Should You Get a Second Dress For Wedding Reception?

Updated June 22, 2023

Nowadays, many brides get a second dress for a wedding reception, toeing the line between tradition and personal expression.

A blend of cultures and styles has become a staple of a modern wedding, and two wedding dresses have quickly transformed from an extravagant idea into practical choice.

Some may say it’s a sacrilege, while others call it a fashion statement. Indeed, this trend has both benefits and drawbacks, but only you decide whether the former outweigh the latter.

A wedding party dress allows you to move freely on the dancefloor, accommodate the weather and location, and wow the crowd.

However, you should also consider the timeline, added costs, and moral implications to make a well-weighted decision.

No Style Compromises

Choosing that perfect wedding dress is a challenging task, especially if you have to choose between a traditional gown for the ceremony and a dramatic, revealing dress for the reception.

The good news is, you don’t necessarily have to choose.

A second wedding dress allows you not to compromise on your wedding gown style, trying on two distinctly different bridal attires on one day. You can honor the tradition without giving up your personality.

For instance, you may wear a classic floor-length A-line gown with a train for the official part and change into a modern strapless high-low ballgown for the reception.

You can even wear a jumpsuit and sneakers, as no one can impose their expectations on your second wedding dress. Sure, the ceremony is a formal event, but you get total freedom of expression at the reception.

However, keep in mind that if your dresses are entirely different, you may need to buy different accessories to match your second look. That’s added costs and added planning.

Show-Stopping Outfit Change

Having two wedding dresses is a great way to surprise the guests and your S.O. Your event may already be remarkable and full of wonder, but why not add an extra sprinkle of magic?

It’s like a quick-change trick on stage but in real life. It will undoubtedly draw all eyes on you, though you’ll be in the spotlight anyway – after all, it’s your wedding day.

Of course, your wedding isn’t a performance. But if you’re a real fashionista and love to please the crowd, it’s one of the most entertaining ways to do so.

Choose extravagant, dramatic styles from sparkling or colorful fabrics, with large embellishments, seductive cut-outs, or unique silhouettes to make the outfit change especially memorable.

Such gowns will inevitably leave a lasting impression.

On the other hand, increased public attention may be a drawback for humble brides. If you aren’t particularly confident, you may feel anxious walking out in your second wedding gown, so consider this in advance.

Comfort on the Dancefloor

One of the most common reasons for getting a second wedding dress is added comfort during the party. Many popular wedding dress styles aren’t particularly dancefloor-friendly.

Mermaid dresses chinch the legs, ball gowns create space between you and the partner, and corseted bodices don’t let you breathe properly, making you sweat.

The solution is either to compromise your style preferences for a more comfortable dress or to get two gowns.

Even if you aren’t planning to dance, a less restrictive wedding dress will allow you to walk around, eat, and have fun without distraction. You can adapt to any after-party plan, be it a beach party or a casino night.

If you consider comfort vital, avoid tight or overly puffy skirts, heavy synthetic fabrics, and strapless necklines.

A floor-length skirt is acceptable if the gown has an A-line or straight silhouette, whereas tea-length and high-low gowns can be more voluminous.

Consider changing the shoes, too – no matter how comfortable your stilettos are, your feet will swell after hours spent in them in a crowded ceremony hall.

If you wish to stay feminine and formal, look for cat or block heels or ballet flats, whereas sneakers will match a more laid-back attire. You may even wear white sparkling biker boots if you feel like it.

Accommodate the Location & Weather

Ceremonies and receptions are rarely held in the same location. Furthermore, the event usually starts early and ends late at night. Thus, you should accommodate the location and weather changes.

If you have one wedding dress, you need to pick a universal style and get a matching outerwear piece if you’ll be cold. A second wedding dress resolves both issues.

For instance, a long-sleeve ball gown may be perfect for a whimsical forest ceremony but too hot and voluminous for the dancefloor. In this case, you may change into a short second wedding reception dress.

Or, a dress with a long train may look breathtakingly beautiful as you walk down the aisle but highly uncomfortable for a beach party. Sometimes, a second wedding dress is not an option but a necessity.

Different Photos

A second wedding dress is a great way to make your pictures more diverse. If you’re concerned about spamming your social media followers with dozens of similar photos, a second gown is a valid excuse to do so without guilt.

It’s a great way to make two entirely different wedding photoshoots – for example, a traditional and romantic ceremony shoot and a creative and fun reception shoot.

However, you should also consider the groom’s attire to ensure you match in pictures.

Consider the Timeline

The wedding timeline can be pretty intricate and tightly packed, so make sure you have enough time for the outfit change.

If you have a wedding planner, let them know about your second wedding dress idea to ensure they schedule extra time.

Taking off a wedding dress isn’t as quick as taking off jeans and a T-shirt. Bridal gowns often have intricate bodices and must always be handled with great care.

Furthermore, you may be unable to take the gown off yourself and have to sneak out one of the bridesmaids. In this case, ensure they won’t be busy with other organizational questions at the time you want to change the dress.

Note that you may also need to change your makeup and hairstyle to match the new look. Even if the changes are insignificant, they may take another 20-30 minutes, and that’s a lot of time to be away from guests.

Consider whether taking a long break from talking to your guests and enjoying your happiest day with your S.O. to change a dress is worth it.

There’s no right or wrong, but you want to ensure you won’t regret not spending enough time with people you love for the sake of looking good.

Added Costs

Although a second wedding gown allows you to avoid style compromises, it involves other compromises – financial. It’s no surprise that two dresses are more expensive than one, so consider your budget.

Rationalizing spending a ton of money on a dress that you’ll only wear once is already a challenging task for many brides. While the second dress is usually cheaper than the main one, it’s still a significant expense.

If your budget is unlimited, you may neglect this concern. However, most brides only have a definite sum to spend on their wedding attire, and getting a second dress means that you have to buy a cheaper main gown.

Don’t forget that your wedding dress price isn’t the only thing that makes your bridal attire budget. You may also have to double the price of alterations, dry cleaning, and additional accessories.

Think whether you will need to compromise other wedding features to fit a second dress in your budget.

You likely can cut costs of add-ons such as wedding guest treats or stationery, but you shouldn’t sacrifice the essentials.

Of course, you can save on the second dress if you pick minimalistic designs with a moderate amount of fabric. You may even wear such a dress again later. But make sure you won’t regret changing your opulent main gown for a simpler one.

Added Stress

Wedding dress shopping isn’t all fun and games. It can involve a lot of stress, doubt, and anxiety, as choosing a worthy gown for such a special event isn’t simple. Now, imagine that all that stress is doubled.

The same applies to the wedding day. Getting married is an undoubtedly exciting and happy moment, but you will also have enough worries. Squeezing an extra outfit change into the timeline is one of them.

The most important thing about your wedding day is how you feel. You should be careless and cheerful, not stressed from trying to change your dress in a hurry while the guests are patiently waiting.

Less Time in Your Wedding Gown

On the one hand, your second wedding dress can be just as beautiful as your first gown, and you get to wear two show-stopping outfits in one day.

On the other hand, a second wedding look means less time spent in your ceremony gown.

You may feel like your first wedding dress doesn’t get sufficient attention and won’t be remembered like your second dress.

Furthermore, you are likely to encounter a few naysayers who believe in the idea of “the one and only dress.”

You likely won’t get to wear your ceremony dress ever again, so you may feel sad changing it for a more laid-back look. If your dress is a sentimental piece for you, that’s an important point to consider.

Image credit: Unsplash

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