The Proper Dress for Catholic Weddings

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If you're planning a wedding ceremony that adheres to your Catholic beliefs or have been invited to a Catholic wedding, it's essential to know what to wear to the occasion. There is a certain etiquette involved to ensure that all who attend the wedding are appropriately dressed, but it's best to ask the clergy at your parish about attire specifics before the big day.

Female Guests

Women at Catholic weddings should dress modestly. It's best to wear a shawl or small jacket over the arms and to cover the back while in the church--these can be removed during the reception. It's improper etiquette to wear a noticeably short dress to the wedding as well; the dress shouldn't expose the thighs when a woman sits down. Also, stay away from white--this dress color is reserved for the bride.

Male Guests

Men who are attending the Catholic wedding should at least wear a shirt and tie to the event, although a suit is preferred. Male guests are not permitted to wear hats to the wedding, and cut-off shirts that expose the arms, which are not at the proper level of formality for the occasion, should be avoided.

First Time Brides

Brides who are marrying for the first time should wear a white dress as a sign of purity. In some parishes, it's fine for the bride to wear a sleeveless dress, but the bride should check with her wedding officiant before deciding on a dress. A shawl or bolero jacket is appropriate for a dress with no sleeves if the bride wants to be especially modest. Showing cleavage is considered improper, so a long dress with a high bustline is best.

Second Time Brides

Widowed Catholic women who are getting married for the second time should opt for a less elegant dress, such as one that doesn't have a flowing train or extravagant veil, according to the Eternal World Television Network website. It is also proper etiquette for a widowed bride to wear a pastel dress for the ceremony. The site also asserts that this principle applies to Catholic brides who have been living with their future husbands or already have children. These women should wear dresses that aren't especially formal, so as not to undermine the sanctity of first-time brides who don white for their weddings.