For couples planning a wedding weekend, the festivities go beyond just the ceremony and reception; and whether you choose to tie the knot at a beachside destination or opt for a local hometown affair, there's a lot that goes into curating a multi-day celebration. Specifically, you'll have to consider hosting multiple events, such as a welcome party which sets the tone for the weekend and serves as a way to greet and welcome your guests.
As the bride, a welcome party is also the start of your bridal debut, so you'll want to look put-together and stylish while leaning into the theme and aesthetics of your actual big day. What separates this moment from the reception and ceremony, though, is that the welcome party doesn't come with a strict set of "rules" and guidelines to follow. This gives you a lot of freedom to play around with your ensembles, and try on styles you may not have considered for your actual nuptials. And to offer some guidance on what to wear, we spoke with two personal stylists to get a bit of inspiration on welcome party attire.
Meet the Expert
- Lesley Brickman is a wedding gown scholar and fashion stylist. She offers concierge services for the luxury bride under her brand The One Gown.
- Jasie Style is a Los Angeles-based personal stylist. Her goal is to help her clients "show up every day in life as the main character."
Ahead, find all the tips you need to figure out what to wear to a welcome party as the bride, in order to make a great first impression and long-lasting memories.
How to Decide What to Wear to a Welcome Party
A welcome party should be fun, more casual than the wedding, and a chance to really get yourself and your guests excited for the celebrations to come. "There are no rules for what a bride should wear or avoid wearing for the welcome party," Lesley Brickman, personal stylist of The One Gown, says. "Obviously, don’t wear your wedding dress because that will spoil the surprise. Other than that, I encourage all of my clients to wear something that they feel beautiful, special, and like themselves in, regardless of what it actually looks like."
That said, there are a few things to take into consideration when selecting an outfit. You want to wear something that you feel fantastic in, but you also want your look to feel appropriate and in sync with your entire wedding aesthetic.
Think about the location and the venue where you plan to celebrate. "Because the venue is the backdrop of the welcome party, consider that when selecting the perfect look by making sure your outfit compliments the location you've chosen," says LA-based personal stylist Jasie Style. If you're in a tropical locale, select something low-key and more casual. If you're at a posh country club, you may want to opt for a look that's more conservative and formal.
It kind of goes without saying, but you don't want to wear a flowy linen maxi dress if your welcome party is taking place at a snowy ski resort in Colorado. In fact, seasonal dress code guidelines are the only "rules" you'll want to keep in mind when choosing an outfit. "Follow traditional wardrobe rules when contemplating what to wear in any season," Style says. "Lighter fabrics or shorter silhouettes in warmer months. Cooler atmosphere calls for thicker fabrics and long sleeves and hemlines."
The Dress Code
Even if your welcome party doesn't have an official dress code, consider the overall vibe of the event. Are you hosting something low-key and casual? Opt for a fun pattern or print, a bright color, a comfortable jumpsuit, or a matching set instead of a dress. If you're doing something more formal, choose a midi dress or a nice cocktail dress.
Coordinating with your partner isn't a bad idea either. "Keep in mind what your partner will wear to make sure the two of you have a cohesive, complementary look," Style recommends. "Together, the outfits play a role in setting the tone of the welcome party."
Should You Wear White to a Welcome Party?
White may be the traditional color for a bride on the wedding day, but it isn't the only hue you can wear to all of the various wedding festivities. In fact, the welcome party is a great opportunity to try out something different. "I encourage my brides to have a bridal moment in white, of course, but the welcome party is also the perfect event to incorporate pops of color and texture," Brickman says.
If you're going to forgo white, Brickman recommends bold colors and fabrics, suggesting that you opt for something colorful and festive that still manages to feel bridal. "For example, a wedding in Cabo would be the perfect place to wear a brightly colored two-piece set with raffia details," she says. "A wedding in the mountains would be a great time to wear denim, leather, or suede paired with some softer fabrics like tulle or silk." She also loves the look of metallics, which allows the bride to stand out amongst a sea of guests.
Set on white? Brickman notes that you should be careful about wearing something that looks too similar to your wedding gown. "The 'little white dresses' are almost like mini wedding dresses in their own right, often made of bridal fabrics and featuring necklines and other details reminiscent of wedding gowns," she says. "I love these options, but I do caution brides to not go too matchy-matchy with their ceremony gowns when shopping for the welcome party." You don't want to give guests a sneak peek at the big look, and you also want the photos to stand out.
How to Make a Welcome Party Outfit Feel Special
Whether you're wearing white, gold, or a bright hue, there are so many ways to make your welcome party outfit feel extra special and exciting, as noted below.
- Wear at least one statement piece. Style recommends looking for an outfit that incorporates statement shoulders or sleeves, or feathers, for something trendy and unexpected. She also recommends "a sparkly moment," advising brides to look for anything metallic, crystal-embellished, or sequined.
- Pick bold shoes. Both Style and Brickman suggest going all out with your footwear. "You can have so much fun with your shoes here," Brickman says. "Go bright or sparkly to help amp up an otherwise minimalist look."
- Look for a vintage piece. Wearing at least one vintage, one-of-a-kind item is a sure way to keep your look unique, Brickman says.
- Add a family heirloom. "This is a great time to include a special piece of family jewelry or another accessory that may not have worked well for the wedding day itself," Brickman says.
- Don't stray too far from your sense of style. The welcome party isn't the time to branch out and wear something you would otherwise never wear. You just won't feel comfortable that way, and Brickman urges brides to stay true to themselves. "This is your wedding, so be true to your own sense of style and don’t feel you have to wear a certain style, dress, or outfit just because you’ve seen it on your Instagram feed," she says.