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As brides transition from the inspirational stage of envisioning their weddings, fantasizing about the perfect wedding dress, and orchestrating the seamless union of all elements, they eventually move towards the tangible execution of their plans. The decisions made during the first fitting, from intricate details to the scheduling and band selection, provide a bride with a clearer, more practical understanding of how everything will unfold on the big day. Armed with this information, a common realization occurs—suddenly, brides start contemplating, “Can I wear this dress all night?” Many brides find themselves questioning whether one wedding dress is really enough.

Gone are the days of outfit changes at the end of the reception to signal the end of the wedding. While some millennials may not have seen the movie “Father of the Bride,” some of you might remember the scene where the bride changes into an adorable suit towards the end of her reception. This attire transition marked the departure down the sidewalk to their car to leave for their honeymoon. It was more than just a change of clothes; it was an outfit signifying the departure, accompanied by a grand send-off, effectively signaling the conclusion of the wedding reception. In fact, in the past, when I got married, it was impolite for guests to leave until the bride and groom left.

Nowadays, departing early from receptions is no longer the norm for couples. Instead, the emphasis is on relishing every moment, reveling in the joy of dancing with friends on the vibrant dance floor. This cultural shift introduces a new imperative—the after-party dress, often referred to as the second dress. It becomes the attire of choice for comfort, enabling brides to unwind, let loose, and immerse themselves in the festivities with unparalleled enjoyment.

Drawing on over two decades of experience styling and assisting weddings, I’m here to guide you through the considerations, laying out the pros and cons, and everything in between, before you make a decision on whether to opt for a second dress.

Is having a second dress cheating on my first one?

Wedding planning is a rollercoaster of emotions, and the dress plays a central role in this journey. From the initial dreamy visions to the actual fittings, brides develop a deep connection with their chosen gown. Sometimes you purchase your dress a year before your wedding date and it can be at least six months until you try it on again. During this time, it’s normal to fantasise about it in a certain way and envision all the ways you will look and feel on the wedding night.

However, as the reality of wearing the dress for an extended period on the big day sets in, some brides find themselves considering a second dress to change into after the ceremony but worry it may be cheating on their first dress.

The First Fitting Will Usually Tell You if You Need a Second Dress

Trying on your dress during the first fitting unveils a different feeling. It’s a unique experience that contrasts with the initial purchase. At this point, you begin to comprehend how it will feel to wear the dress throughout the entire day – a sensation challenging to anticipate during the buying process.

At the first fitting, you encounter a brand new dress with all the tweaks you desired – it’s in your size, and the transformation is remarkable. While brides typically estimate wearing their dress for about five or six hours, the reality is quite different. When factoring in the time you spend getting into the dress on the wedding day – usually two to three hours before walking down the aisle – the total time you’ll be in your dress extends to eight or nine hours, sometimes even more. This prolonged duration may come as a surprise, emphasizing the importance of considering the entire timeline when contemplating a second dress.

Let’s face it – wedding dresses, no matter how stunning, aren’t always the most practical attire for dancing the night away. I’ve put together some reasons why it might be right for you to change into a second dress.

3 Reasons an After Party Dress is a Good Idea

1. Comfort and Freedom

Changing into a second dress provides brides with the freedom to move and dance without the constraints of a voluminous wedding gown. Lighter, less restrictive attire ensures comfort throughout the celebration. You will most likely get tired of carrying your dress around with you all night, especially if you have a long train – it weighs a surprising amount, even more so if it is bustled. Almost all of our brides change during the reception and are so happy they did. They loved their wedding dress, they loved wearing it, but they’re ready to take it off.

2. Showcasing Your Personal Style

A second dress allows brides to showcase another side of their personal style. It’s not just about slipping into a different outfit; it’s about re-entering the celebration with contagious enthusiasm, setting the vibrant tone for your wedding.

As you return, brimming with excitement to dance and revel, you become a catalyst for the party spirit. Whether it’s a short dress, a long gown, or any other attire you choose, your energy is palpable, enticing others to join you on the dance floor—an ideal scenario for any celebration.

Moreover, this wardrobe change presents an opportunity for a second grand entrance. If you relish attention and enjoy creating memorable moments, this is your chance to make a bold fashion statement, turning it into a spectacular highlight of your special day.

3. Back-up Option

Picture this: your bustle unexpectedly breaks, hindering your ability to dance, or a fashion emergency unfolds – perhaps a friend accidentally spills red wine on your dress, or worst-case scenario, your zipper malfunctions. In such unforeseen circumstances, having an alternative outfit to change into becomes a lifesaver.

The beauty of this backup is that it allows you to seamlessly transition into another ensemble, ensuring your celebration remains joyful and stress-free. This contingency plan ensures that any unexpected mishap doesn’t dampen the spirit of your day, turning what could be a potential source of disappointment into an opportunity for a swift, stylish recovery.

One Thing to Consider About an Outfit Change

However, it’s crucial to keep in mind that changing your outfit requires time. When coordinating the wedding day timeline with the planner, I typically allocate around 20 minutes for a complete wardrobe change with the bride. This might involve some adjustments to hair and makeup, but the process consistently demands that timeframe.

Consider this: as the clock strikes 10 o’clock, and we’re ready with shoes, undergarments, dress, and the hairstylist’s tools heated and the make-up artist’s touch-up supplies in place, getting the bride from the dance floor to the designated changing area becomes a mini-event. With numerous well-wishers eager to engage with her on the way, this transition takes time.

A quick visit to the bathroom for essentials like deodorant and perfume precedes the actual wardrobe change. Depending on the location, it’s safe to budget around 20 minutes for this process. However, it’s essential to recognize that this time comes directly out of your reception, prompting a cautious approach to multiple outfit changes.

The solution

In light of this, we often employ a strategic approach when assisting a bride in selecting her dress. For those desiring three distinct looks, we often suggest a wedding dress with an overskirt option. This way, she can start with a fuller, traditional bridal gown for the aisle walk. Post-ceremony, during cocktails and pictures, the overskirt can be removed, revealing a more manageable dress for the reception and dinner. Finally, for the dancing and after-party celebrations, a quick change into something short and fun allows for a seamless transition, providing the desired variety without compromising too much time.

In the end, the decision to change into a second dress on your wedding day is a deeply personal one. There’s no right or wrong answer – it’s about what feels right for you. Consider the practical aspects, your comfort, and the overall atmosphere you want to create. Whether you decide to dance the night away in your dream gown or make a stylish switch, the most important thing is to relish every moment of this once-in-a-lifetime celebration. After all, it’s your day, and it should be everything you’ve ever dreamed of.

If you have any questions or need further guidance, don’t hesitate to reach out.
You can connect with us at hello@thestylishbride.com