Giving a Wedding Dress a Second Go
Giving a Wedding Dress a Second Go
For a lot of brides, wedding dress shopping is part of the (big) deal. They gleefully anticipate a day spent with the most important women in their lives, trying on dresses, sipping champagne, and feeling like a princess. It’s a day (or several days) dedicated to finding the dress that they will wear on one of the biggest days of their life. The dress that will hopefully cause their soon to be husband to drop his mouth a little in awe when he catches that first look.
But for some brides, that dress is already chosen for them; either a long-standing family tradition, passed down from bride to bride over many generations, or a sentimental piece worn by the mother of the bride or groom some 20 or 30 years ago.
In some cases, the bride is all on board with giving this dress another go—she is caught up in the tradition or sentimentality, or she has simply grown up her entire life admiring this dress, and she can’t wait to call it her own. It’s even possible she lost her mother some years ago, and wants to wear her old dress as a way to have her be a part of the ceremony.
In other cases, though, the bride may feel a little trapped; yearning for a dress of her own, but not wanting to step on any toes or hurt any feelings.
For the record, if you fall into that second group—I vote for speaking up now. Remember, this is your wedding, not anyone else’s. And while, yes, much about a wedding is adjusted to please other people, your wedding dress shouldn’t be one of those areas where you are compromising. That dress should be a reflection of you and the wedding of your dreams, so if there is any way to do so, try to muster up the courage to tell the truth about your desire for a dress all your own.
Now, if you fall into that first category, fantastic! For plenty of brides, wearing the same dress their mother once wore is a pretty special experience. But even if you are totally on board, you may not necessarily love the dress exactly as it is. Don’t worry, there are ways to make it all yours; to stick to tradition, while still embracing your personal (and potentially more modern) tastes.
First and foremost, get that dress in for a fitting! Alterations are inevitable with hand-me-down dresses, and you want to make sure this piece fits as though it was always meant for you.
Beyond that, talk to your family and seamstress about alterations that could make the dress more “you,” without stripping it of its unique and special qualities. Perhaps the sleeves could be removed, for instance. Or the neckline altered. You may even be able to replace an old zipper with a lace-up back, or add a splash of color with a ribbon waistband to a dress that might otherwise be a bit reserved.
It’s also good to know who else may be wearing this dress one day before going into alterations. If other cousins will be in line for what was once your grandmother’s dress, for instance, coming together to discuss which alterations might suit all your tastes is a good idea. But if the next person in line will likely be your hypothetical daughter, know that tastes will change a great deal between now and then (just as they have between now and when your mother married) and alter as you see fit.
If your family takes issue with your proposed alterations, and there is no way to make simple changes that will still leave you feeling beautiful in this dress, it is again time to speak up. Tradition can be a wonderful thing, and when brides wear a dress with sentimental value, it can absolutely make the whole day that much more special. But you deserve to feel gorgeous in the dress you walk down the aisle in.
If your family dress isn’t doing that for you, it’s okay to say so and move on.
Or perhaps you need two dresses?