Something Borrowed: Wearing Mom’s Wedding Dress

The brides wedding dress is usually one of her top priorities when it comes to planning and budgeting for a wedding.  The bridal gown is her way of showing her individual style while making her feel confident and beautiful on her big day.  It can also be a garment to honor a family tradition by wearing their mother's and even grandmother's wedding gown. 

I had a bride recently who opted to wear her mom's lace gown.  It fit her perfectly and she was ecstatic about it.  More and more brides are open to the possibility of utilizing mom’s gown as they walk down the aisle.  There are several benefits in considering this option.

  • Fashion repeats itself. 

The styles of the past always find a way of coming back in style.   Wearing a "vintage" dress that was passed down doesn't take away from the bride’s style at all and may actually be a great fit for an on trend look.  50’s bridal gowns are known for their sweetheart necklines, lace sleeves and some even with Ballerina-length dresses.  These are iconic bridal looks that early translate into today's bridal fashion.  In addition, the bohemian style that never really leaves fashion was in full swing in the 70’s and always makes a statement.  The boho pride will adore a vintage gown from this era.

  • Budget friendly option.  Maybe? 

Today most couples are investing in creating an experience guests won’t forget.  Saving on attire allows couples to focus funds on enhancements and special details to make their celebration special.  I absolutely loved the TLC show, "Something Borrowed, Something New".    The show basically goes through the process of transforming a borrowed dress and comparing it against a new dress.  The bride to be selects between the two and often their minds are changed concerning the borrowed gown once they see what it could become.  Often times the borrowed gown is a more cost effective option and hoes not skimp on style as it is custom made.  Here is the catch though, Kelly, the person altering the borrowed dress is a designer!  Not all alteration ladies and gentleman are created equal.  Some may be skilled enough to transform a garment, but many request a pattern.  A designer on the other hand has the vision to create something new.  This of course comes at a cost.  I would highly recommend going to a designer and having them sketch some concepts before allowing any transformation to take place.  Mom and bride will want to agree on the new direction of the borrowed gown and it makes for a fun bonding experience.  I cation you to do your research, ask if they have worked with your gowns material and ask to see some of their work.  In the wrong hands your treasured bridal gown can be ruined and you may still need to buy a new dress.  Ultimately, you can find new gown at the cost of the design depending on what you are looking for.

  • Honor and tradition. 

When a bride stands at the rear of the aisle framed in her veil it is a truly breathtaking moment.  I love to look at the guest’s expressions and the grooms of course.  When a daughter wears her mom's wedding dress the look on her face is priceless as the gown honors her role as a mom and passes on high hopes for the bride to enter into her next chapter as a wife.  Passing on a bridal gown is a beautiful tradition. 

Notes for Moms

Moms, my advice to you is to remember the purpose behind the wedding.  This is a day when your daughter gets to walk down the aisle surrounded by friends and family to unite in matrimony with the love of her life.  It's all about love.  If she desires to wear the gown you passed down to her to experience these moments, then that's fantastic, but if she wants to wear another gown that makes her feel confident and beautiful, that is awesome too.  With the focus of the celebration in mind it is easier to put aside any anxiety, stress or personal desires surrounding the question of "will she wear my dress?”

I do believe an old dress can translate into a modern wedding.  The ultimate question is the bride’s personality and personal style.  This is sometimes not considered when dreaming of seeing your little girl dolled up in a gown you once cherished.  Alteration of course is always an option, however at what costs?  If it is taking the dress in or letting it out with minor detail changes that may be equivalent to typical bridal gown alteration costs.  If you are redesigning the gown to fit a new bride’s style, it may be cheaper to purchase a new gown all together.

Look out for the emotional minefield of the bridal gown.  Let's be honest, finding the perfect wedding dress is already stressful enough.  When you add the emotions of a daughter trying to not let down her mom or a mother's hurt feelings, you are truly tip toeing around some dangerous territory.  So what should you do?  Uncover the mind!  Ask yourself, "Why do I want my daughter to wear my dress?  Would I be okay if it was transformed? If this dress worth putting additional pressure on my daughter?"  On the other side, I'd want the bride to ask herself, "What are the benefits of wearing the dress? Can you see yourself in the dress?" and again... "Is this dress worth putting additional pressure on yourself?"  Once mother and daughter have thought through these questions there may be a great opportunity to find common ground and move forward with whatever option is decided upon.

Still Not Sure

For my more hesitant clients with mom's who want them to wear their dresses, I often offer a compromise of wearing their veil or using elements like lace from the mom's gown on the brides bouquet handle, added to the hem, lining of the dress or on a handkerchief.  Other options may be to use the borrowed dress material for a dolls dress or as a pillow as keepsakes.  I recently had a bride who was excited to wear her mother and grandmother's dress during a bridal shoot.  I thought this was a beautiful way to honor those gowns and incorporate it into the wedding day without it being "the dress" at the wedding.

Making the Decision

There is really no “right” option.  Every wedding is different and each should be meaningful.  This is the best day of the couple’s life we are talking about here!  The bride should feel the love and support on that day and not be questioning if she made the right decision on things, especially not her dress.  Whatever the decision we want the bride to be comfortable and confident on her day which is what every bride deserves. 

Wedding Buyers Remorse

No one likes the idea of having post wedding buyers remorse, but it is a real thing.  In most cases it is related to outside influences.  Purchases made to satisfy other as opposed to the couple or without considering the type of crowd you have can lead to the after thought of "why did we pay for that?".  I ask couples when hesitant about making investments in items these three questions.


1. Where does this fall in your priorities?  It's great to have a wedding budget, but if the couple doesn't prioritize what is most important to them they may be stuck following a standard percentage based spending plan that doesn't satisfy what they want their day to look like. 
2. Will you regret spending this much on this item?  Let's just get it out up front.  If you are questioning the purchase there is definitely a greater chance you will regret it later.  Examples of this are buying a bigger cake for show, splurging on a wedding gown or  purchasing useless favors that no one takes with them and your stuck with after the fact.3. Who is this for?  Seems like a simple question, but you can be unpacking a lot with this one.  As I mentioned before appeasement spending is common.  There is nothing wrong with compromise and I encourage it, but depending on who is footing the bill a response of "my mom really wants us to get this" may not hold a lot of weight when balancing a wedding budget.  
These are few areas to look out for so you don't regret spending on your wedding.Wedding Venue - Will you regret overspending on ambiance as opposed to functionality like a working kitchen?Invitations - Many don't cherish it as a keepsake anymore so are you spending a lot for something that may go in the trash?Meals - Is a four course meal fitting for your guests?  Would you be happier with fun meal options that bring a little more personality to your event?Desserts - Guests may rather dance and enjoy drinks as opposed to indulge in sweet treats.  Where is this money best spent?Favors - Do you want to be stuck taking home 100 calligraphied sea shells, monogrammed items, stationary or anything else with your/the couples name splattered on it?  Think useful, functional and meaningful for your guest when investing in this option.  Sometimes going without a favor is better than regretting getting them.Entertainment - Will you regret paying for too much entertainment (band and DJ) or is one enough?  
Overall me biggest tip is to  know your audience and prioritize your spending.  

Elopement, A Real Wedding Option

Elope. This is the nuptial norm for most military couples, but what are elopements really like?  I’m breaking it down for all my traditional wedding people, who think eloping is a dirty word.  Elopements can actually range from a humble and sudden exchange of vows to a luxury experience.  Feeling a little spontaneous?  Let’s elope!

The original definition of an elopement is simply a no notice or secretive marriage that takes place with just the couple.  Many associate it with running off to Las Vegas or Mexico with the one you love with the intent of coming back with shared last names.  Today, some of the original framework still holds true, but additional guests or local elopements are becoming more common.  Generally speaking an elopement is planned under 90 days and has 5 guests or fewer.  Micro Weddings are equally as popular with military and civilian couples as it involves an intimate guest list of under 30 people.  Anything over that, you are just having a wedding.  I’ll break those down in a future post.

Focused On The Marriage Not The Wedding

The element that I love most about an elopement is the focus on the marriage as opposed to the other details which can be a bit of a distraction.  You aren’t worrying about appeasing family, friends or living up to any particular expectation.  The focus is put on the couple.  Their wants and wishes.  They hone in and make the day they choose to say “I do” special. 

Believe it or not, my husband and I eloped.  Yup!  I was head over heels for this promising Air Force pilot.  We knew it was serious by the second date when we were talking about credit scores and future plans.  We just knew.  Things moved fast, which is common in relationships with military members.  We took a hard look at finances and our future plans as we found out we were expecting.  Little did I know my husband to be would propose in December on Christmas day.  When asked about a wedding date we completely dismissed the idea as we figured we would wait until after the baby and settling in at whatever new base we would be assigned to.  Then we’d have a “real wedding”. 

By February I started thinking, “I really would like to be married by the time my son arrives.”  My husband said, “Okay, pick a day.”  I figured we could do it when all of our family was in town to visit for his UPT graduation, but my soon to be husband reminded me that if we are eloping we didn’t need everyone there as the mission was simply to get married.  He was right!  That weekend would have been focused on thirty other things besides the true focus, us.  Two weeks later I purchased a dress that fit my belly, had it hymned (because I’m short), made a bouquet with broaches and pink silk hydrangeas and made a bird cage head piece out of tulle and two bobby pins.  My husband wore his service dress uniform.  Our local church pastor married us since we had completed marriage counselling with him, which is uncommon for most elopements.  After the nuptials we went to our favorite Mexican Restaurant for dinner and some friends joined us.  One even made us a little cake!  This was a “real wedding” and it was perfect.  I remember thinking to myself, “I’d live in a cardboard box as long as it was with you.”  It showed and the few that witnessed could see it.  

Intimate & Personal Experience

There was something magical in those moments when all that mattered was just the two of us.  We later endured the wedding runaround as we wanted a celebration for our family and friends to be a part of.  My dad wanted to walk me down the aisle, for example.  Ultimately, I think we were less stressed over it because we had had our intimate experience via the elopement.  We said several times throughout planning that we wanted our guests to have a great time so the burden of the occasion was lifted.

The intimacy of an elopement is unmatched.  If you choose a Vegas adventure or a backdrop in the great outdoors, the couple has the opportunity to express themselves through their selection without the task of coordinating access for several people.  Think about it.  You can elope in a tropical cave under a waterfall, on the cliff of a national landmark or in any other place for that matter.  Sky’s the limit.  Many assume elopements mean a cheaper option, however that isn’t always the case.  The investment on the experience and details go directly to the couple’s enjoyment.  If they want to each enjoy a five star meal, exclusive photo shoot, personal fireworks show or anything else, they can do so.  You have the unique opportunity to create a once in a lifetime experience for just the two of you and the few you may ask to bear witness.

The must haves!

There are a few things I would definitely recommend when choosing to elope. 

·         Wedding Planner

·         Photographer

·         Videographer

·         Marriage Announcement

·         Wedding Video

·         “After Party”

You absolutely have to capture these moments so a photographer is a non-negotiable to me.  Having quality photos is one thing I promises you will not regret.  You can used them when sending your wedding announcement, which is another must do.  People should be informed of your new chapter and it’s nothing to hide or down play.  Eloping is a momentous occasion because it’s all about the marriage.  A videographer is a close second.  You will want to share the footage with those who weren’t there as well as reflect back on it for years to come.  Of course I’m going to tell you to get a planner.  I know, I know… I’m required to say that, but seriously!  A planner knows your location, has relationships with venues and knows policies or restrictions that may be vital to pulling things off with a short timeline.  I list this first as the planner can match you with an amazing photographer and videographer that fits your style.  Last, but not least you should have an amazing “after party”.

An after party can mean a lot of different things to different people.  It could be a honeymoon.  A romantic getaway or staycation that keeps with the idea of the focus being on the couple.  It could be an actual party.  Celebrate with friends and loved ones.  Big or small, whatever fits your taste.  Go to dinner after or do something exciting like bungee jumping or a tour of the local attractions where you eloped.  Either way, ensure that you celebrate, celebrate, celebrate!

FAQs for Wedding Planning Tech & Apps

Gone are the days of pen and paper to plan weddings, or at least for me that is.  Don’t get me wrong.  I still love to sketch and sometimes I’ll go sticky note crazy if I have a quick thought I need to get down, but ultimately I and other planners and brides are taking advantage of technology and apps that improve the wedding planning experience.  Below are three frequently asked questions I’ve gotten on wedding industry technology.  If you’d like to know more, simply email me or leave a comment.  Cheers!


How has technology evolved the wedding industry and wedding experience?


Technology has pushed the wedding industry forward by leaps and bounds.  The DIY bride can find tutorials on YouTube, the bride seeking inspiration goes to Pinterest and the budget conscious bride tracks spending using apps.  Industry professionals can extend their reach using video conferencing and virtual offices to conduct business and can increase productivity with management systems that reduce redundancies and keep information safe in the "cloud".  In my opinion apps have improved the wedding industry, but it is still the professionals’ responsibility to educate couples along the way.  One form of education is sharing the realities of cost in relation to the pretty images that are being pinned to boards or training them to use products to create a better service and planning experience.


What apps are changing the game for the planning of a wedding or the day of experience?


Photo Gathering App - Often times during weddings the couple will miss the majority of the moments going on.  The photographer expertly captures the beautiful moments the couple will reflect on, however for a quick glimpse of what's going on. I'd recommend a photo gathering app like wedbox or ceremony!  Guests can simple upload there pictures to your wedding hub and you can view them immediately.  This is great for the couple that may not want everything on social media or don't want to rely on guests using their hashtag when posting.  You even have options to get prints from the app.


Registry & Planning Apps - Big name wedding websites like the Knot, Wedding Wire and Zola now have apps where you can manage your registry, wedding website and even guest list.  These are quick and resourceful ways to have your information in one place and literally in the palm of your hand at any given moment.  Updates are quick and easy so it's a huge plus for planning couples.


How have brides and grooms upped the wedding must-haves by using tech, such as virtual reality, etc. on their big day?


Brides and grooms can now have a virtual reality experience of their wedding right in my office or their living room.  Planning features that I use as a wedding planner like All Seated allows me to do wedding layouts with details down to the napkin color.  With VR Goggles couples can walk through their ceremony and reception spaces and truly get a feel for what they can expect.  This is a game changer for couples who may be planning a destination wedding or are busy traveling.  Trouble shooting items for flow or compliance can result in an overall enhanced guest experience.


3 Fs You Wont Want to Forget!

Working with military and busy couples who want a customized experiences is what I love most, but the most rewarding part of my job is probably bringing to light those common forgotten items that the couple can’t afford to miss.  Think about it.  With so many details to comb through something can easily get missed or overlooked.  What if it’s something near and dear to you?  Or something that can hit your pockets hard?  No worries!  I’ve got you covered.  I love being ten steps ahead of the chaos so my clients can have a stress free and fun planning experience.  I worry about the details so they can focus on what's most important, each other.

In my experience the wedding planning details that most people don't think about are fees, fashion and the finale! 


Fees- When pricing venues and vendors it is common to see eager couples budget for the quoted price and completely misunderstand that that price does not include hefty additional like taxes, gratuities, damage or setup fees.  Always ask for an “out the door” price quote to ensure you are budgeting appropriately.  These fees can be thousands of dollars and nobody want’s that type of surprise weeks leading up to the wedding.


Fashion- I had a couple do a beach wedding in Florida.  The plan was for everyone to be barefoot in their cream tuxedos and ladies wore gold sandals. Great right!  Wrong.  After the beach ceremony was over the reception took place indoors and of course gentlemen wanted to put on their shoes.  Well, ironically no one thought about their socks.  I’ll just say white gym socks and black dress socks didn’t cut it so we evened up purchasing a more appropriate option.  Needless to say, I carry a spare set of socks in my “day of ready bag” and encourage couples to consider fashion accessories and details when gifting the bridal party and families.


Finale- The wedding day ending, the cake has been eaten and champagne is running low.  Success!  But wait, there is more… Who is picking up the ceremony and reception items you’d like to keep?  Are you getting your wedding dress preserved or are you donating it?  Are you having your bouquet dried?  Did you remember to tip your vendors?  Did you order thank you stationary to send to guests?  Name change?  Insurance?  Finances? Everyone plans for the wedding day, but often forget about the post wedding planning, which can be more important. Thinking through these final details can help you reduce stress and set you up for a smooth happily ever after.


You can get some additional tips from wedding industry pros and check out my feature on right here.