We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.
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.
Read on for the best wedding reception dresses for every style, body type, and budget.
Best Cocktail Dress: Lulus 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.
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 details like a cowl neckline and thigh-high slit.
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.
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.
Most Playful: BHLDN Huntington Dress
Equal parts sweet and playful, this forthy tulle mini dress is perfect for making an entrance. We love the idea of adding a veil or a modern headpiece to complete the look.
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. Wears yours with statement-making shoes or keep accessories simple for a more pared-back look.
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. 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.
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?
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.