6 Ways to Transform Your Reception Look—Without a Second Wedding Dress

No wardrobe change required

Updated 04/05/19

Photo by Ross Harvey

Not every bride has the budget for a second wedding dress, but that doesn't mean you can't switch up your look at your wedding reception!

After your "I dos" have been said and the party is about to begin, it's understandable if you want to differentiate your reception look from the wedding dress you were at your ceremony—especially with all the wedding photos your photographer will be snapping! Luckily, you don't have to go over budget to switch up your style. From adding a new hair accessory to simply changing your lip color, there are several ways to enhance your wedding-day ensemble after you walk down the aisle.

If you want to surprise your guests with a reception look that's perfectly party-ready, check out the ideas below. No second wedding dress required!

1. Add a Headpiece

<p>bride and groom dramatic veil</p><br><br>

Photo by Alen Karupovic

<p>bride and groom kissing</p><br><br>

Photo by Alen Karupovic

“Most brides like to wear a long cathedral or ceremonial veil during the ceremony, so once you take that off for the reception, you can add a headpiece which will completely change your look,” says Selina Howard, bridal stylist of Vainglorious Brides.

Brides can swap their veil for a chic hairpiece, a flower crown, hair combs, or any other hair accessory they love to glamorize and modernize their look.

2. Switch Out Your Earrings

<p>BRide's earrings</p><br><br>

Photo by Stephanie Brauer

Brides wanting a more formal look for their ceremony might choose understated jewelry pieces to complete their ensemble. Simple studs or a something-borrowed piece of heirloom jewelry are perfect for a walk down the aisle, but Howard recommends changing into a statement earring for the reception to shake up your look. From chic hoops to floral-inspired pieces to trendy ear crawlers, there are endless options for a funky second-earring act.

3. Opt for a Two-Piece Wedding Dress

<p>bride in dress</p><br><br>

Photo by Still55 Photography

<p>cake cutting</p><br><br>

Photo by Still55 Photography

A two-in-one wedding dress guarantees brides get a second reception look without spending extra. Wedding dresses with overskirts that easily remove to reveal a form-fitting gown, miniskirt, or even pants will have all your guests wowed. Howard has even seen brides wearing removable sleeves! Keeping it conservative for the ceremony, brides will wear their long sleeves or a bolero and then shed them for a more party-ready reception look.

4. Swap Out the Shoes

Photo by Lauren Alexandra

This one is less of a style decision and more of a practical move, but a smart one nonetheless. “My brides go for the most extravagant, over-the-top shoes that kill your feet, so after about three hours they’re like ,‘I can’t do this anymore,’” Howard explains.

Going for a statement shoe for the ceremony might seem like a good idea, but keeping them on for the reception definitely isn’t. Howard recommends changing into a “dummy shoe,” which is the bride’s most comfortable pair of heels that is the same height as their wedding shoe. If your wedding dress has a higher bustle, making the height of your shoe less important, you can even exchange your heels for a chic pair of flats or fun sneakers.

5. Glam Up Your Makeup

Bride putting on makeup lipstick

Photo by Sara Lobla

If you went soft and subtle for your ceremony, consider having your makeup artist stick around to take your face from sweet to va va voom when the reception arrives. Chances are, you had a tough time choosing between a couple of different makeup looks, so this gives you the perfect opportunity to let both your elegant and edgy sides shine on your big day. Howard says that even the simple change of adding a pop-of-color lipstick is enough to do the trick. We guarantee your new spouse will appreciate the sultry transformation.

6. Let Your Hair Down (Or Put It Up!)

couple during ceremony

Photo by Jenny Fu

first dance

Photo by Jenny Fu

No need to have the same 'do for the ceremony and the reception. If you can't make up your mind about whether to wear your hair up or down, come to a compromise and try both styles. You can put your locks up in a chic chignon for the ceremony, and then simply take the bobby pins out and let it all fall down for the reception. Alternatively, brides can wear their hair down for the ceremony and then later throw it up into sleek ponytail for the reception. It’s the best option for brides planning to tear it up on the dance floor!

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