What To Wear To A Catholic Church Wedding: The Guide

April 12, 2022

Weddings are happy occasions, but they may also be stressful for guests who don't know what to wear to the ceremony. But catholic weddings are distinct enough from other wedding ceremonies that wedding guests may require additional guidance on good manners. 

When attending your next Catholic wedding ceremony, knowing traditions, what to anticipate and the right clothes and behavior should help you relax and feel confident.

What is the dress code for a Catholic Church Wedding?

The Catholic Church doesn't have specific written rules about the "appropriate dress code" for church weddings. However, church ceremonies are usually more formal affairs that warrant proper attention to your fashion. 

Take your cues from the invitation, the time of day, and the event type.

For example, men should wear a shirt and tie for the church ceremony, while women should always go the modest route and bring a shawl to throw over their shoulders.

Do I Have To Dress Modestly At A Catholic Wedding?

When it comes to attending a Catholic wedding, you should be aware of a few dos and don'ts before the big day. What it means to "dress modestly" is one of the things you should educate yourself about.

Don't be fooled into thinking that dressing modestly equals dressing boringly. On the contrary, dressing modestly entails wearing wedding gowns that are both attractive and comfortable while also avoiding displaying too much skin.

For example, it is against church principles for women to wear an article of clothing that exposes the majority of their upper body. As a result, you should cover yourself with a trendy shawl once you enter the church. 

It's also good to stay away from short dresses or skirts. If the length of a dress or skirt is less than your arm's length when you rest it at your side, it's generally too short, and you should wear something else.

what to wear on a catholic wedding
Photographer: @julesbower

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Can You Wear Black To A Catholic Wedding?

The debate over whether or not black is suitable to wear to weddings isn't going away anytime soon. Is it permissible to wear black at a Catholic wedding? Yes, you can wear your stunning black gown. 

It's only logical that you'd think that wearing black to a Catholic wedding would be inappropriate. 

Wearing black to a wedding was once seen to be a passive-aggressive method of opposing the marriage. Given that we are in the twenty-first century, it does not appear rational to link the color of clothing to a marital objection.

People who have attended Catholic weddings will tell you that they have seen several black outfits, particularly on young female visitors, at one point or another. If you're still hesitant to wear black but want to wear your luxurious black ensemble, complementing it with colorful accessories may give you the boost you need.

Because conditions vary, it's also crucial to determine if there are any worries about wearing black to your wedding. Black may still be considered taboo in some places.

Even while wearing black to a wedding is generally fine, there are a few things to consider before deciding on your favorite black ensemble. Some of the things you should think about are:

When deciding if it's ok to wear black to a wedding, you should always consider how formal it is. If you're attending a black-tie or formal wedding, you can wear anything black. 

However, wearing a black outfit to a Catholic wedding in the casual countryside, where the bridal dress code is not formal, may appear overly solemn. Likewise, outdoor weddings can sometimes be less formal and demand more casual dress.

wearing on catholic wedding ivory shoes
Photographer: @evalindouglass

You'll also want to consider the time of day. For an evening wedding, wear black, and for a midday wedding, wear lighter colours.

Do I Have To Wear Sleeves In A Catholic Wedding?

Because Catholic weddings place a premium on modesty, guests are wary of wearing sleeveless attire. 

However, most Catholic churches now allow brides to wear sleeveless wedding gowns. In addition, if a priest permits a bride to wear a sleeveless dress, guests will likely be allowed to do the same. 

As a result, guests should not feel self-conscious about wearing sleeveless clothing in this situation.

Can I Wear Sandals in A Church?

Although wearing sandals is not prohibited in the Catholic church, it may be inappropriate if you are attending a wedding with a formal dress code. Also, avoid sandals that resemble flip-flops with straps and instead opt for those with a semi-casual vibe.

What Not To Wear To A Catholic Wedding?

Is digging through your closet trying to decide what to wear to a catholic wedding stressing you out? We get it! We know that churches have traditionally been pretty strict with their dress code requirements. But in modern days, what exactly does that mean?

Understanding what "not" to wear to a catholic wedding is an excellent place to start. Here are a few things that should never be worn to a catholic church wedding.  

Leggings Or Jeans

It seems like it would be an understood rule never to wear leggings or jeans to a catholic wedding, but with today's casual fashion craze, you'd be surprised. So, we're putting it out there!

It is not ok to wear jeans to a catholic wedding, and leggings aren't appropriate unless you have a nice, LONG shirt to cover your private parts. 

Cutouts Or Crop Tops

When it comes to a Catholic wedding, having cutouts in your dress around your abdomen and other regions is excessive.

Cutouts also allow you to flaunt your midriff. While it's fantastic to be confident, it's probably not a good idea to do so at church.

Plunging Necklines

The key to what to wear to a catholic wedding is to keep it modest. So, the last thing you want to do is wear something with a plunging neckline that shows too much cleavage. 

But, if that's your typical everyday style, then make sure to get a shawl or wrap to be dressed appropriately in the church and then remove it for the reception. 

Inappropriate Designs Or Graphic Tees

Anything having visual designs that might go against a Catholic church's beliefs should be a no-no. And this is not a good time to be making political statements with your clothes.

Wearing a graphic tee or attention-grabbing and compromising prints can be left at home for another more casual event.

Short Skirts

Ladies, please understand that what you wear to a catholic wedding says a lot about who you are and the level of respect for the church and the couple. So make sure to pay close attention to how long your skirts and dresses are. 

A good rule of thumb is to make sure that the length of the skirt is mid-thigh (or longer) when sitting down. Yes! You need to test the skirt length when sitting, not just when standing.

Sweats & See Through Clothes

Do we need to explain?

Shorts

Shorts aren't acceptable to wear to any wedding, much less a catholic wedding. And this goes for men and women. 


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Catholic Wedding Guest Dress

For wedding guests, deciding what to wear may be a stressful affair. You may be concerned not only about the style of attire you should wear to the wedding but also about the colors you should wear. 

So, how should you dress for a Catholic wedding? 

Because most Catholic weddings are semi-formal, males should wear shirts and ties, if not suits. On the other hand, women can dress in skirts, dresses, or even dress pants. So, modesty is essential

Also, Catholic weddings aren't that dissimilar from other types of weddings. Pay attention to the wedding invitation to incite into how formal the event will be. 

Catholic Wedding Guest Dress For Men

Men attending a Catholic wedding should dress conservatively, with a shirt and tie at the very least, though a suit is ideal. Hats are not permitted for male visitors at the wedding, and cut-off shirts that reveal the arms, which are inappropriate for the occasion, should be avoided.

Catholic Wedding Guest Dress For Women

At Catholic weddings, women should wear modest attire. While in the church, it's advisable to cover your arms and back with a shawl or tiny jacket; these can be removed during the reception. 

Wearing a noticeably short dress at a wedding is also bad etiquette; the dress should not show the thighs when a woman sits down. Also, avoid wearing white—this is the color of the bride's gown.

If you hate wearing dresses, it's ok to wear tailored pants.

Churches may be one of the most prevalent ceremony locations. Still, when selecting wedding-day apparel appropriate for that environment, they tend to throw guests for a loop. 

In addition, dress rules might vary widely depending on the couple's religious affiliation and the type of church where the ceremony is held, so make sure you're familiar with the venue and what to expect before narrowing down ensembles. And when in doubt, ask the couple!

man set to wear to a cathlolic wedding
Photographer: @evalindouglass

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