Wedding Dress Make Over – The Reveal!

Remember when I promised to share with you all about my wedding dress make over? Well I am finally ready to make good on that promise. To be honest with you, I completed my wedding gown makeover a long time ago. It took a while to change the color and get the alterations right – and then I wanted to save the dress for a special occasion. I was thinking about wearing it to a wedding, but the last wedding we went to was in China and before that was when I was in a bridesmaid in Michelle + Scott’s wedding last Summer.

But after putting all the extra work to change my wedding dress into something I could wear again, I figure it was time to bust it out – and this past weekend, I had the perfect opportunity to wear it during a date night out on the town! More on our date night later – today is all about the dress!

WaterWorks Sun

Here is what my wedding dress started out looking like, never before seen on the blog – It’s a Monique Lhuillier but I don’t remember the official style name. The sample in the store had spaghetti straps that came together and tied in the back. In the store we added a sash because I knew that I would want one eventually in the finished product.

original dress

In the store we also added some lace to the straps, because I also always knew that I wanted a gown with straps/sleeves. When I was searching for these photos I almost forgot what the dress originally looked like. It’s crazy to look back and see how far this dress has come!

Wedding Dress Round 1

Here are a few pictures from our wedding day to remind you of what it looked like after the initial alterations.

Wedding Day

As you can see, the straps and the sash give it a completely different look.

Back and FrontBack of Original Wedding Dress Wedding Day Dress

Like I already said, I always knew that I wanted to do something with my dress after our wedding day. My mom preserved her wedding dress from 30+ years ago and when she took it out of the box once we got engaged and it was discolored, which was very sad. I didn’t want to box up my dress, I wanted to create the possibility that I could one day wear it again! Sure, it would be nice to save for my potential, future daughter{s?}, but the actuality that it would still be in good condition and/or that she would like the fit and style are somewhat low.

I loved my wedding dress so much, I wanted to wear it again! So here is what we did – first I decided on the color. I was initially toying with the idea of a blue dress, since it was our wedding color. But then I knew a classic black would be best and I would get the most wear out of it.

Then and Now

And here is what my wedding dress looks like today:

Wedding Dress MakeoverArt Museum

As you can see, I had it completely dyed black. I wasn’t sure how the dress would actually hold onto the dye, but I think it looks really great. We also cut the gown into a cocktail dress – and I have the excess fabric saved in case I want to give it to my future children to incorporate into their wedding dress one day.

WaterWorksWeddingDressHair Up Wedding Gown MakeOver

To have the dress dyed I sent it away to Metro Dying in New York – it was a bit nerve-wracking to mail my wedding dress away to be dyed, since there were no guarantees as to how it would turn out, but they assured me black was the safest bet to ensure an even color change throughout.

To have the dress dyed, it cost $50 – including shipping, and it took less than 2 weeks to get the dress back.  Pretty sweet deal if you ask me!

Wedding Dress ReDoWeddingGownMakeover

For all the other alterations I took the dress back to the tailor who worked on my wedding dress from day 1 – Nilah & Company, located in Havertown, PA – I worked directly with Nilah and she did an awesome job.

The alterations to transform my wedding gown into a cocktail dress were about $100, which I thought was pretty amazing since there is a liner underneath the lace which is cut on a bias and it DID NOT want to cooperate with us. Nilah did a great job and I am really happy with how it turned out.

Back of the Dress Wedding Gown Makeover

I love having this in my closet and being able to wear it anytime I want. It’s the perfect cocktail dress to wear to any event or wedding and its just so fun to be able to tell say that “I’m wearing my wedding dress!”

Casual LookJean Jacket Casual


What do you think about my wedding dress transformation? 

Would you/Have you done anything special with your wedding dress?


Waterworks Sunshine

For more information on anything  & everything related to our wedding, check out my All Thing Wedding page on the blog and please leave a comment or shoot me an email if you have any questions! I’d be happy to answer them!

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  • Reply Anne June 26, 2013 at 8:46 am

    Wow – it looks AMAZING! What a great idea! Did you have problems with the dress shrinking at all when you dyed it? I wanted to dye my after party dress but was told it would shrink too much – it was also lace.

    • Reply Leslie June 26, 2013 at 8:54 am

      Thanks Anne – no issues with the lace shrinking, that dyed really well. The only problem was cutting the silk underneath because of how it was cut to make the dress, which was on an angle. Making that shorter was hard because it kept wanting to creep up, but we added a little extra length and it worked out perfect!

    • Reply Marcy richardson April 4, 2017 at 1:56 pm

      Wow it’s beautiful! I write this as I’m attempting (stupidly) to dye my dress black by myself for the third or fourth time. I’ve tried a few black dyes and I just can’t seem to get it to take. The first time it turned out a faded shade of heather purple. Like the color of a faded dead purple flower. Not cute. I tried again again and now it’s not quite a navy. It’s like a faded “trying to be navy.” I’m trying one last time with a third type of dye. Totally sitting in a trash can of dye and hot water. I’m so mad at myself, I’ve probably spent as much trying to do it myself as having it dyed professionally. I live in NYC and could go there personally! So mad at myself. If this doesn’t take, I’m giving up and asking them to help. I’m sure my dress will be a hot mess color-wise by then, but all I want is for it to be an even shade of black, so it shouldn’t be hard to get right. I don’t even care if they try and it doesn’t work, I want to exhaust my options since I really want to keep it! Thanks for posting, you give me hope! I love the length I would never guess it was your wedding dress!

  • Reply Kelly June 26, 2013 at 8:57 am

    LOVE! LOVE! LOVE! I wish I could turn my dress into something I could wear every day. I am so impressed by the original and final alterations. Great job!

  • Reply Katie June 26, 2013 at 8:58 am

    Your dress looks amazing!

  • Reply Holly June 26, 2013 at 9:15 am

    What an amazing transformation – I love it!

  • Reply Amy June 26, 2013 at 9:21 am

    It turned out beautiful! Love the idea!

  • Reply Rebecca @ My Girlish Whims June 26, 2013 at 9:35 am

    This is SUCH a cool idea! What an adorable dress!

  • Reply Lauri June 26, 2013 at 10:09 am

    What an awesome idea! I once had a bridesmaid dress altered to cocktail length so I could wear it again but I never thought to do anything with my wedding dress. I absolutely love the way this came out and how special to be able to wear it again!

  • Reply DoubleM June 26, 2013 at 10:57 am

    Love, love, love it! And I never saw your “original” wedding dress. I like what you did with it. It was perfect!

  • Reply kiersten tomson June 26, 2013 at 11:08 am

    It looks amazing!! I’m still thinking about using mine for the twins’ christening gowns and FINALLY get it out of my parent’s closet 3 years later!

  • Reply Colleen June 26, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    That is an awesome idea!!! and the dress turned out amazing!

  • Reply Casey @ Salted Plates June 26, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    Great job on the dress! I had a friend do something similar with a similar cut dress and it also looks great. Something I plan on doing should I ever decide to get married.

  • Reply Lauren June 26, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    It came out so well! You will get so much wear out of it – how fun!!

  • Reply Monique June 26, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    Good Lord Leslie, that is amazing!
    Its every girls dream to spend xxx amount of money on her dress and then get to upcycle it. Its not only gorgeous, its a brilliant conversation piece. I like the style of your initial wedding dress and would definitely consider this for a future purchase.

  • Reply Nicole @ Liberty Belles June 26, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    umm AMAZING! never heard of doing this before and I think it’s fantastic 🙂

  • Reply Patty O June 27, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    Absolutely amazing transformation! It looks great on you and I love the length! So glad you did that and can wear it anytime you want!

  • Reply Cassandra January 15, 2014 at 1:43 am

    This is exactly what I want to do with my wedding dress!! I’m so glad to have read your blog and get ideas on the best color, etc. As much as I’d like to dye it the color blue of my wedding, I agree that black will be the best bet to wear it again and again 🙂
    Congrats on the beautiful wedding gown and amazing transformation!

    • Reply Leslie January 15, 2014 at 8:03 am

      Thanks Cassandra – glad you liked the post! Good luck with your dress transformation!

  • Reply Liaren January 24, 2014 at 6:55 pm

    Leslie, I’ve actually been talking recently about wanting to re-wear my dress and my mom suggested I have it altered. I hadn’t really thought about dying it black (mine is also full-length lace with lace straps), but it’s cool to see how yours turned out. Right now, I’m thinking of removing the train and turning my veil into a shrug (it matched the gown perfectly), then using some of the removed lace to alter the top and make it look less bridal. You’ve given me some cool ideas though; it had never occurred to me to shorten it. I’ll have to think about that. 🙂 Glad yours turned out so well. Enjoy it!

  • Reply Keena April 13, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    Just wanted to say I love your redo!! I’m a seamstress and thinking about redoing my gown but was curious about the dyeing process. Yours turned out great! Thanks for the information!!

  • Reply Kara July 3, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    Do you happen to have a good tutorial on dyeing a lace wedding dress? I also want to dye mine black and repurpose it as a cocktail dress but I am SO afraid that I’ll ruin it in the dyeing process! Any tips would be very much appreciated!

    • Reply Leslie July 7, 2014 at 9:10 am

      No Kara – I sent mine away to NYC and they did it for me. It turned out great! I would have been too scared to do it myself! It didn’t cost much & was totally worth it!

  • Reply Nikki September 25, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    Just found your blog today, via Missy and the stella & dot giveaway! Anywho started reading around and found this page…Nilah is my cousin! Crazy small world! She is an amazing seamstress!

    • Reply Leslie September 26, 2014 at 8:07 am

      So crazy Nikki! Such a small world!

  • Reply Ai October 7, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    I’ve been toying with the idea of doing this and glad to see it come out so well for someone else. Thank you for sharing this!

    Quick question, where in NYC did you get this dyed? My dress has the same type of lace. Did you have to ask them to dye it a certain way to have the lace “pop”?

    • Reply Leslie October 7, 2014 at 3:04 pm

      Hey Ai – I went to Metro Dye in NYC & sent it away – they do this sort of thing very regularly – i just went with a basic black. Let me know if you have any other questions!

  • Reply HeatherZ October 21, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    Did you have the dress dyed after alterations were done or before? I love your “new” dress!

    • Reply Leslie October 21, 2014 at 8:56 pm

      Heather – I had the dress dyed before! Let me know if you have any other questions!

  • Reply Autumn November 10, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    Leslie, could you let me know what material your gown is made out of? I have a lace dress that states on the label is 100% polyester so I am not sure how the dyeing process would turn out.

    • Reply Leslie November 10, 2014 at 7:36 pm

      I will have to check – the dress is at my parents house but I will check next time I’m down there & get back to you!

  • Reply Eva Stewart December 30, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    Hi Leslie,

    I remember reading this post initially a long time ago and wondering if I would be brave enough to do this to my wedding dress. Well I just got married last month and when my mother-in-law offered to have it preserved I thought of you and asked her to hold off while I decide if I’m brave enough to have it cut & dyed instead – I live in Philly too so knew I would go with your recommendation if I decided to do it. Re-reading this post today (after seeing your highlight’s post today with your son’s christening outfit) sealed the deal – I’m going for it! Thanks for sharing your vendors and before & after!

    • Reply Leslie December 31, 2014 at 7:06 am

      Thanks Eva! So exciting for you! Let me know how it turns out! I would love to see a before & after!

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  • Reply Leah June 21, 2016 at 12:34 pm

    I’ve had this idea in the back of my head, and now that wedding day is over I’m totally doing this. Forget gown preservation. I love my little lacey sheath dress too and it will live again!

  • Reply Erin Embrey February 8, 2017 at 1:51 pm

    Who designed your dress? I am looking at having my wedding gown lace dyed black for the wedding but have been told designers ‘treat’ the lace to resist dyeing/staining.

    • Reply Leslie February 8, 2017 at 1:59 pm

      Hey Erin – it’s by monique lhuillier and the dye holds perfect!

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