Choosing a wedding dress is tough for many second time brides. After all, there are traditions and etiquette expectations to navigate. Luckily, society and wedding expectations are moving away from the stiff etiquette rules that governed second weddings in the past.
Instead of intimate quiet ceremonies followed by luncheons, remarrying brides are enjoying full-scale weddings and receptions. In part, this is because of the growing percentage of 2nd time around couples who pay for the whole wedding out of their own pocket. Holding the purse strings means couples can call the shots without worrying about the dreaded “e” word: expectations.
Still, some brides may be uncomfortable breaking with tradition, and that is okay! We’ve created this article with all the traditions and expectations for second weddings in mind. When you select your wedding gown and accessories, we want you to be prepared for all things second wedding dress.
As a bonus, we’ve rounded up our top picks that are perfect for the occasion.
Second Wedding Wardrobe Etiquette
Let’s break down the traditional etiquette surrounding second weddings for the bridal wardrobe, particularly the one burning question that often comes up first.
Can I Still Wear White?
Although your great-grandmother may clutch her pearls at the idea of not wearing a white wedding dress, this is actually a fairly new tradition. In fact, wearing a white wedding dress originated with Queen Victoria. Before her royal wedding to Prince Albert in 1837, brides of the time just wore their best dress.
The trend-setting queen launched a new world for the white wedding gown. A white gown traditionally symbolizes innocence, virginity, and purity. Because of this, it became a faux pas for a bride to wear white on her second trip down the aisle, unless she had a very short first marriage or had eloped.
Like we said, times have changed. Brides are bucking the restrictions of old traditions to celebrate their fairytale weddings, snow-white gown and all!
If you’d prefer not to wear white, there are ways around it. Many brides elect to purchase a gown in a gentle shade of ivory, ecru or even blush.
Scrap the Full-Length Veil
One piece of wedding wardrobe etiquette that hasn’t budged much surrounds the veil. Like a white dress, the veil covering the face is representative of youth and innocence. This carries a special meaning when the groom lifts the veil from his bride’s face for the first time. Because the bride is not traditionally given away a second time, the veil is also not typically lifted again.
Brides seeking remarriage should instead experiment with face-framing veils, birdcage veils or even ornate hairpieces. A long veil cascading down the back and not covering the face is also acceptable for weddings that are very formal in style.
To Garter or Not to Garter?
Deciding to wear a traditional garter and participate in your garter toss is your decision. Let’s take a look at the meaning behind the garter toss to help you make your choice.
The garter toss dates way, way back to a time when guests believed the bridal garments would bring good luck. Back in the day, reception-goers would chase the bride around, tearing off pieces of her dress until she finally wised up and tossed her garters to the crowd instead. The tradition is for first-time brides, but luck is in the eye of the beholder!
The same goes for bouquet toss. The bride’s bouquet was considered good luck, and the woman who received it would be next to marry. Oftentimes the bouquet toss is painfully awkward for all the single women in the room, and your guests probably wouldn’t be sad to skip it. If you don’t want to do a bouquet toss at your second wedding, make a lovely speech instead and present it to someone special at the reception.
Second Marriage Gown Tips for Older Brides
When you are in your 20s or 30s a second marriage is easier to get away with doing it all over again – big dress and all. Almost as if the first time never happened. Take Megan Markle, can you name her first husband? Trevor Engelson who? No images popped into our minds of Megan walking down the aisle during her destination wedding in Jamaica on her FIRST big day.
But when it comes to older ladies, who may come with a little more noticeable baggage (i.e., children who are now all grown up), what exactly should an older bride wear? Well we think whatever she darn well pleases!
Choose something that flatters your figure and makes you feel good wearing. If that means a ball gown at 70, all the more power to you. Here are a few tips and suggestions for those round-two brides who want to feel beautiful, classy, and gorgeous on their big day.
Take Note of Wedding Location
Having a casual backyard garden summer ceremony? Think feminine and flowey. Something like this Melissa Sweet (pictured below) would be a flattering choice for an older bride. It shows off your feminine curves, has creamy champagne or ivory chantilly lace that still says bride, and you’ll stay cool and comfortable in the hot summer sun. A very elegant piece for a summer wedding.
Heading to the courthouse followed by a nice dinner out on the town? Not wanting to slip into a fancy frock?
Or a classy off the shoulder jumpsuit by Black Halo.
Style & Dare to be Different
Find a gown that isn’t your normal go-to silhouette. Surprise your partner in something that makes you feel glamorous and sexy, but is still classic and tasteful.
Textures, Patterns, Glitz and Color
Light silver, light blue, champagne, blush, cream or ivory are all lovely colors for mature 2nd marriage bridal gowns. Look for dresses with beautiful textures and patterns that will add an elegance to the dress.
Where to Dress Shop
If you have already walk down the aisle once before and blow an absurd amount of money at the bridal shop, you will most likely be wiser this time around and use your extra moola for the honeymoon. Look online at bridesmaids dresses that come in champagne, ivory or blush that you can glam up with a sash or jewelry. Be sure to steer clear of bridal shops and look for formal/cocktail dresses at department stores such as:
There are also many top online shops that offer amazing wedding gowns at all different price points. You can read more about that here.
Second Wedding Etiquette Tips
There are a lot of traditions and etiquette tidbits revolving around second weddings that don’t have to do with wardrobe, either! While you’re dress-shopping, you may consider what your bridesmaids will wear. Here’s a heads-up on etiquette concerning the wedding party and the processional during the ceremony!
- The bride and groom typically do not have a huge wedding party. Instead, one or two friends may “stand up” for the bride and groom during the ceremony.
- There usually isn’t a processional of parents, grandparents, and wedding party members at a second wedding. Instead, the bride traditionally enters from the side.
- As mentioned before, the father does not give away the bride again. Typically toasts like the father-daughter toast at the rehearsal dinner — if there is a rehearsal dinner at all — are also done away with.
5 (More) Second Wedding Dresses We Love
Now that you’re armed with all the details about second wedding dress traditions and expectations, you’re ready to make informed decisions about the style of your wedding dress. Here are some of our favorites that ensure you’re a tasteful vision on the big day!
1. Tulle Plunging V-Neck Ball Gown
This ivory and sequin ball gown is a vision! Live your very own fairytale in a layered soft tulle skirt with allover sequin underskirt giving this ball gown a diffused sparkle like fairy dust. The ivory shade is off-white, but still elegantly bridal.
2. Halter Sheath Wedding Dress
This sleek silhouette is perfect for the modern bride, in a warm shade of ivory. The halter neckline is clean and on-trend, and the appliques on the gown are symmetrical to create a chic visual interest.
3. Signature Sheer Beaded Bodice Organza A-Line Wedding Dress
This A-Line gown from Galina is a true show-stopper. With layers of gentle blush and ivory, the gown is perfect for a second wedding. It also features 5,000 hand-placed crystals beads and sequins. It is excellent for a bride with a daring, fashion-forward side, with a plunging neckline and delicate straps across the back.
4. Sleek Fit and Flare V-Neck Dress
This fit and flare gown has downtown chic written all over it. The v-neckline, fitted bodice, and stretchy crepe constructions will flatter the curves on any body type making this the perfect second bridal look no matter what your age or size.
5. Long Sleeve Lace Wedding Dress with Open Back
This gown by Coco Melody hugs the curves and ends in a delicate chapel train. An all-over lace applique makes the look timeless, while a striking key hole back detail offers just the right amount of daring. The ivory or champagne shades are both great selections for a second wedding.
Got a gown you love for your second trip down the aisle? Why not share with other brides using the comment section below!