Don’t let the “Bride Again” stigma dictate your next wedding dress choice

Guest post by Jeni
Photo by Lakshal Perera
This is not the author, but doesn't she look awesome in purple too!? Photo by Lakshal Perera

I got legally married in July of 2005. I remember so clearly shopping at (which no longer exists). It’s where I bought my fabulous purple wedding dress (it was sold as a prom dress). I loved the site — it didn’t body shame, it didn’t make me feel like a hippo trying to fit into an evening gown cut for a giraffe. There were many options, cuts, and colors to choose from.

There was a section on the site, though, that gave me chills. It was called “Bride Again.” Dresses in beige, off-white, and tans, each more matronly then the last — dresses that looked like something you might wear to an Easter church service but somehow more conservative. Like bizarro funeral garb. Some of the ugliest off-color dresses I have ever seen. I just remember thinking, “I don’t want to do this twice… Breathe, cross your fingers, shut out all the doubt, and get on with it.” And I did.

By 2010, I was 30, and my marriage was over. I should have listened to those doubts. I should have never tolerated being treated the way I was treated in that marriage. Even on what I thought was the worst day of my life (being both my 30th birthday and the day my husband decided to tell me he was never coming home and had a new girlfriend), those voices of doubt could be heard screaming, “This is the best thing that’s ever happened!”

I grew up with family-oriented parents who’ve been married an epic 47 years. So it was hard for my parents, whom I had never really shared the reality of my marriage with, to understand that I was getting divorced. I grew up believing that no matter what, you can work it out with your spouse. I felt compelled to make it work, not to fail at staying married. So, here I was thinking I just can’t get divorced.

Fast forward to almost 10 years later, after I had put in the work to figure out why I felt that way — after having to face the shame and figuring out my own values instead of just accepting what I’d always been told. I was fairly sure I’d never get married again and that children and family were not in my future. And that’s when I met my fiancé.

Now here I am, a bride again. I'm dealing with thoughts like “Maybe I shouldn’t buy a fancy wedding dress, because it’s a ‘re-marriage.' Maybe we should just go to the city hall?”

But the truth is, there is no reason to be ashamed — to not be proud of having made some difficult decisions.

So I’m having my second wedding dress handmade for me. I love the design, the color (also purple), and I haven’t once looked at a page selling horrible “Bride Again” dresses.

Never feel that you have to wear something ugly or downplay your outfit because things didn’t work out the way you planned a different life ago.

Any other “Bride Agains” in the house? What are you wearing (or did you wear) on your wedding day? Did you feel pressured to wear something you didn't like?

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Comments on Don’t let the “Bride Again” stigma dictate your next wedding dress choice

  1. I recently got married for a second time. My first wedding was a small affair and I didn’t have a dress, but a white trouser suit (!) It ended after 7 years (he was a serial cheat and liar) This time round I opted for a stunning black and white gown and (have been told) I looked amazing! I certainly felt it 🙂

  2. Thank you for this post! I totally agree! I’m working on what is technically my 3rd marriage, but it is really my 2nd. I got married at 19 for a brief 6 months (he because physically abusive) so I don’t really “count” that one. I then succubed to societal and family pressure and got married in 2003. He was emotionally and verbally abusive. Despite the doubts, and what I knew to be true about myself, I sucked it up for 10 years..because I also believed that you just stayed, and did whatever it took to make it work. While that is true, that also means that BOTH parties are invested in doing so, not just one. Finally, I left and I allowed myself to BREATHE. And then, now that I was 40, I decided that being true to MYSELF was more important than any kind of shock or disappointment my family would feel. So I finally came out of the closet and decided it was time to live my authentic life. And in doing so I finally found the love of my life.

    I too was having thoughts that I was supposed to wear something demure and matronly. But I am SO GLAD that I found this website because offbeat is truly who I am and I am feeling so much freedom to just do things how we want to do it, conventions be damned! I LOVE your purple dresses (my favorite color) and I find I’m really leaning towards a colored dress, instead of a typical white, bridal dress. Thank you for your post!

  3. Thank you so much for this. My first wedding I seriously just wore a spring dress to. I keep debating if I should wear white or not this time around. I know the choice is mine but it’s nice to hear that it really doesn’t matter. That if I do choose white, that it’s ok. 🙂

    • Yes! I had people tell me they expected me to wear a colored dress to my wedding, and while I was flattered that they wouldn’t have judged me if I had, and realized that I was “offbeat” enough to do that, I was perfectly fine saying I CHOSE to wear a white dress, because it’s pretty and I wanted to. Not because it’s traditional or whatever, but it’s what I wanted, and that is just as fine as wearing a colored dress or trousers or whatever else I would want to wear. 🙂

  4. While I’m not a second time bride, I felt compelled to comment! EVERY marriage deserves to be celebrated, whether it’s your first, or your second, or whatever! It’s a celebration of the love between two people, which certainly doesn’t diminish just because one (or both) of the people may have loved other people in the past! I am so excited for you, and I’m sure you’re going to look beautiful and have a fabulous day!

  5. I am getting married again on Saturday. I felt the same way when we decided to have wedding, that my dress should be more of a cocktail type gown & not a bridal gown. Fortunately for me – the bridal shops around here had nothing Cocktail-ish to try on & my sister took me shopping for a gown.

    I love it, so happy she did. It suits me & even though it was way over what I thought I wanted to spend, I can’t imagine wearing anything else now.

  6. Honestly, I have *more* respect for repeat brides and grooms. The first-timers haven’t experienced divorce, and no one ever thinks it will happen to them. Once the unthinkable has happened … to have the courage to give marriage another shot is incredible and deserving of celebration! Have fun rocking that purple dress – you’re gonna be gorgeous.

  7. Every marriage is your first marriage, because with every marriage you are starting anew – even if it happens to be to the same person you were married to before! So get the fancy dress of your dreams, go all out! Or do whatever, as long as it works for *you.*

  8. Thank you so much for this!! I am getting remarried after a divorce from an emotionally and verbal abusive man that was on the verge of becoming physical. I chose to celebrate my new love and marriage with a beautiful ivory and red dress, that my brother picked out for me. We are celebrating our love and commitment to each other, and dammit we are doing it anyway we want too!

  9. Another second timer here … I call my first marriage my practice marriage. It’s the second time for my hubby to be too. I had a lilac elven style dress the first time around. This time I’m going for a custom made evening gown style dress in purple and my groom is considering getting a custom made suit. We’re going to rock! 🙂

  10. My mother picked out the dress for my first wedding – as well as every other detail of the 400+ guest, formal, hyper-religious, alcohol and personality free ceremony. My dress this go around is simpler, because I’M simpler. It’s still sparkly and fabulous, and I haven’t toned down a damn thing because it’s my second marriage – I’ve just given myself more freedom to make it OURS, rather than what society and my mother prefers.

    • This is the best part about getting married again! There is no pressure at all to do the weird traditional things that most people don’t like anyway, and we can focus on having an authentic and awesome party.

  11. First time around it was a blue Medieval gown, because I was following my family’s Celtic practices at the time (and my grandmother wore a blue skirt-suit when she got married, so there was that, too). Plus I didn’t like the idea of white at the time because of all the baggage associated with it.

    This time around, I feel worthy of wearing a white gown, though I am going with a sundress design that suits our beach ceremony.

    The only so-called advice I like about second wedding attire is (paraphrased): “A second-time bride never wears a veil because she wants to see what she is getting this time.”

  12. Another twice bride here. My first wedding dress was a handmade white medieval style gown that I absolutely loved. I spiced it up with a seafoam green underskirt and a matching corset. I hope to one day wear this dress again at a renaissance festival.

    The second time around I wore a dress that was given to me by a friend as a “backup” dress for the first ceremony. It was her “backup” dress for her wedding, and she didn’t wear it. When it came time for me and my current husband to get married, he described what he envisioned me wearing (this was his first wedding) and it was exactly the dress in my closet, that he’d never seen. It fit me perfectly with zero alterations and I felt so happy and comfortable in it. It was a store bought, white, strappy, empire waist wedding gown.

  13. I definitely think you should wear what you want, even if its your second or fifth wedding.

    I was thinking though, and I wonder if those dresses were for older brides. like widowed and getting re-married late in life? I think every bride should wear what she wants, no matter her age, but I know my grandmother would have worn something like what you described had she married her boyfriend at 70.

    • Yeah I think traditionally 2nd (or 3rd or 4th) time brides tend to be older, and therefore more conservative.

        • Totally. As I get older, I get LESS conservative in how I dress (and I’m one of the Bride’s friends, and at her wedding, a bunch of us either dyed our hair or wore wigs of purple and/or green for their wedding colors)…. LOL 10 years ago, I would have NEVER done that!.

          And the obligatory “I have been married twice”, neither were big ceremonies… I never wore a dress … just street clothes… well the second time I think I wore a pants-suit …. but if I were to get married again, and I know I’m not ready yet…. but I would use my friend’s example of a Wedding done right (with some variables)

  14. As a second-timer, I never felt any pressure to do anything a particular way – one of the perks of being a grown-ass woman who no longer cares (much) what people think. 🙂 I found a black sundress with a purple floral print that fits me beautifully and that I can wear (and have worn) to other occasions, so it was both pretty and practical. I didn’t get one peep about my choices from anyone. (Even if I’d worn white with a veil, I wouldn’t have gotten a peep from anyone, because my friends and family are well-brought-up enough to keep that kind of thing to themselves!)

    Cheers to all the brides (and grooms) out there who are rocking their own style, societal pressure be damned! 😀

  15. My first husband was very concerned that we have a “cookie cutter” wedding, white dress and all. I’m looking forward to my future wedding and getting to wear a dress that’s really me, and my partner’s excited about it!

  16. This is the best thing I have read all day!!! I am engaged.. again after an 8-year “practice run.” I seriously can disown that marriage since LGBT marriage wasn’t legal in my state, or the country, at that time we exchanged vows. But, I wont. It taught me lessons and added to the fabric that makes me the best me , at this point, in my life. And the BEST ME deserves the BEST Bride and the BEST Wedding Ceremony…. legally!….. next year.

    Sharing your story is just another affirmation in this journey. Thank you!

  17. Thanks for the article! Getting married for the second time next weekend and I’m wearing to the floor white ivory poofy wedding dress and I can’t wait!

  18. I was married at 20 for 6 months. Unfortunately my family is incredibly traditional and southern and the whole “stand-by-your-man” thing is very prevelant. I’ve felt guilty for 6 years over the divorce and my family has made no shortage in the itll work out in the future talk. I want to marry my boyfriend. In fact, I’m hand smithing that ring here in a month. But I can’t bring myself to tell any of my friends of family because I just feel guilt. I feel like I’ll be a liar. It will also be his first, not unusual at 26, but I just feel like the stigma of it will wear at me. I don’t really know how to handle it all but seeing all of these comments of so many ladies going through it again and having the feeling of being free instead of guilty has really brought me a lot of comfort.

    • You’ve got this. I’m planning my second wedding right now and it is SO MUCH BETTER. In a month of planning, I’ve participated more than I ever did the first time around, and so has my future husband. I’m excited about the dress I want to get, we’re going to be making our rings (!!), and we’re going to have a blast making it a celebration of love and family, blood & chosen. (You know, for all your metal family…)

      I feel like second marriages weed out the bullshit. Anyone who really believes that only first weddings/marriages can be good is welcome to go take their ball and play elsewhere.

  19. The first thing my sis-in-law said to me when we told her our wedding date was “Oh… are you going to wear a white dress and everything?” which made me feel like she was subtly telling me I shouldn’t be having a second wedding at all. I got over that pretty quickly but it stung.

    I was open to a lot of different options (I even thought about wearing a tux for awhile!) but in the end got a (white) dress I love that is flattering on me, with some accessories that make it a little less traditional. Our outfits, and everything else about this wedding, are just for us and not anyone else, and we’re going to have a great time.

  20. I’m marrying for the 2nd time in a pale pink dress that I never expected to love! It’s my fiance’s 1st marriage and I wanted our wedding to look and feel traditional – mostly for the benefit of him and his family – so I just assumed I would find a white dress. Plus, wearing some other color seemed like an “apology” on my part for daring to remarry, and I have nothing to be ashamed of! After the heartbreak of my divorce and the financial struggles that followed, I deserve to celebrate my happy and healthy relationship with a wonderful guy. So off I went to find my white dress at a trunk show, but lo and behold, the designers knew what they were doing when they insisted I try on the only pink one they had. And it just…WORKS! So, I decided to throw my own preconceived notions out the window and embrace the pink dress I was meant to wear!

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