Dear ESB: Can I get married in my sister’s dress?

Categories   Wedding Fashion

Oh hello, East Side Bride! We’ve missed you! We’re thrilled to have her back with a question about “THE DRESS”.

Dear ESB,

What are you thoughts on wearing my sister’s wedding dress to my wedding?

I absolutely love hers, and it fits perfectly. My mom wore her sister’s (mainly because she was broke as a joke), and I like that slight tradition, but will people think, “wtf?” or “her sister looked better”?


Do you look like your sister?

Even if the dress is really great — ESPECIALLY IF THE DRESS IS REALLY GREAT — I’m afraid everyone will get weird flashbacks to her wedding in the middle of yours, which, you don’t want that, do you??

Photo by September Pictures. (The amazeballs ruff dress was found at a vintage trunk show, then altered.)

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Annie on Jan 13, 2012

I think it could work if she adds some fun accessories or alters slightly. My question: what does her sister think?

Cynth on Jan 13, 2012

I would say- if you love it, and you WANT to wear it, why not? As long as you feel beautiful that will show through. I think it's a sweet idea.

Ann on Jan 13, 2012

What? I say wear it! You'll look amazing and it will be really special to have such a blessed garment on - and even better if it is a bit of a family tradition to do so! I totally would've worn my sister's dress if I'd had an option like that. And I'm secretly hoping my little sister will consider wearing mine when the time comes! It's such wedding industry BS to tell a girl you have to go out and buy the newest fanciest thousands of dollars anything. You'll look gorgeous in anything you wear, and if people compare you it's their problem not yours! Plus, think of the extra money you'll have to spend on something else you care about, like good photography or yummy cake!

Courtney on Jan 13, 2012

Oh yeah, you should totally stick with the spaz out "it's MY day" attitude and feel like you have to buy another dress even though the one you love is readily available to you. That makes sense. This is what is wrong wrong with the wedding industry. SO self-centered. They just want you to spend more money no matter what. Shame on ESB for promoting that ideal!

Katie on Jan 13, 2012

What? Totes wear it! If your sister is cool with it. No one is going to have "flashbacks" to your sister's wedding day, unless you are also getting married in the same venue to the same man.

nikki on Jan 13, 2012

I totally had sex in my wedding dress, so the idea of this freaks me out. But maybe that's not an issue for everyone :)

Sarah on Jan 13, 2012

Ummm, I might be alone but I don't remember a single dress from a single wedding I've been to. You should look awesome on your day -- that's what people will remember. So if your sister's dress makes you look awesome wear it!! The only reasons you might not want to wear it is if it's extremely memorable (ie, bright red), she is getting married within 2 months of you, you are identical twins (you want to be able to tell the photos apart in 10 years), you are marrying her ex-husband, or, well, she hates the idea of sharing her dress. Otherwise, go for it!!!! Sorry esb, this is bad advice

JoShee on Jan 13, 2012

"This is what is wrong wrong with the wedding industry. SO self-centered. They just want you to spend more money no matter what. Shame on ESB for promoting that ideal!" Courtney is right on! I say if you love it... wear it! I love the's actually way more practical than trying to make a 30 year old dress your Mom wore work. Wish I had a sister...

Trina on Jan 13, 2012

Bad advice! If YOU are ok with wearing it, and your SISTER is ok with it, then you are the only two people whose opinions matter. If I were a guest at your wedding, and had also been to your sister's and recognized the dress, I would be thinking it was really cool! It would make a GREAT conversation topic among your guests (people love to know the meaning behind things at weddings) and I bet none of them would have "weird flashbacks", but would instead be thinking you are honoring your family and have a great sense of tradition. I know plenty of people who have borrowed wedding dresses from friends, and they still made it totally their own. If YOU want to wear it, go for it!

JULIE on Jan 13, 2012

Disagree, ESB. Nobody but the bride, bride's sister and bride's mom remember who wore what dress at which wedding. If you love a dress that fits and is free, you'd be dumb not to go for it. It's your day! Do what you like and have fun!

liz on Jan 13, 2012

The whole tradition aspect has me torn. But my gut says "no." And people can blame greedy wedding industry all they want- that's got nothing to do with it. Buy a thrifted $5 dress for all I care. My wedding dress was used. The point isn't the BUYING or the MY DAY, the point is the UNIQUENESS of the day.

Rachel A\\\ on Jan 13, 2012

Obviously the girl wants to wear the sister's dress, or she wouldn't have asked. The only other question that matters, to rephrase ESB's entirely valid point, is: does she give a shit if anyone else gives a shit? Will it bother her to even contemplate some people making snide comments? If so, don't do it, it'll bug you all day and that sucks. If not, go for it and feel happy and thrifty. But also remember this will now mean she and sister wife have to decide who gets to keep the dress afterwards....

Candace on Jan 13, 2012

make it your own/alter (slightly w/ belts and stuff or un-slightly with neckline, sleeves, tucks etc)

annie on Jan 13, 2012

ESB has been off the last few times... bitch much!

Emily on Jan 13, 2012

Sheesh, I mean, she asked for esb's thoughts, and she got them. Do what you want to do - but it would probably be more fun to wear your own dress, wherever that comes from.

Meg on Jan 13, 2012

no no no no no no no ..... seriously folks, she is asking esb which means she is open to going the non-traditional route with things so this gal can get a great tea length cute dress at marshalls or find one of the marketplace here if shes on that much of a budget but wearing her sisters wedding dress is a bad idea. i'm not even going to address the "what will people think" part of this because chances are they'll all just keep their mouth shut even if they DO recognize it but the issue here is no matter how much face that good sis is putting on she is secretly having conversations with her hubby that go like this : "seriously.. i can't believe she wants to wear my dress! I mean, whatever but I just think it's weird... and its MY dress.... she can if she really wants to but...." what I am saying is that she'll certainly let you wear it because you are her sister ... but i'm putting money on the fact that she would rather you didn't ... just find your own that you love ...

Suzette on Jan 13, 2012

If you look good in it and neither of you mind, go for it. My sis and I could never do that because we have totally different bodies. She is tall and slim, I'm short and curvy. What sisters wouldn't love to be able to share the same dress?! Do it!!

Kristen on Jan 13, 2012

Why on earth would you WANT to wear her dress? Live your own life, and get your own dress.

Gillian on Jan 13, 2012

Umm, seriously? What a stupid response. No one is going to be having "flashbacks" to your sister's wedding. What a load of crap. Two of my aunts wore the same dress to get married, and even though I was at both weddings, and have looked back at pictures, I had NO idea they wore the same dress until someone pointed it out to me recently. For goodness' sake... If you love the dress and your sister is happy to let you wear it, go for it! I would love it if my sister (or friend, or whomever) wanted to wear my dress. I felt beautiful in it and would be overjoyed if it had the opportunity to make someone else feel the same way.

Martha on Jan 13, 2012

I'm with Sarah, above. I remember ZERO of the wedding dresses from my friend's weddings - I only remember that they looked beautiful and happy. Wear the hell out of her dress, and buy a gorgeous piece of jewelry to go with it instead. (While you're at it, get a nice piece for your sister too.) You'll actually wear that again.

megan on Jan 13, 2012

i did wear my sisters dress, and i loved it. i got married 8 years after she did but i mean my grandmother did not even realize i was wearing her dress. i put my own spin on it. i say go for it.

Amanda on Jan 13, 2012

What does your husband to be think? I feel like mine would be slightly weirded out by this buuut.. If you, your sis, and both your hubs are cool with this then I say go for it :)

d-day on Jan 13, 2012

please, unless this dress is completely unique and 1-of-a-kind, a bare handful of people will notice it's the same dress, especially if there is a bit of time between the weddings. if you like the dress and your sister is on board, why in hell not? you can accomplish the uniqueness by not marrying her husband, and maybe using different accessories/hairstyle.

Rachel A\\\ on Jan 13, 2012

What does your HUSBAND think? seriously?!?! he should support whatever the hell you want to wear because he loves you and wants you to do whatever makes you happy. jeez louise.

Jennifer on Jan 13, 2012

The dress is a symbol. Your sister is your blood. Your guests come to celebrate your marriage. There is no taboo against allowing a gown to transform from a seamstress-shop confection into an heirloom touched by more than one love, and more than one kind of love. How beautiful! How spectacular! Your sister is clearly not the jealous type, and your head is aligned with your heart rather than your trophy case or your pocketbook. Your wedding will be the richer for at once honoring your tie to your family as it is and the vow you make to a new one.

Mags on Jan 13, 2012

She can always dye/tailor/refresh/modify the gown. Plus, enough brides get married in essentially identical gowns that she doesn't need to be a ~*super special snowflake*~

Ashley Elrod on Jan 13, 2012

I say go for it I'd just make sure you try on other dresses too so you make sure that's what your heart wants and that you're not settling.

Terri on Jan 13, 2012

I'm assuming your sister is fine with you wearing her dress. Unless your sister recently married, few people will notice it's the same dress. And if they do, what of it? More than a few brides have been known to wear Mother's wedding dress. You love your sister's dress and it fits. You will have a different bouquet and can add a different veil if you'd like. Wedding dresses are a big expense...think of where else you can use that money.

Lydia Blythe on Jan 13, 2012

Wow, I'm going to join the chorus here: BAD ADVICE. Who the heck cares what anyone else thinks? The problem with the wedding industry (and apparently ESB) is that too much emphasis is being put on APPEARANCES. The sentiment of wearing your sister's dress seems to appeal to you, and you like that your mother wore her sister's dress. Those are both lovely reasons to go for it. I personally think the idea of sharing a wedding dress with a sister is absolutely beautiful. Think of all the happiness that dress has already been witness to! Now you get to wrap yourself in all that love and remember the bond between you and your sister as you forge a new bond with your husband. How impossibly wonderful! What some random guest MIGHT think about it should not even factor into your decision. Whatever YOU want to do is the right thing; to hell with the haters.

Anonymous on Jan 13, 2012

I don't know if I'm qualified to give advice on this... I don't have a sister and thus hate sharing my clothes with people. But seriously, if you don't want ESB's type of advice you don't ask ESB, plain and simple.

rings on Jan 13, 2012

Save money on a wedding dress is always good. Not a fan of spending money on a dress you'll wear once. Looks nice

Yuliya M. on Jan 13, 2012

Wear it! I would suggest adding some personal touches to it or altering a bit to make it a bit different. Also doing your hair differently and adding a unique hair piece or a birdcage veil can change the vibe and the look. That's what makes us sisters, wanting to wear the other's outfit.

celia on Jan 13, 2012

this comment thread is making me laugh. i find it incredibly hard to believe that YOU LADIES, who read wedding blogs, who read 100 LAYER CAKE, are sitting here saying that you honestly can't remember the dresses worn by brides of any of the weddings you've been to. PUH-LEASE. i guess it's really sweet and all that you're all pretending to not be part of this "greedy" wedding industry, but go ahead and get off your high horses and wipe those smug smiles off your faces, because you're not fooling anyone with half a brain in their head. as for the bride wanting to wear her sister's dress, call me cuckoo, but it kind of sounds like you've already made up your mind. the only thing i would make sure of is that it is TRULY ok with your sister. i love my sister, and seeing as we're the same size we do often share clothes. that being said, however, my wedding dress kind of feels like my own.

LaurenF on Jan 13, 2012

I say go for it if you want to and you're 100% sure that your sister is okay with it. I think that you'll be able to style it differently than your sister did and end up looking totally different. I have a twin sister, and if she decided that she wanted to wear my wedding dress, I'd be surprised, but flattered. Of course, she's taller than me and has a different style and a different body type than I have, so it ain't gonna happen, but still. Also, even if you disagree with ESB's advice, calling someone else a bitch kinda makes you the bitch.

Liz on Jan 13, 2012

WEAR IT!! I have attended countless weddings and been in the wedding party for more than I can count on two hands, and I can tell you that I remember which of the brides I thought looked the best (and which didn't) but I can't tell you a thing about what the dresses looked like. They were white.. ish. They might have been strapless? Thats about the extend of it. If you love the dress and love the way you look in it, you should wear it. Don't tell people its the same dress and 99% of them won't know. OR tell them. And tell the story of your mom wearing her sister's dress. And everyone will think it is a wonderful family tradition.

Asiya on Jan 13, 2012

I go to an average of three weddings per summer, it's not that hard to remember what the bride wore. Just cause I could share clothes with my sister (having kids changed that for me), doesn't mean I want to wear her WEDDING dress. There are bajillions of dresses to love. Choose another one, similar style, same designer, same price point, whatever.

Madison on Jan 13, 2012

I wore my mom's dress (which was my dad's mom's dress before that). I know it's not entirely the same, since there will be less time in between wearings, but it's still a neat idea to carry on a family tradition of wearing that dress. Maybe both of your daughters will wear it too. And, if you're like my family, your granddaughters will wear it!

Vanessa on Jan 13, 2012

I definitely think it's you choice. If she's okay with it, if you want to then do it! Who cares what others have to say ... it's not their day! Depending on the design of the dress maybe you could alter the look a little just so it doesn't look exactly the same as when your sister wore it? Just an idea! :) Either way, do what makes you happy - not what makes others happy because in the end you'll regret that!

Steel band on Jan 14, 2012

Provided that you look amazing on the day and work it with confidence, it won't matter that it is your sister's dress.

Vanessa on Jan 14, 2012

I agree with ESB. It's YOUR wedding, not your sister's. Buying your own dress doesn't mean you need to spend a ton.

HK on Jan 14, 2012

you get ONE dress. and the reason that ONE dress is such a big deal to most brides is because it is how you choose to express yourself on your wedding day. and for *most* women they're searching for an extension of their personality. your sister probably searched long and hard to find "the" dress & here you come along, all lazypants like "i want that, too!" chances are she's uncomfortable telling you no. and let's not even get into what happens to the dress afterwards, or 25 years down the road. take your time, do your homework, get your own dress.

holly on Jan 14, 2012

i agree with courtney. wear it!!!

Iva on Jan 14, 2012

Wear it. Make it your own with a sash, a shrug, different jewelry, different hairdo and/or a pair of bright pumps and wear it. Of course, you want to discuss with your sister what she want to do with the dress. She might not let you alter it. Or she might be really attached to it and worry that you might ruin it. It's a wedding, all sorts of stuff happen. You might have to give up on your "trash the dress" fantasy. But if your sister is game, why not? Your family is smart enough to tell you apart, don't underestimate them.

Sarah on Jan 14, 2012

Hmmm, I'm gonna have to agree with ESB also. I feel like you should be absolutely head over heels with your hand picked wedding dress, just for you! Not some dress that your sister already happens to have. Even if it is great, its hers. If its a money issue, you could always find someone else's dress second hand or go for something like or Don't do it, it seems like a decision you might regret.

Lyndseelou on Jan 14, 2012

Being somewhat of a middle child (i have 2 older sisters and 1 younger) I'm going to chime in on this. As an older sister, if my baby sister was in love with my dress I would 100% whole heartly be happy to let her wear my dress. As a younger sister, i have rarely borrowed clothing items from my 2 elders cause our style is so different, but they loved dressing me in them when we were younger. I am going to say they would be thrilled to let me wear thier dress. It's pretty much the same ad wearing your mother's or grandmother's dress. Besides, not everyone has a mother or grandmother. On another note, the day is not about uniqueness of the dress; because if it was bridal boutiques would rapidly go out of business. Tons of girls by the same wedding dress everyday. It's about how YOU wear the dress and how YOUR day is different from others. It's not like your askin for her wedding blueprints. I say wear the dress. I think it's a sweet idea, and I'm sure your sister does too.

callmesusana on Jan 14, 2012

Go naked. Problem solved.

CN on Jan 15, 2012

WEAR IT! Jeez, what lame advice. I WISH I had a sister who had similar taste (and who was getting married) so we could share. My mother in law and her sister shared and it looked lovely.

nicole on Jan 15, 2012

I think it would be cool if i had a sister and liked her dress that much. especially if i could add some touches with accessories to make it mine. I would mention it during a dinner speach, thank everyone for coming ... yadda yadda ... and thank you to my sister for sharing her lovely dress... cute quips about sharing clothing from when you were younger and how it hasent changed

lily on Jan 15, 2012

I totally disagree with ESB! I feel like bad in the day people used to wear their mother's dresses and their sister's dresses before the wedding industry got completely overblown (Say Yes to the Dress, anyone???). There's no need to go all out and get a new dress. To be honest I never remember what anyone's dress looks like anyways beyond big and white. I highly doubt anyone will get flashbacks to your sister's wedding, except maybe your mom.

rachael a. on Jan 15, 2012

First off, it's so silly that people are getting worked up or offended over whether or not a stranger should or should not wear her sister's dress. Do you all really care that much? Whatever. As an older sister, I would be touched if my younger sister genuinely wanted to wear my dress as long as our weddings were a year or so apart at least. I will totally admit to remembering some of the dresses at the weddings I have been to, but not all, and usually I remember it as a part of a bride's total look and style, meaning that that how you wear the dress and accessorize it (down to the decorations and the location) will make a big impact in how people will remember the bride and her dress. I don't see any reason why the same dress couldn't be worn by two sisters and not wind up with a different feel and look on each one of them. I also seriously doubt any sister that isn't as shallow as a puddle will be secretly be talking smack behind her sister's back about borrowing the dress. if she doesn't want you wearing it, she's an adult - speak the heck up and act like one. My little sister wore my veil in her wedding because our family didn't have any wedding traditions that felt special to us, and we wanted to have something that was "ours" to add to our days...I am the oldest of five girls, and having the shared veil feels really special to us - it's our "something borrowed" as well as a little secret only the five of us share on our wedding days. If someone wanted to be a snot about it - honestly, I don't care. All I care about is what makes ME happy and my sisters happy....and that is ALL this bride should care about too. Do what you want - it's your wedding - and to heck with the rest.

Camille on Jan 15, 2012

Sounds like the girl that asked already had trepidations about it. I say if it causes any stress, hesitation or distraction on that specialist of special days, don't wear it. Not because of what people will think, but because of what the bride wearing it, who asked the question and has reservations thinks. And people, she did ask ESB, who then used the Socratic method of asking thoughtful questions back from her point of view. If the Bride to Be is asking ESB, she probably reads and thinks like ESB. Name calling is for people without thoughtful arguments.

Eva on Jan 16, 2012

If it is a tradition, why not? You can always customise it a little bit and change something here and there...

Laure on Jan 16, 2012

I wouldn't really care for the other's opinion : if you're sister and mother think it's a cute family-tradition, just think about feeling gorgeous for your husband. Peoples who love you will see the nice side of it : the wonderfull relation with your sister.

Kristen on Jan 16, 2012

There are apparently folks who have ESP and can predict not only what the shocked and appalled guests will think at seeing this wedding dress repeat (because long white dresses look so freaking dissimilar...) but we've also got folks here who can actually hear the writers sister and bro-in-law having a bitch session about her request. You guys should start a psychic hotline... *HUGEASSEYEROLL*

Amy on Jan 16, 2012

I'm going to piss everyone off, but pretty much all bridal dresses look the same anyways. A white strapless bridal gown is a white strapless bridal gown. I've been to 11 weddings in the last two and a half years and while every dress was "different," they all looked the exact same to me. So unless it's some crazy design or non-white in a very obvious way, I'd say wear it!

HK on Jan 16, 2012

oh shut up, kristen. she asked for an opinion and got it.

Bride 2012 on Jan 17, 2012

omg I would have LOVED to have gotten to wear a family gown. There's so much meaning behind it. My older sister is 7 inches shorter than me with a totally different body type, so that was out of the question. I love the meaning behind it. I have to settle for wearing her veil.

Rebecka on Jan 21, 2012

Oh, I keep forgetting that wedding dresses have magic properties, and people are idiots without enough brainpower to remember whose fucking wedding they're attending! "Honey, are we at Danielles wedding or Ashleys? Because I'm a retard, and I have flashbacks and lack the cognitive ability to deduce where the fuck I'm sitting!" Of course she can wear that dress. She can dress like a clown and throw waterballoons at the attendees for all the rules there are. It's numb cunts like you who need to propagate the "rules" of weddings and etiquette, getting a kick out of telling strangers that no, sorry, you're not allowed to do that.

D on Jan 23, 2012

I know I'm really behind on this, but I'm with the "ESB is way off" camp. Then again, I rarely agree with anything she ever says. If it fits you, and you want to wear it, then wear it!

ann on Jan 24, 2012

why is the world would you want to copy your sister? Get your own life and go get your own dress!!! There is no way I would want to wear my sisters dress or would I allow my sister to wear mine.

Carina on Jan 31, 2012

My sisters used the same dress. The sister that wore is second changed the style by shortening the skirt and using the lace from the bottom over the bodice. Looking back at the photo's you cannot tell, but it's another special connection they share. If you love it you should GO FOR IT!

Bird Weddings on Feb 3, 2012

My question is ''Who will own the dress afterwards ? '' Believe me, it will be really hard to have to return a dress you felt fabulous in...and if you spill anything it may be seen as an 'intentional mistake' Don't let fabric come between blood Buy yours.

Valeri on Feb 5, 2012

omg, is this for real? you like the dress, it has even more meaning since your sister wore it and your mom did the same thing. PLUS, you can save $$$. you'll certainly look like the smart bride won't you? who remembers what a bride wore, other than her attendents & her family?

Elizabeth Burke on Feb 7, 2012

A close friend of mine wore her sisters dress and they both loved the tradition it created between the two of them. Maybe try making sure your hair and accessories are very different, honesIy I don't think people will care if you embrace the face that it is the same dress. I even think it would be cute to embroider the initials and dates of your weddings inside the dress to add even more sentiment to sharing the dress. Just a thought.

guest on Apr 2, 2012

My sister can totally have my dress, if she wants it. I would be flattered and would be happy to save her money of buying a new dress. Um, of course no one would mistake her for me. We aren't identical twins. She'd have to get it altered to fit her body (very different from mine) and styled/accessorized to suit her coloring, personal taste, etc. (also not at all like mine). She would make it her own. Maybe I don't think it's a big deal because neither of us clutch our pearls at the thought of wearing a used dress. Our parents were immigrants who raised us all to value thrift and practicality. I wore hand-me-downs from richer relatives. She wore hand-me-downs from me. We shopped at thrift shops as soon as we started buying our own clothes--and still do.

promstreet on Jul 14, 2012

I gave her a description of each of them, along with the dress each of the girls picked out for the wedding and she’s designing a set to match each dress AND personality! on Sep 2, 2013

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