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If you grew up in church or still go today, you know there are so many unwritten rules. When can I walk in the aisles, when can’t I? Is candy the only thing I can eat in the sanctuary? How loudly should I say amen? There are tons of expectations that are rarely explicitly stated. But the most confusion about these rules come from issues with attire. And such was the case when a Houston pastor refused to marry a woman and her husband because her wedding dress was too revealing.

Sounds like a mess, right? Here’s how the story goes.

Lisa Washington was set to marry her husband to be in a church that had recently been converted from a shoe store.  She’d rented the church for Saturday, August 10 at 3pm. But just an hour before, Apostle Michael Canty saw the bride and jokingly asked her where was the other half of her wedding dress. The family took this as a joke and continued prepping the bride for her big day.

A half an hour later, the pastor sent a leader of the church to ask the bride, again, where was the rest of her dress. They told the leader that was it and the leader told the pastor. After that the pastor went to the bride and groom and told them that he could not perform the ceremony if the bride wore that dress as it was. He told the bride she would have to cover her chest and add some length to it.

Naturally, 30 minutes before the wedding, the bride told the pastor there was no way they could make any last minute alterations. The pastor said he wouldn’t be able to perform the ceremony and walked back to his office.

The wedding party tried several times to change the pastor’s mind but all to no avail.

After 4:30, one of the guests at the wedding, a minister, heard how the bride was in the back crying because her wedding day was not going to take place and asked the pastor for permission to perform the ceremony. The pastor told him no and said that the request was disrespectful. asked a couple for a picture of the wedding dress and they sent over the same dress worn by a professional model. Here is the dress below.

The bride said there were small alterations made to match her vision. She explained why she wanted to wear this particular dress.

“I’m a unique person, I chose this dress because it’s different than the traditional wedding gown you see at every wedding.” 

Two days later, the couple, who were not members of the church, still hadn’t been married. They’re now in the process of recouping money that their family lost in travel, food and other expenses.

Now, I’m not going to pretend that this dress isn’t inappropriate– for a lot of different occasions, especially a wedding, but I think the pastor was dead wrong in this instance. If this woman had to rent a church that she didn’t attend for her wedding it’s a bit obvious that she doesn’t understand typical church protocol and those unwritten rules we talked about earlier. And since she didn’t know, the pastor should have just married them anyway and taken the opportunity, perhaps afterward to explain to her that if she ever decides to set foot in a church again she might want to be more conservative in her dress because it might distract or offend others. If he was determined not to marry her in that dress, the least he could have done was allow the other minister to do so.

By refusing to marry this woman this pastor probably pushed this couple, who had at least a little respect for the church, and most likely their future children from coming back again. While her dress wasn’t right, at the end of the day the mark of a good pastor and general Christian is about the people you bring to God. Sometimes you have to meet people where they are to get them where you want them to go.


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