For many brides-to-be, planning the perfect wedding begins with finding the perfect dress. That often means spending hundreds, even thousands, of dollars on a dress that you’ll only get to wear once.
It doesn’t have to be this way. If you’re open to altering your dress — or going for one that doesn’t look too wedding-y to begin with, your dress could serve you for multiple events without anyone noticing. You will not get to keep a memory in a box or on a hanger, but on the flip side, you will make your wedding dress a permanent fixture in your wardrobe and extend its life indefinitely.
Here are a five suggestions to consider:
When I was a bride-to-be two years ago, I chose a Butter by Nadia satin wrap dress that could be converted in to a million dresses just by how you tied the top half. The blue color was perfect for the aquarium setting in which we were married.
But convertible wedding dresses aren’t just for the ultra casual or theme weddings. StarDust Celebrations co-owner and co-star of “Girl Meets Gown” Marsha Ballard French says, many designers make convertible dresses where the top layer of the skirt portion of your dress zips off to create a dress that could be used as a cocktail dress for your wedding reception or other occasions. Two designers with convertible dresses in their line are Rina di Montella and Allure.
Convertible wedding dresses can be a great fit for brides who get married at a destination (such as Mexico or Italy, for example), but want to have a local reception as well for friends and family who couldn’t attend the ceremony. Just unzip the top layer and add a decadent hair piece, says Ballard French. Her bridal salon stylists have created wedding-worthy hairstyles consisting of caging with flowers and feathers to add flare to the slightly more casual frock.
Theme and Casual Weddings
If you’re getting married on the beach, you may want to go for a silk sarong dress that can easily be worn again without any conversion or alteration. For the wedding, add a hair accessory with tropical flowers.
If you’ve got your eye on a cocktail dress, add a beaded or lace bolero on top, says Ballard French. Accessories from your local or online wedding boutique can make your favorite dress wedding-ready.
Tailored to Perfection
A bell-shaped bottom is an instant wedding-dress giveaway. But with some tailoring, you can use pieces of the dress to make it new.
You can remove the bottom, for example, to create a bustier to be worn separately with a skirt or silk or satin pants, or add a new bottom half to make a new knee length dress, says Ballard French.
If you choose a different silhouette such as column or slip dresses, you can easily shorten it to knee length. “Most of the gowns nowadays can be shortened and made into a cute sundress,” Ballard French says.
Even easier is to remove the train, an obvious giveaway that the dress should be walked down an aisle (or a red carpet).
Send your gown to be dyed another color such as black and you’ll have a beautiful non-wedding-dress-looking silk dress, says Ballard French. After the dyeing process, brides can further alter their dresses for length.
The Choice is Yours
You may decide your dress is a one occasion wonder for you and keep in in a box or on a hanger to occasionally admire and maybe one day pass on to your own daughter. But with choices in hand, you can decide your wedding gown’s fate: an heirloom, a cocktail dress, a sundress, or even the top of a designer pants suit.
Reyna Gobel is a freelance journalist who specializes in financial fitness. She is also the author of Graduation Debt: How To Manage Student Loans and Live Your Life.