I wore my wedding dress to someone else's big day – and got so many compliments (2024)

"Never wear white to someone else's wedding" has been drummed into me ever since I secured my very first wedding invite. It therefore felt like breaking the cardinal rule of all bridal festivities when I decided to re-wear my own wedding dress to a friend's wedding. But don't worry – I wasn't hellbent on upstaging the poor bride. Thanks to a clever business idea and seriously incredible design work, my ivory gown was given a new lease of life as a party dress.

The wedding industry has a long way to go before it goes hand-in-hand with sustainability. With more than 22 million weddings held in England and Wales over the last 70 years, wedding fashion has a lot to answer for when it comes to environmental damage. Only four per cent of brides opt to wear a second-hand dress and most are reluctant to part with their one-time wear gown after they say I do. Jennifer Katherine Crooks, founder and managing director of bridal seamstress company TheModiste in High Wycombe, saw a gap in the market – and the Modify Movement was born.

I wore my wedding dress to someone else's big day – and got so many compliments (1)© Kate Thomas

"Wedding dresses are one of the most unsustainable parts of the wedding industry, apart from tights. The industry is catching up, there's movement into sustainable materials. But at the end of the day, the fact that you've made another thing in the world and only used it once is where sustainability stops," Jennifer says. "We're trying to change the movement. It's about reloving your dress and reusing it again, whether it's [as] a brand new item or just enjoying the off-cuts!"

Breathing new life into wedding dresses

Every bride knows the prickle of horror at dropping a lump sum on a wedding dress you're only going to wear for a few hours. As someone who struggled to find a gown to fit my petite figure and had my dress custom-made, it felt even more wasteful to banish it to a dusty box in the attic.

I wore my wedding dress to someone else's big day – and got so many compliments (5)© WOJTEK CHRAPEK

Revamping my dress and creating a new memory with it seemed like the perfect solution. I knew I wanted to keep the shape of the original Andrea Hawkes design, which was simple, elegant and flattered my stocky torso. The possibilities were endless, according to the Modiste team.

I asked Jennifer what the most common requests she gets are. "A lot of people want to turn them into jumpsuits so they can re-wear them for an anniversary. We don't want Modify to look like you're just wearing your wedding dress, we want it to become another fashionable piece," she says.

Luxury silk negligees, robes, miniature dresses, Christening gowns, and even Christmas baubles are some of their most requested Modify options.

I wore my wedding dress to someone else's big day – and got so many compliments (6)© The Modiste

"One lady kept the net underneath the dress that we cut out for her, turning it into a tutu for her dog to wear down the aisle!," Jennifer revealed. "We often make scrunchies and we're making a bikini for a bride at the moment for her honeymoon.

The Modify design process

Patience is key – and the Modiste team certainly had theirs tested with me! From indecision about the style, sleeve length and colour, I had a change of heart every step of the way but was never made to feel like my concerns were a burden.

I wore my wedding dress to someone else's big day – and got so many compliments (7)© The Modiste

"Nerves are normal. We'll go, 'The scissors are coming out, are you sure... are you definitely sure?'," Jennifer laughed, reassuring me that I'm not a bridezilla. "We get nervous brides all the time, it's just about being calm about the situation and talking it through and making sure it's right… We're always trying new solutions for these things."

Jennifer and her assistant Demi were kind, accommodating, and reassuring throughout, making it easy to trust them with what might have been a seriously expensive regret.

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I wore my wedding dress to someone else's big day – and got so many compliments (8)© The Modiste

"We love what we do, we want the dress to be as perfect as you do. We will carry on going until it is right," Jennifer revealed. "I've been known to go out to brides the night before the wedding in my pyjamas if a bit of lace has ripped off. Hopefully, our passion for dressmaking comes through in our work."

The challenge with my dress stemmed from getting the colour right; I was warned the hue might be muted due to the texture of the silk and was likely to show any imperfections. After endless shade swatches posted to my house and lots of dithering on my part, we finally settled on a bright teal, which Nicola Killeen Textiles dye house helped bring to life.

A leap of faith later and I was standing in Jennifer's High Wycombe boutique, trying on my brand new eveningwear dress.

I wore my wedding dress to someone else's big day – and got so many compliments (9)© WOJTEK CHRAPEK

The silhouette was familiar but the lace detailing was gone and the train had been chopped to mid-calf and turned into loose, floaty sleeves. Most alarmingly, it was no longer a soft off-white but was now a shocking blue. I loved it.

"I like that we left the lining ivory, you get the idea that it was originally something else," Jennifer said of the nod to my original wedding dress peeking through at the neckline.

Wearing my wedding dress to a wedding

I wore my wedding dress to someone else's big day – and got so many compliments (10)© Kate Thomas

The saying goes that you'll never feel more beautiful than on your wedding day, so the chance to wear your most flattering dress to an equally special occasion was an opportunity I couldn't resist.

The invitation was in – a spring wedding at an Oxford college hosted by a very close family friend. The mission – not to tell anyone I was wearing my wedding dress. Wedding guest etiquette still stands, of course!

Apart from the embarrassment of staging a mini photoshoot in the middle of the quad, no one was any wiser. I found the dress comfortable, didn't fiddle with how it sat on my body like I usually would with a high street option, and received countless compliments about the colour.

I wore my wedding dress to someone else's big day – and got so many compliments (11)© Kate Thomas

The bride even exclaimed how soft the material was and how nice the dress looked when I hugged her goodbye at the end of a fantastic party. I smiled knowingly.

A mere 48 hours later, my secret was exposed and she found out I'd worn my wedding dress on her big day. Surprisingly, she loved the idea and is keen to explore similar options when she returns from her honeymoon.

The chance to cherish your most special dress for years to come has an undeniable appeal, particularly with sustainability increasingly at the forefront of our minds when it comes to making fashion choices.

I wore my wedding dress to someone else's big day – and got so many compliments (12)© Kate Thomas

Jennifer reflected: "People find the letting go part hard, but we're into cherishing our clothing at Modify. You might only wear your wedding dress once, but it's about valuing it forever. It can even be using your off-cuts, you don't have to touch the dress at all.

"I come from a costume design background and these women would have five things in their wardrobe that they wore over and over again. They looked after them and valued them, and that's one of the things Modiste is trying to promote, showing the value in how it's been made."

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I wore my wedding dress to someone else's big day – and got so many compliments (13)© Kate Thomas

As I carefully hung my new dress back up in my wardrobe, I realised I had no regrets. I will remember my joyfully sunny wedding every time I take it off the hanger on special occasions and anniversaries. And isn't that what sustainability is all about, breathing new life into pre-loved clothing?

I wore my wedding dress to someone else's big day – and got so many compliments (2024)


Is it bad luck for your fiance to see you in any wedding dress? ›

It's not if he sees the dress, but if he sees the bride in the dress. It would depend on how supersticious you are as to how much bad luck is involved. Traditionally speaking, yes, the groom is not supposed to see the wedding dress before the wedding.

Can I wear the same wedding dress as a friend? ›

While it is not ideal for someone you know to wear the same exact wedding dress as you, there is no real way to prevent it from happening. But, if you choose the same bridal dress as someone else don't panic!

Can I wear my wedding dress to another wedding? ›

Absolutely, if that's what you want! There really is no etiquette that says you shouldn't. All you need to consider is whether a wedding veil will suit your personal style, be comfortable to wear and go well with your outfit and hairstyle.

When did it become unacceptable to wear white to a wedding? ›

Queen Victoria chose an embellished lace white satin gown that was handcrafted in England. Once the photos were published, brides began to copy the Queen's style by wearing white to their weddings. Since then, it's typically frowned upon to wear white as a guest to a wedding.

What is the wedding dress superstition? ›

Many believed that a bride making her own wedding dress would suffer an unhappy marriage. Every stitch made was thought to represent a tear that she'd shed during her marriage. Leaving a dress unfinished until the wedding day however could bring good luck.

What is an example of superstitious belief in wedding? ›

Carrying the Bride Over the Threshold

This superstition began in medieval Europe, when many believed that a bride was extra vulnerable to evil spirits through the soles of her feet. To avoid bringing in any evil spirits, the groom carried the bride into their new home.

Can I wear the same wedding dress twice? ›

Yes, You Can Wear Your Wedding Dress Again.

Is it okay to just wear a dress shirt and tie to a wedding? ›

Typically, if the wedding is during the day less formal attire reigns supreme. Lighter colors, slacks, a dress shirt and tie are probably okay for a daytime wedding, but you might want to have a jacket on hand just in case. Night weddings generally require guests to have a more polished, formal appearance.

Can anyone other than the bride wear white at a wedding? ›

In general, it's not appropriate for guests to wear white to a wedding. "When you're a guest at a wedding, the most important thing to keep in mind is not to upstage or upset the bride," says wedding dress designer Madeline Gardner. "It's safe to stay away from any outfits that are predominantly white, cream or ivory."

What is the most popular wedding dress color? ›

What are the Most Popular Wedding Dress Colors? The most popular wedding dress colors are shades of off-white and ivory, which are more universally flattering. However, we've also noticed that many brides opt for a gown with a lining in a shade of blush or nude to allow the details on their dresses to pop!

Why do brides wear 2 dresses? ›

One of the main reasons brides opt for two dresses is to have one for the ceremony and another for the reception. This allows for the best of both worlds, as a bride can choose a more conservative or traditional gown for the ceremony and switch to a lighter, more comfortable or glamorous option for the reception.

Why do brides have 2 dresses? ›

One of the main reasons why some brides are choosing to wear two wedding dresses is the versatility it offers. The two-dress trend allows brides to easily transition from ceremony to reception, giving them the option to change into a second dress that is more comfortable or suitable for dancing and partying.

Why can't you wear red to a wedding? ›

Turns out, wearing red to a wedding means to some that “you've slept with the groom.” “Old Wives' Tale, but yeah,” Mitchell explained. However, both wedding planners agreed on a more modern reason for not wearing red: It could be seen as a way to grab the attention away from the bride.

Why do some brides not wear white? ›

Some of us simply do not suit wearing white. You will want to feel as comfortable as possible, therefore if wearing white does not make you feel comfortable then don't feel like you have to wear it. Other colours could be more suited to you, therefore do not rule them out during your wedding dress shopping.

Why is it disrespectful to wear white to someone else's wedding? ›

If the wedding is in the US, or another western culture, the rule about not wearing white is so well-established that a bride would not think it necessary to explain to guests. You simply don't upstage or draw attention from the couple, by your dress or behavior.

What happens if your husband sees your wedding dress? ›

Superstition #1: It's bad luck for the groom to see the bride in her wedding dress before the ceremony. Origin: During the time when arranged marriages were custom, the betrothed couple wasn't allowed to see each other before the wedding at all.

Is it bad luck to try on someone else's wedding dress? ›

Many consider trying on someone else's wedding dress before they are married to be bad luck, but are fine wearing a dress that's already been worn at a wedding. There's no such thing as bad luck, only bad thoughts.

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