Friday, April 9, 2010

Dress Stress: The two-dress debate

I love deals and getting the most use out of everything, so having just one dress for the wedding seems like my logical choice. Fall in love with a gown and milk it for all it's worth; simple, right?

Some brides like to get a separate dress for the reception. It can be a more playful look to match a party atmosphere or a simpler number just to be rid of the pouf and train. Even the most mainstream bridal designers have caught onto this need and offer tons of options for short dresses.

Walk down the aisle... (source)

... then dance the night away! (source)

However, having a seamstress put in a bustle — in which the train is lifted up onto the back of the gown via ribbons, hooks or buttons —  has become the norm in solving the moving-around issue.

In my case, the main reason for getting a second dress is cultural. The traditional Chinese wedding dress is called a cheongsam/qipao (or some variation on those spellings) and is usually worn today by brides during the reception. The dress usually features red and gold, and some pretty phoenix or floral design.

An example of a cheongsam. (source)

A Weddingbee blogger decided on a cheongsam for her wedding and describes the experience very well (complete with lots of photos!). Formerly a co-host of "The View," journalist Lisa Ling even put a modern spin on the look for her wedding.

Making the dress change has been done in about half of my family's weddings (the few I've been alive for). Two aunts and a cousin decided to make the switch out of their white dresses for their Chinese banquets (sorry, no photos since they happened in the days of non-digital film and they're at my parents' house).

And that brings up another question: How often does a bride wear something so traditional if she's not having a Chinese reception? (The traditional-ness of the reception is a whole other issue, but as of now, we're looking into other options.) I wonder if it would look out of place or cheesy.

For now, I'm shying away from getting a cheongsam, but there's also something to be said for keeping some tradition in such a big celebration.

Do you think I should get a second dress and why?

P.S. There is another reason why a two-dress bride you may be, but that's usually a matter of shopping, hehe!


  1. I think you should do whatever you want!

    For me, I wanted to wear the red dress as a nod to the Chinese tradition. My deal was getting over the costs because I already spent hundreds of dollars on a white dress and it was hard for me to justify spending more money on a second dress that I would wear for only a couple of hours. I was just in China, and I bought a red dress there for less than $100 (U.S. dollars), so the cost wasn't as bad as I thought. I debated getting the super traditional Chinese outfit (kwock? quock?), but that for sure would have cost way more. So as a compromise, I went with the long red dress.

    You could always be like my friend, whose wedding I went to in China. She wore four dresses!

  2. Oh, by the way, I've been to that Dragon Seed store in SF Chinatown. Have you gone? The guy charges about $300 for a custom red dress. I imagine you could find a dress cheaper elsewhere and get it altered.

  3. Hey Jodie! Thanks for the helpful feedback. I've thought the same about the cost, but altering an off-the-rack dress could be a good way to save. I'm not much of a traditionalist, so I wonder if this could be one throwback or if it'll just look cheesy/costume-y if the other stuff (banquet, tea ceremony, etc.) isn't included...

    I'm actually going home to SF this weekend to scope out venues and the like, so I'll have to see what Chinatown has to offer. I remember going down there for dim sum and stopping to ogle at the dresses. We'll see.

    Hope you and the Republic crew are doing well and your planning isn't too stressful :)

  4. Hi Sharon, thanks for dropping by and entering the Florrie Mitton couture giveaway. Good luck!

    Btw my friend did not have a Chinese reception, but changed into a slinky chipao. She looked great and not out of place (though they did have the double happiness logo on their stationary). But it's really up to you. I chose not to and changed into a Monique Lhuillier because that was more my style, haha. There are some AMAZING chipaos btw and a gorgeous dress can never look cheesy (the fabric and pattern are what sets it apart).

  5. I think that keeping tradition would be a wonderful idea. Being in an inter-racial relationship myself I want to make sure I keep tradition alive for my kids. So many beautiful traditions get lost over generations some of which are soo much fun.

    Also, having had my wedding just a few weeks ago, I wish I would have a second dress for the reception!!! My 10pm my dress, although gorgeus, got heavy and uncomfortable. My husband (love saying that) and I love to dance and our wedding was no exception.

    Anyway i'm rambaling. At the end of the day it is your wedding follow your heart and do what you truly feel comfortable with!!!

  6. Hi CNC! Glad to have found your blog - you have a lot of good advice and inspiration. Thanks for the dress insight, too. I'm thinking it'll come down to a time/money issue, since I'll probably fall in love with a dress and not want to take it off. :)

  7. Hey Ivis - thanks for stopping by! Your story is great; I'll definitely only buy a comfy dress I can groove, sit and EAT in. :)

  8. Hi Sharon - I don't think it would be cheesy/costume-y at all, no matter what type of reception you have. You're the bride! This is your day!