9 Tips To Choose The Perfect Evening Bridal Dress

Updated May 16, 2023

A second evening bridal dress has numerous benefits, but it also means you need to go through the stressful shopping process twice.

Thankfully, you get more freedom of choice with the reception wedding dress than with your main gown.

You don’t have to listen to conservative relatives and friends who insist that a wedding dress must be long and white. It’s your chance to express your personality and surprise everyone.

Meanwhile, you shouldn’t forget about practical considerations such as the weather, location, your body type, and comfort on the dancefloor.

At the end of the day, every bride and wedding are different, so there’s no universal reception wedding dress style. Follow your heart, and you’ll find your ideal gown.

1. Consider The Weather

Weddings often start early and end at night, so the weather fluctuations between different times of the day can be drastic.

Weather is an important point to consider when choosing your wedding reception dress, yet brides often neglect it.

You want to feel comfortable throughout the event. Will your reception be held outdoors or indoors? What’s the season? What is the usual weather forecast for that time in your area?

Don’t choose overly heavy fabrics for indoor receptions, especially if your wedding is in summer – you don’t want to feel hot when dancing.

Get a light dress and a matching outerwear piece if you’re concerned about the lower temperature outdoors.

On the other hand, avoid lightweight sleeveless dresses for outdoor receptions.

Nights tend to be colder, even in warm months, and you shouldn’t risk catching a cold for the sake of looking nice. Consider opaque fabrics and long-sleeve styles.

2. Location Matters

Your wedding dress should match the style of your chosen venue to look harmonious. Wedding ceremonies and receptions are often held in places with an entirely different atmosphere. The same bridal gown may not suit both locations.

If your wedding ceremony is held in a castle, an exquisite ball gown with a long train is a great choice. But if you’re heading to a beach venue afterward, it will look odd.

Consider your reception location when choosing your evening wedding dress. The dress silhouette, fabric, and overall style should give off the same vibe as the venue interior and its decoration.

Is your reception held in a barn? Choose romantic, laid-back gowns in rustic or bohemian style. Did you rent out a nightclub? Consider short and sexy second wedding dresses, maybe even sequined or fringed.

3. Which Silhouette For Your Body Type?

One of the key points of consideration when choosing your main wedding dress is how it fits your figure, and your second dress is no different. Its silhouette should flatter your body and make you feel confident.

If you’re wondering – “which wedding dress suits my body type?” some essential tips will help you make the right choice.

Balance your proportions by adding volume to the areas that lack it – for example, choose puff sleeves if you have a pear body type and wide skirts if you have broad shoulders.

Curvy brides with hourglass or pear-shaped figures look stunning in gowns that enhance the waist. This includes all corseted and belted dresses, as well as classic A-line and whimsy mermaid silhouettes.

If you wish to hide the tummy, choose gowns with a dropped or empire waist.

Leave tight dresses for the ceremony and photoshoot – reception is all about having fun and enjoying food, so you don’t want to worry about maintaining a slim profile.

Petite brides should avoid puffy dresses and midi hemlines as they make the figure appear shorter and bulkier. Mini or long hemlines and natural silhouettes are a much better option.

Ball gowns look the best on tall women. They can balance an inverted triangle figure and enhance the waist by visually making the hips wider.

4. Reflect Your Style

Your second wedding dress can be very different from the first dress, but they should both reflect your unique style. The best thing about having two wedding dresses is that you can go wild with the designs.

There are little to no rules regarding your second wedding dress’ look – while it can be white and traditional, it doesn’t necessarily have to be such.

If you wear extravagant clothes daily, choose a dramatic, colorful ball gown for your reception.

Brides who are proud of their legs can choose a short second wedding dress. And if you like gothic style, feel free to wear a black wedding gown.

Laid-back brides who value comfort over looks will appreciate rustic and flowy midi-length dresses you can freely dance in.

After all, it doesn’t even have to be a dress – a suit or jumpsuit is an excellent choice for women who love to break the rules.

Your wedding is all about having fun and celebrating your relationship. Each person is different, and your unique personality traits and style are what make you special to your S.O. – so embrace it!

5. Comfort on The Dancefloor

Comfort tends to be the top priority in choosing a second wedding dress for most brides. It’s no wonder, as wedding receptions often involve a lot of dancing, and you likely don’t want to sit silently at the table.

Leave gowns with long trains for the ceremony – the train will prevent you and those around you from moving freely on the dancefloor.

If you can’t help but want a long train and don’t have the budget for two dresses, consider styles with removable trains.

Long ball gowns aren’t your best bet either, as the puffy skirt creates space between you and your partner.

Not all voluminous skirts are a no-no, though – tea-length and short hemlines will let you dance comfortably while looking just as beautiful as floor-length options.

Another style to avoid is strapless dresses, as they tend to slip down with every movement of your arms. Off-shoulder styles, spaghetti straps, and illusion necklines are great alternatives to strapless dresses.

Corseted gowns help you keep posture and smooth the silhouette, but you will likely have difficulty breathing and start to sweat over time. If you want to correct your figure, get shaping undergarments.

Last but not least, mermaid gowns are one of the worst wedding dress styles for dancing. The tight skirt will chinch the legs, and the fitting silhouette won’t let you relax.

6. Long Sleeve Gowns

Long sleeve wedding dresses are underestimated. Meanwhile, long sleeve styles are impeccably elegant and will keep you warm in the evening.

That’s an especially great option for outdoor weddings, but thin lace or breathable cotton fabric is equally suitable for an indoor reception.

Long sleeves allow you to move between indoors and outdoors without the need to take on a jacket every time. It’s also an excellent option if you aren’t fond of dancing and aren’t concerned about feeling hot.

Long sleeve wedding gowns come in all silhouettes and styles.

You can find a romantic and flowy off-shoulder bohemian gown, seductive illusion neckline dress with lace sleeves, or minimalistic long-sleeved gown with a modest boat neckline.

7. Layered & Flowy

A wedding is a day when you can dress like a princess and not feel over the top. It’s the perfect chance to wear a voluminous layered gown that flows as you move. Such styles are an excellent alternative to ball gowns with crinoline.

Choose dresses from lightweight and soft fabric such as organza and tulle. Avoid layers of polyester, as synthetic materials don’t let the skin breathe.

Alternatively, look for dresses with a flowy skirt that flares gradually from the waist. Such silhouettes are an excellent choice for brides willing to wear a long but comfortable dress.

Layered, flowy wedding dresses are impeccably romantic and whimsical, perfect for any wedding reception.

8. Sparkle & Shine

Sequined wedding reception dresses are the ultimate way to bring in the party atmosphere and make the guests wow. Don’t go overboard, though – if you choose a sparkling dress, keep the silhouette minimalistic.

Mini dresses covered in sequins or fringes will inevitably draw attention on the dancefloor, glistening with every move.

Pick traditional wedding dress colors such as white, ivory, and champagne to distinguish your gown from a regular party dress.

If sequins and beaded fringes are too sparkly for your taste, consider shiny fabrics such as silk, sateen, or taffeta. These fabrics have a moderate, elegant sheen that looks celebratory but far from tacky.

Slits and deep cleavages don’t usually go well with sequins and fringes. However, these elements work great with long silk slip-style dresses. Furthermore, slits allow more leg movement on the dancefloor.

9. Add Color

Nowadays, more and more brides break the rules by choosing unusual wedding dress colors. Even if you believe that your main wedding dress must be white, you can add a pop of color to the reception.

Your choice of wedding dress color can tell a lot about your personality, so choose it wisely. Remember that many people place great symbolic significance on wedding gowns, so consider your wedding dress color meaning.

A colorful wedding gown is a great way to match your look with the venue and the overall event color code.

If your bridesmaids wear dark purple dresses and the tables are decorated with purple centerpieces, a lavender wedding gown will flawlessly fit into the atmosphere.

Image credit: Pexels

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