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Published: Sunday, 8/26/2007

Brides are buying two dresses, one for the ceremony, one for the reception

Emily Youssef spent about $4,400 on two dresses for her October wedding in Florida and a November reception in Toledo. She wore both dresses at both occasions. Emily Youssef spent about $4,400 on two dresses for her October wedding in Florida and a November reception in Toledo. She wore both dresses at both occasions.

Emily Youssef set out to buy one wedding dress.

But she was bewitched by two, and after a little needling, her mother caved and purchased both.

The striking 27-year-old newlywed wore the strapless Giorgio Armani ($2,700) with three ribboned tiers for the October ceremony, barefoot on the beach in Florida. (The bridesmaids wore white flip-flops; the groomsmen had their pale-blue shirts out.)

For the reception, she donned a Jim Hjelm design ($1,700) that featured her carefully tanned real estate; with plunging back and necklines, and long, skinny, crystal-encrusted straps, it was a modified A-line in white silk.

At the November reception in Toledo it was a repeat performance; the more formal Armani at cocktail hour during which she and Eddie Youssef cut the cake and she danced with her father. Then she slipped into the more revealing number.

Why not? asks Ms. Youssef, a pharmaceutical rep who lives in Springfield Township with Mr. Youssef, who she met when they were students at the University of Toledo. Any bride who s famous has two.

Next weekend is expected to be the second-most popular wedding weekend of the year, following the (fingers crossed, hope it s lucky) 7-7-07 date that was one of the biggest wedding days in recent memory.

Christi Vagnozzi, senior editor at The Knot, a wedding magazine and Web site, says celebrities influence bridal trends. She points to Toledo-born actress Katie Holmes, punk-pop singer Avril Lavigne, and crooner Christina Aguilera, all of whom wore two dresses at their weddings. Ms. Holmes, wed to actor Tom Cruise, went with two Armani designs.

The Bachelorette, Trista Rehn, wore two dresses for her December, 2003, televised wedding to Ryan Sutter, the firefighter she selected on the reality show. No way to gauge the impact, but an estimated 26 million viewers saw her wear both gowns.

Emily Youssef spent about $4,400 on two dresses for her October wedding in Florida and a November reception in Toledo. She wore both dresses at both occasions. Emily Youssef spent about $4,400 on two dresses for her October wedding in Florida and a November reception in Toledo. She wore both dresses at both occasions.

Yet another factor: couples are marrying older: 27 to 29 is the average, according to The Knot s polls, says Ms. Vagnozzi. Seventy percent pay for at least part of their nuptials. Average price paid for a bridal dress is $1,279; the whole shebang costs a cool $27,000, on average, according to The Knot.

And, as the American melting pot adds new ingredients, brides from Chinese, East Indian, and Southeast Asian backgrounds often opt for cultural garb at the ceremony and a white, western wedding dress for the reception, she adds.

Not to be overlooked is the girls just want to have fun factor.

Mindy Weiss, Los Angeles event planner who oversaw Trista and Ryan s televised wedding, says about half her brides wear a second dress at their receptions. She s noticed the trend for about 10 years.

I think brides have the idea that a wedding dress is formal and traditional, and they want to let loose at their party so they want to have another, more festive and less confining, dress for the reception, she writes in an e-mail.

Comfort factor

The sheer heft of a gown, which can be 15 pounds with sumptuous beading and undergarments, can be a consideration for getting a second, more comfortable dress, says Yvonne Gallippo, owner of Gallippo s Studio 2 on Summit Street in Toledo.

Pity the poor Melania Knaus, a Yugoslavian maid whose 50-pound sartorial wonder had nearly 300 feet of fabric, a 13-foot train, and 1,500 crystal rhinestones and pearls. After her first dance with new hubby Donald Trump at their 2005 wedding, she dis-burdened herself and slid into a sleek, sexy Vera Wang dress.

They want the big ball gown for down the aisle and the big ta-da, but they don t want to manage that at the reception, says Ms. Gallippo. Average sale price at her shop, stocked with 2,000 dresses, is $1,500 to $2,000, she says.

Cindi Freeburn, vice president of public relations for the 275-store chain David s Bridal, says daytime weddings are sometimes followed by lively after parties. She recently attended an after party at an Irish pub with a rollicking band; the bride kept her tiara on but changed into a little white dress.

Brides may feel that the dream wedding dress that she wore down the aisle is too cumbersome, says Ms. Freeburn. A second dress is usually lighter weight, easier to move in.

She notes that weddings increasingly are three-day events which the couple s and their parents far-flung friends and relatives attend.

Tiffany Brazeau would like two dresses for her September, 2008, wedding. She wants one to be strapless, fitted, and a blush-pink shade.

I go on The Knot [message board] all the time and a lot of girls talk about it, says Ms. Brazeau, a manager at Atlas Bridal Shop. I think I m going to do something more fitted, along the lines of the mermaid style. I m waiting to go to Las Vegas [to a bridal show] to see what s coming up.

Popular destination weddings held in vacation-type locales may suggest something casual with a more formal gown for the reception back home, says Susan Hilton, co-owner of House of Hilton in Toledo.

We ve even had mothers get two different gowns; one more of an evening gown, says Ms. Hilton. We always give a discount on the second gown.

The change-of-outfit trend hasn t extended to bridesmaids, experts say. However, there are always exceptions.

When Courtnay Cohen, 30, married Joshua Cohen two years ago at Toledo Country Club, she wore her twin sister s classic white wedding dress. During the reception at the Courtyard at Navy Bistro owned by their father, Tom Cousino, she and her bridal entourage went upstairs to a private room. She traded the gown for a fitted, floor-length red dress that plunged, front and back. With her long, dark hair, it was sexy, sexy, sexy, says her twin, Andrea DeWood of Perrysburg. Upon her return to the party, the guests were wowed.

We knew she was going to rock and roll, says Ms. DeWood, adding that the couple lives in Charlotte, N.C. I thought it was so much fun.

And, at the bride s request, the six bridesmaids got into different outfits of their own choosing, with one requirement: It had to be equally as hot as what she was putting on, says Ms. DeWood.

Jewelry to accent the second dress may be crystal or rhinestone instead of the pearls that would be worn at church.

A new trend is to rent the big gown and purchase a less-expensive reception dress, says Barbara Vargo, owner of Barbara s House of Bridal & Formal Wear in Millbury.

Another thought, from The Knot s Ms. Vagnozzi, is for the bride to wear a wide sash that matches her dress around her waist for the ceremony, and for the reception, replace it with a pink, orange, blue, or chocolate-colored sash held in place with a brooch.

Contact Tahree Lane at: tlane@theblade.com or 419-724-6075.

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