How -- and Why -- to Choose a Reception Dress

By: Sara Elliott

Image Gallery: Wedding Gowns If you wore a traditional gown to the ceremony, let loose a little with a flowy, Grecian-inspired reception dress.

If you've been dreaming about your wedding dress for as long as you can remember, you may not have considered how restrictive, precarious and uncomfortable it can be to actually wear it on the big day. Having your maid of honor follow you into the bathroom so she can hold your train while you use the facilities is only one of the hassles that may be involved in looking amazing in the dress.

It's becoming more common for brides to lose the gown after the ceremony and photo ops are over in favor of an outfit that's little more user-friendly. A quick wardrobe change can mean a lot to a bride who plans on dancing all evening and doesn't want to worry about itchy layers of crinoline or torturous undergarments.


Keep It Practical

No long dress means no tripping on the dance floor.
No long dress means no tripping on the dance floor.

There are some practical considerations that may make wearing a reception dress a smart option. If you've invested in a valuable gown that you want to maintain in pristine condition, keeping it away from food, fingerprints, fumbling feet and spilled beverages is a good idea. When you're planning an outdoor reception, a white or even a pastel wedding dress can become a dirt magnet and start to look soiled before the afternoon is over. If you have a reception dress in reserve, you can choose a climate-friendly garment, too. If you're getting married during a heat wave, that can be a definite plus.


Inject Some Style

This is the time to be formal. The reception is the time for fun.
This is the time to be formal. The reception is the time for fun.
Michael Blann/Digital Vision/Thinkstock

Your personal style can play a big part in your choice of a reception dress. Where the wedding gown is all about tradition and the fairy tale, the reception dress can be more flirty and fun. If you're having a themed reception, it can set the tone for the proceedings in a tasteful but creative way. Adding a suggestion of '50s Elvis or bluesy charm can get the reception ball rolling and make you the star of the show. Depending on the style of the reception, the dress can be either short or long, and if you choose it carefully, you may be able to wear it for other occasions after the big day is over.

One effective approach is to incorporate some of the wedding motifs and reception themes into your dress selection as a kind of bridge between the two venues. You can do this with your choice of color, fabric, style or even accessories. Have fun with it. One of the best things about the reception dress is that it's a relatively new phenomenon, so there aren't a lot of rules to get in the way of your creativity.


Plan Your Entrance

Your bridesmaids can help you get out of your wedding dress and into your more comfortable reception dress in a hurry.
Your bridesmaids can help you get out of your wedding dress and into your more comfortable reception dress in a hurry.

Timing your wardrobe change correctly can be crucial. The time you choose to change clothes will have an impact on how your wedding photos will look for posterity. You may want to have both dresses featured but have the wedding dress figure prominently during some classic reception moments. You can choreograph this in advance and schedule your change accordingly. The actual wardrobe switch doesn't have to take more than 10 minutes with the help of your maid of honor and a full length mirror.

Once the pressure's off and you can relax and enjoy the reception, it's nice to have a more comfortable dress to dance and mingle in. If you plan on encouraging a stylish but less formal approach to the proceedings, a reception dress may be just the touch you need to put your individual stamp on the day's festivities and give everyone a tantalizing peek at the new, married you.


Lots More Information

Related Articles


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  • David's Bridal. "Reception Gowns." Undated. 7/15/10.
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