Wedding Etiquette Forum

Dress Code for Traditional Latin Mass (Tridentine Catholic) - need invitation wording advice!

Hi all!

We're getting married at a TLM ceremony and our church has very strict standards of dress.  Women who enter the church must not show cleavage, back, knees/thighs or shoulders and must wear a veil. So basically dresses must hit below the knee, have some kind of sleeve and a modest cleavage.  I do plan on having a few veils available just in case, and I don't care how guests dress at the reception, but we both have strong convictions about what to wear in church.

I'm planning on adding a "Details" insert to our invitations but am not sure how to word it without being commandeering or having to add a laundry list of requirements.  Here is what I have so far:

"The bride and groom kindly request that guests respect the church's guidelines for modest dress during the ceremony...."

Any advice is appreciated!

Re: Dress Code for Traditional Latin Mass (Tridentine Catholic) - need invitation wording advice!

  • ILoveBeachMusicILoveBeachMusic Indiana member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    This is the only time guests can be told what to wear for a wedding. I think an insert with your invitation is the correct way to go. I am assuming that you will be listing the requirements that you gave in your post. As for the veils, are most of your female guests use to this requirement? I might have more than a few veils available if the answer is no. I'm not familiar with the cost of veils but if they are expensive, I wouldn't want to buy one just for one wedding. Are there paper options available (I'm thinking of Catholic churches in Europe that require shoulders to be covered and provide paper shawls if needed). You know your guest list so maybe this wouldn't be an issue. Best wishes for you wedding. 
    knottie9ac71a44bd2295f8short+sassy
  • Thanks for your response! Our wedding is small and we are actually making the ceremony optional in case some guests don't want to wear the veil and attend a ceremony that will be entirely done in Latin and Greek.  I expect mostly just family and close friends to attend the church so I think they will be understanding, but want to be clear on the expectation from the get-go.  I just don't know how to word it politely!

    I haven't seen paper options (do you have a link?) but the veil can be just a triangle of tulle or lace or a shawl placed over the head and shoulders.  I personally wear a 1/2 yard of tulle that I sewed together at the ends like an infinity scarf.  My parish has a basket at the entrance with lace triangles and bobby pins for visitors, so my plan is to buy lace and cut additional ones for the basket.
  • ILoveBeachMusicILoveBeachMusic Indiana member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I just did a quick search and didn't find paper veils. It sounds like you have it covered though by cutting some for your church's basket. As for wording on your insert, just state that the church has dress requirements and list them as you did in your post. I'm also assuming there is a requirement that men don't wear hats (like European churches) so I would put that on there too. You could also mention that there will be veils available if a guest doesn't have one. You shouldn't mention that people don't have to come to the ceremony anywhere in the invite. You could pass that by word of mouth - especially if someone expresses concern about attending and not having anything to wear. As you stated, your family and closest friends will understand.
    charlotte989875knottie9ac71a44bd2295f8short+sassy
  • climbingsingleclimbingsingle NYC 'burbs member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Hi all!

    We're getting married at a TLM ceremony and our church has very strict standards of dress.  Women who enter the church must not show cleavage, back, knees/thighs or shoulders and must wear a veil. So basically dresses must hit below the knee, have some kind of sleeve and a modest cleavage.  I do plan on having a few veils available just in case, and I don't care how guests dress at the reception, but we both have strong convictions about what to wear in church.

    I'm planning on adding a "Details" insert to our invitations but am not sure how to word it without being commandeering or having to add a laundry list of requirements.  Here is what I have so far:

    "The bride and groom kindly request that guests respect the church's guidelines for modest dress during the ceremony...."

    Any advice is appreciated!
    I think the wording you have with an insert in the invite will work perfectly. 
    knottie9ac71a44bd2295f8
  • I think if you phrase it as "These are the church's guidelines" then there's no instruction from you to them but from the church to them.  

    I've seen opaque shawls also work as a broad covering of shoulders, backs and upper arms for modesty in churches.  Is that also an alternative?  My nuptial mass was novus ordo and in English however our parish strongly advised against strapless dresses and modest cleavage.  As a result my dress wasn't strapless (but they were fine with sleeveless) and my BMs wore linen shawls over their strapless dresses that were off for the reception. 
    short+sassy
  • Thanks for your comment!  I thought about making it a "the church says..." kind of thing, but that feels like throwing the church under the bus for something we also feel strongly about.  The spiritual aspect of the ceremony is paramount for us.  We love and respect our parish staff and clergy, the church and God, and we want the encouragement to come from us as well as the church.  So we feel comfortable with the request coming from us.  Sister John Christian will be our church bouncer :smiley:

    Shawls over the head are fine, but shawls covering spaghetti straps or strapless dresses are not.  A light jacket or cardigan is ok.
  • Thanks for the feedback - yes it felt a little weird to write "don't come if you dont wanna" lol.  I will let that be a case-by-case thing for those who ask
  • I just did a quick search and didn't find paper veils. It sounds like you have it covered though by cutting some for your church's basket. As for wording on your insert, just state that the church has dress requirements and list them as you did in your post. I'm also assuming there is a requirement that men don't wear hats (like European churches) so I would put that on there too. You could also mention that there will be veils available if a guest doesn't have one. You shouldn't mention that people don't have to come to the ceremony anywhere in the invite. You could pass that by word of mouth - especially if someone expresses concern about attending and not having anything to wear. As you stated, your family and closest friends will understand.
    I strongly recommend this also.  I wouldn't even know what this means if I got an invitation like that.  To me, a veil is netting that covers someone's whole head and possibly face.  But, from your and other people's descriptions, it sounds like it just needs to cover the top of the head and a shawl would be fine.

    Once you described the basket with pieces of cloth and bobby pins, I knew what you were talking about.  I'm not Catholic, but think I went to a mass as a child a couple times where women had to have a head covering.  Though I feel like a lot of Catholic churches no longer require that?  I dated a guy who was Catholic and went to his church a number of times.  I wasn't required to wear a head covering, at least at that one.
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  • Thanks for your comment!  I thought about making it a "the church says..." kind of thing, but that feels like throwing the church under the bus for something we also feel strongly about.  The spiritual aspect of the ceremony is paramount for us.  We love and respect our parish staff and clergy, the church and God, and we want the encouragement to come from us as well as the church.  So we feel comfortable with the request coming from us.  Sister John Christian will be our church bouncer :smiley:

    Shawls over the head are fine, but shawls covering spaghetti straps or strapless dresses are not.  A light jacket or cardigan is ok.
    If you and your FI are feeling this way and agree with the church that is fine however the request for how to dress for the ceremony is based on you adhering to the church's rules.  You can phrase it in a way to say, "We are asking our guests to adhere to the church's rules on attire which can be found in X location," and it's actually important to note that they ARE the church's rules.  The church is what is important here and because the Church is ultimately far greater than any one person it is important to be respectful of the faith and institution that you are adhering to the Church's rules and they aren't your rules.  It's a bit of semantics but knowing that faith is important to you it's also important to ensure that your guests are seeing that this is not you intending to sound more important than the house of worship.  

    I would definitely provide the head coverings for your guests as well.  It has nothing to do with a lack of respect but I'm more likely to want to grab a veil that was brought to the church that morning than one that could have been in a basket and possibly tossed in there after wearing.  As a Catholic that does not veil I'd want to be respectful while also minimizing my cost as I'd likely not want to wear a veil again.  

    Could you get an accurate count from your guests of those women you know will attend and who may need a head covering so you can account for that and then after your ceremony if you find that you have a surplus of veils that you will not wear you can donate them to your parish? 
    charlotte989875
  • It's a Mantilla not a Veil.

    Unless you're getting married at the Vatican itself following the rules of Vatican City, it's more along the lines of "You don't wear church attire to the beach, don't wear beach attire to church - please dress appropriately and modestly for the situation!"...  They won't turn people away because they aren't perfectly dressed especially since weddings draw people in who are not Catholic.  I would however not question that they're that strict for yourself so that you don't choose a strapless gown that's above knee length as well as for the WP.  

    As for wording this - it's part of the info page on your website, pull the exact wording from your parish's website/request sheet nothing more nothing less.  End of the day, on your invites "Tridentine/Latin Nuptial Mass" in the invitation wording as it is just like "Black Tie" and "White Tie" as it lets people know the type of service in a Catholic Church you're having with the hope that they'll know how to dress appropriately for mass or opt not to attend the service.  "Please wear modest attire during mass, please see info page on wedding website (where you have your parish's exact wording - it takes the heat off of you).." 
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  • ILoveBeachMusicILoveBeachMusic Indiana member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    MesmrEwe said:
    It's a Mantilla not a Veil.

    Unless you're getting married at the Vatican itself following the rules of Vatican City, it's more along the lines of "You don't wear church attire to the beach, don't wear beach attire to church - please dress appropriately and modestly for the situation!"...  They won't turn people away because they aren't perfectly dressed especially since weddings draw people in who are not Catholic.  I would however not question that they're that strict for yourself so that you don't choose a strapless gown that's above knee length as well as for the WP.  

    As for wording this - it's part of the info page on your website, pull the exact wording from your parish's website/request sheet nothing more nothing less.  End of the day, on your invites "Tridentine/Latin Nuptial Mass" in the invitation wording as it is just like "Black Tie" and "White Tie" as it lets people know the type of service in a Catholic Church you're having with the hope that they'll know how to dress appropriately for mass or opt not to attend the service.  "Please wear modest attire during mass, please see info page on wedding website (where you have your parish's exact wording - it takes the heat off of you).." 
    As a non-CatholicI wouldn't have known what the bolded meant pertaining to attire and wouldn't realize that it meant a dress code. I also wouldn't know I was expected to wear a veil/mantilla. So I think OP is correct in letting her guests know that expectation. Modest dress means different things to different people so the exact expectation needs to be told. Not everyone reads info on a wedding website so I still maintain an insert with the invitation is appropriate.
    charlotte989875
  • MesmrEwe said:
    It's a Mantilla not a Veil.

    Unless you're getting married at the Vatican itself following the rules of Vatican City, it's more along the lines of "You don't wear church attire to the beach, don't wear beach attire to church - please dress appropriately and modestly for the situation!"...  They won't turn people away because they aren't perfectly dressed especially since weddings draw people in who are not Catholic.  I would however not question that they're that strict for yourself so that you don't choose a strapless gown that's above knee length as well as for the WP.  

    As for wording this - it's part of the info page on your website, pull the exact wording from your parish's website/request sheet nothing more nothing less.  End of the day, on your invites "Tridentine/Latin Nuptial Mass" in the invitation wording as it is just like "Black Tie" and "White Tie" as it lets people know the type of service in a Catholic Church you're having with the hope that they'll know how to dress appropriately for mass or opt not to attend the service.  "Please wear modest attire during mass, please see info page on wedding website (where you have your parish's exact wording - it takes the heat off of you).." 
    As a non-CatholicI wouldn't have known what the bolded meant pertaining to attire and wouldn't realize that it meant a dress code. I also wouldn't know I was expected to wear a veil/mantilla. So I think OP is correct in letting her guests know that expectation. Modest dress means different things to different people so the exact expectation needs to be told. Not everyone reads info on a wedding website so I still maintain an insert with the invitation is appropriate.
    Agreed.

    Without being directed to the church's website for rules on dress and having the understanding after attending some Latin Masses, I would dress conservatively and would not plan to veil.  I don't own one and don't intend to at this time.  Likely the church will not turn all guests away if they are not adhering strictly to the code (sleevelss dress with thick pashmina covering arms, back and chest?  Why does it have to be a sweater??) but I do think that the OP must make sure that she and her wedding party adhere to the strict rules. 

    And as a parent, if the veil covering is a requirement I would expect that the OP Is providing them because the guests shouldn't have to assume the cost of additional attire requirements to attend the ceremony.  

    The absolute important thing is that these requirements are presented as the requirements of the Church and not the OP as it sends an incorrect message that the OP is in charge of the Church.
    charlotte989875ILoveBeachMusic
  • flantasticflantastic The Midwest member
    Eighth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Holy Rosary Parish adheres to the following dress code:
    Women who enter the church must not show cleavage, back, knees/thighs or shoulders. They must also wear a veil, which can be provided at the doors of church.
    Men must wear shirts and shoes. (Or whatever the corresponding dress code is for them.)
    banana468charlotte989875
  • flantasticflantastic The Midwest member
    Eighth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    MesmrEwe said:
    It's a Mantilla not a Veil.
    OP very, very likely knows more about this than you. It can be called either. Technically, a mantilla is actually a specific style of veil that originated in Spain. The prevalence of us hearing chapel veils being called mantillas is likely because of veiling's continued popularity with Latin Catholics. But it's certainly not wrong to call it a veil.
    banana468charlotte989875
  • I think you need to be very explicit about the length of dress and the no-cleavage rule. A lot of people wouldn't necessarily know that "modest" in this context means covered shoulders and knees. 

    Also, I once attended a service at a (conservative Christian) church where veils were required. They actually had a basket of them with a sign asking the women to take one as they went in. So maybe you could do this?

    And finally, does your church refuse entry to those who don't know about the dress code? You need to have a way to handle this if so.
  • MobKazMobKaz Chicago suburbs member
    Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Having quite the flashback reading this post.  I grew up calling the basic head covering a mantilla.  It was typically a circular piece of lace worn atop the head.  As a young teen, I would fold it, or my plaid beanie, in half and place it more toward the back of my head, to be "cooler".  If I had neither my school beanie or mantilla, I had to toss a tissue on my head.
    The adults often wore the longer and more "mature" veil to mass.

    MesmrEwe
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