Catholic Weddings

Bare Shoulders in Church

I know that it is appropriate to not have bare shoulders in church, bride, and bridesmaids.   However, I will be wearing a veil, but do the girls "have" to have a shawl, is it bad to have bare shoulders? The dresses are not low cut but they are strapless.   I spoke to my priest he just kind of gave me a look like "I would cover them".  But did not say they had to be.

Not sure what to do, and I'm scared if i show up that day with no shawl for the girls, they will not let us perform the mass.

Any insight would be helpful.  TIA

Re: Bare Shoulders in Church

  • Theresa626Theresa626 member
    1000 Comments
    edited December 2011
    You need to get a steadfast rule from him, not just a look.  i would call again and ask him to be very clear about what the guidelines are.  Do they just want you to cover your shoulders or is it a rule?  But, don't put it that way.  You could say something like "here's what the bridesmaids dresses we bought look like.  Is this acceptable?". 

    At my church, this is a rule.  I had a florist tell me that at one catholic wedding he went to, the bride showed up in a strapless dress and the priest made her wear a tablecloth down the aisle before he would marry her. It was a white tablecloth but still, that is pretty awful.  I would be so upset. 

    In addition, your veil might not be enough in their eyes to cover your shoulders because when you walk, it will go behind you and not cover them well.  I'm getting sheer cap sleeves added for the ceremony only.  I also had an ivory shawl from prom that I'm bringing with just in case.  All of my bridesmaids have strapless dresses and they are getting sheer shawls as well. 

    Not every church has this rule.  Some chuches don't care if you wear a strapless dress.  So, you should really see if it's a rule or not. 
  • edited December 2011
    I just asked my priest last week what the "rules" were. Fortunatly, there aren't any. My pastor is very liberal in terms of Catholic Priests. I am wearing a strapless gown and no veil which I thought was a "double no-no." The bridesmaids have straps on their dresses, however.
  • meltoinemeltoine member
    Sixth Anniversary 500 Comments First Answer
    edited December 2011
    I would ask them to cover up. It's a sign of respect for the Church as well as for your priest, who is clearly not wild about the idea of the strapless dresses. 
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  • mbcdefgmbcdefg member
    10000 Comments 5 Love Its Combo Breaker
    edited December 2011
    Seems like your priest is telling you that shawls are needed.

    I would also bring a photo of you in your dress and veil (take one at a fitting, or go try the sample on and snap a pic) and ask the priest if your veil will be sufficient. That way, if it's not, you have time to find a nice shawl or jacket.

    My priest told me that as long as nobody's indecent (no boobs hanging out!), strapless and tattoos are O.K. (one BM has a tasteful tattoo on her upper back and asked me to check if it'd be O.K.).
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  • ootmother2ootmother2 member
    Tenth Anniversary 5000 Comments 25 Love Its First Answer
    edited December 2011
    Get a straight out answer from the priest before buying gowns.
  • edited December 2011
    When I talked to my priest about dresses, he told me that as long as no one was indecent, strapless would be fine -- provided I had a veil.  But priests' opinions vary, and I think yours is suggesting that a shawl would be needed.  As PP suggested, I'd take him a picture of your gown and the BM dresses, and ask whether a veil alone would be sufficient or a shawl would be needed.  That way, you'd have time to find a really nice shawl or bolero.
  • edited December 2011
    Get a straight, direct answer from the priest.  There is no rule but you should respect his preference.
  • Riss91Riss91 member
    Knottie Warrior 1000 Comments 25 Love Its Name Dropper
    edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/cultural-wedding-boards_catholic-weddings_bare-shoulders-church?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Cultural Wedding BoardsForum:615Discussion:32f893f7-ef98-44e9-a343-8b43b61efb62Post:c849c171-9d9e-4928-8bdf-c3c711b63272">Re: Bare Shoulders in Church</a>:
    [QUOTE] I had a florist tell me that at one catholic wedding he went to, the bride showed up in a strapless dress and the priest made her wear a tablecloth down the aisle before he would marry her. It was a white tablecloth but still, that is pretty awful.  I would be so upset. Posted by Theresa626[/QUOTE]

    That's insane! Granted, the bride should have checked witht he priest beforehand!

    Our priest did not care about the bare shoulders, but just requested "modesty". I had all of my girls add thick straps/cap sleeves to their dresses and they were welcome to make them removable for after the ceremony. Most actually preferred keeping the straps on as it made the dress more comfortable.
  • Calypso1977Calypso1977 member
    Knottie Warrior 2500 Comments 25 Love Its First Answer
    edited December 2011
    i would get a specific answer from him, although it sounds like he does not approve of strapless, and while many on here argue a veil is a cover up for your shoulders, it really isnt IMO.

    my gown was sleeveless.  i had really wanted something with sleeves, btu it was not easy to find one.  even the selection of sleeveless was small.  the ones with sleeves seem to be only at plus size bridal shops and then they were all frilled up with bows, lace, beads, etc.  nothing simple.

    my sister's BM dress was strapless.  she got it at David's and was able to get a really nice bolero jacket to go with it.  the jacket had a much better look than a shawl.  i honestly liked the look of her dress better with the jacket than strapless.
  • baystateapplebaystateapple member
    5000 Comments Fourth Anniversary 5 Love Its Combo Breaker
    edited December 2011
    My mother gave me a lecture about this before I even consulted with the priest.  My gown is strapless, but I'm wearing a lace bolero with 3/4 sleeves.  All of my girls except one have straps on their dresses, and she will probably be wearing a wrap.  My little sister, who is MOH and is wearing a halter top, is wearing a shawl over her shoulders.

    Talk to your priest.  You don't want to be unpleasantly surprised the day of.
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  • Jay+MarissaJay+Marissa member
    500 Comments
    edited December 2011
    We found cheap matching chiffon to make shawls--that might be a cheap option for you--shawls get expensive!
  • edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/cultural-wedding-boards_catholic-weddings_bare-shoulders-church?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Cultural%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:615Discussion:32f893f7-ef98-44e9-a343-8b43b61efb62Post:c849c171-9d9e-4928-8bdf-c3c711b63272">Re: Bare Shoulders in Church</a>:
    [QUOTE]You need to get a steadfast rule from him, not just a look.  i would call again and ask him to be very clear about what the guidelines are.  Do they just want you to cover your shoulders or is it a rule?  But, don't put it that way.  You could say something like "here's what the bridesmaids dresses we bought look like.  Is this acceptable?".  At my church, this is a rule.  I had a florist tell me that at one catholic wedding he went to, the bride showed up in a strapless dress and the priest made her wear a tablecloth down the aisle before he would marry her. It was a white tablecloth but still, that is pretty awful.  I would be so upset.  In addition, your veil might not be enough in their eyes to cover your shoulders because when you walk, it will go behind you and not cover them well.  I'm getting sheer cap sleeves added for the ceremony only.  I also had an ivory shawl from prom that I'm bringing with just in case.  All of my bridesmaids have strapless dresses and they are getting sheer shawls as well.  Not every church has this rule.  Some chuches don't care if you wear a strapless dress.  So, you should really see if it's a rule or not. 
    Posted by Theresa626[/QUOTE]
    I've never understood why arms/shoulders are considered sexual.

    also how are sheer straps and wraps modest? wouldn't it just accent those parts.
  • banana468banana468 member
    Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    edited December 2011
    For many it's about modesty in choosing the garment in the first place.

    When DH and I were married, the coordinator (a married woman) said that the church requested that the shoulders be covered but also that the necklines and cut of the dresses be appropriate for a Catholic service.

    The point is that while standing above the couple, he shouldn't be able to see what the groom gets later. 

    My dress had bare shoulders and they were fine with it (see siggy pic) but they did request that my BMs wear shawls so my mother made some linen ones. 
  • edited December 2011
    Wow, I got married in a cathedral in downtown Chicago and there were no rules like that.  I had a strapless gown with a veil, and all of my 6 BMs were in strapless dresses.  They were very modest, simple dresses though (floor length).
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  • jrdnjjrdnj member
    10 Comments
    edited December 2011
    Thank you for all of your advice.   I am going to look for shawls/cover ups just in case.   Maybe I will bring pictures in for him to see.   The dresses are very classy, not low cut or anything, and long.   But I do not want to offend anyone.   If the dresses are periwinkle blue, what type of cover up should I look for?

    TIA
  • banana468banana468 member
    Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    edited December 2011
    It can depend on the season.  My wedding was Aug 4th and the shawls were just linen made by my mom.

    I'd go with shawls either in their dress fabric or another neutral that maybe goes with your color scheme.
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