A Houston pastor refused to marry a couple in his church, because he didn’t find the bride’s dress to be appropriate.
Lisa Washington showed up to the storefront church she’d rented for her wedding ceremony in a nontraditional wedding gown — a cleavage baring white halter dress that skimmed her bottom. “I’m a unique person,” Washington toldAmericanPreachers.com, explaining her risqué choice. “I chose this dress because it’s different than the traditional wedding gown you see at every wedding,” she said.
“Where is the other half of the dress?”
Unfortunately, the church’s pastor, Apostle Michael Canty, wasn’t impressed by her lack of convention. The family says that on the day of the wedding, the pastor saw the racy gown an hour before the wedding and asked Washington, “where is the other half of the dress?” The family thought the minister was joking. He was not. Thirty minutes later, the minister sent a church official back to the family to request that the bride cover her cleavage and add length to the dress.
The bride, of course, was not able to alter the dress at the last minute, so the pastor refused to perform the ceremony. Relatives pleaded with him to change his mind to no avail. One family member, a minister, offered to perform the ceremony, an offer the pastor flatly refused.
I offer my sympathy to the bride, who is undoubtedly mortified that her wedding did not take place as planned. However, she chose to be married in a church, and most churches have rules – unwritten or not—on what is appropriate attire for functions that take place in God’s house.
Washington’s “gown” wasn’t an on-the-fence outfit, the likes of what gospel singers Yolanda Adams and Mary Mary are sometimes criticized for wearing. It was in the vein of what Beyonce’ called a “freakum dress,” at it was way over the line for what a reasonable person would consider acceptable for a church event. I was raised as a church girl and I know that you show respect in the house of Lord.
Whose fault is it?
I don’t fault the pastor for upholding and enforcing the widely-understood standards of what is suitable for church.
I do, however, find fault with the pastor for not providing Washington, who was not a church member, with a general list of rules for what is and is not acceptable in his church. Washington’s choice of attire for a church wedding leads to me to believe that, though she desired to be married in a church, she may not have spent a lot of or any time in one previously. What is appropriate for a church function is clearly not common knowledge and as the pastor allows non-members to rent the space and the pastor performs ceremonies for non-members, the onus is on him to make sure clients know what is and is not acceptable at the church.
That’s doubly important as the pastor reserves the right to refuse to perform a ceremony because he doesn’t find the clothing acceptable.
Miscommunication causes mayhem
The pastor evidently did not cross his clichéd “t’s,” if the bride showed up to the church in club attire. Perhaps instead of devastating the couple and their family members, he could have offered the bride a robe, or cover-up of some kind to meet his desire to have her more covered and she could have been married. That would have been an happy-ish ending.
Unfortunately, the poor communication on the pastor’s end and the absence of any negotiation despite not providing a list of rules led to a desolate couple and angry family members — who traveled to a wedding that didn’t happen. The pastor has his moral high ground, but at the time of AmericanPreachers.com’s story, the bride still didn’t have her groom.
All because the pastor didn’t like a dress.