2021 Is Officially the Year of the Wedding After-Party—Here's Why

Plus, the unexpected bridal shoe trend that's taking off.

collage of after-party images


After a year of uncertainties and unanswered questions that clouded most wedding conversations, we finally have some concrete (and good!) news: the wedding industry is ready to party.

According to a new trend report from the shopping platform Lyst, not only are couples resuming planning all-out receptions, but they’re also looking to keep the celebration going long after the cake has been cut. “If 2020 was the year of the Zoom wedding, 2021 would be the year that's bringing the after-party back,” says Morgane Le Caer, Lyst's Content Lead. 

Based on the increased demand they’ve seen for after-party fashion staples, Lyst is predicting that wedding after-parties will be all the rage—no pun intended—post-pandemic. According to their report, searches for mini bridal dresses have jumped 170% since January. Brides-to-be are also seeking out other party favorites like embellished pants (up 37%) and rhinestone heels (up 31%) more than ever. 

“Following a year of uncertainty and canceled plans, we predict a significant shift towards partywear and maximalism as brides, grooms, and guests will be making the most of being able to finally celebrate big life moments in person,” said Le Caer.

The Pandemic Trend That’s Here to Stay

While some bridal fashion trends that popped up during the pandemic will likely start to wane soon—fingers crossed we never have to shop for wedding face masks again—Lyst’s report shows that at least one pandemic fad is here to stay. 

The mini bridal dress trend first gained traction during the height of the pandemic, as micro, at-home, and virtual weddings became the norm. Not only did the trend give brides a more casual option to fit their surroundings, but it also gave them the chance to make a fun, trendy fashion statement—one that might not have been possible at a more traditional ceremony. 

Meet the Expert

  • Gabrielle Hurwitz is a bridal fashion stylist based in Los Angeles and New York City.
  • Andrew Kwon is a fashion designer based in New York, NY. His debut bridal collection launched in February 2021 as part of his namesake brand. 
  • Heather Lowenthal is the founder of Posh Parties, a full-service luxury event planning company specializing in destination weddings in Palm Beach, Florida.
  • Michelle Norwood is the founder and CEO of Michelle Norwood Events, an event planning company based in New Orleans.
  • Rebecca Hessel Cohen is the founder and Creative Director of the fashion brand LoveShackFancy.

“With so many couples forced to reimagine their wedding days, many brides seized the opportunity to expand their wedding wardrobe beyond just a traditional dress,” says bridal stylist Gabrielle Hurwitz. 

Fashion designer Andrew Kwon also took note of the burgeoning bridal trend. When he launched his debut bridal collection in February with a modern mini dress called the Iris, the garment caught the attention of fashion-minded brides-to-be. “A mini wedding dress is still just as fabulous as a fairytale ballgown, but it’s easier to wear,” says Kwon.

bride in mini dress


And while full-scale weddings might be back soon, Lyst’s report proves that the mini bridal dress isn’t going far—it’s just moving from the reception to the after-party. “After the past year, brides really want to celebrate being a bride, and little white dresses help them do that,” says Hurwitz, emphasizing that after-party outfits are all about having fun. She loves to style party looks with dresses and jumpsuits that move on the dance floor (think feathers and fringe) or twinkle when the light catches them (think embellishments like beading and sequins). 

Hurwitz also says that the after-party is the perfect time to take fun risks with accessories like "a fabulous shoe, a statement headpiece, or eye-catching jewelry.” According to Lyst, brides are going all-in on accessories post-pandemic: the report notes that rhinestone heels, in particular, are extremely high in demand, with over 18,000 monthly searches for Amina Muaddi’s crystal slingback pumps.

Tips for Throwing a Memorable After-Party

Fashion aside, the growing after-party trend isn’t all that surprising to wedding planners, either. “People are ready to party!” says Heather Lowenthal, the founder of Posh Parties, a full-service luxury event planning company. She says her clients—and their wedding guests—are ready to celebrate big time after the past year’s wedding lull. 

Lowenthal adds that the rising trend doesn’t mean couples are scaling back their traditional ceremonies and receptions. In fact, she sees quite the opposite. “Couples don’t want their wedding to end,” she says. “In addition to their full-scale events, the after-party will keep the wedding going all night long.”

Event planner Michelle Norwood has seen a similar enthusiasm for pre-and post-reception events from clients following the pandemic. “My couples are doubling down on all of it,” she says. “They’re not skimping on any of the details, including welcome events, after-parties, and farewell brunches.”

As for the details that make an after-party one to remember, Lowenthall and Norwood agree that good music is the key. They recommend extending the band or hiring a DJ to ensure guests stay on the dance floor. Another element that will keep guests partying into the wee hours? Late-night bites. Lowenthal recommends serving favorites like fries, sliders, pizza, and mini grilled cheeses to sustain guests. 

mini grilled cheese

Getty Images

“You can also go the breakfast route and serve mini Egg McMuffins or bite-sized breakfast burritos,” she says, noting that in addition to keeping the bar going, couples should also supply guests with water bottles to stay hydrated. If you really want to up the ante, Lowenthal suggests taking your hydration station to the next level by providing an espresso bar or coconut water in fresh coconuts.

The Trendiest Party Pieces to Shop Now

According to Lyst’s report, fashion brands that specialize in partywear like Retrofête, LoveShackFancy, and David Koma have all seen a spike in search traffic as the summer wedding season approaches. Brides are flocking to these brands to shop for every wedding event, from the engagement party to the big day itself. 

When it comes to shopping for your after-party attire, Rebecca Hessel Cohen, the founder of cool-girl fashion label LoveShackFancy, says it’s all about playing with new styles. “Your after-party look can be just as special as your ceremony or reception dress, and it’s the perfect opportunity to do something a little different,” she says. Here are some of her favorite ideas for a post-reception ensemble—plus a few options to shop now.

Retrofête Skylar Jumpsuit

sparkly jumpsuit


According to Lyst’s trend report, embellished “fun pants” are becoming a new favorite among brides. This sequin-embroidered jumpsuit is ideal for the bride who wants to cut loose on the dance floor. “The most important thing is being able to move and have fun,” says Hessel Cohen. “You need to be able to kick off your shoes and dance.”

SHOP NOW: Retrofête

LoveShackFancy Leira Mini Dress

lace babydoll dress


Hessel Cohen says this classic babydoll dress from LoveShackFancy's bridal line is perfect for the after-party and beyond. “With something a little less formal, you can wear it again and again after your wedding to relive those special memories,” she says. 

SHOP NOW: LoveShackFancy

Aminah Abdul Jillil Glitter Silver Open Toe

glitter heel with a bow

Aminah Abdul Jillil

Hessel Cohen says a little sparkle never hurts when it comes to post-wedding attire, and per Lyst’s report, rhinestone heels are having a major moment. This dramatic pair from Aminah Abdul Jillil is sure to draw the eyes of everyone in the room. 

SHOP NOW: Aminah Abdul Jillil

Related Stories