One simple way to do this is color. A white dress easily becomes pink, blue, or green with the right kind of dye. Then an expensive investment may get use for years to come!
The trouble with dyeing wedding dresses is that the vast majority of them are made from synthetic fabrics, and that kind of cloth does not take dye very well. Synthetic fabrics are any type of cloth that is man-made, such as rayon, polyester, and nylon. These are in comparison to animal or plant fibers, such as wool, silk, or cotton.
Lace is typically synthetic, as is crinoline. (And these tips will work well on custom crinoline, too!)
The reason to know this is that choosing the type of dye to use on your fabric is very important. Rit Dye, most commonly found in grocery or fabric stores, only works well on natural fibers. It will dye synthetics, but not nearly with the depth of color necessary to do a good job. Rit is a great choice for an all-silk or cotton dress.
Here's a blog post from a young woman who tried dyeing her dress from white to black with Rit dye, and though she ended up with a very pretty grey, the Rit did not give her the desired result.
I Wanted to Dye
If you're not completely sure what your dress is made of or if it has multiple types of fabric, you may want to choose a type of dye called Acid Dye.
Despite the scary sounding name, Acid Dye is very safe. Straight from the website: "Don't be alarmed by the name, the only acid involved is vinegar." Acid Dye works wonders on synthetic and natural fabric. I have used it multiple times to dye costume pieces unique shades. It has a much better chance of getting all your fabric types the same color.
This bodysuit came white and I used the Acid Dye color Salmon to turn it pink. If you see the lines on the bodysuit, those are a result of the way the suit was made and NOT the dying process.
Following the instructions to the letter has never done me wrong. If this process scares you, get a tester bottle, buy some 1/2 yard swatches of various types of white fabrics, and see how the dye job turns out on all of them. Get comfortable with the process. Most of all, pick a shade that will stand the test of time.