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Why I Didn’t Wear a Strapless Wedding Dress

By: Kristen Clark

“I think I might cry,” I said to my mom as we exited yet another wedding dress store. “I thought this was supposed to be fun. We’ve been to every store in the city and I haven’t found anything close to what I need.”

“Hang there in honey,” my mom replied with a sympathetic smile. “It’s out there somewhere.”

The day was coming to an end and my dream dress was nowhere in sight. I felt completely exhausted from trying on dozens of dresses and re-explaining my “strange” modesty standards to skeptical sales ladies.

My heart sank into discouragement.

I felt a twinge of annoyance at my modesty convictions and, for a moment, wished they weren’t so “convicting.”

Some of you might be wondering why I would enforce such burdensome standards upon myself? I mean, seriously…your wedding is a special and unique day, right? Couldn’t I just loosen up a little and wear an elegant strapless dress like everyone else? Everyone wears them and it’s not a big deal, right?

Those are some really great questions, and ones I had to personally wrestle with. Was it really necessary to be so “modest?”

My grueling wedding dress hunt really put my modesty convictions to the test. I had to be pretty convinced that it was worth the hunt.

The truth is, deep down in my heart, I knew it was worth it.

As I thought back on all the reasons I had committed to dressing modestly, my heart became peaceful again and I felt a new wave of energy rush over me.

For me, dressing modestly was already a normal part of my everyday life. My reasons for choosing modesty over convenience were something I had come to understand and embrace years before my wedding day was ever in sight.

For me, as a Christian woman, dressing modestly went hand in hand with my understand of God. The more I learned about God the more I discovered how passionate He is about His name being honored (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

God is passionate about His children honoring Him with every area of our lives.

The Bible makes it clear that everything we do should be for the purpose of bringing God glory. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

For me, dressing modestly is rooted in that very purpose. I desire to bring God glory with my body and point others to Him. And because of that, I am intentional about my wardrobe.

When others look at me, I want them to be directed to my smiling face, my words, and my Savior – not my curves, thighs, and cleavage.

Modest clothing should be a reflection of a humble heart committed to honoring God.

I love how John MacArthur puts it:

“How does a woman discern the sometimes fine line between proper dress and dressing to be the center of attention? The answer starts in the intent of her heart. A woman should examine her motives and goals for the way she dresses. Is her intent to show the grace and beauty of womanhood?

Is it to reveal a humble heart devoted to worshipping God? Or is it to call attention to herself, and flaunt her…beauty? Or worse, to attempt to allure men sexually? A woman who focuses on worshipping God will consider carefully how she is dressed, because her heart will dictate her wardrobe and appearance.”

As the biggest day of my life was approaching (my wedding), I wanted God to be glorified and honored in every way. Zack and I both wanted our wedding ceremony to reflect the purity, holiness and splendor of Christ.

That is the biggest reason I was on the hunt for a modest wedding dress.

Sadly, in our American culture, weddings have become more like entertaining shows. The focus is becoming less and less about glorifying God, and more and more about the “Pinterest-to-die-for” display.

Even amongst Christians, the main focus isn’t so much about reflecting Christ as it is about showcasing the event.

However, as Albert Mohler points out, a wedding should be so much more:

“What we are aiming for in the worship service of a wedding is to demonstrate the glory of God in the coming together of a man and a woman in purity, in monogamy, and in faithfulness before Him; to be obedient to His commands and to receive all the good and the gifts that are involved in the covenant of marriage.”

Since a wedding ceremony is such a precious and sacred day, the focus to glorify God should be heightened, not diminished. Every aspect of the ceremony and reception should be thoughtfully planned – with Christ at the forefront of our minds.

This included the bridal gown and the bridesmaid dresses.

For me, a strapless wedding dress was too revealing and didn’t portray a modest appearance. I didn’t want my wedding dress (or my bridesmaid dresses) to be a distraction from the main focus of the ceremony. I wanted the attention on Christ.

On a side note, I have also heard from many Christian guys that low cut dresses, strapless dresses, etc. can be a temptation for them, so I wanted to dress in a way that would bless my brothers in Christ.

For me, dressing modestly on my wedding day was simply another way to glorify God.

Thankfully, my dress hunting story has a happy ending.

Right as I was about to call it a day, I decided to do one more google search for wedding stores. To my surprise, a bridal store popped up on my phone that I had never seen or heard of before. And it was only 5 minutes away from where I was!

My mom and I quickly drove over there and zoomed inside. The sales lady was so sweet and friendly and quickly showed me to their “gown room.” And guess what happened? The second dress I tried on was the most perfect dress I had ever worn! I FOUND MY DRESS.

It was modest, elegant, classy and gorgeous – and it fit me perfectly.

With excitement bursting from my heart, I ordered the dress, and praise God for His faithfulness (I’m wearing it in the picture above).

God blessed my desire to honor him with my clothing and He provided for all of my needs. As 1 Samuel 2:30 says, …”those who honor Me I will honor…”

Choose to bring glory to God in every area of life regardless of the cost.

For those of you haven’t walked the aisle yet, I challenge you to start thinking about how you can honor God with your special day. How can you dress in a way that is beautiful and elegant, yet also brings glory to God? How can you take purity and modesty into your wedding day?

For those of you who have already walked the aisle, this post is not intended to bash your wedding dress, it is to simply share my personal convictions and encourage future brides to think ahead. 

For some inspiration on modest wedding dress ideas, check out our “Modest Wedding Dressing” Pinterest board here.

What do you think?

  • Have you dreamed about your future wedding? How much thought have you given to “glorifying God” with that special day?
  • Do you think it’s important to dress modestly on your wedding day? Why or why not?
  • When dreaming about a future wedding dress, keep these questions in mind: Will this dress appear “out of place” in a holy and worshipful wedding ceremony? Can I imagine myself standing before a pastor in this dress? Would I wear a dress this revealing to church on a normal Sunday?

Why I didn't Wear a Strapless Wedding Dress

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  • Diane

    I really like the last question if I won’t wear this type of dress to a normal Sunday morning, then I shouldn’t have that kind of wedding dress. I feel like a lot of Christians in today’s world (including the church I go to) have a mind set: I’m going to a wedding (as a guest) I can wear a dress that’s shorter or more open than usual, it’s ok. That’s what today’s Christians are thinking which I feel is wrong. Great post thank you!

    • Thanks for reading and for your comment Diane! We need to all constantly check what we’re wearing and make sure we don’t have “double standards.” Good thoughts. May we all strive to dress modestly, with a heart of humility, and bring much glory to God. 🙂

  • Joy

    I know what that feels like. I’m a musician and am shopping to find a performance dress. I’m trying to find one that’s modest in one piece, without having to sew or hem or otherwise adjust. And sometimes it gets so frustrating. Even the ones that look modest are super figure hugging when you try them on. Otherwise they’re long like a bag. Even more, they’re so expensive and sometimes I feel like screaming at the racks, “WOULD YOU PLEASE GIVE ME A BREAK???????”

    • Hey Joy, yes – it can be SO hard to find modest formal wear! I struggle every time I have to purchase a fancy dress for a wedding or something. Thankfully, I have learned how to sew, and that has helped me alter dresses (and even sew some) to get just the look I want. I think I’m going to explore some online modest stores soon too. There seems to be a lot of them popping up! Keep pursuing modesy!

  • Elizabeth Williams

    I love that you had such a modest dress, and all of the bridesmaids as well! Tell me that you didn’t really have THAT many bridesmaids?!? There are actually more modest gowns out there now, so it’s not so bad, but it had to be really hard when you were trying to find a dress! You’re right, your standards are put to the test. Many people would’ve just said “Oh, it’s only one day.” And it drives me crazy the way people do weddings nowadays! For many people, it’s just a party and they can’t wait to dance all night. For others, they want to be the center of attention. I can’t wait to get married one day and give all the glory to God and reflect Him 🙂

    • Hey Elizabeth! Yes…we did have quite the large wedding party. 🙂 And I agree – there seems to be a new market for “modest wedding dresses” which is SO exciting!! Hopefully things won’t be as hard for you as they were for me. 🙂

  • Jacey Faith

    I really never thought about strapless dresses in that way….thanks for making some great points. I loved your wedding and was blessed to be able to attend:)

    • So glad you were able to be at my wedding! Can’t believe it’s almost been 4 years though. :O

  • Gods_girlcoco

    Thanks for sharing your point of view! You look gorgeous!!!!!

    • Thanks for reading! And you’re so sweet. 🙂

  • Sarah Elizabeth

    When I read your last question, my very first thought was how many girls don’t even think or care about that anymore. I see girls come to church and think, “That outfit is already not appropriate, but definitely not appropriate for church.”

    • As christians girls, we all need to take more time to evaluate our clothing in every sphere of life (church, weddings, swimming, etc). It’s easy to live with a double standard for modesty and think it’s okay. We all need to make sure we’re being consistent in every area of life. Thanks for sharing!

  • Shelley

    I definitely believe God honors our requests when we desire to honor him with our modesty standards! That said, I think standards vary depending on personal conviction. My personal conviction was to not have cleavage showing, and the most modest dress actually WAS strapless! I had an acquaintance say she was so glad she wasn’t in my wedding because she couldn’t have worn a strapless bridesmaid dress, but a year later I was surprised her dress had sleeves but a low neckline. I was a bit irritated at first that she would judge my bridal party wedding attire and then choose her dress, but then I was reminded that standards differ and we must go with what God has convicted our heart about, straps or no straps. I do believe I could find a sleeved dress today for my summer wedding more easily than I could years back, but I didn’t feel immodest in my strapless since it met my neckline requirement and I had friends/family give their thumbs up!

    • Hey Shelly! Thanks for sharing. Since the Bible doesn’t give us “clear cut” instructions on exactly what is/isn’t modest, we are left to make wise judgement calls on our own. With that, opinions and standards will always vary. It sounds like you were making some good efforts in striving to be modest. I applaud you for striving to conceal cleavage! Of course (obviously from the article I wrote), I’m of the opinion that strapless dresses aren’t as modest as a dress with more “coverage” on top. In addition to honoring God first, (like I mentioned in the post) I wanted to take into consideration the many Christians guys who would be at my wedding. Many of them find strapless dresses to be a temptation and a distraction for them. With that in mind, I decided it wasn’t worth it to wear one. When choosing modesty standard, I encourage all girls to have the motivation of honoring God first, going into it with a humble heart, and having a desire to bless their brothers-in-Christ. 🙂

  • R.P.

    Thank you for this! Im gonna get married this august, and I try to dress modestly, my fiance helps me al lot since he gently told me what is appropirate and what not. It was so good to hear an honest, humble explanation as to WHY we should dress modestly (but since then its harder for me to see others dressed so immodestly around him…)
    I was so excited to get my wedding gown, and I was determined to find a modest one. Then I stood there, the insecure girl in a dress that was so gorgeous! I felt so beautiful, and I wanted this dress. It was a neckholder, and I could wear something above it, but I saw immediately that it was too low-cut. As if it wasn’t hard enough, the aisstent reassured me, that I should show ”what I’ve got” because I am a bit bigger than average. Really, this was a dream dress. But I am so happy, that I told them that I would try another one. I knew I would have looked stunning. But I also knew that I wouldn’t honour god, the other men, and furthermore, how could I look my amazing man knowing that I disrespected him so much by showing other man what only he should see and enjoy.
    The end of the story is that the assitants made fun of me, but I have found another, very beautiful AND modest dress and I did not only feel beautiful, but I had so much peace, knowing it was the better choice. The smile of my soon to be hubby was so worth it, and I am soooo happy and can’t wait for my wedding day! 🙂

    • Elizabeth Williams

      That had to be so discouraging! But I’m so glad you stayed determined! Way to go!

  • Angie Garcia

    This post have challenge me to re evaluate the way that I dress.
    I don ‘t dress in a way society would consider revealing , but I have to admit that I have a curvy body , and sometimes my clothes are a little bit too thight , and that may cause temptation to my brothers in Christ , and make it harder for my boyfriend to wait till marriage to enjoy my body.

  • May I just say, I LOVE THIS DRESS!!!!!!!!! Thank you so much for posting! <3

  • anonymous

    Your dress is beautiful Kristen! As a teenage girl it is hard to see most other teenage girls immodestly and still strive to be modest, even at church sometimes. I never wear strapless clothes and never wear strapless dresses or tanks without something to cover the arms. I also only wear dresses that are knee length or longer. It really helps when friends encourage you to strive to be modest. I hope to modest my whole life, and even though it may be hard sometimes, I know that it is worth it. It can be so hard to find modest clothes sometimes, do you know of any good stores to shop at? This was a great post, thank you!

    • Elizabeth Williams

      It can be hard, but so worth it! I basically have to find stuff wherever I can find it. There are a lot of online modest websites, but some of them are pricey. Mikarose, Dainty Jewells, ModLi, Klassy Girls Boutique, Jade Mackenzie, etc. Those are a few. Also, check out Modern Modesty blog. She wears only skirts/dresses and has a lot of tips for dressing modestly on a budget 🙂

      • Anonymous

        Thank you for your reply! I will definitely look at those. Also thank you for your encouragement! 😀

  • Allie

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this! Thank you for sharing! It’s such an encouragement! 🙂 God bless you.

  • Sarah

    I dressed modestly on my wedding day. And I wore a strapless dress *gasp*. Actually, the only this my dress showed more than yours was my shoulders. And mine wasn’t as tight fitting around the waist as yours.
    I admire your stance, really I do. But you come across as a prude with the ‘strapless wedding gowns are too revealing and immodest’ attitude. I’ve seen PLENTY of short/ 3/4 sleeve/ and long sleeve dresses that are plenty immodest.

  • Allyce

    I’ll say this as kindly as possible: <3 We can always find examples of things that make us feel better about our actions when comparing ourselves to others. As Bill O'Reilly says: "We can't excuse bad behavior by pointing out someone else's bad or worse behavior." This is an immature attitude. These days there is a lot of skin being shown by Christians, not to mention cleavage. The bride on her wedding day should, of all days, display modesty of the heart. Modesty involves humility. Before someone cries "legalism", there is no room for legalism in humility. <3 Thank you for a thoughtful article that shows much wisdom.

  • Allyce

    BTW: I found sites online for stylish and modest wedding gowns, though they are Mormon stores. After much research into the modesty issue, I have determined that Muslims, some Jewish sects, and most Mormons are modest, but to many Christians it is no longer an issue. Muslims & Jews even have sites for modest swimsuits… 🙂

  • James

    Frankly, I think there are much more important things to worry about. You can honor God without being fully covered neck to knees. The problem with “modesty” is that it is all based on human standards, not on Gods. For example, in other cultures, (especially European,) it is very normal for everyone to wear speedos and bikinis to the beach, whereas some Christians in north america would immediately say that it is morally wrong. Clothing is different for every culture, in our culture it is very normal to “show lots of skin”. There are many girls whose hearts are in the right place and for whom it is normal to wear shorter dresses. What is sad is when they walk into church and everyone looks down on them, and makes them feel as though they have to do everything in a certain way to be right with God. Like you said, what matters most is the intent of the heart. This goes for men as well. God looks at the heart. So inspect your heart and if your intent is fine, you should need to worry about what is appropriate for church or not.

    • James

      I guess I really think it’s wrong when “modesty” becomes such a burden…

      • Phoebe Saywell

        Modesty isn’t a burden when you are honouring God! And even though culture demands skin it doesn’t mean we should comply! I was brought up to understand that the way we dress isn’t about us or anyone around us, our culture or our taste, it should reflect our love for our Saviour! Also modesty can be so tasteful and beautiful!

    • Kitty

      Well said, James! I grew up in the church and modesty is always shoved down girls throats, we are always told that we can’t wear this and that because it can be/is a temptation for boys, but we don’t really ever teach boys to be respectful to women and their bodies. There are so many different cultures with their own versions of modesty. There are also some tribes were it is totally normal and okay for women to be topless!

    • Magdiel

      Well, I’d like to point you towards this Bible verse, Romans 12:2:

      “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

      See, it doesn’t matter where you are and what’s considered “very normal” there, because you don’t belong there (and if you’re Christian, then you’re to be virtually very different, there should be patent difference, between you and the next girl at the mall). You belong to the Kingdom of the King and He has his very own guidelines which you should take with you wherever you go. That includes modesty. Modesty aren’t a bunch of rules thrown together to make our lives miserable, instead, they’re to protect us and those around us. Why? Because as Christians, we must push everyone around us to Christlike character, and help each other as to prevent sin. And so, do we want to display ourselves and tempt our brothers (even sisters) to sin? Listen to what Matthew 18:7 says. “Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes.” Wow. Do you, as a Christian, want to be responsible for dressing in a way that might tempt a guy (or girl) pursuing godliness? I hope not!
      I hope that I didn’t come off as rude, and I will be praying that you can accept God’s ideal for everyone of us (Guys should be modest too!) so that you can encourage others to do the same. Blessings!

  • Kate Wallings

    And you look fabulous!!! More modest dresses allow the real beauty to shine through. Love the article, thank you!

  • Karly Noelle Abreu

    I thought I was plenty modest at my wedding with my strapless gown, which was classic and elegant and which I received compliments on by men and women of all ages. No one was scandalized by my shoulders (heaven forbid! Next we’ll be showing ankles!), nor should they have been.

    And even if they were? The day was about God, my husband, and myself. I think all three of us felt fine about my dress.

    In general though, Christians need to realize that modesty is NOT about your clothing choices, but about your spirit and your attitude, and I think that’s evident in the Bible. There are no injunctions for how to dress to achieve optimum modesty, but there is plenty said on the state of one’s heart. Now there may be some people who are convicted for dressing in a certain way, but that does not mean that conviction applies to everyone else. A woman’s body is not inherently evil or sinful, and it’s high time we stopped treating it that way, and started addressing lust as the problem of the luster alone.

    (And to be honest, if someone is drawn to sinning by the sight of my shoulders, they have their own issues they need to sort out, and I am not responsible for them.)

    • Rocio

      And that´s the problem. We girls need to be careful bc of that… we may draw someone to sin. And yes. you are responsible for that.

      • Pea

        No, she’s not. The only person responsible for a sin is the sinner.

    • Lisa Bartek Reynoldson

      Her is my thought on your reply. The author was in no way condemning anyone for what they choose to wear at their wedding, she was speaking to her wedding. Your reply is a bit defensive as if she wrote it specifically to you. I am guessing she touched something within that God intended as conviction. We are absolutely responsible if we cause another to sin.

      • Pea

        The author was definitely condemning others, and trying to compete in the modesty Olympics and show herself more pure and godly than the rest of us. And that’s immodesty! Not wearing a dress that shows the shoulders, but a haughty attitude of superiority.

    • Lauren

      SO logical and beautifully written – thank you, Karly, for sharing this. I agree with you. Let’s all beg God to guide us through His Word for the indefinite struggles we will have, because we’re all on this same path of trying and righteousness!:) Strapless dresses aside, that is the most important thing – the intention to honor God and be chaste. Lots of blessings and love.

  • Anonymous

    Beautiful article. Modesty is truly humility expressed through dress and it can be a beautiful thing. I know that God sees the heart of every single person and that there are girls who are completely covered, yet their hearts aren’t full of His glory, I know that dress doesn’t have everything to do with being a good Christian! But there is something about seeing a woman, dressed attractively yet modestly, that makes you think of her as a person rather than an object of attraction or disgust.
    Gorgeous dress by the way!

  • Gabrielle

    Awesome post!! Thanks for sharing!

  • Maddy

    I am not very religious, still I didn’t want a strapless dress. 75% of brides go strapless. What’s the point of personalizing everything if you’re going to wear the same strapless dress all of your friends wore?

  • Kaiti

    I loved this post. Thank you for sharing this story and you looked abesolutely gorgeous in your dress!

  • Rebecca Wesson Shanahan

    I found my modest dress in the back sale room of a big bridal store. 😉 thanks for taking a stand.

  • My grandmother made my mom’s wedding dress from three different patterns. If you knew an excellent seamstress, you could have gone that route too.
    I don’t like strapless things either. I’m all for “Free The Nipple!” (for comfort, not sexiness, since men can be shirtless in public with no problems), but I don’t want to do it by accident, lol! 🙂 It’s especially a risk if you’re flat-chested like me.

  • Lea Olive

    I had to crop all my wedding photos to hide the immodesty I compromised with. I did this not out of vanity but because I could not find a dress in time! I felt awkward and only I knew why.

  • stephanie

    Thank you so much for this article! I was looking at wedding dresses and having a hard time for two reasons. 1) I’m flat chested so most dresses that show too much look awkward on me and I am uncomfortable and 2) Even if I had bigger breast I wouldn’t feel comfortable going in front of God or my pastor to be married like that. This article encouraged me to keep looking. Thank you!

  • Once I started reading this article I thought it would be just about dresses, But you proved me wrong. The way you have described your true feelings and how one should be decent on your big day too took my heart away. I hope you had a great wedding day.

  • A Christian

    I love this article! I totally understand on how you wanted to cover up and I love how you are always grounded in your morals and you don’t let anyone change your mind about that! I’m glad you didn’t cave into the “norm” but you stuck to your beliefs and values! Your dress is gorgeous by the way! And keep on preaching modesty, we all need to hear the importance of it.

  • irika lee

    Beautiful article. A woman’s body is for the pleasure of her husband and him only. Too many brides are trying to figure out how sexy they’ll be when the wedding march begins. I’ve seen ceremonies performed and not one mention of God in the vows. Marriage is a Holy contract that we enter into with Christ, and it should be carefully planned, starting with the perfect dress. God bless the “modest” bride.


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