HOW TO: rock a second dress on the big day

It’s hard enough to find ‘the one’ so why should you bother with an outfit change? We weigh up the pros and cons

Once the staple of a celebrity or royal wedding, we’ve spotted an increase in Scottish brides who are skipping off to slip into something more comfortable during their big day. It’s not a desire to channel Mariah Carey, but more the acceptance that if you’ve gone for a voluminous or form-fitting gown it might become a bit of a hindrance as the evening goes on. Is this Stateside trend indulgence or genius? We’ve asked some bridalwear experts to talk us through why, how and when the next big reveal should take place.

“When I got married it was the norm to change into a going away outfit,” explains Anna Cirignaco, managing director of Glasgow’s Eleganza Sposa. As newlyweds used to duck out of the party to head off on honeymoon, it made sense to change into something a little more travel-worthy (can you imagine boarding an Easyjet flight in an ivory A-line?).

These days, you’re more likely to hit the dancefloor than the road, but a frock swap can prevent damage to your dress. Even with the best bustle in the world, your hem may still end up swishing through rogue spillages and your neckline could end up lipstick-stained from the sloppy kisses from your BFFs. It’s possible you’ve spent the same as your first car on your dress, and intricate repairs can run into equally hair-raising prices, so if you plan to preserve your big day ballgown with the fantasy of passing it on to a daughter one day then you’ll want it to stay in tip-top condition.

More relaxed brides don’t have to worry, but Unbridaled’s Emily Plunkett has this advice if you’re planning to wear a dramatic dress: “If you’re having something quite extravagant for your ceremony, but want to be able to dance and work the room in the evening, something sleeker definitely fits the bill.”

Although it’s not an issue in Scotland – where even the sunniest days melt into cool evenings – Anna notes that brides having destination weddings often pick up an additional gown for the reception “to be more comfortable in the climate and relaxed beach environment.” Emily points out that to get extra value for money this can be worn at any post-nuptial bash back on home turf.

Boutique picks for second dresses: Roxette by Ricca Sposa, £899, available from Unbridaled; Style 1730 by Pia Michi, £POA, available from Sophia Grace Couture; Romantica (style 50045) by Tarik Ediz, £POA, available from Eleganza Sposa

Lots of brides comment that eating and drinking can be tricky in more corseted or structured styles, but that doesn’t mean you should slink off before the meal to get comfy. “If you have evening guests joining you, you’ll want to showcase your more dramatic ceremony gown,” points out Naydene Commins, director at Sophia Grace Couture. “I always advise changing after the first dance.”

Budgeting for one dress can be tough enough, so how can you ensure you don’t compromise on having one showstopping dress to end up with two less impressive styles? “It doesn’t have to be a 50/50 split,” counters Naydene. ” If you splurge on your first dress and only have a small budget left for a second then pick a more affordable evening gown in white or ivory to keep costs down.”

Emily agrees: “The second dress will always be under less scrutiny and feature in less photos so it’s a good idea to pick up an ex-sample gown to get more bang for your buck.” Another key decision is to pick accessories that compliment both styles, or consider scaling back on bling when you debut the evening outfit. Buying two pairs of shoes and contrasting sets of jewellery definitely involves more time and money than we’d recommend spending on your bridal look!

The only threat to the ascension of the second gown? The enduring popularity of bridal separates. It’s never been easier to mix things up with one base style and the different additions many designers are offering. “We’re seeing more and more dresses with a detachable skirt which leaves a column gown underneath,” shares Emily. And it’s not even an issue if your dream gown doesn’t offer this option. “Trains can even be made to match,” says Naydene.

To make an extra special impact, Anna has this tip: “Tell no-one about your outfit change, not even the groom! It gives it an element of surprise and excitement.”

Here’s some of our favourite styles for a second dress:

Lydia bandeau embroidery bridal maxi dress, £200, Lipsy
Strapless crepe jumpsuit with 3D floral details (style CR341706), £195, Cheers Cynthia Rowley at David's Bridal
Waverley top (style 57331), £210 and Bordeaux skirt (style 56126), £657, both Willowby
Soft silk satin dress with hand-beaded belt, £910, Rita Mae
Cerian embellished trim wedding dress, £599, Ted Baker
Extra-fine macramé beaded lace and silk chiffon jumpsuit (style NIAB17093), £POA, Nicole Spose
Rosette top, £225, and tulle net skirt, £140, both Needle & Thread
Victoria lace wedding jumpsuit, £549, Whistles
Stellan gown from the Mainline collection, £POA, Charlie Brear 
Embellished tassel mini dress, £120, ASOS
Roosevelt top, £524, and Joplin pants, £548, both Otaduy
High-neck crepe wedding dress with ruffled back (style WG3833), £295, David's Bridal
Soft-line gown in fine chiffon, rebrodé beading lace and Chantilly lace (style NIAB17134), £POA, Nicole Spose
Mila mid-length gown, £1485, So Sassi
Selena satin jumpsuit, £290, Solace London at Net-a-Porter