What to Wear as a Second Time Bride (Advice From Real Brides)

older bride and groom outside of a coca cola sign

Traditionally, for a second wedding, brides used to avoid wearing a veil. They also avoided wearing a white dress, the traditional marker of virginity. Instead, they turned to cocktail-length gowns and a hat with a small veil, similar to the hats now known as “fascinators.” The implication was that second marriage was generally frowned upon as if it were a sin, rather than a reason to rejoice. 

When remarrying today, brides should wear whatever makes you feel joyful and attractive. Whether it’s your second time down the aisle (or third, or fourth, etc.) you are the star of the show. A repeat bride may wear any color, style, include a veil or embrace any other traditions she chooses.

Here I bring you opinions from two sources: experts and fellow veteran brides. Read on to bust myths about second marriage dressing etiquette alongside exploring some fashionable options to make you stand out.

What Real Brides Have to Say About The Second Wedding

I took stock of Reddit and Quora responses and found that the major emphasis for fellow brides was on choice and freedom. The bride and groom’s happiness was at the forefront of all responses.

What I’ll say is – initially, I didn’t even want a wedding because I felt a bit silly/self-conscious doing it when I’d already had one once. What convinced me was the overwhelming outpouring of love and support from friends and family. These were people who knew what I’d been through in my first marriage, knew my fiancée now, and were happy to see that we’d found each other and were so happy together and deeply in love. The wedding is, in some ways, a way to celebrate the people who have helped get us to where we are today and recognize how we all help and love each other.

So, we’re having a full-on wedding and not even hinting that it’s a “second” wedding for us both. The only real change from a “normal” wedding is we want to make extra effort to make our guests feel warm and welcome and celebrated as a n integral part of the event.

And congrats!! Don’t fret about it being a “second” marriage – just give yourself credit for having hope, and for being ok to love again.

Scotty_doesntknow on Reddit

In fact, many folks went against the traditional advice of “toning down” since, for them, the prospect of their second or third marriage was far more exciting than the first one. Some individuals shared how they could not go all-out on their first wedding, hence, remarriage was the best opportunity for them to make up for what they missed in the past.

Responses matched the same sentiment by echoing the priority of the bride and groom’s joy. One Quora user mentioned how the past notions around remarriage were gloomy and shameful. Fortunately, we have abandoned such ideas of guilt and shame that held us back from celebrating remarriage to its fullest.

A wedding is a happy time for you to look your best. Sometimes white is hard to wear, however if you want to wear white do it. When I got married the second time I wore my favorite color and that is red. I just want to say I loved my look.

Donna on Quora

Here’s a more thorough overview of some of the most commonly questions veteran brides have the second time around:

What Color to Wear as a Second-time Bride?

Do you find yourself unsure about what the expected colors for a second marriage wedding gown are? Well, simply put, there is no such thing as an “appropriate” color. The options are nearly limitless, so focus on what makes you happy! 

Even if you went with something really conventional and “bridal” for your first wedding, that doesn’t mean you have to forego white this time. 

According to the Charleston School of Protocol and Etiquette, second-time brides can wear white just like any other bride. Think of white representing joy rather than purity.

White wedding gowns come in a variety of forms and designs, allowing you to pick something as traditional or casual as you like. There are also several hues of white, so if brilliant white isn’t for you, consider an ivory or off-white.

bride in a nude colored wedding gown dancing with her husband on a dock

Do Second-time Brides Have to Wear White?

Whether it’s your first, second or third marriage, as a bride, you don’t have to wear white. You are allowed to wear any wedding gown color you choose.

While white isn’t forbidden, more and more women are opting for alternative hues. Now is the ideal time to try something new, especially if you felt obligated to wear something “traditional” at your first wedding.

According to my own conversations with first-time and veteran brides alike, wearing a gown with a pop or color or even in deeper shades like black, is becoming more and more common. You could even wear a suit!

Check out this article for inspiration on alternatives to the classic wedding gown.

Multicolor patterns and flowery designs have also taken center stage, which we like. Again, these alternatives are not limited to second marriages. These choices are being used at events by people of various ages and stages.

Should I Be Casual or Extravagant As An Older Bride?

There’s no rule that prevents a second-time bride from going fancy or keeping things casual. Older brides can keep things more casual than younger brides. Or they can go all out on an extravagant look. It’s up to the bride, the budget, and the tone of the wedding what kind of dress is worn.

Casual gowns are certainly acceptable for older brides if you’re looking to keep things less formal, but not required.

For the Casual Older Brides

Casual wedding gowns for second or third weddings are rather frequent for a variety of reasons. Maybe you’re tired of the glam appearance and want something more modern and chic. Perhaps your finances are limited, or perhaps the dress itself isn’t the main focus for you. 

Many brides I spoke with learned the hard way that spending tons of money on the dress wasn’t the best decision for them. (Especially if your first dress is still sitting in a closet somewhere after only being worn once.)

Lighter materials, non-white hues, and relaxed forms, as well as toned-down embellishments or simple patterns, lend themselves to casual gatherings. Light embellishments, like delicate embroidery or beading, are ideal for a second-time bride who wants some adornment on her gown. A small bow or pleats on any part of the gown are equally appropriate. Lace can also be worn by a second-time bride.

Keep in mind that you are not required to wear a traditional dress at all. Jumpsuits, rompers, and separates are all acceptable options. There have been several basic tea-length dresses combined with matching jackets, as well as attractive pantsuits. 

Check out this article on how to rock a suit at your wedding.

wedding suit for a bride

For the More Extravagant Older Brides

If you want to go full glam, you absolutely should! Many brides find that they have a higher budget as they get older and want a do-over to get the wedding they always dreamed of. You shouldn’t be shy about getting the dress you’ve always wanted just because it’s not your first wedding.

Here’s a summarized version of what can be included in a casual or formal bridal look:

May make use of lower hemlines, asymmetrical components, high-lows, and midi shapes.May make use of A-line cuts, full-skirts, and sheaths.
Can be short in length.Cannot be short in length.
May not have fancy beading and embellishments.May have fancy beading and embellishments.
Can be a jumpsuit, romper, pair of matching separates, or pantsuits.Can be a dress or a gown.

Whether you opt for casual or formal, remember to keep comfort in mind. You’ll be wearing your outfit for hours, just like any other bride. So, make sure to choose something you can move and breathe in to avoid being uncomfortable for hours. 

Further Considerations For Second-Time Brides

The bride’s attire for a second wedding is frequently influenced by several factors such as:

Remarriage for Both Parties

If the partner is experiencing marriage for the first time, this may lead you towards a more extravagant celebration. A bride or groom who has never been married should not be forced to forego traditional wedding clothing just because it is the one partner’s second wedding.

It’s important to also consider the re-marrying partner’s feelings and come to a compromise. Your first of many compromises as a married couple. Having an over-the-top affair may feel out of place for a bride or groom who’s done the big wedding thing before. It certainly shouldn’t stop you from having a grand wedding if you want to but if there’s trepidation, make sure your partner feels heard. And that you consider both of your needs in the wedding planning process.

I mean who doesn’t remember the Sex and City movie where Carrie got swept away by the planning process and Big got overwhelmed and left her at the alter? Don’t be a Carrie OR a Big at your wedding.

Date, Venue, and Guests

A second-time bride, like any other bride, must consider what the wedding location and time of day require for her clothing. For example, a second-time bride can definitely wear a shorter dress to a noon or daytime wedding. The weather and time of the day as well as the location are all factors to be considered. 

Is the wedding indoors or outdoors? Is the venue posh or casual? Are the guests limited to just close friends and family? Remember to consider the tone and environment of the event to determine how formal a gown is required. All of these possibilities must be taken into account when choosing a wedding dress.

Age of the Bride

We all know that age is only a number, therefore second marriage wedding gowns for individuals in their twenties and thirties don’t have to be any different from dresses for the older group. The options are unlimited whether you’re in your 40s or past 50!

Want to wear a ball gowns? Go for it! A tea-party-length number? The world is your oyster! There is an abundance of dresses in every style imaginable available on most dress boutique sales floors and online markets.


Whether you’re on a more prudent budget or flexing your disposable income as an older bride, your budget should play a role in your wedding dress selection. If you’re looking to save, try an off-the-rack dress. It can save you both money and time when choosing the right wedding gown. Read more about off-the-rack dresses here.

And if you’re looking to splurge to find the perfect dress, go for it! Make an appointment or two and try on the dresses of your dreams. Most brides find the perfect dress after trying on less than ten options.

Looking for some help on what to spend on the dress? Whether your budget is $5,000 or $50,000 I have a great tool you can use.

You can check out my free budget guide if you sign up for my newsletter. It automatically calculates what you should spend where based on your budget and guest count and helps you stay on track. It’s like the fairy godmother of numbers.


Things may have changed in the timing department since the last time you got married. Supply chain issues have caused a hiccup when it comes to custom-made gowns. But more fast fashion and second hand options are also available than a few decades ago. Some dresses, especially ones that are custom made, take months to manufacture and ship. Or you can get a dress off of Amazon in a few days! So take that timing and what type of gown you want into consideration when planning.


Speaking of things that might have changed since you got married the first time, what should you wear underneath your gown? You may be surprised to find more wedding dresses that show some skin. From cut-outs to low cut or backless options, how to keep it all together without a fashion disaster may be a mystery to you. If so, check out this article on what to wear underneath your wedding dress.

older bride getting ready

The Bottom Line

When choosing a dress, look for one that suits your personality, but that still reflects your knowledge gained from earlier weddings. There are no particular restrictions for second-marriage wedding gowns for older ladies. Of course, if your second marriage occurs later in life, you may not desire the same style as your first wedding. 

Second marriage wedding gowns may unquestionably be white or any color you want. Forget everything you’ve been told about “purity” and “innocence.” If you equate white with weddings and believe it will make you feel the most special and joyous on your wedding day, then wear and flaunt it! 

Want more information? Check out this recommended YouTube video with Second Wedding FAQs.








Jaime is the owner of Loud Bride and Coast Designs LLC. She got married in 2017 in Geneseo, NY and designed her own wedding invitations and programs for the occasion. Now, she designs bespoke wedding stationery and affordable templates for other couples. She lives in New York city with her husband and two children.

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