Face it, most wedding gowns are worn once and preserved ever after as heirlooms. Others are donated to charity or consigned. Keep in mind you do have the option of choosing a design you can re-wear. Maybe you’re into cotton and linen. A cotton eyelet dress or linen suit can work quite well as reusable bridal attire. If you’re drawn to simpler silhouettes in functional fabrics like wool and silk jersey this works too. Knowing how to work a veil with some opera length gloves and the right shoes can really pull a simple dress into a ‘bridal look’. Consequently, the more practical you are, (as opposed to sentimental) the more likely you are to re-wear your gown.
Smoot Photo
Retooling your gown is another option. So what exactly is retooling? Think of it as recycling it into another garment for regular use. Being handy with scissors and thread helps; lace can be cut away and altered into a blouse or skirt, sleeves restyled and hems shortened. Though you may not be able to envision your ‘after design’ just yet, it may take till after the wedding for a vision to come. And with the help of a skilled dressmaker you’ll see all the clearer.

I don’t believe beautiful laces should be stored away for decades in dark attics so the idea of retooling gowns into elegant linens to be enjoyed by everyone appeals to my practical side. Bassinets in particular intrigue me, they keep the gown sentiment going as a story told through laces and silk. The bulk of the skirt wraps around the bassinet and your veil hangs as a head draping. If you wore a tiara you’ve created a real fairy tale. I’ve actually known brides who have fashioned table runners out of galloons of lace removed from hemlines; others lined shelves in china cabinets with smaller pieces. And don’t laugh. The skirts of some gowns have made some of the most ‘Hello Gorgeous’ tablecloths I’ve ever seen.

And what of my own imported allover lace gown? My wedding gown stood on a dress form in my design studio for years. It was the focal point to all who wandered through my door, a testament to my skill at working with lace. That is, till in the process of moving (sob, sob) it disappeared forever . . .