I spent a little time cruising Google to find some sites that might give a modest bride some direction. (More on what Christian modesty means tomorrow.)
Most “modest wedding dress” sites are Latter Day Saint-oriented (Mormons as they are commonly known.) Honestly, I don’t find them modest enough. Collarbones and elbows show, but at least the dresses cover the cleavage and shoulders. Bodices are usually fitted; if brides want to avoid the tight bosom and torso of most styles, they will have to choose carefully.
Another source for very modest dresses are Tznius (Jewish modesty) seamstresses. Some big city bridal shops will alter to meet tznius standards if you choose a style that makes that practical. Tznius standards are covering from neck to below the knee, at least, and sleeves below the elbow. Any dress with a sweetheart or rounded neckline can be cut higher for modesty, and simple sleeves can always be lengthened. To avoid too much emphasis on the bosom, choose a style that has a one piece bodice front and darts to shape rather than gathering or ruching. A higher waistline will keep the skirt flowing away from the body.
LatterDay Bride and Prom (http://www.latterdaybride.com). Prices run from $600 to $1000+. Their models are not all long-sleeved, and they run narrow through the bodice.
Eternity Gowns (http://www.eternitygowns.com) has a Sacred line that is the most modest of LDS gowns, with sleeves and high waistlines.
Tznius standards gowns:
A Formal Choice (http://www.aformalchoice.com) will modify their gowns to meet Tznius, but these can be expensive although the prices are somewhat more reasonable than other bridal lines. They are in Puyallup, Washington.
In New York, Couture de Bride is a big supplier of Tznius dresses. (http://www.chossonandkallah.com.) For an East Coast bride, this might be a good choice for a dress from a shop that understands modesty.
Chatfields Bridal Boutique in St. Louis, Missouri caters to the modest bride as well. (http://www.chatfieldsboutique.com.)
My advice about ordering a dress long-distance is to A) Get a good understanding of the price – basic dress, additions, alterations, and shipping. B) Ask for fabric swatches. Sometimes there will be a deposit or a charge for these. It is worth paying. C) Ask for photos of the INSIDE of a similar dress and any closures (zippers, buttons) to make sure that the dress will be well-made. (Expect linings, not just raw seams.) If a dress has a zipper, make sure it is long enough for your figure type.
Don’t buy a headcover or veil until the dress arrives; colours vary from swatches depending on the manufacturer’s batch. I would advise the same for matching shoes and other accessories. It may be best to order so that the dress arrives a month before the wedding, in case accessories or shoes are hard to find, or if a local seamstress has to make an alteration.