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 that practically feel and look like couture.
A second look is the perfect opportunity to wear something totally unexpected and different than your ceremony dress, while keeping with the theme and colors of your wedding, if you choose.
While the ideal dress will depend on the bride's individual style and wedding theme, for the minimalist bride who covets clean lines and sleek silhouettes, a simple and chic slip dress never disappoints. And if you're headed to City Hall for your nuptials, modern jumpsuits and structured sets are the perfect complement to any courthouse wedding.
Whether you're throwing a casual backyard ceremony or a glamorous black-tie wedding, we've combed through countless styles and researched gorgeous dresses to suit every style, wedding aesthetic, and budget. For the bride who's ready to get down on the dance floor, the Carolina Herrera Bow-Accented Silk Mini Dress and Reformation Corinth Silk Dress are the perfect party mini dresses. Looking for something ultra-elegant and chic? We love the Fame and Partners Rosabel Dress.
Read on for the best wedding reception dresses for every bridal style.
Best Cocktail Dress: Lulus Sealed with a Kiss Bodycon Dress
As pretty as it is versatile, this frilly cocktail dress could easily be worn to your engagement party, rehearsal dinner, or as a second look on your wedding day. A budget-friendly option, it will also keep you cool and comfortable in medium-weight stretch knit.
Price at time of publish: $58
Best Jumpsuit: ML Monique Lhuillier Doutzen V-Neck Jumpsuit
Jumpsuits are a popular reception look choice and with good reason. Not only are they sleek and modern but they're incredibly easy to move around in, making it a cinch to work the room and show off your signature moves on the dancefloor. We love this option for the bride looking to make a statement.
Price at time of publish: $320
Best Slip Dress: Fame and Partners Rosabel Dress
If you're a minimalist bride who covets simple silhouettes and clean lines, then opt for an effortlessly chic slip dress. This slinky Fame and Partners number oozes sophistication and features alluring and unexpected details like a cowl neckline and thigh-high slit.
Price at time of publish: $279
Most Unique: Cult Gaia Shannon Feather Mini Dress
Make an unforgettable entrance in this stunning feather creation from Cult Gaia. Not only will this mini dress look great in all of your reception photos, but it's also as light as air so it won't weigh you down on the dance floor. The ostrich-feather trimmed dress also comes in other colors if you'd like to shun tradition and don a bright shade.
Price at time of publish: $1,198
For a Summer Wedding: Reformation Christine 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. The tie straps are adjustable, so you can wear it at a length that's comfortable for you.
Price at time of publish: $218
Most Afterparty Ready: Retrofête Claire Belted Sequin Mini Dress
Nothing says celebration quite like an allover sequin mini. This sparkly number was born for the dance floor and made for an afterparty that goes late into the night (and morning!) We particularly love this high-shine number as an unexpected counterpart to a more traditional ceremony dress.
Price at time of publish: $485
Most Unexpected: Nookie Adore 2Way Strapless Dress with Detachable Bow
Who says a reception dress can't be a little extra? This mini dress features a dramatic bow train that can be detached when it's time to hit the dance floor. You'll feel fancy all night long but be ready to dance without a long train getting in your way.
Price at time of publish: $369
Best Budget: ASOS EDITION Eva Embellished Cami Midi Wedding 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. This body-skimming, breezy pick will keep you comfortable while you twirl the night away.
Price at time of publish: $242
For a Black-Tie Wedding: Carolina Herrera Bow-Accented Silk 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. In 100% silk, you'll stay cool and look sleek. Wears yours with statement-making shoes or keep accessories simple for a more pared-back look.
Price at time of publish: $2,490
For the Minimalist Bride: ML Monique Lhuillier Lionel One-Shoulder Dress
All eyes will be on you when you make your entrance in this captivating one-shoulder dress designed with the minimalist bride in mind. The slit and asymmetrical neckline offer interesting detail for a fun, party-ready look.
Best Lace Style: Markarian Elliot Lace Midi Dress
If there's one thing we know, it's that you can never go wrong with a lightweight lace dress for spring and summer weddings. This style designed with delicate shoulder bows is perfect for the bride-to-be who loves feminine touches.
Price at time of publish: $1,995
Best Mini: Reformation Corinth Silk Dress
Looking to show off your legs (and moves!) on the dance floor? This halterneck mini is the ultimate party dress. Pair yours with matching white accessories or go bold with colorful strappy sandals and a red lip. The relaxed fit also gives you room to move.
Price at time of publish: $348
For a Courthouse Wedding: Silk Maison Mini Silk Blazer Dress
If you're opting for an impossibly chic city hall wedding à la Bianca Jagger, this is the dress for you. Equal parts sexy and sophisticated, this blazer dress is for the bride who embraces a non-traditional look. It's also versatile, so practical brides will love the chance to wear it again.
Price at time of publish: $279
For the Laidback Bride: Reformation Violet Off-the-Shoulder Dress
With loose-fitting, off-the-shoulder straps and a figure-flattering bodice, this Reformation dress is the epitome of relaxed elegance. Slip this style on for a completely effortless second look. We love the look for a laidback summer wedding.
Price at time of publish: $298
Best Bridal Suit: BHLDN Burton Suit Jacket
More of a fashion-forward bride? Go for an ultra-cool wedding suit. We love this jacket paired with a silky camisole or a sexy bralette for a more daring look. The allover lace print adds a pretty, feminine touch.
For a Warm Weather Wedding: Lulus Lace Off-the-Shoulder Midi Dress
Nothing says summer wedding quite like a floral lace midi dress. After the ceremony, slip into this easy, breezy number for a totally carefree and effortless look. The flared skirt will keep all eyes on you as you twirl around the dance floor.
Price at time of publish: $82
Most Statement-Making: Rotate Birger Christensen Natalie Mini Dress
Looking for a reception dress in anything but bridal white? This electric pink mini dress featuring an oversized bow is sure to speak to the bride-to-be who isn't afraid to make a statement. Bold brides will love stepping into the reception in this head-turning look.
Price at time of publish: $455
What to Look for in a Wedding 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. Your reception dress can range from casual and comfortable to clean and minimalist to short and sparkly. If you're looking to make a statement with your second look, there are plenty of styles to be found in pretty pastel hues and unexpected vibrant prints. When it comes to picking out a reception dress, many brides opt for a style and silhouette that is completely different from their wedding dress but still embodies the theme and aesthetic of the wedding. You also may want to consider your comfort. A summer bride will appreciate a quick change into a mini dress made from light and airy fabrics like linen or cotton.
When should I change into my reception dress?
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.
Why Trust Brides
Contributing writer Sophie Moore is a former fashion editor at Brides and is an expert in all things bridal attire, from couture wedding gowns to the perfect "something blue" accessory. She researches and sources the best fashion items for brides, grooms, wedding guests, wedding parties, and more.