How to Change Your Wedding Reception Look Without a Second Dress

A bride sitting on the floor with a tulle dress.

Serena Williams did it. Kate Upton did it. Even Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, did it. These days, if a bride wants to make a bold statement on her wedding day, she’ll do it with her dresses…PLURAL. That’s right, many brides these days are wowing their guests twice in one night, with one beautiful gown for the wedding ceremony and another for the reception.

Of course, wearing two dresses on your wedding day isn’t cheap, and most of us don’t have Buckingham Palace money to spend on extra gowns. But don’t you worry, penny-pinching brides! Even if you only have one wedding dress, you can still switch up your reception look for a fresh, new style. All you need is a little ingenuity and the right accessories.

Swap Out Your Accessories

A bride hugging her groom and wearing a casual flower crown.

Whether you’re getting dressed for your wedding day or just a typical Wednesday, your accessories can completely transform your look. With the right accessories, you can add bold pops of color to an all-white ensemble, dress up a minimalist look with glitz and glamour, or add a touch of old-school elegance with pearls or heirloom pieces.

If you want to revamp your wedding day look for your reception, one of the easiest ways to do it is with new accessories. Swap out your classic jewelry with bold statement pieces. Take off your long, traditional veil and put on a cute fascinator or tiara. These simple changes will bring a unique vibe to your reception look and make it feel like you’re wearing something totally new!

Try a Two-Piece Dress

A bride wearing a red sweater over her dress, standing with her groom in front of a fall-colored tree.

Most brides who do the two-dress look opt for a more relaxed look during the reception. This reflects the fun, carefree vibe of the reception and gives the bride plenty of room to dance up a storm. But even if you don’t have two dresses available for your big day, you can still tone down your look once the party starts. All you need is a two-piece dress!

Are you wearing a body-hugging dress? Consider wearing a removable overskirt during the ceremony, which can give you a long train as you walk down the aisle, and then remove it when the reception comes along. Do you have a strapless gown? Put on a cute shrug or stole for the ceremony and take it off for the reception. Some dresses even come with removable sleeves if you want to wear something more conservative for your ceremony. Are your top and skirt two separate pieces? Consider swapping out your white top for a colorful one! These swaps can add some fun to your look without too much fuss.

Glam it Up with Makeup

A bride with glam makeup including dark red lips and smokey eye makeup.

If you have a little extra time between your ceremony and reception (and if you have a talented makeup artist nearby), one simple way to change your look is by changing your makeup. A new makeup style can transform your overall look—and if you’re ready to dance the night away, you might want an extra dose of glamour.

Instead of a natural, fresh-faced look, consider really going full glam for the reception. Smoky eyes, red lips, voluminous beach waves, the works! This change may take a little longer than the others (and it may cut your cocktail time a little short), but it will definitely give your reception look an extra special touch.

Dress Down

Let’s say that “full glam” isn’t really your style. You prefer more of the dressed down, makeup-free, comfy and casual vibe. That’s OK, too—in fact, on your wedding day you should be able to wear anything that makes you feel comfortable. Instead of dressing up for your reception look, why not consider trying something more low key?

Ditch the heels in favor of your trusty sneakers. Grab a hair tie and get those curls out of your face. These little changes add a touch of personality to your reception look, and that’s something everyone is sure to appreciate.

Obviously, if you want to have a second dress (and there’s enough room in the budget), there’s no reason not to. But even if you only have one wedding gown to work with, there are many ways to change up your look to give yourself a new, original style for your reception. Just a few small changes can completely revitalize your look, giving your reception its own special style.

However, it is important to remember one thing when you’re planning your reception look: choose something that makes you feel confident. Every bride has her own unique style, so don’t worry about what other people are wearing or how other people are doing their makeup. If you stick to the look that inspires you and one that makes you feel your best, you will always end up looking your best—and everyone will be in awe at what a beautiful bride you are.

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