Choices for second-wedding dresses

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Lacey number: Among the wedding dresses offered at David's Bridal is an all-over lace tank gown with illusion back. | Supplied photo

About a year ago Karen Hamilton, a Chicago resident, was searching for a dress for her second wedding.

“I was looking for something fun that was representative of my style, something reflective of me,” she said.

She wasn’t looking to have the same kind of dress she wore the first time.

Many second-time brides are looking for something different with a focus on their personal style over tradition, said Jim Abbott, district manager for David’s Bridal in Oak Lawn. He said nearly half of the store’s customers are brides who have had a wedding before.

“(It’s) not necessarily always a second marriage, but sometimes a renewal or anniversary ceremony,” Abbott said. “I see where the first wedding was not (very big), and how they want to have a big wedding now, and it’s a more mature bride.”

He said 75 percent of first-time brides he sees had that princess look. The second time around they’re wanting a more sophisticated look.

Hamilton was 23 when she married for the first time. “I had all the bridal magazines, and I was looking for a certain style,” she said.

She took a photo with her into a bridal shop and came away with a white, one-shouldered long dress with a traditional bridal hat and veil.

“I was really traditional-minded the first time around,” she said.

For her second wedding this past May, she took a different approach. First, she researched “second weddings” online to see what women wore, but not much came of that.

“I was looking for something not-white, something fun, and that was hard to find.” She then found a designer she liked in a department store bridal section, and searched for the designer online. There, she found it: a strapless, cream-colored knee-length dress with a beaded bodice and soft feather detailing on the skirt.

“I went for the cream-colored dress because it was just so cool,” she said. “And I wanted something that I could wear again.”

Taboos vanishing

Abbott said that second-time brides have shown a marked difference in the wedding dress styles they seek. He said it’s mostly the “princess look” (a ball gown shape, a cathedral-length veil) versus the “sophisticated look” that can include A-line dresses, chiffon instead of taffeta, an interesting neckline or “interest back” of detailed cutouts, lace, embroidery, buttons, or other embellishments.

“Silhouette becomes important,” he said.

And what about not wearing white?

“There is not the taboo about getting remarried that there may have been 20 or even 10 years ago,” Abbott said. “People have the freedom to do what they want their vision to be.”

Second-time brides are also different with the in-store experience.

“There is some fanfare with a first-time bride, where the whole family is there. With a second-time bride, it’s about her. She has a stronger sense of style and confidence to make her decision. She’ll be by herself or bring one person, or a fiancé sometimes,” Abbott said.

Regarding the rest of the wedding party, Abbott said he still sees the same number of bridesmaids for second-time brides, though they aren’t typically coming to the bride’s fittings.

“We have over 300 David’s Bridal stores across the United States. A bride can choose the dress she wants her bridesmaids to wear, and they can come in at any time. It’s a huge convenience for the bride and bridesmaids. If everybody isn’t there at the beginning, then the bride can send a link of the dress to her bridesmaids,” he said.

More information about David’s Bridal in Oak Lawn, 5020 W. 95th St., is at (708) 636-6100.