Tips for Choosing a Second Wedding Dress

Audrey M. Jones
Second wedding gown

Brides walking down the aisle for a second time face a unique challenge: what wedding gown to wear that will reflect the mood and is appropriate for their situation. Fortunately, there are several tips that can help these brides choose the perfect second wedding dress.

Dress Style Tips

When choosing a dress, look for one that suits your personality but that still reflects your knowledge that this is your second wedding. For example:

Gown Types

  • According to I Do Take Two, a website dedicated to second-time brides, many second time brides wear more evening gown-type dresses than traditional wedding dresses.
  • According to Perfect Bridal, many second-time brides choose to wear floor-length evening sheath dresses.
  • Simple wedding gowns, meaning ones without extensive beading, maintain a wedding feel without making a bride look overly youthful or overdressed.
  • Dressy church suits set a tone of formality but maintain simplicity.

Color Tips

  • Brides magazine reports that second-time brides can wear colors other than white. This means that champagne, pink, blue, or any other color flattering to your skin tone is suitable for your gown.
  • The Charleston School of Protocol and Etiquette states that second time brides can wear white just like any other bride. Similarly, in an article published in the Huffington Post Elizabeth Post states that second time brides can wear whatever color they like. This includes a white dress because white symbolizes joy rather than purity.

Silhouettes and Cuts

  • Use the silhouette that best fits your body shape. For example, an A-Line dress, full skirted dress or sheath work perfectly fine for a second wedding. In general, wear what shape you like and look best in.
  • Go for comfort. Like any bride, you'll be wearing your dress for hours. Make sure that you can sit, stand, dance, and breathe in it to ensure that you're not uncomfortable for seven hours.
  • Beware length. A bridal gown for a second time bride can be short, but should not be shorter than knee-length, which is to overly sexual and informal to wear during the most casual of weddings. Shorter than knee length is also an inappropriate dress length for an older bride.

Light Embellishments

  • According to the Charleston School of Protocol and Etiquette, many second time brides elect to wear formal gowns that are simpler in nature. This means no elaborate beading or other decorations.
  • A second time bride wanting some embellishment on her gown should seek out light embellishments, such as subtle embroidery or beading. A simple bow, rouching or pleats on any portion of the dress are also suitable. A second time bride can wear lace.

Additional Considerations

What the bride wears in a second wedding is often impacted by more than just the fact that it is her second wedding. Considerations when choosing a gown include:

Formality

Even though a second wedding, a bride cannot wear a cocktail dress to a black tie, formal wedding without appearing out of place. Therefore, look to the mood and atmosphere of the wedding to determine how formal of a gown is needed.

Whether It's Also the Groom's Second Wedding

A groom that hasn't been married before shouldn't be forced to miss out on formal wedding attire just because it's the bride's second wedding. Therefore, consider what the groom is wearing so that the couple's attire matches and the groom's wishes are fulfilled.

Time and Location of Wedding

Just like any other bride, a second-time bride must consider what the wedding venue and time of day dictate for her wardrobe. For example, it would be inappropriate for a second time bride to wear a short dress to a late evening wedding.

Bride's Age

Some wedding dresses are better suited for younger brides, such as ball gowns. However, for older brides, eliminating these younger-styled dresses doesn't mean that there are fewer dresses to choose from. This is because there are plenty of sexier and more mature dresses offered on most sales floors.

Where to Shop

It is rare to find a wedding dress store dedicated solely to second time brides. However, most bridal stores offer a variety of gowns, many of which are identified as being for second time brides or that can be tailored for second time brides:

  • Demetra Brides has an entire collection of bridal gowns identified as suitable for second time brides. Check out the Alyce dresses, which have lovely lace sleeves and a sleek silhouette. Some of the dresses are not available online, so you will need to fill out a page to request additional information. Use the tab titled Sign Up for Sales & Events to get company and gown information sent directly to your inbox.
  • French Novelty carries Mon Cheri wedding dresses, which it identifies as suitable for a second wedding. Gowns are from the Destinations collection, and range from tulle tea length designs to off shoulder casual dresses. French Novelty has a layaway plan and a 125% price match guarantee.
  • Impression Bridal states that it has customized gowns from its Impression Bridal Collection for second time brides by creating slimmer silhouettes in shades of white. Style 10182 is satin, has a lovely high neckline, and a flattering fit without overwhelming a bride. Take note of any gowns featuring their "Magic Fit" styling, which can help trim waistlines. Find a retailer near you by using their store locator.

How to Shop at a Traditional Bridal Shop

By being open and honest with the salesperson at a bridal store, you can avoid being shown gowns that you find unsuitable, too young looking or designed for a first time bride. To navigate these stores:

  1. Make it clear that you're a second time bride seeking a dress.
  2. Share your dress budget to avoid seeing dresses that you can't afford.
  3. Inquire into whether there are any dresses that the store has identified as specifically for second time brides and ask to see those.
  4. Ask the salesperson to show you dresses other than those identified for second time brides, but make sure to state:
    • Your desire to abide by any of the previously mentioned rules, such as no large or overly garish embellishments.
    • If you're seeking a dress in a color other than white. This can often limit the number of dresses the salesperson shows you, since many bridal gowns only come in shades of white.
    • The silhouette and length of dress you seek. Here again, this will help limit the number of dresses shown to you.

Once shown potential gowns, nix any that you don't like or feel are unsuitable for your second wedding. This will avoid wasting time spent on trying on dresses that you don't like and possibly making your decision easier.

Shopping at Department Stores

You might also consider looking at department stores, such as Nordstrom or Macy's. Department stores may offer white or off-white dresses that are simpler in design and shape than a bridal store, which may be more fitting for a second time bride. Even if the store does not have a special section for bridal dresses, you may find something in their special occasion or evening wear section.

What to Avoid

Although there are few rules limiting what a second time bride can wear, there are some items that are better left to first time brides. Wedding Web Corner reports that purchasing a princess-style dress or other puffy-styled dress is not suitable for an older, second time bride because these shapes are more suited for younger brides. Similarly, the Huffington Post recommends skipping long trains or elaborate veils, since these are more appropriately worn by first time brides.

Choosing Your Dress

If you are a second time bride, don't fret too much about what gown to select. The rules about appropriate dresses for a second time bride have been erased in recent years, providing you with a range of choices. Go with your instinct about what you like and what looks good on you when choosing your gown, while avoiding those looks that are better suited for first timers.

Tips for Choosing a Second Wedding Dress