There can be different degrees of modesty in a wedding gown, depending on your preference and any other specific requirements from your church or situation. It is very common in certain churches and synagogues to expect that a bride not show a lot of skin for the ceremony.
This can mean anything from having covered shoulders to needing a wedding dress with long sleeves and a jewel neckline. Other brides may not be following any particular directives, but just feel more comfortable in a gown with more coverage. Not only are there some very pretty bridal gowns available with appropriate amounts of fabric, there can be a considerable amount of flexibility in having a less modest gown re-cut to suit your needs.
A bateau neckline is gorgeous when more coverage is desired on the bodice of the bridal gown. This delicate boatneck will make you feel like Audrey Hepburn in "Sabrina"! It is a timeless shape with a 1950's inspiration. There is a fabulous version of a tea length bateau neck wedding dress by Vineyard which features a lace applique on English net and a full soft skirt.
The top portion of the neckline is an illusion style with sheer lace above a solid bodice. This is a great style for brides who prefer to have a more modest neckline, but can allow a little skin to show through. Finish it off with a pair of pearl earrings and some cute little gloves, and you will be ready for an afternoon garden party wedding. If you prefer a full length bateau neck wedding dress, you will love the simple modern style from J Crew which is solid all the way to the top of the neckline.
Sleeves are a simple way to make a
wedding gown modest. In many cases, a three-quarter sleeve will be appropriate (check with your officiant if in doubt) and more comfortable than a long sleeve. There is a lovely three-quarter sleeve wedding gown in the Adele Wechsler Eco Couture collection which features feminine tone on tone floral accents.
Also keep in mind that many sleeveless wedding gowns can have sleeves added. As long as the gown has a true shoulder, such as a bateau, v-neck, or tank style top, most designers will be willing to make a pattern change and add sleeves. When you begin shopping for your bridal gown, be sure to let your consultant know what you have in mind so that she can show you the gowns which can be altered to fit your needs. Some large bridal salons like Kleinfeld in New York even have specialists who work with brides seeking modest wedding dresses.
Square and jewel neckline wedding gowns are also good options when you seek more coverage. Some may have sleeves, and many could have sleeves added. Also keep in mind that necklines can be raised, or modesty panels can be added to square and v-neck wedding dresses.
In the right hands, these additions can add style and beauty to the gown, rather than looking like an afterthought. One company which offers a lot of short sleeve gowns with modest necklines is Bliss by Bonny. Some of the classic wedding gowns in their collection are embellished with light pearl beading, which is so pretty with pearl earrings and a pearl necklace.
Although they are not as common as strapless gowns, there are many lovely modest wedding dresses available. Also keep in mind that many strapless gowns have coordinating jackets or shrugs which can be worn over them to ensure appropriate coverage for a religious wedding ceremony. Sometimes it may just take a little bit of imagination to see the possibilities in a wedding gown which you love that could be made to be perfect with a few minor changes. Laura Firenze