Pull that wedding dress out of the closet

Why spend all that money on a dress, and only wear it once?

Here comes the bride. Again.

Carmine Marinelli/QMI Agency

Alyssa Fraser is getting married in June, but she’s already planning her second big day, when she wears her wedding dress again just for the hell of it. Fraser will be surrounded by friends wearing their wedding dresses, too. “We’re having a brunch in August, in the Distillery District, with cupcakes and that wine with the stiletto on the label,” said Fraser, 25, a Toronto public relations professional and proud owner of a $3,400 organza and silk dress by Canadian designer Lea-Ann Belter. “Four of my girlfriends are getting married this summer and we’re all obsessed with the idea of wearing our dresses again. We’re even hiring a photographer for the brunch.”

Teacher Elizabeth Anne Crisolago is organizing a Wear Your Wedding Dress Again party in October. “Why would you spend so much money on something and only wear it once?” said Crisolago, 25, an Italian-Canadian from Toronto who is appalled by the trash-your-dress movement, where brides wreck their wedding dresses during photo sessions. “I could never destroy something so special.” She chose her $1,400 dream dress from the Disney Fairy Tale Weddings & Honeymoons bridal collection by Alfred Angelo. Even though she’s only 4 foot 11, she likes dramatic things, so she decided on Belle’s dress from Beauty and the Beast. “I wanted a big gown,” she says. “I’ve been dreaming about my dress since I was seven years old.”

The dress, sheathed in a hand-sewn gauze cocoon for protection, hangs in its own room at her grandmother’s house, where it will stay until the September ceremony. The details for its second debut are not set, but she wants a party at a hall with every other bride she can muster, along with champagne and hors d’oeuvres. “It’s not just a way to re-enact your princess moment,” she explained. “It’s a way to enjoy the dress without the stress of the real wedding day. The pressure’s off.”

Heaving a collective sigh of relief, many brides are starting to look forward to their “after party” as much as the big day. And why stop at wearing your dress twice? Brianna Peters’s post-wedding dress party began as a one-off event. “But we might do it every year,” she said, after hosting the fete at her apartment in Kitsilano, B.C., in December. “We had Sex and the City 2 playing in the background, we ate chocolate-dipped strawberries. It felt like we were in that episode of Friends where the girls wore wedding dresses. I’m not super girly, but if I could wear my wedding dress every day, I would.” As party guest Aron Veen noted, “We have a different mentality now. Our mothers’ dresses just hung in the attic for 30 years.”

That wasn’t going to happen to Stephanie Sulyak’s dress. “I spent too much time, energy and money to hang it in a bag forever,” said Sulyak, the organizer of the second Say Yes to the Dress . . . Again charity event in Red Deer, Alta., this September. “I walked past my wedding dress in my closet every day, wondering if there was a place I could wear it again. There wasn’t! I started out by suggesting a bridal lunch with a few friends and it snowballed into 15 brides.”

Then there’s wedding photographer Matt Kennedy, who got 120 brides together in just three weeks when he decided to stage a bridal flash mob outside the Vancouver central library in February. “We choreographed a dance number to Michael Jackson’s Black or White,” said Kennedy, who wants to stage another in the near future. “The girls loved it, saying they could scratch two things off their bucket list—wearing their dress again and being in a flash mob.”

Some women prefer a more private approach. Michelle Mo-Persia got married in 2007 and every year since, on Oscar night, the Toronto woman has slipped into the Vera Wang wedding dress she found at a Holt Renfrew sample sale for $500. “When the guests left the reception, I was really sad, thinking, ‘Where am I going to wear it again?’ ” said Mo-Persia, 35, a Toronto-based uniform designer. “So, when Oscar night comes, I get into my dress and wear my wedding shoes, and waltz with my dog like we’re dancing on the red carpet. Then the groom comes in and thinks I’m totally crazy.”

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