I had one! I don't think they are a thing of the past. I have seen several brides on here have ball gowns then a reception dress. This was true for me as well.
Ball gowns are making a comeback! I'll be going big for my big day in one too! Have a look at the White Collection by Vera Wang for Davids Bridal, she's done lots of pretty and modern ball gowns that aren't your traditional cupcake frock.
No they are not a thing of the past. I have seen several on PW as well. In fact, I was going to originally get one, but I am so short that I looked like a toilet tissue cover. Remember the crochet ones that had the doll on top? Lmbao! That's what I looked like! I am going to DH's cousin's wedding Saturday and the bride is wearing a ball gown. I really think initially when bride's go in to try on dresses, we all want a ball gown but the reality is it doesn't suit every bride!