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A reception dress can transform your look entirely and for many brides, it's the chance to change into an outfit that is not only fun and stylish but comfortable too. While a second look might feel like an extravagance, there are plenty of budget-friendly dresses out there that practically feel and look like couture. Whether you're throwing a casual backyard ceremony or a glamorous black-tie wedding, there are scores of reception dresses out there to suit any and all bridal styles.
What Is a Reception Dress?
A reception dress is often referred to as a 'second look' and is an outfit some brides choose to change into after their ceremony.
For the minimalist bride who covets clean lines and sleek silhouettes, a simple and chic slip dress never disappoints. A summer bride will appreciate a quick change into a mini dress made from light and airy fabrics like linen or cotton. If you're headed to City Hall for your nuptials, modern jumpsuits and structured sets are the perfect complement to any courthouse wedding. And lastly, for the bold bride looking to make a statement, there are plenty of styles to be found in pretty pastel hues and unexpected vibrant prints.
Ahead, the best wedding reception dresses for every style, body type, and budget.
For a Summer Wedding: Reformation Bow Shoulders Mini Dress
Warmer seasons call for shorter hemlines and feminine details like shoulder bows and flouncy skirts. Wear yours with a minimalist neutral sandal or a pair of summer-ready espadrilles.
For a Formal Wedding: Roland Mouret Bow-Shoulder Silk-Cloqué Gown
A reception dress by no means has to be more casual than your wedding dress. We love this structured gown featuring soft details like a shoulder bow and a gentle ruffle for a black-tie wedding.
Best Tea-Length: By Watters Swiss Dot Tulle Dress
Featuring retro details like a bustier bodice and a tea-length hem, this By Watters dress is perfect for the bride with a vintage-inspired aesthetic.
Best Mini: Bardot Strapless Taffeta Mini Dress with Ruffles
Show off those curves in this strapless body-hugging number. We love the idea of adding a veil or a modern headpiece to complete the look.
For a Black-Tie Wedding: Carolina Herrera Gathered Silk-Poplin Mini Dress
If anyone knows their way around a wedding dress and a party look, it's Carolina Herrea. This modern yet feminine style is just the reception dress you need for your formal wedding. Wears yours with statement-making shoes or keep accessories simple for a more pared-back look.
For the Classic Bride: Carolina Herrera Bridal Off-The-Shoulder Bow-Embellished Silk Midi Dress
For the bride who leans towards a classic and traditional aesthetic, we've found this midi dress from Carolina Herrera. Featuring a subtle bow on the bodice and crafted from light-weight silk, this style is perfect for a summer or city wedding.
For the Romantic Bride: Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini V-Neck Sequin Dress
If it's subtle sparkle that you're craving, this v-neck number features allover sequins of a more muted and less metallic variety. This dress was designed with hidden pockets perfect for stashing your lipstick and phone!
Best Budget: ASOS Edition Embellished Mini Dress
For brides who crave a little glitz and glam but at an affordable price, we've got you covered! This style from ASOS features a simple but beautiful silhouette embellished with allover sequins perfect for the summer bride looking for a little sparkle.
Best Slip Dress: Amsale Satin Bias Dress
You can never go wrong with an elegant slip dress. This style from Amsale is crafted from fluid satin and features pin-thin straps, a flattering cowl neck, and a delicate lace hem.
Searching for the perfect reception dress? We've answered three common questions brides ask when shopping for a reception dress.
- What is a reception dress? A reception dress is often referred to as a 'second look' and is an outfit some brides choose to change into after their ceremony. A reception dress can range from casual and comfortable to short and sparkly.
- When should I change into my reception dress? It's really up to you! Some brides change into their reception outfit straight after the ceremony, before the cake-cutting, or before it's time to hit the dancefloor. Changing into a reception dress can signal to your wedding guests that it's time to get the party started!
- What can I wear for my wedding reception? The sky's the limit! Some popular reception outfit choices are mini dresses, allover sequin styles, simple slip dresses, bridal suits, and jumpsuits.