Sara Mathes, co-owner of Jill Andrews Gowns LLC near Wyman Park, has had only a few brides request second dresses. But that stems more from the extra cost than a lack of interest, she said.

"It is quite expensive," Mathes said.

Instead, lead designer Jill Andrews will create one all-encompassing ensemble: a separate gown consisting of a lace corset top and an interchangeable skirt to allow the bride a second style.

"Brides like the idea of having two different looks so they have a ceremony look and a party outfit," Mathes said. "They can dance, have a great time and not have to worry about their skirt. They can also have a piece from their wedding that they can wear again."

The brides who have come to her requesting a second dress have done so for religious and cultural reasons, according to Mathes.

"They'll usually get married in a gown from their native country," said Mathes, who this month was in the process of meeting with an Indian bride who had hired her to make a second dress. "And for the reception, they want something that is more Western and traditional. In those cases they get a second white dress — but they don't get a shorter one."

Vanlandingham said that second dresses have made brides more fiscally savvy.

"It's all how you spend your money. People are just adjusting to the economy, the dress industry included," he said, adding that the wedding industry now produces a slew of more affordable dresses, with the second dress in mind. "Instead of paying $5,000 on a photographer, brides are spending $3,000 and using the additional $2,000 on getting a second dress."

Williams said her two dresses cost about the same as her first option for wearing one dress for the entire day.

"I decided not to get the first dress, which was more expensive," she explained. "I had enough money to get a second dress that better expressed my personality. To me, it was more economical."

Simon, the bride who dazzled guests with her sparkling Jimmy Choos, said her husband initially opposed a second dress because of the cost.

He had a change of heart at the wedding, she said.

"His [initial] reaction was not as positive," she said with a laugh. "He couldn't believe I could spend more money on a second dress after the first one. But after he saw it, he changed his mind. He said, 'I can't complain about the money, because you look really nice in it.'"

john-john.williams@baltsun.com

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