How to Successfully Manage a Mid-Wedding Dress Change

how to manage a wedding dress change after ceremony before receptionPhoto: Bella Bridesmaids Oklahoma City/Keziie

Finding your dream wedding dress for your special day is a major moment. But with so many beautiful dresses to choose from, more and more brides are opting to wear not one but two different dresses on their wedding day.

Some brides do this because they fall in love with two different wedding looks. Others do a dress change to have two opportunities to show off their incredible sense of style. And some do it to surprise their spouse and guests with a second reveal.

Whatever your reasoning, changing your dress mid-wedding requires some planning. 

If you’re considering rocking two looks on the big day, here’s how to successfully manage a mid-wedding dress change. 

Why Wear Two Different Dresses on the Big Day?

Indecisiveness or the desire to wear two fabulous styles on the big day are perfectly good reasons to do a mid-wedding dress change. 

But there are some practical reasons as well.  

An outfit change is a smart idea if you prefer a traditional dress for your ceremony but want a fun, modern party dress for your reception. We love that idea!

A dress change is also a good idea if your ceremony gown:

• Is a voluminous ball gown
• Has a super-long train
• Has a somewhat restricting silhouette, like a slim sheath or a tight-fitting mermaid

    As pretty as those silhouettes are, they’re not exactly ideal for dancing! 

    Changing into a less restrictive dress is smart if you want to dance the night away in comfort.

    A second dress also allows for more diversity in wedding photos. Consider changing your shoes, jewelry, and hairstyle for a completely different look!

    Shop our collections of wedding jewelry and bridal shoes!

    When Do You Change Into Your Reception Dress?

    when to change your wedding dress?

    Photo: Bella Bridesmaids Cleveland/Jenny Haas

    There are a few points during the wedding day when you can change into a separate reception dress. When you do it is totally up to you!

    After the Wedding Ceremony 

    Your ceremony and reception will likely have two different vibes. A good time to change into your second look is after the wedding ceremony, after taking the official wedding party photos, and before making your grand entrance into the reception.

    After Cocktail Hour 

    After your cocktail hour and before the reception is a great option. That’s especially true if you’re doing a first look pre-ceremony and plan to take most of your wedding photos before the ceremony even begins. 

    Just leave your cocktail hour a few minutes early. Change into your second look while your wedding guests exit cocktail hour and take their seats at your reception tables.

    After Your First Dance 

    Many brides want their first dance photos in THE DRESS. Totally understandable! Waiting until after the first dance also allows you to show off your dress to guests who couldn’t attend the ceremony.

    After the Reception Dinner 

    No matter what type of wedding you’re planning, there will be a moment when the reception transitions from the end of dinner to the start of the dance party!

    The downside to an outfit change at this point in the celebration is that you'll miss out on some of the festivities just as the party is starting.

    Towards the End of the Reception 

    Some brides wait until the end of the night — when everyone is on the dance floor and the party is in full swing — to change their outfit.

    This won’t give you much time to enjoy or show it off at the reception. But it’s a good option if you want a special getaway dress or are heading to an after-party that requires a different bridal look!

    Still shopping for the perfect dresses for your girls? Check out our collection of 100s of bridesmaid dress styles!

    Things To Keep in Mind if You’re Planning a Second (or Third) Look

    first look of bride to her bridesmaids (who are all dressed in blue)

    Photo: Bella Bridesmaids Los Angeles/Jenna Joseph

    If an outfit change is right for you, here are some ways to make it run as smoothly as possible:

    Consider a Convertible Dress 

    Changing outfits means you will miss out on some of the festivities. Even a quick dress switch and a bit of freshening up can take a good 15-30 minutes. 

    But you can speed this up by opting for a convertible wedding dress with a detachable overskirt, a detachable train, or a detachable jacket.

    Technically, it’ll be the same dress, but quickly removing a topper or a skirt can instantly turn it into an entirely different look!

    Make Sure Your Second Look Is Ready To Toss On

    Your second look should be pressed, hung, and ready to go so you can just slip it on without wasting too much time. 

    If you’re changing your shoes or jewelry, lay them out early so you’re not scrambling to find your accessories at the last minute.

    Let People Know 

    While most brides want their outfit change to be a surprise, tell a few key people. Be sure to let your wedding planner, photographer, and videographer know that you’re planning a second look so they can plan ahead.

    Choose a Bridesmaid to Help 

    Wedding dresses often have layers, buttons, and back zippers that aren’t easy to unzip yourself. 

    Designate your maid of honor or a trusted bridesmaid to help you get out of your first look and into your second. Let them know beforehand when you'll need their help during the festivities. 

    Wedding Reception Dresses We Love

    A reception dress can be short and sweet, fun and sexy, or long and chic. As long as it goes with the vibe and theme of your celebration, your reception dress can be any look you love.

    Remember that if you opt for a second look, it should be distinctly different from your ceremony dress. Otherwise, there’s not much point in changing!

    Here’s a peek at some styles that just might be your perfect second look:

    Sachin & Babi Dylan Gown

    The Sachin & Babi Dylan Gown is oh-so-chic in a slip-dress silhouette with spaghetti straps and a cowl neckline. In luxe satin crepe, it’s sexy and sleek yet sophisticated at the same time.

    Watters Tansy Dress

    The Watters Tansy Dress is fun and flirty with 3D floral accents. This mini dress features a bodycon fit with long sleeves and an off-the-shoulder neckline. It also has pearl embellishments for added elegance.

    Amsale LW207 Jumpsuit

    This chic Amsale jumpsuit is perfect if you prefer to party in pants! In smooth satin fabric, it features an ultra-flattering wide-leg silhouette with a draped bodice that exposes one shoulder. 

    Jenny Yoo Tula

    Tiers of silky fringe layers make the Jenny Yoo Tula dress super fun and flirty! This little white dress is the perfect reception look for the bride =ready to dance the night away.

    You can find even more reception wedding dresses at Bella Bridesmaids!


    If you’re considering buying a second wedding dress to wear to your reception, we say go for it! 

    Just remember to decide when you'll make the change, have it steamed and ready to toss on, and designate one of your bridesmaids to help. With these tips, you can make your mid-wedding dress change as easy as possible.

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