Every wedding dress reality show talks about the feeling a bride should feel in her wedding dress. An intangible, indescribable bridal moment that will make you sure you have found the dress of your dreams. Sounds hard enough to do once, but what if you have to find “that one” again? Between the second marriage, vow renewals, and minor COVID ceremonies, there are a variety of reasons women might buy a second wedding dress.
It’s an inherently stressful and emotional first-time process that overwhelms many at the thought of the second round. I liked the dress I found for my small, COVID-appropriate ceremony last June, but when I started looking for a dress for my bigger wedding in 2022 I was at a loss as to where to start. So I reached out to two bridal style experts for their wisdom on my second wedding dress shopping.
Advice on the dress
Don’t compare it to your first dress.
Mosteller jokes that this is “like comparing your current friend to your last” and is obviously not a good idea as they can be completely different. My first wedding dress has been more casual since I got married in a quick civil ceremony, but the dress I chose for my bigger ceremony next year fits in with a more romantic and grandiose setting. Your second dress can be similar or different to your first – just match what feels right.
Try something completely different.
My second dress couldn’t be more different than my first, from length to manufacturing. “The second dress can be just as beautiful or even more beautiful than the first. If your first dress was a ball gown, you can go for a mermaid or an A-line, ”shares Howard.
Go for what you love no matter what.
Some brides may have preconceived notions about what is “appropriate” for a second wedding dress, but Howard does not subscribe to any of them. In the past, tradition dictated that second wedding dresses were often less extravagant than the first, but no more. “There are no rules for buying a dress for your wedding, whether it’s your first or third time,” said Howard. I personally struggled with the guilt of buying a new dress for my upcoming wedding, but that advice confirmed my desire for something more glamorous this time around.
Think of it as a second chance.
Maybe you felt disappointed with your first dress when looking at the photos, or maybe there was a runner-up dress that you kept thinking about. Howard recommends that you “take the opportunity to buy that runner-up dress that you couldn’t decide the first time.” My first dress, which was strapless, taught me that this time I wanted a dress with more support, and I kept thinking back to some off the shoulder styles that I tried on, which I ended up choosing for my second dress.
What to expect
This shopping trip doesn’t have to feel any less special than the first time you shop. In fact, knowing what to expect can be an even more enjoyable experience. Most salespeople say that brides are more comfortable buying their second dresses, stating, “I tend to notice that the appointment is more relaxed and relaxed overall – they went through it once so they know what to expect Having shopped for wedding dresses before, I knew the exercise: dress comfortably, undress lightly, and keep makeup minimal to avoid damaging the clothes.
If you haven’t enjoyed shopping for your first dress, take this opportunity to really indulge yourself. Howard recommends that you book a private VIP shopping appointment where you are the only one in the business that many wedding salons have. Mosteller agrees that it should be just as important and fun as shopping for your first dress, adding, “Just because it’s a second wedding doesn’t mean your shopping experience needs to be toned down.”
I actually had a completely different experience on this shopping spree because I chose to shop at a sample sale versus a wedding salon like I did the first time. I was fortunate to have Mosteller on hand to help me and my guests navigate the sample sales shelves, and it was a completely different hands-on experience than my first shopping spree.
You can also skip all of the shopping spree and buy the second dress online – it can be any type of experience you want!
Who to bring with you
Both experts agree that brides love an entourage – no matter how many shopping trips they have been on. If you are feeling conflicted about buying a second dress, the support of your loved ones can help you find that dreamlike second dress. Mosteller encourages brides to buy a second wedding dress to “bring their hype crew with them to make them feel safest!” When I first went clothes shopping, I only brought my sister with me because I had a pretty good idea of it what I wanted in a short wedding dress. However, the greater financial investment in the types of dresses I had in mind for my second ceremony made me anxious for more input, so I brought my cousin for the second dress as well.
If you’ve overwhelmed guests on your first shopping spree, it may also be a good time to shop on your own. “They may choose not to bring anyone this time based on their first experiences with guests,” explains Howard. Nothing prevents you from bringing your spouse or fiancé with you. Tradition often dictated that you shouldn’t see the dress before the wedding, but many even first-time brides bring their significant other to their appointment. All that matters is that you feel supported and have fun while you find your dress.
How to make it special
The most important piece of advice I can give to another bride shopping for her second wedding dress is to relax. There were so many restrictions that I put on myself and I felt defeated before I even started. Howard says, “There are no rules about your wedding fashion. Brides should always go with what feels good because that will look their best. ”
By taking in all the ways that this experience would be similar and different, I found the perfect second wedding dress for my upcoming ceremony. I didn’t think it would be possible to experience the same emotional moment that inspired my first dress, but this dress actually surpassed it. Whether this is your first or fourth wedding dress, you can and should feel like a bride.