Monday, January 28, 2013

Catholic Church Bridal-Skank-Shaming

Ladies,  I'm going to apologize in advance because I'm in rare form today.  I'm pretty awesome like that.

So, I booked my wedding at the Catholic church in September.  For anyone who doesn't have a calendar handy, that was almost FOUR full months ago.

Cut to Friday, when I got a ramble-y phone call from the church wedding liaison that was semi-disjointed in that she TWICE mentioned that I was getting married at a different church and then proceeded to inform me that I didn't even have the paperwork about the guidelines for a wedding in the church.

Yes, no shit, wedding lady.  I don't have any information because YOU have not provided it.  Though I have many powers on the internet, I actually have no power to make you do your job.

Ok then.

So, I get the guidelines on Saturday and I am instantly pissed.

Pre-Saturday, I actually had my wedding dress.  I know, SPOILER ALERT.

I had a great plan for adding straps to the dress and I was really excited about it.  Post-Saturday?  Apparently straps are not enough for an a**hole Catholic wedding.  Oh no, only a full-coverage sweater/jacket/burka will do.

I knew that this particular church was even more of an a-hole than other Catholic churches... but I had NO idea how bad it was.  Particularly because of the fact that, on facebook, I can find tons of random brides with strapless dresses in this church.

(I actually just referenced all my BFF's from college weddings... I looked up 6 of them and not even 1 girl had her shoulders covered at all.  So I don't think I'm being unnecessarily upset.  Granted, none were in this church, but still.  Six Catholic weddings and zero covered shoulders.)

There are a million things more that have irritated me about the process of joining (Mr. RH) and getting married in the Catholic church, but this one really set my pants on fire.  (I'm pretty sure that's not a real phrase.)

There's also the fact that I had a $200 fee due a week after I booked my wedding in September... and I just found out about it.  On January 27th.  You'd think that when it came to getting their money, the church would be on that like white-on-rice.  

I had so hoped to have a great experience getting married in the Catholic church with Mr. RH.  As this is really his first introduction to the church, I had high hopes that things would go smoothly.  I know the church is probably under-staffed and over-worked, but the whole four-months-late thing is just too much for me to handle.

So, this was a really positive, uplifting post for a Monday morning.  Calling out how angry I am at my Catholic church.

Let's just be glad I'm too exhausted from weeping my eyes out at The Descendents or it could have turned into a rant on the Catholic church as a whole... and let's just say that the bloodbath that would ensue is just a little too much for a Monday morning.

I apologize that this post isn't really my typical fare... unless you count complaining as my typical fare cause then it's riight up my own alley.

So, I'm searching for a burka to go with my quite-unique wedding dress.  Because of the detailing, it probably needs to be lace - but the lace is so different that I haven't been able to find anything remotely similar.  Satin is out because the dress has zero satin on it.  I'm going to visit the shop where the dress is from and see if they can order some of the lace from the dress... but I'm sure that will cost a fortune and I'm positive that the lace isn't going to be considered enough coverage.

I think I need to be done now or else I'm going to have to get married in my tiny backyard.

Am I being irrational?  And if I'm being irrational, can it at least be unacceptable that it took me FOUR MONTHS to get this information?  After asking repeatedly?

Bride out.

Edit: I should probably mention the way that the "dress guidelines" are written in the most condescending tone ever.  As in, "oh my, if we didn't mention that you need to cover EVERYTHING from your earlobes to your toes, you may show up in Janet Jackson's nipple shields only and thank HEAVENS we are here to help."  And, helpfully, a shrug made in the same material as the dress is usually best. (Direct actual quote there.)  You don't say!  Someone call Project Runway!

26 Classy Comments:

Kate said...

It sucks you're feeling so let down by the church! This sort of thing totally depends on the priest/parish. Mine didn't care what I wore at all. I actually asked him point-blank at one of our meetings if I could wear a strapless dress and he said, "As long as I don't have to wear one too, I'm fine with it."

Daisy said...

Oh girlfriend, I feel you. The church I got married in? Required me to have my dress APPROVED by the governing board of the church. But, hold up, not just my bridesmaids Mom's dress...and my Mother-In-Law's dress. (No. I am not kidding). Thank you strict Presbyterian church down South! I had the dress shop I ordered my dress from order 2 yards of extra material from the dress manufacturer (they could do this with lace from the lace dresses as well) and then I had a seamstress make me a bolero/shrug that I wore for just the ceremony, a few photos, and then I promptly shed it. My bridesmaids wore artfully draped pashminas. It is something we laugh about now...but yeah. I feel your pain.

La Saloperie said...

Oh god - I am SO sorry! That's terrible!

You're totally justified in your anger.
a - clearly they suck at getting anything done, and are trying to blame it on you (wth?)
but b - I think we've reached the point as a society where it's understood that a girl can still conserve her modesty while showing her shoulders. And you know what? If any peering eyes creep on her bare shoulders, it's NOT HER FAULT. It's the PEERING EYES' FAULT. Slut shaming is one of the most injut and, frankly, EMBARRASSING elements of our society - we still hold women responsible for stupid things that men may or may not do or think. It's what makes people say to the rape victim, "Well, maybe you shouldn't have been out so late," and (if it wasn't clear), it makes me angry.

I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to rant back at your rant! Best of luck on your cover-up mission!

Kelly B. said...

ohhhhhhhh girl I'd have LOST. MY. SHIT. and then sent a super firm email regarding the contract I signed and maybe some other scary legal terms.

An associate at my firm had that SAME thing happen, but with the bridesmaids dresses. AFTER they signed the contract and after she bought her dress and all the bridesmaid dresses the church THEN handed out the "guidelines" for dress (despite the fact that they'd asked for it for upwards of 4 months and never received it) and needless to say, they're taking their wedding elsewhere.

P.s. if you decide to post a catholics/catholic wedding rant, as a fellow catholic I feel qualified and compelled to join in. We can make it a link up. I have some of my own thoughts in this whole wedding planning process. woof.

Heather said...

What a hassle! That is so incredibly annoying on many levels... I'm sorry you are having to deal with that.

Rosalita said...

Holy cow. I'm normally just a lurker here (and I'm definitely not a *Catholic* church goer) but this just seems wrong in so many ways. Can you move the wedding to a different church?? (Like you don't have enough to do...) Hang in there, and don't settle!

Karen said...

Major church bummer! I'm sure the dress shop has dealt with this before and can come up with something acceptable.

*For the record I got married in a Catholic church and my dress was strapless.

Meghan said...

Even if the church is busy and short staffed, they should have given you the guidelines before you paid your deposit. How hard would it have been to hand you the guidelines when you visited the church? I think the fault is on them. Sorry you are having to deal with this- I am technically Catholic but I avoided a church wedding since we aren't really church goers (and my husband isn't Catholic). Hopefully you can come up with a good solution!

Jessica @ Acting Adult said...

I've heard of some churches having very stringent rules given that I'm sure some ladies have an inappropriate version of "church appropriate" dresses. But being late and then not sending you the information and being condescending on top of it? Not appropriate and very Christ-like, I think.

Did you think about Etsy for a jacket that might work? I had a bride who found someone to make a custom jacket to match her lace dress.

mangovino said...

I have never heard of this type of thing in a Catholic church - and i'm Catholic! We recently decided to marry at the Botanical Gardens and this post makes me even happier we did!

I just saw some beautiful sheer covers to wear over your dress. Or this sleeve add on? Maybe this would work?

the girl in the red shoes said...

I'm so sorry friend...what a bummer. Totally not your fault. I'm not Catholic, but what can they really do to you if you show up on the big day and are not appropriately covered? Would they really turn you away? I say, you already have the dress and it was their fault for not letting you know their requirements before you put down your deposit. Too bad for them!

Tess said...

Do they not know WHO they are dealing with? How dare them?

The good thing is, though...You'll only be in the church for an hour or so, so you will be able to drop the burka as soon as you are ready to party.

And Also - are you some sort of proponent for self torture? Why the HELL would you watch the Descendants? I'm still healing from P.S. I Love You.

angsamp said...

The Greek Orthodox church I go to has these same rules, yet other parishes don't. It totally depends on the priest, which I think is totally unfair. Although I will say that you are lucky that you got the requirements now (albeit 4 months late). My friend didn't find out she couldn't wear her strapless dress in our church until the rehearsal!!!!!!!! So imagine us trying to find material to make shrug-like shoulder cover things for the bride and bridal party the night before the wedding. HORRIBLE!!!! I would look into whether you can get some material from your bridal shop and maybe just wrap it around your shoulders and tie it in the back. I know that a lot of bridal shops are able to help with that. And booooo to church rules in general :)

ginastorm said...

As a life long Catholic who got married in a Catholic cathedral (!) and has attended dozens and dozens of Catholic weddings, I cannot believe this. I had no such restrictions when I got married. Ridiculous.

katmcd said...

Now what would happen if you didnt show up with a burka? I think they will still marry you. That is common in VA to tell you and then ignore.

Brittany said...

That is so frustrating! I don't have any advice, but it reminded me of these gorgeous photos from a Cup of Jo a while back. Maybe there is some non-traditional inspiration in there somewhere!

Meg @ write meg! said...

Oh dear. I was raised Catholic and am breaking my grandparents' hearts by not getting married in the church, but I knew my fiance wouldn't want to convert -- and I wouldn't ask him to. The restrictions made me anxious and I just... didn't feel like it was the right choice.

So sorry to hear you're going through this mess -- and hope that everything will get resolved soon! The four-month information lag especially sucks, and I would be hot about that! I know that, no matter what, you will look gorgeous on your wedding day... and everything will be all right!

Jeanie said...

With all due respect to the Catholic church, this is unbelievable! All of it.

Erin O. said...

I am Catholic and I've only heard of a few of my girlfriends bringing this up because they were so conservative...not the church. I'm pretty tight with my priest, so I asked him and he mentioned that you should speak with the priest. And if that fails just find a light pashmina that goes with the dress for the mass and then shed after. Hope that helps.

Laura C said...

I could write you a short novel on my (current) feelings towards the Catholic church, but I will spare you. Let's just say this. Sean is Catholic (his family is VERY active in the church), and while he isn't super religious currently- he went to Catholic school his entire life. I was raised Presbyterian but was open to converting to Catholicism/ getting married in the Catholic church. It was important to us to get married in a church (Christian or Catholic), it was super important to my MIL for the church to be Catholic. It’s important to me that we raise our children with a religious foundation & that Sean & I are on the same page. So, I was open to it. Honestly, it didn’t seem like a huge deal to me- we both believe in the same God, etc. After we were engaged we went to check out different churches to hold our ceremony and I was interested in getting more info on the process of converting. The people at the Catholic church were first completely unresponsive, next flat out rude and then made me cry (on multiple occasions). We went to visit the Presbyterian church and had a polar opposite experience. We immediately loved the pastor, developed a great relationship with him and were so happy we got married there. Sean’s Mother however was (and probably still is) pretty upset about it. I’m sure my experience was just a bad one, and I am still open to the idea of some day converting/ raising out kids Catholic- but it certainly didn’t happen before the wedding.
I said I was going to spare you, but I lied. Sorry!

Lauren said...

Ummm, pretty sure ALL Catholic churches tell you this and none of my friends have listened. In the words of my bestie as her EEE breasts were almost hanging out of her strapless gown as she knelt down in her wedding mass "What is the 70 year old priest going to do/say to me morning of?"


Preppy Girl Meets World said...

This sounds so frustrating and unhelpful and like the last thing you need on your plate right now. I am so sorry you are dealing with this.

I have only been to one Catholic wedding and the bride wore a strapless dress. I have seen plenty of pictures of others from facebook sleuthing and they run the gamut from strapless to full on long sleeves for the ceremony.

Is there someone in the church that you can sit down with and ask them about the dress guidelines and compare them to the guidelines of another church in the same diocese?

denise said...

I would intercede with the priest, especially if you know the priest. In my experience, a catholic wedding and several kids now baptized, and preparing for first reconciliation, a lot of the "rules" reflect the person on the committee and not the church's view!

Dana said...

I got married in a Catholic church and had zero restrictions on my wedding gown (sweetheart with halter straps). That is not a "Catholic" guideline and I would make the Priest aware that this is not a practice in that faith and is not acceptable.

Also, I was raised Baptist, converted to Catholicism for my husband and bc at the time I wanted to raise our children the same religion and us all go to church together. I quickly learned and so did my husband that the Catholic church is very unfriendly and not centered around family and children. We are now in a very formal Methodist church and have never felt more connected with our Lord and our children are going to be able to be active. You can't do what everyone tells you...go with your OWN experiences.

Megan Schmidt said...

So first reaction: Lame. Totally lame that they didn't inform you of this restriction before now. I've attended and been in several Catholic weddings and have had one bride asked to cover her shoulders. I believe she ignored the request and she's still just as married.

Second reaction: Not Surprised. I'm going to go against the grain a little bit and share a different point of view. The Catholic Church is not trying to shame you for being a Tart, quite the opposite, they are trying to keep with the tradition and reverence of covering ones self when entering a holy place. We can't forget that this is one of the seven sacraments...aka....a pretty big freakin' deal. When I visited Rome, we were told that we would not be allowed to enter St. Peter's with knees or shoulders showing. No one complained because it was the Vatican for goodness sake, we just threw on a shawl and make sure to wear pants or a long skirt. Think of it more keeping reverent than shaming your shoulders. You know how the Church feels about traditions and they are simply trying to uphold this one. Does this mean I'll (as a cradle Catholic) one day wear a wedding dress with the shoulders covered? Who knows...but had to throw out a defense for the church's reasoning and give them a bit o' credit for it.

NOW third reaction? OWN IT! Sure you can have a bolero made out of the lace but here are a few other options...and just hang on with me, there's a method to my madness. I'm a costume designer and I live for these challenges!

What about a sweet 3/4 sleeve white cardigan? Find a pretty one embellished with sparkles or pearls. You are the queen of shopping, I know you could track one down. If it is a little bit longer, tie a pretty sash around your waist to enhance your slammin' figure and keep you feminine. A simple pearl necklace and you've given yourself a beautiful, classic, timeless (Jackie O!) sort of look. There won't be that many photos from the ceremony anyways.
THEN the FUN PART. Some girls buy a second dress (or a third, thanks Kim K for raising the bar) but you will just change your accessories for a whole new look. Take off the sweater and necklace and let those sexy shoulders out to shine. Throw on a statement necklace to get the party started and loose the veil for a cute hair piece to show off your sassy personality.

The result? You get two completely different and venue appropriate looks and a fun variety of photos from the day.

(If you'd like, I'm happy to put together an inspiration board of this idea...I'm a dork like that and would be happy to help!)

Dianna McDonald said...

I understand the stress of planning a wedding, experiencing this right now, however there's no need to slam the Catholic Church.
I am not sure whether you are a practicing Catholic but based on how surprised and upset you are over not baring your shoulders in the Church, I'm guessing maybe not? The Church is a sacred place, Jesus is present in the tabernacle, as such we should show proper respect. That means when you go to Mass you dress appropriately, and not as though you are going to the beach, for example. I'm sure your dress is lovely and you look lovely in it, but there are plenty of beautiful wraps and coverups that you can wear during the ceremony and remove afterward. My sister is standing for me, she's decided to wear an off the shoulder dress, which is gorgeous, but I told her she will have to wear a wrap in the Church. It's not a big deal. The most important part of the whole day is not the dress you wear, how the flowers looked, or the reception. The most important part is you and your fiancé receiving the sacrament of Holy Matrimony and beginning your lives together as a married couple.
I'm not sure which Catholic Church you attend or where, but my parish has clear guidelines when it comes to getting married. I couldn't just call and book the Church, we had to meet with our Priest and set a date, also there's a marriage course that every Catholic couple is required to take. I find it odd when you called that they didn't inform you of all the requirements etc up front, and yeah, that's a fail. As for calling you a whore, skank, slut whatever, of course they aren't. They just want to make sure that people are dressed appropriately when entering the sanctuary. If they don't tell people these things who knows what might be coming down that aisle, have you ever seen an episode of Gypsie Weddings? Yikes!
Anyway, God Bless, and congratulations on your wedding. It'll be great I'm sure.

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