Thursday, January 31, 2008

Here comes the bride

It is common knowledge that almost every little girl spends years dreaming about her wedding day, planning it long before she actually meets the man who will win her hand in marriage. She can vividly picture the guests, the ceremony, the cake and flowers and invitations and gifts; but here I would like to address the centerpiece of this dream – the wedding dress.

Every woman is a princess on her wedding day, radiant and glorious. Her dress reflects the way she feels – long and white, flowing and feminine, the symbol of innocence, purity and virtue. She wears it for a holy, sacred moment when her hand and her heart are given to a man who promises to cherish and love and respect her - for the rest of their lives.

Ladies, how many of you attended weddings lately? Or perhaps went to find a wedding gown for you, or your sisters, friends, daughters? Did you, perhaps, notice something unexpected?

Brides are offered provocative, immodest styles. Such styles are becoming normal and popular. Wedding dresses, which for many centuries symbolized the purity and innocence of a bride, nowadays are often anything but innocent.

Some may say I shouldn't be surprised, considering the fashion we usually see these days. And of course, it's always important to dress modestly – not only on one's wedding day. However, even if it sounds like an exaggeration, I think inappropriate and provocative wedding dresses are an extraordinarily striking example of lost respect for the woman, her chastity, the holiness of a wedding ceremony and even marriage itself.

Think about it. Once, a bride would come to her new husband timid and blushing, and her lovely garments only enhanced the true beauty within, the beauty only one man was meant to see. Today, a woman can turn into a display of sexuality even on her wedding day. Divorce rates are climbing up; the difference between today and only a couple of decades ago is undeniable. I'm not saying it all boils down to a wedding dress. It is just a symbol of our society's standards.

This isn't really about slashes in a wedding dress; it is about breaks in the matrimonial stronghold. The bride's naked skin is a sad illustration of her submission to the worldly temptations, rather than to serving God and her family. Her wedding dress is so tight she hardly has room to breathe – or room for holy thoughts on this very special occasion.

So ladies, especially those who are planning their wedding, let's make it a truly beautiful day. This is the most special day in our life, a day we have awaited, a day on which we start a new family union, blessed with love and hope. Let's rejoice in pure thoughts and endless love we feel towards God and our new husbands. Let's dedicate ourselves to our husbands on this wonderful day, to be their faithful helpers and companions. And let's dress in a beautiful, dignified way, in awe and honor of this glorious moment, so that all who set their eye upon us can happily say: "Here comes the bride!"

49 comments:

PamelaK said...

Anna -
Such a wonderful post! Today's wedding dresses resemble lingerie more than outer clothing.
I thought you might be interested in perusing this site of more modest wedding dresses, if nothing more than to get ideas if you are still in search or making your dress.
www.aspirebridal.co.uk/

Tamara said...

I've been recently to both a "western" style wedding (friends) and an Orthodox wedding (relatives by marriage). Let me tell you, the dress on the relative..very modest..was much more beautiful than dresses I've seen in awhile! Simple heavy satin, beautifully tailored and fitted for her. It showed the true beauty of a chalah on her wedding day.

Good Luck in your search.

~tamara

Laura H. said...

Yeah,
I know how that is. I felt uncomfortable being bridemaids when the bridemaids are dressed more modest then the bride. I thought it was interesting.

That is why I am going to start a business of designing wedding dresses that are modest, but with the modern twist to them. And some historical fashions too.

Have a great day, and God bless you!

Laura H.

Green Eyes said...

I'm sure my wedding dress wouldn't be considered modest by many, but there are some styles I've seen that just blow my mind! A friend of mine in college picked out a dress that was literally sparkly mesh from the waist up, with a smaller-than-a-bra lining in strategic places... I haven't seen her since school but I hope she changed her mind. General modesty aside, styles like that really do remove the focus of everyone from the ceremony and its importance.

singlemomforgod said...

AMEN AMEN and AMEN. I couldn't have said it better myself. I feel sorry for all of the men who attend weddings and have to try not to focus on what the groom is getting! Very well said!

Sammybunny said...

Hear Hear. It makes me sad especially when *big* women wear immodest dresses because I feel like they feel they have to dress immodestly in order to feel beautiful when all they need to realize is that God made them and they already are beautiful without showing all their skin!

Anonymous said...

So very insightful and well put! Unfortunately I don't think many brides think twice about it these days! I certainly didn't! My wedding dress was not white, and had no straps or sleeves! I'm embarrassed about it now, but at the time it was all we could afford and my husband told me not to worry about it not being modest enough. I must say though, I did! I spent half the day feeling on display and pulling it up at the front!! Had I to do it over, I would probably do it differently. But I suppose now my only option is to help my girls look for modest dresses should their day ever come! What fun that will be! I can't wait to see your dress! Do post a picture when you find one! I am just DYING to see it lol!

Karen from Be Still My Soul (not signed in!!)

Anna S said...

I found a dress, but I'm not posting any pictures of it yet... don't want the chatan to see it before the big day! :)

Andrea said...

Anna,

I haven't seen any of the more outrageous styles in person, but when my friend was planning her wedding we purchased some bridal magasines that had some styles that really threw us for a loop! Some were really "out there" and I imagine if we hadn't shopped for her dress in such a quiet, conservative town we'd have seen some in person, too. As it was, the dresses we did find were quite traditional in style.

I suppose it all boils down to where one draws the line; to some, modesty stops nothing short of a full-body covering, whereas others take it by degrees. I know that some people don't mind a form-fitted torso (corset style, or similar) provided that the skirts are loose and full and the shoulders are covered. I suppose the range of options available really hinges on whether the bride wants a dress to be . . . ugh, "loose" is definitely not the word I am looking for in this case, haha! I mean, whether the bride wants a tailored look but not at all form fitted, or something form-fitted to the waist but with room to move elsewhere. If the latter, it's quite easy to adapt a sleeveless style to a more subtle look; there are many "princess" and "ballgown" styles that want only a smart bolero jacket or wrap to tone them down.

Lovely post, as usual, and I can't wait to hear more about your preparations as they continue to unfold :)

Tracy said...

This was a great post Anna, and let's not forget the bridesmaids! Why tempt your brand new husband by picking out immodest wedding attire for those who will be standing up with you?

Anna S said...

Tracy, there are no bridesmaids at Jewish weddings, that's why I didn't think of it!

Terry said...

I think single mom made an excellent point in response to your excellent post. I can hardly wait to hear how your wedding plans unfold and to see the pictures later. Blessings to you and your intended!

Haus Frau said...

Agree 100%.

I've helped plan numerous weddings and am sometimes surprised by the style of dresses for the bride, bridesmaids AND mothers.

Anna, I'm certain your dress is winsomely lovely!

Andrea said...

Future brides might be interested in looking at the gowns offered at http://www.totallymodest.com/ or, for those looking to put together something with what's available, they might want to see some pictures to generate ideas. These are links to pictures of a few different styles similar to what I was speaking of; the first one isn't even meant to be a wedding dress, but I think it would look quite well at an informal affair.

http://lulusvintage.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/vintagemartini.jpg
http://www.bbride.com/acatalog/ok_bride04-028.jpg
http://bp0.blogger.com/_Ohuhl0L7c0o/RtOFBN1vTrI/AAAAAAAACMw/hxSB7GyTSzg/s1600-h/208058_7206.jpg

As you can see, they're all either quite chic or subtly vintage. Personally I don't feel the appeal of a "theme" wedding so am unlikely to be interested in a period gown or anything overtly vintage, but I know some ladies do lean in that direction, in which case they may have fun looking at 18th century gowns with the addition of a little lace fichu or may want to look at styles from the 40s and 50s. There really are all sorts of ideas out there :)

Incidentally, not all of your readers may be aware that brides didn't wear white as a course of habit until comparatively recently. As late as the mid-nineteenth century, wedding gowns still came in all colours of the rainbow! Queen Victoria first popularized the trend of wearing white, but even after her wedding some ladies continued to be married in coloured gowns; it was only those who wanted to follow the "new trend" who first leaped on the idea of a white wedding, and a rush of literature (propaganda, really!) was quickly generated in the 1840s and 50s to persuade other soon-to-be-married girls to follow suit.

Even later on, during times such as the Depression and WWII, there was a resurgence in the wearing of coloured dresses as simply a matter of thrift. The tradition of the bride clad in white isn't even two hundred years old yet, so women who can't find a white dress that appeals to them needn't feel they're bucking the tradition of centuries, or anything like that!

For some people (particularly in Western culture) the white wedding dress is highly symbolic, but for others it may not hold the same symbolism, opening up a wide range of other possibilities :)

Gothelittle Rose said...

I was so lucky with my wedding dress. I went to a consignment shop looking for an older one and I found one in beautiful shape and very modest.

A true 'princess dress' with the puffy sleeves and a huge skirt with a long train. Princess (heart-shaped) neckline, but with no cleavage... Oh it's beautiful. (I kept it.) It cost me about $150. Seed pearls and lace overlay. I'll put a picture up of it someday.

A consignment shop is really a very good place to find a beautiful, modest gown. If I'd had $3,000 to spend I couldn't have picked one I liked more.

PandaBean said...

Yet another reason I was so happy to have my mom and dad make my dress for me (their choice). I was able to have every little detail I wanted, from a princess cut bodice to long flowy sleeves and a fancy layered skirt. (And this was all before I cared about modesty!)

I see soooooo many women nowadays wearing sleeveless and strapless gowns and they spend most of their time hitching up their dress. How can that possibly make them feel comfortable? I would think it would be a HUGE distraction all day, when the focus should be on the event (after all, this should only be happening once) and not on the dress.

God Bless!

Lara said...

Anna--
I totally agree. I ended up having my dress made. The whole industry that has built up around weddings really bothered me....so I opted to have a light blue Regency style dress (light blue is the color of purity in old Ireland) with a white lace overlay (a family friend helped me design and sew it), and my fiance and I escaped to Ireland with our families and a few for a delightful Christmas wedding....still basking in the glow! :) We will never forget our wonderful day and it was even more sacred and intimate than we anticipated.

May your day be even more than you imagine... :)

How soon?

Hugs,
L

Mrs. Brigham said...

I have enjoyed reading your thoughts here, Anna, and share similar ones myself. Sadly, I did not wear the most modest of wedding dresses, and now regret this quite a bit as I look at my wedding pictures. If I could do it all over again, a lot more fabric I would purchase. ;o)

We did not have bridesmaids at our wedding, but I must echo the sentiments of several other dear ladies here and state they are often just as awful, if not moreso than bridal dresses. The same goes with other formal dresses too. When I needed formal dresses for military balls, I would always need to take an off the rack dress to a seamstress and have her work some magic on the sleeves and neckline.

PhDCow said...

I got married in 1999 and I was lucky to find a dress with sleeves. Nowadays, it's nearly impossible to do this in most mainstream bridal shops.

Here's it is: http://images110.fotki.com/v576/photos/4/41529/85974/Doorway-vi.jpg

I totally understand about wanting to be the queen for the day, but I think for many brides, they go overboard.

Rachel said...

I agree. Strapless dresses seem to be the fashion now, but as I got married in November, in a church, it would not have been appropriate at all! I did finally find a long sleeved one.
I kinda thought it wasn't fair. Why should the guys get to be all warm in thier tuxes while my bridesmaids and I were freezing because of our bare shoulders?!

joylynn said...

Anna, I think I missed something...who or what is a "chatan"?

Rebekah S. said...

Amen, Amen, Amen! What a truly wonderful post, Anna!! :)

First of all, I am SOOOO exited for you! You're so right, all of us girls dream about our wedding day. I'm only 15 1/2, so I've got at least a few years to wait yet. But, I can definitely share in the excitement of yours, and prepare myself for my own! :) I'm just near giddy with excitement for you! :)

You're so right. A marriage is a sacred, holy union. For Christians, it's a direct symbol of Christ and His bride, the church. And to wear something horribly impure on that day is a slap in the face of God(for us Christians)! In Ephes. 5, it speaks on Christ making His bride pure and holy. So, for an earthly bride to wear something so impure and unholy on her wedding day truly is a tragedy indeed! Also, I've noticed that some women lately choose to wear red dresses! White is the symbol of purity, virtue, and holiness, where as red is the symbol of sin, vileness, etc. What a bad color to wear on your wedding day! It's all just really sad.

Once again, Anna, awesome job on this post! You speak the truth so well, and you have such a way with words. Keep up the great work!

May the Lord richly bless you and your future marriage!

Rebekah

Maggie said...

My mom always complains about women in general, brides, bridesmaids, mother of the bride, female guests, who show up at weddings in strapless dresses. Utterly tacky and draws your attention to places it shouldn't. I couldn't agree more. Should I ever get married, i would want to wear something comfortable and definitely not something I am having to tug in places to make sure it's covering everything up!

Lillian the Ponderer said...

I agree entirely. I spent ages finding a suitable dress, it was not easy, even some of the so-called modest styles were not modest enough for my taste. The dress I bought in the end, I had to adapt at the front (3 days before the wedding) as it wasn't high enough for my comfort and I would have been happier with a higher back, but I simply didn't have time to do anything about it. I am certainly glad that you have found the right dress and you are wise not to post here till after the event. My sweetheart viewed a few examples of wedding dresses on regular worldly websites and he commented that a lot of them looked like lingerie and he would hate me to wear something like that, in the end he was very happy with what I wore.

Anonymous said...

I love your post ! It does say alot.What is your wedding date?
I wish so many ladies could get ,that we were created with purpose. People around me still think I am odd for wearing modest dresses.By the way they are very hard to find.
Blessings :E

Anya said...

Anna, I have just come across your blog and absolutely love it. Thanks for your contemplative, careful writing. The world seems a small place when you allow us to glimpse into your heart and life even from the other side of the world. I've bookmarked you for regular reading,
Blessings,
Anya
-

Anonymous said...

Very well said! I'll be praying for you and your wedding!

Kristi said...

Well stated, Anna! I could not agree more. The wedding ceremony is supposed to be a holy time. I believe that the bride is a symbol of the church - she should be a picture of spotless beauty and holiness; glorious, worthy to be presented to Christ.

Jeannine said...

I absolutely agree with you, Anna! I bought my wedding dress in December and I was shocked by some of the dresses that are on display in stores. I will be the bride, not someone who want to seduce everyone in the room...
Fortunately I found a dress I really liked. Hopefully you'll find one too!

Anonymous said...

Well said, Anna. I agree totally. I attended 4 weddings this past year. At all but one of them the bride's dress was strapless. Often, so were the bride's maids dresses and at one, so was the bride's mother's! It was very sad to me. I hope that many brides reading your blog will realize that, even if they can't find a modest dress off the rack, they can find a pattern and have someone make their dress for them (probably less expensively, too) and even alter it if it needs more modesty. That is what I did 17 years ago and my wedding dress only cost about $100! It is something to consider.

I'm looking forward to more updates and praying that all will go well in the next weeks.

Sincerely,
Melinda

AnneK said...

When I got married, I had to search far and wide for a modest wedding gown. All the ones available were strapless, spaghetti straps or had various other issues. Finally I found a full sleeved lace and satin one which was perfect for me. Finding a dress was the hardest part of the wedding arrangement for me. And now I hear full sleeves are coming into fashion!

Anonymous said...

I'm sure it can be very eye-opening to shop for wedding dresses these days! I realize that having options is usually a good thing, but some dresses are just too ridiculous. I'm happy you've found something that pleases you, though, Anna...& I'm certain you look lovely in it!

Brenda

Asia said...

I know what you mean Anna, and sometimes it crazy to see these wedding dresses.

Brandi said...

I'm sure you saw the maternity wedding dresses as well. So bittersweet!

Stefanie said...

Yeah, you guys, this isn't just a "bride" problem. What about all the married women who go around with low low cut tops? First off, I am a believer in the imagination, and secondly - this puts all the more attention on the body and not the person.
For some reason I have never thought that them hanging out was classy at any point.
I wore a strapless gown, it was very in at the time, and it looked better on me than the other choices. I think I had such an idea what I wanted at first for my gown, but then when I actually got these dresses on, they were not flattering. So I compromised, the strapless dress with the most beautiful wide shawl.

Ingvild said...

I found your blog yesterday, and I've spent nearly three hours straight, reading your posts. I love what you write, it's inspireing, helpful and interesting. I am 16, and do want to become a homemaker one day, and dream about becoming a mother and wife.
Thank you for sharing, it is such a blessing when someone is willing to give of their time to encourage others.

God bless you

Anonymous said...

Anna,

I'm a bit daft when it comes to Orthodox Judaism (I'm a Reformed Baptist), but weren't there bridesmaids for Old Testament weddings? In the New Testament, Jesus has a parable about bridesmaids, so I wondered. I know that the bridesmaids talked about the parable did a lot more for the bride than stand up beside her looking pretty (that custom came much later, during Roman times) -they actually prepared the bride for her groom.

Anyway, just wondering.... I think it would be really interesting if you wrote a post about the typical Jewish wedding. For those of us living in the frivolous western culture (where weddings cost -on average -over two thousand dollars! :) I'm sure it would be very insightful.

Kristy said...

Amen, Anna! It is a mockery that a bride (who is supposed to be pure, right?) would dress in a provocative manner. Modest wedding gowns are difficult to find, so many young women who might otherwise dress modestly seem to justify the "exception" of showing a little extra flesh on their wedding day.

Good for you for taking a stand for femininity and modesty!
~Kristy

College Gal said...

Great post Anna! I completely agree with you. It is hard to find a modest wedding dress now days; I'm glad that you found one that you liked. God bless you!!!

Shelley said...

Hi Anna:) I was married in June and could not find a dress suitable for a plus sized bride. All the dresses I saw were sleeveless, strapless and practicaly topless!. The sad thing is I see a lot of bigger girls in our local paper who settled for a strapless dress with no jacket and it didn't suit them, and they have that look on their face that says "yes I know it's 50lbs of mud in a 5lb sack but it's all I could get". I wanted a real wedding dress so Mom and I found a dressmaker that made me the dress I couldn't find anywear at any price (it actually had sleeves:) I felt like a princess, looked appropriate for my size and saved a lot of money too (total cost for dress was $170.00 Cdn).
I was wondering also, do Jewish brides have wedding showers, if so, what are they like?

C.A. Worcester said...

HUH??????!!!!! Did I miss somthing here???? You are getting MARRIED????!!!!

Fill me in.....please! My baby was in the hospital for 5 days and now we are getting ready to move, but Anna, you HAVE to explain to me......marriage???? I must be really dumb, because I knew you were "preparing" for marriage, but maybe I just thought you were preparing and didn't have a suitor yet? I don't have time to go through all the posts right now (smile), so Shabbat Shalom (a little late I know) and fill me in!

Blessings,

C.A. Worcester

Buffy said...

I don't agree with the person who said that red is a symbol of sin and vileness. Maybe to Rebekah it is (which seems a shame) but to me and many other people it symbolises joy, love and vitality.

If white symbolises purity to you and that's what you want to represent on your wedding day that's what you should wear. But most women only wear white because that's what every other women does.

It was fashionable to wear a red wedding dress a long time before it was fashionable to wear a white wedding dress. (In Tudor times particularly.) And incidently for a wedding dress the colour blue was seen as the colour of purity, not white. At the time Queen Victoria wore her wedding gown white was a symbol of wealth.

(I am sure your dress will look lovely Anna and I can't wait to see any photos you post.)

Andrea said...

"But most women only wear white because that's what every other women does."

Amen! White really still is a symbol of wealth in Western culture, too, simply a less overt one than it used to be; really, realistically, you HAVE to have a wealth of resources (whether time, money or otherwise) in order to keep white --well--WHITE! After all, to have an elaborate outfit made entirely of white fabric does indeed imply that you have the resources necessary to care for it ;)

Actually, white has long been highly symbolic to different cultures in a variety of different ways. Ancient Romans regarded white as a mystical colour and used it to warn off evil spirits (the wedding veil was also used by Romans to prevent the bride being seen by evil spirits who would attack her). Traditions and symbols are in many ways so fluid and flexible; I may very well choose to wear white on my wedding day (I probably will, actually; no doubt that will be the only time in my life that I will have such an impractical outfit, and I plan to enjoy it!) but it won't be because I want to display to everybody how pure I am-- my actions, I think, should more than speak for themselves in that area. Colour choice of a wedding gown is just that-- the choice that is made by the individual bride, for her own personal reasons, and is a choice made very much to the exclusion of the preferences and practices of others :)

Anna, in case I haven't already said so-- when your wedding is over and your chatan has had the privilege of seeing you in the gown you have put such care and time into choosing, I would dearly love to see pictures of you wearing it :)

Andrea said...

I beg your pardon, just want to make a quick correction to my most recent post-- white was not used by Romans to ward off evil spirits, rather it was considered the colour of celebration and joy; actually, a few different colours were favoured for Roman weddings, white was just one of them. Rather, it was the veil and the bouquet of herbs carried by the bride that were meant to protect her from spirits. Boy, I tell you, study enough history, and sooner or later some wires are bound to get crossed! :P

Green Eyes said...

Yeah, the color thing doesn't bother me. As mentioned before, white dresses for weddings have not always been "the thing." In many cultures (particularly Eastern ones), red is THE wedding dress color... white is considered the color of mourning! Even in Western countries you will find wide variation on this topic.

Coffee Catholic said...

My wedding dress was made up of endless yards of beaded satin and even had long sleeves - but the chest plunged to my breasts and left me feeling downright naked! My seamstress added a lovely lace panel across the top and that solved the problem!

Ghost said...

I don't know how it is in other countries, but here in the US, it is almost impossible to find a wedding dress that has sleeves! I am planning my own wedding right now, and nearly cried after the fourth bridal boutique I visited turned out to have nothing I could wear into my (Orthodox Christian) church! The only way for me to get a modest dress is to either buy a strapless gown and pay to have sleeves and neck added to it (which looks so awkward with opaque fabric!), or order one online from a Mormon retailer-- both of which options are way, way out of my budget.

In the end, I am sewing my own dress. I have almost no experience sewing clothing, so it's a fairly plain dress and I may have to settle for a few snags in the fabric and some puckered seams, but at least I won't feel naked in church!

Shaina said...

http://www.cocomyles.com
This company's website lets you customize your dress, including sleeve style/length, skirt style, beading and sashes. Their prices are pretty reasonable. You can put together a simple bridesmaid or white wedding gown for less than $200 (including shipping).
I haven't ordered a dress yet from this company yet, so I can't recommend them, but it seems like they have pretty good customer relations. I emailed them for swatches for a bridesmaid dress and they emailed me back within 24 hours, saying that they were sending me color swatches for free.

Stephanie said...

I know this is an old post, but I just had to say "Thanks!" for addressing this a couple years ago. I got married in 2008, and my mom was very strict about what kind of dress she and my father would pay for. I was frustrated, not so much with her, but with the lack of dresses out there that would meet her standards. Eventually we had to buy one and pay a seamstress to add sleeves! It's not until recently that I've grown to appreciate my mom's steadfastness on the modesty issue.