[Guide] How To Choose Your Second Wedding Dress

Couple's wedding photos in Paris

Choosing a wedding dress is difficult enough without adding in any outside factors. And if it’s your second wedding dress, the stress of societal expectations can rain on your parade. So, it can be a tough feat for many of these second-time brides to find the perfect gown. Luckily, it’s not as strict or rigid as you may think.

Why Do Brides Wear White? A Short History of the Wedding Dress

Before Queen Victoria set the trend with a white wedding gown back in 1840, most brides wore their best dress, in any color, on their wedding day. In the years following Victoria’s and Albert’s royal wedding, white came to symbolize purity—a tradition that prompted heated debate over whether encore brides could wear white for a second wedding.

In today’s fashion world, the answer is a resounding “yes”! Now regarded as a symbol of joy instead of virginity; white is a perfect color for dresses for a second wedding. Pastels, champagne and ivory are also popular color choices for your second wedding dress.

Second Wedding: Dress Do’s & Dont’s

Don’t Forgo Your Vision

Your gown’s formality should match the tone or theme of your wedding celebration. With so many available design and fabric options, you should have no difficulty finding a gown that matches your personal style and taste.

Take your cue from the size, time and day, and formality of your wedding ceremony and reception. And, although none of us love to admit that we’re not 20 anymore, do try to select a dress that is age appropriate. Let’s face it, if you’re over 30, you probably have a few more little somethings you won’t want to show off to the world! Overall though, don’t forgo your vision. Whatever your wedding day looks like, grab a gown that matches that ethos and don’t shy away from it.

Do Represent Your Personality

Your second wedding dress should reflect your personality, lifestyle, and fashion sense. Consider selecting a cocktail-length dress or beautiful couture suit that you can wear again or a long dress that can be shortened for later use. This includes utilizing your favorite colors, prints, and outside-the-box flair.

Don’t Be Afraid To Be Sexy, Mature Brides!

These days, being a second-time bride is no big deal. But for some reason, if you’re an older bride, some people think you should be wheeled into your ceremony and clothed in a white sheet. Well, here at Team Wedding, we believe you should feel as sexy as you’d like in your wedding gown – in fact, it should rival the first walk down the aisle! Don’t stick to safe and boring. Instead, go for what makes you feel confident.

Our guess is that most brides will eschew the typical princess-style wedding gown, since they probably took that route the first time around. Encore brides can wear whatever they like! That includes dresses that show off every and any part of your body. Legs, back, cleavage, decolletage, neck, arms…don’t feel like you have to cover every inch of your skin.

Do Take Advantage of Dress Consultants

These people talk, experience, and sell wedding dresses day in and day out. They also see a lot of second time brides with the same issues you’re probably worried about. They know what they’re doing. Listen and learn.

Don’t Be Afraid to Wear Color

Don’t feel pigeoned-holed into wearing white if you’d like to forgo the traditional bridal look. Mix in hues of mint greens, deep reds, or even some blush pinks or lavender. Pull in your favorite tones or the ones you feel most confident in. You can even find a gown that flaunts your favorite print if you really want to spice the day up a bit. Don’t be afraid to try!

On the other hand, it’s okay to wear white as well. It’s no longer the sign of purity that it once was. Instad, it’s merely a sign of joy and gives us those blushing bridal vibes that you should have on your wedding day no matter what color route you decide to take.

Do Brush Up On Wedding Dress Lingo

It may have been a while since your first wedding dress shopping experience. Make sure to read up and remind yourself of the “Wedding Dress Vocabulary”. It will make working with a consultant way easier.

Here are some quick bits to polish up on:

  • Body shape: Know what your body shape is and what looks the best on your particular figure. This means being well aware of your apple, pear, hourglass, or rectangle body.
  • The wedding dress: When it comes to the dress know all the bits and pieces that make it up. Here are some essentials moving parts to know your way around:
    • Silhouette: Mermaid, Trumpet, A-line, Sheath, Cocktail, Jumpsuit, Pantsuit, and Ball Gown.
    • Waistline: Empire, Dropped, Natural, Basque, Asymmetrical, Peplum, Princess
    • Neckline: Square, V-neck, Scoop, Sweetheart, One-Shoulder, Off-the-Shoulder, Sheer/Illusion, Halter, Queen Ann, High-Neck, Bateau, Strapless,
    • Sleeve style: Strapless, Spaghetti, Straps, Sleeveless, Cap, Short, ¾ Sleeve, Long Sleeve, Bell
    • Dress length: Floor, Midi, Tea, Above-the-Knee
    • Train: Sweep, Court, Chapel, Cathedral
    • Fabrics: Charmeuse, Chiffon, Crepe, Duchess Satin, Dupioni, Georgette, Jacquard, Mikado, Organza, Satin, Shantung, Taffeta, Tulle, Lace (Chantilly, Alencon, Guipure, Point D’Esprit, Schiffili)

Must-Read Advice Before You Go Shopping

Try on lots of different dress shapes, styles and even colors.
Most brides have an image in their mind of the perfect wedding dress and are often surprised to find that dresses they normally wouldn’t select are flattering. You never know about a style until you try it on!

Pay with a credit card, always.
Second time brides are normally experienced enough to know things can go wrong so this shouldn’t be a surprise. Always use a credit card for your wedding dress. A card will normally have some buyer protection if a problem occurs.

Wear appropriate, best-fitting undergarments.
Preferably nude, off-white or white. If possible, wear a seamless thong and strapless bra or stick-on bra for a seamless look.

Shop for clothing during non-peak hours (weekdays).
Avoid crowds and reduce stress. Call conventional bridal shops before you stop by to ask if an appointment is required (very common!).

Budget-conscious second time brides: Check out local consignment shops and wedding warehouses. You can also bid on informal, affordable second wedding dresses at eBay from the privacy of your home!

Consider buying a reception dress which is typically less formal.

Take pictures of yourself in the wedding dresses to make sure they look the way you want. Don’t just take stand up photos either, you’re going to have to pose in the dress so move around.

Bring along one trusted friend who you know will give her honest opinion about how you look in your dress. Nix the huge entourage.

Looking to save some money? Consider used! Used wedding dresses (we recommend OnceWed) are a great way to enjoy trendy styles without the stratospheric prices that they often come with.

Tips For Choosing A Dress or Pantsuit for Second Wedding

Should You Wear White For Your Second Wedding?

As we’ve discussed above, do not feel as though you need to wear white to your second wedding. But don’t feel as though you have to either. Instead, choose what makes you feel confident and choose what you’d be excited to wear.

If that means a powder blue pantsuit, then go for it. But if it means a midnight black ball gown, then go for that! Here are a few showstopping examples of how you can incorporate some color into your encore walk down the aisle.

blush wedding gown


sparkly wedding gown for the mature bride


purple wedding gown


black wedding gownvia

gold wedding jumpsuit


green sequin wedding gown


golden yellow second wedding dress


Flattering Silhouettes and Styles For Your Second Wedding Dress or Pantsuits

It helps to know what flatters your figure when you’re shopping for that perfect second wedding dress. Whether you’re pear-shaped or petite, top-heavy or tall, choose the right cut for your body type to highlight your best features and downplay those that concern you.

Bring along a friend, your mom or even your teenage daughter to get a second opinion, and be sure to wear the appropriate undergarments so you’ll know exactly how your dress will look on your big day

Here are some gorgeous examples of gowns that would work for a variety of our more sophisticated brides. Pay attention to the silhouettes which are both versatile and figure-flattering. The details are precise and beautiful, but nothing feels as though it was made for the girlish bride. Also, we’ve added in a few pantsuits to consider. Tailored to fit, they can be just as sexy as a bridal gown.

PreownedWeddingDresses also has a variety of gorgeous silhouette features if you want to read up on the myriad of wedding gown styles available:

lace wedding gown for older bridevia

simple halter dress for second wedding


white wedding pants suitvia

high-neck second wedding dress


knee-length polka dot second wedding dress


lace wedding jumpsuit


older bride bridal ball gown


Wedding Outfit Traditions To Consider

What Kind of Veil Should I Wear For My Second Wedding?

Now, there aren’t too many etiquette attire rules for second-time brides, but one rule that still holds true is to forgo a blusher veil that covers the face, a traditional style reserved for the very young, first-time brides and one of the few real fashion “don’ts.” (Note: Etiquette expert Peggy Post says it’s acceptable for encore brides to wear a veil that cascades down the back if your wedding is formal.)

Try substituting a hat, fascinator, hair ornament/clip or fresh flowers. Splurge and have a professional stylist come to your home to create a glamorous updo! Be sure to schedule this appointment several months before the big day so you can try out different styles and hair ornaments. You don’t want any last-minute surprises, and you may decide to cut or even grow your hair.

With so many available choices in headpieces and wedding veils for second wedding attire, search the Internet for beautiful designs, and print out photos of the ones you like. Buy a few bridal magazines, and cut out some of your top choices. Then visit local bridal shops, and ask experienced consultants for expert guidance.

To Train or Not to Train?

Trains can be fine for formal weddings, but keep them simple, again matching the style of the wedding. Even though you may not want to constantly remind others that this is your second wedding, you’ll want to be tasteful in your choices – even when it comes to your train and veil choices, go for something on the more minimal or simplistic side. A short dress works too, though, especially for those that are jetting off and having a destination affair.

What About a Jacket or Shawl?

Again, this is your choice to make depending on your level of comfort. You may want to shop for a jacket, bolero, or shawl to cover your arms and feel more confident during the ceremony or during your transportation to and from the venue areas. There are even lace covers and sleeves that can be attached to dresses during alterations.

Should I Wear a Garter?

There are some traditions that will be nixed since this is your second time around and that includes the garter toss. Of course, if you want to keep all traditions in tact because this is your groom’s first rodeo, go for it! A lot of these decisions can be made by just going with the choice that feels the best and most comfortable for you and your vision for the big day.

Where to Buy A Second Wedding Dress

It may have been a while since you were wedding dress shopping the first time around. You’ve done your research, you’ve browsed hundreds of wedding dresses online and browsed through a big stack of bridal magazines. Now it’s time to buy your wedding dress. Has much changed? Do I still buy a wedding dress at the same place? Is it different now that I am a second time bride?

The awesome news is that you have lots of options for shopping for a wedding dress as a second time bride.

  • Independently Bridal Salons: Bridal salons will have a full range of bridal dresses. You can expect to see all of the wedding dresses out in the open which is nice. Price ranges and wedding dress designers vary from moderately priced to high-end. Couture salons are smaller and offer a very hands on and personal experience. Independent stores will have a lot of experience with second time brides and will know the nuances and special needs of your second marriage dress.
  • Department Stores: Stores like Nordstrom, Ann Taylor, J.Crew and Bloomingdales all offer wedding dresses for sale. Some go over the top while others simply provide the dresses themselves. Because of their national footprint, these stores have less choice but great prices. Second time brides looking to get a great dress at a reasonable price can buy off the rack and be very happy. This is the best option if you really know what you want.
  • Discount Dress Outlets: For second time or older brides with a smaller budget, discount wedding dress outlets are great places. You can shop off the rack and take the dress home immediately. Styles may be a mix of discontinued national brands and private-label merchandise sold at reduced prices. Also look out for big sales by major name dress designer.
  • National Bridal Stores: These are the David’s Bridals of the world. These stores will make, import and sell their own private-label gowns. That means cheaper prices. More recently, these chains are creating custom partnerships with top wedding dress designers like Vera Wang so don’t just assume it is all private labeled. The other perk of these bridal chains is that they have everything you need, from dresses to shoes to accessories and so on. They also know the industry, etiquette and unique circumstances of second time brides, so can provide valuable advice.
  • Direct from Wedding Dress Designers: For those second time brides with big budgets going all out, this is the option for you. You can work with wedding dress designers directly. You will need to go to bridal cities like New York or Milan, but top designers of wedding dresses can be found in most major cities. If you’re considering going the custom route, you’ll need to find a designer whose vision aligns with yours and whom you trust.
  • Preowned Wedding Dresses: Nearly Newlywed, Preowned wedding dresses , Rent the Runway and a host of newer entrants now let you find and buy wedding dresses online or rent one for the weekend. It is a great idea for those on a budget or for those brides who want to go for a top designer wedding dress they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford. Times have changed and it is the sharing economy, so why not do the same with your wedding dress. It may be a little hard to find the selection you’d find at a bridal salon or to try a bunch of dresses on but it is still a great option.
  • Specialty Online Stores: Tis’ the age of the internet and it is no different when it comes to wedding dresses. We already mentioned the online stores that will rent you a wedding dress or let you find preowned wedding dresses for sale, but what about buying a new dress online. Well, that’s easy too in this day and age. Most of the top department stores and top wedding dress designers all have their own online stores. There are also specialty online stores like The Dessy Group and Show Me Your Mumu. A quick Google search will uncover a treasure trove of online stores. We recommend sticking to the known names, these are big sums of money we’re talking about so be careful.

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