown because that’s what’s for sale. Even though, as readers have pointed out, strapless gowns actually look terrible on many people. This is just reality, folks.

    The tailor who posted is correct — no tailor or alterations person should EVER have fitted a dress without the undergarments that should be worn with it. If a bra strap showed, then the readerette needed to purchase a different undergarment even if she would be wearing a jacket over it. That’s just how clothing works.

    Finally, I think that churches really should step in and tell brides that they should not wear strapless gowns or plunging necklines. Shawls and jackets can solve this for most people. There are even beautiful wedding coats that can go over a bride’s gown, if she wants to spend that much extra money. But this is a case where rules from the beginning would solve a lot.

    In this case I would go with Choirmaster and do what the bride says, or buy a shawl and wear it for the wedding but not for the pictures. Maybe her parents are pressuring her to have everyone match, who knows? I don’t think it is the affront to God that others seem to think it is, especially as all the other women in the party will be dressed the same way. But readerette really CANT do this if her underwear is going to show, so the whole argument is moot.

  74. St John Chrysostom: On Marriage and Family Life (St Vladimir’s Seminary Press)


    ADVISORY: Introductory chapter explains the teaching of the Orthodox Church regarding the Sacrament of Matrimony, which differs in some respects from Catholic teaching. The homilies of the Saint himself, however, are superb. Seek out a good priest to help you navigate the finer points, or just send me an e-mail. If I don’t know, I know who does.

  75. soontobemrs:

    There is a fine line between spiritual piety and spiritual pride. You will find that even the saints had to struggle with this themselves. Those of us who share in this forum are no exception. Many here have endured public humiliation (and I don’t mean online) in the course of defending their Faith. While perhaps a little strident at times, the intention here is to perform a spiritual work of mercy, namely to “instruct the ignorant.” Now, the term may be pejorative in present usage, but such is not intended. Still, if the comments bother you, do not read them. I invite you to confine yourself to the good Father’s posts, which are themselves most illuminating.

    Or you may contact me via e-mail, and your remarks will be kept in confidence.

  76. Soontobmrs — If you’re still out there… First, it’s unlikely that these posters even saw your first post, since a lot of people were replying directly to Fr. Z. Second, obviously your sister has no need to be ashamed of her dress if she was fully covered and if nobody ever told her that shoulders are supposed to be covered in church. (Which a lot of younger people don’t know.) You start from where you are and where the people around you are. Third, most of the commenters on this blog aren’t EF-massgoers and aren’t particularly traditionalist. Rather, the last twenty years have been a time of dressing to extremes. The pendulum is swinging back, that’s all. (And a lot of us never accepted low decolletage, bare midriffs, and crazy short hemlines, including most workplaces.)

    Basically, though, fashion has told brides to wear a sort of ball gown/eveningwear for their wedding dresses. However, there’s traditionally been a big difference between the formality of a ball gown or evening dress, and the formality of a church dress — because a ball gown or evening gown is about attracting men and dancing (and drinking, in an evening gown), whereas a church gown is about greeting the Lord with the formality of dignity and courtliness, dressing up to gain His favor and to show others that you take His House seriously.

    If you wore a princess’ court dress to a nightclub or a Broadway show, you’d look like an idiot. (Unless you were onstage and the Broadway show was “My Fair Lady”.) If you went to church in a slinky sexy red evening dress slit up to here and cut down to there, you’d look like an idiot. (Or somebody who was just getting home from an all-night party and didn’t want to miss church.) Neither of these is necessarily immodest or over the top — in their proper setting. The fashion industry would rather avoid having to sew and fit sleeves on wedding gowns (because it’s less profitable than the vast expanses of plain fabric), so they try to blur the lines toward evening gown and away from dress.

  77. patrick_f says:

    A nice long mantilla would solve all their problems!!

  78. Soontobmrs — Anyway, a lot of people get fooled by fashion at their weddings, and it’s embarrassing in later years but not anything to be ashamed about, since she didn’t know. Think about all the powder-blue tuxedos you’ve seen in wedding pictures of your parents’ friends. :) The only reason the wedding fashion industry exists, is that they convinced people that you can’t just show up in the bride’s best dress and the groom’s best suit.

    patrick f — What, bring back the wedding cloak? :)

  79. You should never allow anyone to pressurise you into wearing something immodest any more than you should allow them to pressurise you into committing any other kind of sin. Bow out, graciously explain why you are bowing out, and then do not dwell on feelings of guilt for any hurt or anger occasioned because it is truly not of your own making (so long as you deal with it graciously of course). You even told her at the start that you would not consent to wearing anything immodest so there is absolutely no excuse for this kind of behaviour from the bride’s side. Bridesmaids should be co-operative but not to the extent of consenting to immodesty.

  80. irishgirl says:

    I was a bridesmaid only once, at my older sister’s wedding back in the mid-1970s. The dress I and three others wore were blue denim, with ruffles on the sleeve openings and the hem. We wore different color blouses (long-sleeved-the wedding was in September) and had different colored small kerchiefs on our heads (think: Tevye’s daughters in ‘Fiddler On The Roof’). My sister’s gown was very simple, made by an Indian tailor (or seamstress) in Canada. No strapless stuff back then!
    It is so disgusting about the wedding gowns that are worn today! It’s even worse for bridesmaids!
    Better to wear a simple dress (hand-made) and elope!
    Betcha Catherine Middleton won’t wear a strapless dress when she marries Prince William in London!

  81. Soontobmrs and Topedo1: I am sorry if I was offensive. I did sound rather pharisaical when I mentioned I didn’t like the dress at the local NO parish. But, you see, I grew up with that. I wore very immodest clothing. So, I am angry when the authority in the church doesn’t speak up and say “this is wrong.” I was involved in very inapriopriate, sinful behavior and my way of dress was a small symptom of my behavior and outlook. I went to Mass every Sunday, yet knew nothing. I think that I go to the TLM because I learn something there every time I go. I also can be complacent and I have no time to even notice who is wearing what. I am not good enough to be able to rise above what I see happening at my local Novus Ordo Parish. I am a sinner and I must surround myself with beauty and reverence because I get really distracted. I hope that makes sense and I am sorry if I sounded cranky. I have a feeling that I know you because of your name–you must be an Okie.

  82. quaerens_sapientiam says:

    I have to know how the soap opera ends! APX, please let us know what you do (and please, go for the bolero).

  83. Athelstan says:

    A reply to Soontobemrs, torpedo1:

    I didn’t ever want to believe it, but it’s really true. Lots of traditionalest Catholics really are cranky. My sister will not read this blog any longer because she has seen too many comment threads like this one. I introduced her to this blog in the hope that she’d understand why I have become so traditional in the past few years.

    No need to despair – I would second Manwithblackhat’s post, and add a few more observations.

    1) Reading too many blogs probably *isn’t* good for your sanity.

    2) With blogs, you always have to distinguish between bloggers and combox posters. Some great bloggers – and Fr. Z is one – can draw much less edifying posters. You don’t have to open up the comments box if you think that’s the case. Don’t judge a blog by its posters.

    3) Some traddies *are* cranky, and perhaps not without cause. They’ve suffered a lot over the years. But I would caution that the internet is not the best place to gather a representative sample. It naturally draws the most vocal, the most heated, in disproportionate numbers.

    And in any event, as others have noted, not all who post here really are TLM exclusive traddies. Some are just folks looking for support, not denigration, in their desire to be modest; and in today’s society, the denigration is more likely to be incoming.

    4) Prepping for a wedding heightens the sensibilities and the emotions, and it’s natural to be defensive about any perceived judgments about your choices. But I wouldn’t be quick to take every such comment here in that way.

  84. La Sandia says:

    My general rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t wear anything in church that would get you kicked out of St. Peter’s Basilica.

    Unfortunately, as many readers have mentioned, it is nearly impossible to find wedding dresses that are not strapless, despite the inappropriateness for a church wedding and the fact that for most women it is a very unflattering style. And these modern brides seem oblivious to the patent absurdity of pairing a strapless gown with a veil–it almost makes it look like they forgot to put something on between their dress and their headpiece. I was reading an article about this very phenomenon a while back, in which the author linked the growth of immodest wedding dresses with the increasingly casual attitude towards marriage itself. In short, the vows became displaced by the grand entrance of the bride, who is now the focus of attention and thus must look as glamorous as possible. In addition, even though every bride wants to look like a bride, they don’t want to look like the virgin that they probably are not–hence the white dress and veil (symbolizing virginity and purity) but nothing above the bustline.

    For my wedding, my bridesmaids wore strapless dresses (it was the favorite dress that my MOH tried on), but they had matching stoles that provided ample coverage during the TLM nuptial mass. The problem was less with them than with a number of our female guests who had obviously missed or ignored our request for appropriate attire in the church. Sigh.

  85. The maid of honor is the most special bridesmaid so it’s OK if she stands out or looks slightly different from the rest. She should wear the bolero and remind the bride of this fact(?) and not feel bad about it.

  86. inara says:

    Suz, that’s just it…our priests are too afraid to protect & defend feminine dignity by educating us all on what the Church’s standard on modesty actually is. The standards APX posted above were issued to all bishops, along with a Papal Decree Concerning Modesty: http://www.olvrc.com/documents/Modesty.Pius.XI.pdf
    which used very strong language & directed all priests to preach on this topic on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception & other Marian feast days. It even said this:

    9. Women and girls who wear immodest clothes are to be prohibited
    from Holy Communion and from the office of sponsor in the sacraments of
    Baptism and Confirmation, and in certain cases, they are to be prohibited even
    from entry into the church.

    Every priest I have shown this to & tried to encourage to remain faithful to his duty in this regard has not had the strength to do so…I pray I will find one someday.

  87. Inara–I agree that priests need to take a stand and have courage! A few years ago we had a great priest who would say things like, “Since when is beach attire appropriate for the Holy sacrifice of the Mass?” and “I’m keeping it cold in the church, whether it’s winter or summer. Make sure you wear plenty of clothes.” He also would talk about the dignity of women, but that seemed to go over some heads. It probably would have gone over my head several years ago, too!

  88. patrick_f says:

    Last Sunday at mass father mentioned how we dress for mass, and used the phrase “Outward Appearance reflect inward attitudes” , and to remember who we are recieving into ourselves for mass. And also that its not a “Barbecue” that we show up for.

    The wedding is not so much about making a glamorous day, but publiclly joining into sacramental life together – Our society fosters this idea that the Wedding is some sort of Graduated prom…

    It is not – we as married couple Kneel MOST OF THE TIME, even in the Novus Ordo – We are imploring God’s help in our lives, so that by our marriage we can be an outward sign of God’s grace to the world – that requires the correct disposition

    I would barter that in maybe 90 percent of the weddings, this concept is being missed – Its all about how perfect the dress looks, or how “sexy” things like shoulders…or toes…or finger nails or whatever look.

    You have to ask yourself….Does that impress anyone that matters …that TRULY matters in the church? Does it foster a spirit of Chastity that the groom has already seen most of the bride ..and from some dresses I have seen, I mean most…before the Final Blessing is even done? People confuse chastity big time in a marriage, its about keeping your body sacred for each other – How is a strappless dress..that exposes the shoulders and back..or low necklines…keeping your body sacred?

    I dont mean to come off judgemnental…I am only trying to challenge the two sisters and others who might read blogs like this – The wedding is more about asking God for the grace to live with each other, and do his work..then its about dresses, or tuxes, or dances…or entrances – Those are all nice things, but wont help you in your life together

    For the record – I am far from traditionalist – I kinda see myself as down the middle – And have been married only a meager 8 years, but, hopefully I have shared some experience – We all need to read Corinthians – The liberalists get hung up on the “Wives be submissive to your husbands” part..but you gotta keep reading , “Husbands Love your Wives as Christ loved the world” … Wives – You have so much inner beauty, dont spoil it by selling yourselves.

  89. nanetteclaret says:

    In addition to Pope Pius XI’s Papal Decree, there is also this:

    Shortly before her death in 1920, Blessed Jacinta Marto was told by Our Lady of Fatima: “The sins which lead most souls to hell are sins of the flesh! Certain fashions are going to be introduced which will offend Our Lord very much. Those who serve God should not follow these fashions. The Church has no fashions; Our Lord is always the same.”

    “In like manner women also in decent apparel: adorning themselves with modesty and sobriety, not with plaited hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly attire, But as it becometh women professing godliness, with good works.” I Timothy 2:9-10

    “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come before him! Worship the LORD in holy array;” I Chronicles 16:29

    The question I always ask myself when I ponder what to wear is, “What would St. (Padre) Pio think about this outfit?”

    The second question to ask is “Do I look ridiculous?” Even if the first question wasn’t part of my decision-making, the second one always would be. The fact of the matter is that no one looks good in a strapless dress. The fashionably thin women look scrawny, the pleasantly plump women look fat, and those that are perfect look either scrawny or fat, depending on the dress. Some day women are going to look at certain fashions and realize that, regardless of the fact that they would not be pleasing to Jesus, the fashion industry is making fun of people who pay good money for clothes that are not flattering. Just say NO!

  90. Alice says:

    La Sandia said: In addition, even though every bride wants to look like a bride, they don’t want to look like the virgin that they probably are not–hence the white dress and veil (symbolizing virginity and purity) but nothing above the bustline.

    I read that in a news article a while back and suspect there’s something to it. I think it behooves priests to know enough about fashion (or find a lady to advise them) that they can speak up on inappropriate dress in church. Inappropriate dress should not be tolerated in the sanctuary and, provided that the church has female altar servers, priests (or parish wedding coordinators) could always let brides know that there are some white robes in the sanctuary for women whose dresses don’t cover enough.

  91. Drusilla says:

    Suz. from Oklah, Here is a link to a white, 3/4 sleeve dress that many 15 yr old girls would really love: http://heirsinhope.blogspot.com/2011/04/experiment-2-act-of-love.html. Most would find it on the expensive side ($110 plus shipping) but a search on “3/4 sleeve white dresses” should bring up other options. Do note, it’s not 3/4″ sleeves which would be spaghetti straps, but “3/4 sleeves” which are sleeves that end below the elbow & above the wrist. Fortunately we live in the age of the internet & aren’t limited to nearby shops. Good luck & God bless you in your search.

  92. Drusilla says:

    Suz from Oklah, Sorry, the link didn’t copy properly. Here is the correct one: http://www.dressale.com/vintage-white-taffeta-wedding-dress-p-2969.html. By the way, don’t worry if it calls itself a wedding dress or a party dress. It seems adding the word confirmation confounds the search engines.

  93. Drusilla says:

    @inara, right now I am dealing w/ illness but I’m hoping that the next work I do will be something along the lines of a webzine for faithful Catholic women as well as for women who simply want to be beautiful and not exposed. I already know some people who are interested & we’ll be looking for modest and beautiful clothing for women so if you start your business, let me know. Thanks.

  94. APX says:

    @Suz. from Oklah.
    A few years ago we had a great priest who would say things like, “Since when is beach attire appropriate for the Holy sacrifice of the Mass?”

    This didn’t happen to be an FSSP priest by any chance? On Sunday, we got the exact same question during the sermon. My personal favorite from another sermon on modesty was, “No knobby knees, nor tank tops, please” (catchy, eh?).

    @Cordelia at Catholic Phoenix
    The maid of honor is the most special bridesmaid so it’s OK if she stands out or looks slightly different from the rest. She should wear the bolero and remind the bride of this fact(?) and not feel bad about it.

    The funny thing is, my dress is different from the others. It’s a darker hue and has beading. She even acknowledged that it was okay for my dress to be different because I was the MOH.

    I have to know how the soap opera ends! APX, please let us know what you do (and please, go for the bolero).
    It doesn’t look good. I really don’t wear anything without covering my shoulders. Even with my bathing suit I’m either wearing a wetsuit or a rash guard (to avoid confusion again, http://www.aqualung.com/ca/en/images/products/rashguard_coco_vanilla.jpg) and long board shorts. I will likely take in this wedding from the sidelines unless she has a change of heart (It might happen when it hits her there’s an extra groomsman now and she already ordered the programs with my name in as MOH.)

    I should have started getting concerned when she started getting panicky about the color swatches clashing with the carpeting in the church. Sigh.

  95. inara says:

    @Drusilla~ wow, that dress is lovely ~ thanks for the link! and your webzine project sounds great ~ keep us posted somehow if it comes to fruition. I don’t think I’ll truly be starting a clothing business anytime soon unless a money tree pops up amongst the crabapples, but I am pondering requesting permission of my bishop to revive the Purity Crusade of Mary Immaculate (whose primary mission was to promote modesty among Catholic women & make the teachings of the Church widely known & understood). Here’s a great resource, if anyone’s interested: http://www.drbo.org/dnl/TWSG_read.pdf

    @APX~ clashing with the carpeting? oh dear…you do have a monster on your hands :o/

  96. mibethda says:

    The comment by Cordelia, above, may provide a possible avenue of approach for resolution of the problem. The Maid-of-Honor-to-be should point out that since her status and function is different from that of the Bridesmaids, it would be entirely fitting that her outfit have some mark of distinction – for this, the bolero would be a perfect addition. Thus, it would complement the look sought by the Bride-to-be, rather than conflicting with it. Perhaps she could also seek support in this approach from another whose tastes the Bride-to-be respects.

  97. buffaloknit says:

    I’m a little late to the party on this one, but wanted to share this idea: is there a “marriage liturgy liason/coordinator” designated in the parish, who mainly works with non-parishioners having destination weddings? this person (usually a woman) could become MOH’s ally in this issue. i was very pleasantly surprised with this woman at the church were i was married (not my regular parish). her job is to unlock the church, lock the brides room during the ceremony [to avoid theft], explain to brides/couples why ‘john lennon’ is inappropriate for Mass, no pets as ring-bearers etc. basically be ‘bad guy’ [in the minds of some] who says ‘rules are rules’ if need be [and not pit one family against another]. her ‘aunt’ like attitude, and ‘the buck stops with the liturgist’ opinion could be helpful. just a thought!

  98. Jane says:

    The bride to be friend, is no friend at all. I would dump this so called friend, who is obviously only interested in herself. Modest wedding dresses look beautiful. The immodest wedding dresses do not. I saw on a blog that a bride here in Australia, searched the internet for pictures of modest wedding dresses (because it is very hard to find modest wedding dresses in Australia). When she found the one that she liked, she drafted her own pattern and made it up, and did the same for her sister’s bridesmaid dress. Of course many of us do not have this skill, however you can always print a picture off the internet and take it to a dressmaker who can draft a pattern and make up the dress. May I take this opportunity to thank the lady who I brought my wedding dress from. She originally made it for her daughter’s wedding. I purchased it many months before my wedding (in December, 1977) and then I become very ill with the flu and as a consequence I lost one dress size. The lady then did all the alterations on my wedding dress at no charge. I have kept the wedding dress and hope that my daughter will get the opportunity to wear it. It fits her perfectly and is definitely modest. The lengthy veil is still in the wardrobe also. There is a TV program from Canada about St. Gianna and I was thrilled to see that her wedding dress was almost the same as mine. I have never seen anyone else with a wedding dress that is similar to mine – expect St. Gianna.

  99. benedetta says:

    buffaloknit The explaining about how the john lennon is inappropriate for Mass reminds me of an xtranormal video


    I hope that torpedo1 & soontobemrs aren’t totally put off that people here by and large consider strapless wedding gowns in the church without cover immodest. No one here is saying you can’t wear a strapless gown without a cover or wrap at the reception either. I’d add my two cents about those rotten tlm people myself but since there aren’t many too be encountered where I wouldn’t be able to say anything with specificity…As for the holiness scale of the people at any given NO Mass, not having any scientific methods for calibration, I couldn’t even begin to speculate. That doesn’t mean that it is easy to pray in common in the church at the typical NO where I am situated. But as to whether the life of the faith and a Catholic identity has been, is being, diluted, I don’t think that should come as a surprise. You can read old issues of “Crisis” or you can peruse the latest article on America’s blog about the Church’s “crises”. As it plays out, arrogance isn’t especially in abundance one on blog or another, at one Mass or another, nor charity. Perhaps readers of this blog are not totally ready to trust the prevailing opinion-makers on a variety of topics and want to get the fuller picture before making up their minds on a given issue. Just as some are entitled to and are free to exercise their opinion that these kinds of fashions for women are all about their dignity, the same right holds for others who question it. Does a Catholic mindset have no right to set standards for decorum in a place of worship? I’m not convinced. I know that Hindu weddings in temple have all sorts of standards for dress for worship and the extending of blessing to the couple who presents for this purpose. Just because someone is attached to the TLM of the Catholic Church, should this mean, for that reason alone, that their opinions must be disqualified? I wonder…

  100. bookworm says:

    One possible solution to the problem of finding a modest wedding dress might be to patronize shops or websites that cater to Hispanic girls celebrating their quinceanera (15th birthday), an occasion often marked by a Mass and reception that can be as elaborate as a formal wedding (if the family can afford to do so.) Many quinceanera dresses, if they are strapless or spaghetti-strapped, come with matching boleros, shawls or shrugs (a jacket with cap sleeves, shorter than a bolero) designed precisely to make the dress more suitable for wearing in church. At least one website I have seen devoted to quinceanera gowns sells sizes up to 28 and makes most styles available in white or off white.

  101. K_Suzanne says:

    I’m considering having my wedding during cool or cold weather to avoid all this nonsense.

  102. Sophie says:

    The public schools in my city do not allow tops with spaghetti straps–let alone strapless tops–even on kindergartners. And I live in the least churched state of the union. Why should the Church be more permissive than the government schools?

  103. Jane, I also think the modest wedding dresses I have seen look so much more attractive than the much larger quantity of immodest ones about!

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