Ask the Bride -- Wedding Gowns for 2nd Marriage

Question: The situation: I am a divorced woman living in the south. I am engaged to marry in October to a man who has never been married. It will be a church wedding with family and friends.

Now, my question: Is it acceptable to wear an off-white formal full-length gown with train? I do not intend to wear a veil, and instead will wear a garland of flowers."

Answer: In the Fall/Winter 1996 edition of Southern California Wedding, Myth #6 of the article "Great Wedding Myths" is "A second-time bride should not wear white." The article states, "Sure she should, if she wants. It is not the color so much as the style of the bridal attire that seems to matter. A second-time bride in a formal gown and long veil will seem sort of odd, and the truth is she is really dressed somewhat imappropriately. If you've been married before, avoid very "bridey" bridal gowns, and don't wear a veil that flows any longer than your chin; but by all means choose colors from all over the spectrum."

Now, knowing that you live in the South and that your family and guests will expect a certain decorum and traditions to be followed, I think that your instinct to not wear pure white or a veil are correct. I think that you could also wear pale pink or yellow as well. But as the article says, I wouldn't recommend a "princess" type of wedding gown. There are many dresses out there that are designed to look elegant and sophisticated rather than young and frou-frou.

The degree of formality also depends on the time of day. If you're having a morning wedding, then you may prefer to choose a semi-formal or informal ankle or floor length dress or suit, whereas a sheath with a jacket or floor length dress would be appropriate for weddings later in the day. Generally, trains on these dresses are only "sweep" length (barely touching the floor in the back) or none at all.

I think the last things to consider are your age and your personal desires. If you're still in your early twenties, then I think you can get away with wearing your "dream" dress, even if it is a ball gown type. Older brides most often desire to wear something more sophisticated, rather than look too girlish. But if there's that one dress that you've always wanted to wear and you didn't get to wear it for your first wedding, then I bet you'll think of a way to fit it into a style appropriate to your second wedding. If not, then you've probably outgrown the style.

Probably your best bet would be to take these considerations along when you shop for your dress, but also discuss the situation with your wedding consultant or saleswoman at the bridal salon. They would have the best advice for the your area's traditions and expectations, as well as the currently popular styles for second-time brides.


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Copyright 1996-2001, Michelle Nordblom Hottya. Created: July 7, 1996. Last Updated: April 12, 2001.