Making Change: Convertible Wedding Dresses

Wedding dress designers bring the multi-dress trend to the masses with detachable elements, allowing brides an easy and affordable way to change their look mid-celebration.

detachable features
Breeze silk slip dress with a removable beaded tulle overlay, also by Amy Mair Couture, available exclusively from Versailles Atelier Bridal, South Jordan

Four. That’s how many dresses media personality and socialite Paris Hilton wore during her November 2021 wedding to entrepreneur Carter Reum. While wedding day wardrobe changes can certainly add a one-of-a-kind drama to a celebration—as well as offer practical benefits (just try to dance in a ball gown)—purchasing four wedding dresses is simply not realistic for many brides outside of the celebrity set. Thankfully, this fact of life is not lost on wedding dress designers, who have found a middle ground for the betrothed who want to switch things up during their big day without breaking the bank. Their arsenal: removable sleeves, capes, over skirts and even full overlays.

detachable features
Jasper mock neck draped tulle cape with cold shoulders accented with rose embroidered appliques and vine embroidery, Anne Barge, Frankie & Jane, Orem. Photo courtesy of Anne Barge.

“Dresses with detachable features are slightly more expensive than most one-look wedding dresses,” says Natasha Boyle, owner of Versailles Atelier Bridal in South Jordan. “But they also offer the versatility of multiple gowns and are certainly more affordable than purchasing multiple dresses.” Beyond cost, however, the benefits of choosing to wear a convertible dress on your wedding day are many.

Sunrise wedding gown with detachable sleeves from Amy Mair Couture’s 2022 “Like a Bird” collection. Photo courtesy of Amy Mair Couture.

If you are feeling conflicted between an obligation to wear a more traditional, less revealing dress for your wedding ceremony and wanting a fun, body-conscious look that better reflects your personality for the reception, you’re not alone. A removable over-skirt, like the Pippa from Maggie Sottero, allows you to easily transition between a more conservative ball gown look for the “I dos” and a sexy, mermaid silhouette for the cocktail hour, dinner, toasts and dancing.

detachable features
Pippa luxe Mikado removable over-skirt, Maggie Sottero, The Perfect Dress. Photo courtesy of Maggie Sottero.

Capes continue to be a huge trend in wedding dress fashion in 2022, and one that adds a particularly fashionable allure to the bride as she strolls down the aisle. Cape options range from modern and minimalist styles with clean and simple detailing, like Anne Barge’s Jasper Cape, to more theatrical versions, like Maggie Sottero’s floor-length cape with a beaded and scalloped-lace hem.

Carrington detachable cape with beaded lace trim, Maggie Sottero. Photo courtesy of Maggie Sottero.

There are not many bridal-gown features that can both hide and highlight your arms more beautifully than detachable sleeves. Wearing a dress designed with removable sleeves, like Amy Mair Couture’s ethereal Sunrise gown, or embellishing a simpler dress with Maggie Sottero’s Brava sleeves, offer the fantastic opportunity to embrace incredible details for as long as you feel comfortable and then place the sleeves aside when the party really gets started. Removable sleeves are also ideal for events that move from indoors to outdoors and vice versa.

detachable features
rava detachable off-the-shoulder, dot tulle bishop sleeves, finished with covered button closure at the wrist, Maggie Sottero, The Perfect Dress, Holladay. Photo courtesy of Maggie Sottero.

Amy Mair’s Breeze gown features a silk, cowl-neck slip and removable hand-beaded tulle overlay. Brides can choose to wear both pieces together for, say an outdoor afternoon wedding, and then can remove the overlay, leaving the silk slip to be accessorized for a dramatic evening look.

detachable features
Breeze silk slip dress with a removable beaded tulle overlay, also by Amy Mair Couture, available exclusively from Versailles Atelier Bridal, South Jordan. Photo courtesy of Amy Mair Couture.

Lastly, transforming your look over the course of a six, seven or even eight-hour wedding celebration, with a little help from a convertible dress, is fun. It can give you just the boost you need be the life of your party well into the wee hours—no hotel fortune or social media empire required.

Need more tips for your perfect bridal style? We can help.

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Melissa Fields is a wife, mother, freelance writer, editor and—since the moment she migrated to Utah from Michigan more than 25 years ago—a huge fan of the Wasatch Mountains. A few of the outlets Melissa writes and edits for include Salt Lake Magazine, Park City Magazine, Utah Bride & Groom Magazine, and When not wordsmithing at her laptop, Melissa spends her time volunteering, hiking, pedaling, skiing, rock climbing and playing her guitar.