What to Wear to a Wedding Evening Reception (Party Dress & an Updo)

Reiss puff sleeve shift dress

Wedding Week is drawing to an end soon; in the meantime, my fourth wedding guest outfit is What To Wear To A Wedding Evening Reception – we’re talking party outfits!

I often think this can be a hard one to dress for, because you won’t be going to church or need a hat, but it’s a dressed up evening out look rather than a daytime look you’re after… anyone else ever felt unsure about “sticking out” amongst the guests that had been there all day because you want to get your dancing gear on?!

I think you need to keep the balance between going for a party look and keeping it respectful, so here are my tips for how to dress for a wedding evening reception:

  1. An evening reception is basically a party, so avoid the floor sweeping maxis and wear a dress you can dance in (so shorter is okay) 
  2. With that in mind, keep it classy – this is someone’s wedding, not nighttime Ibiza 
  3. Think dressy: wear a fabulous piece of statement jewellery if your dress is plain, or let a pattern do the talking 
  4. It’s a good idea to wear your hair up or off your face so it doesn’t bother you when you’re on the dance floor (you’ll be cooler that way too) 
  5. Wear heels of course but make sure they’re comfortable – there’s nothing worse than having to take your shoes off for dancing and ruining your look!

My Reiss shift dress seemed the perfect combination of classy but fun (a lot shorter than my usual style!) – it’s got great detail on the sleeves and being tweed it has a certain “wedding style” feel to it (just don’t ask me to explain why I think that). It needed fabulous heels (I DIYed these ones myself, see this post from February), a sparkly necklace and an updo – I’ve learned my lesson from going to parties with my hair down. I’ve ended up with flat, sweaty hair too many times after the amount of dancing I do.

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How have you got around the challenge of dressing for an evening reception? If you have any good tips do please share!

Reiss puff sleeve shift dress

Reiss puff sleeve shift dress
Reiss puff sleeve shift dress
Nude & red jewelled heels
Dress: Reiss | Heels: DIYed old nude pair (see tutorial here) | Hair donut: Asos | Clutch: Accessorize | Necklace: Coast | Tights: Unknown | Earrings: Unknown | Watch: Gift (old) | Bracelets: Tiffany & Co, Next, F+F at Tesco

Here are some gorgeous dresses perfect for a wedding evening reception:

Catherine x

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RELATED  Styling My Classic Boho Maxi Dress (Again!) in Cornwall


  1. 8 October 2013 / 8:56 pm

    I love your blog, which I stumbled across today! As someone who auditioned to be on the Trinny & Susannah programme a few years ago for advice of how to be stylish but not 'mutton' I shall be taking note of your very wise tips and advice. I am also planning a shopping trip to Bath with my teenage daughter, so you have helped me again!

  2. 5 September 2013 / 8:28 pm

    Catherine, thank you so much for linking up with our wedding guest attire theme. Your dress is so sophisticated and chanelesque, the shoulder detailing really makes a statement.

    Our next theme next month will be delicate macaron shade. Looking forward to see you back πŸ™‚

    So glad you visited our blog, I really love the versatility of your blog. Following you now via GFC πŸ™‚


  3. 3 September 2013 / 1:52 pm

    You look gorgeous!!! I love everything about this outfit, it is so perfect for a wedding! I want that clutch!

  4. 3 September 2013 / 12:51 am

    Love love love this wedding outfit- you look incredibly stylish and these tips are great! I had to wear maxi to my sister's wedding and was super uncomfortable on he dance floor. Thank you for sharing it with Monday Bloom Link up

  5. 5 August 2013 / 2:09 pm

    its really a lovely outfit and if you are going for any function and carry good outfit then this really helps you to looks different in the function and every one wants to look good in the photograph and its also dependable on the your photographer that how they makes you perfect in the photograph so in you organize any function then pls select the best photographer….Click Here

  6. 11 June 2013 / 8:44 pm

    Love your shoes, whoo I need some of these πŸ™‚

  7. 8 June 2013 / 7:56 pm

    The dress is great but you accessories win it for me! Hope to see you linked up again at What I Wore Wednesday Just grab the badge or link and comment and you're good to go!

  8. 7 June 2013 / 11:38 am

    You look gorgeous in this Reiss dress. Styled so well with the necklace, clutch and shoes (I remember your post with the DIY. I am too chicken to do such things.)
    Your tips are also very good. But I have one question: isn't it risky to wear white? I have turned up at an evening reception in a white trouser suit and the bride was also wearing a white trouser suit…. The shock was big and I felt aweful.

    • 10 June 2013 / 9:57 am

      Thank you so much Greetje!

      The dress isn't white, it's pale blue (though it does look quite white in the picture)… I don't know if you've read the reply I wrote to a similar comment on this post? I basically think that as long as you're not dressed in a way where you could be mistaken for the bride, a mostly-white dress is fine, but you can hardly be blamed for wearing an outfit that's similar to the bride when she's not wearing a traditional white dress!

      As mentioned on the other post, I wore green first time I got married. I couldn't have given two hoots [cared] if there were other guests wearing green dresses – what everyone else is wearing is (or should be) the last thing on a bride's mind! x

  9. 5 June 2013 / 11:26 pm

    I love the subtle textures and patterns in the parts of your outfit. Guessing I'm not the Kelly M that won the competition! Loved this series Catherine and look forward to seeing what comes next. Thanks for sharing with WW xo

    • 10 June 2013 / 9:36 am

      Ohhh Kelly of course you're a Kelly M as well!! Oh I'm sorry, no it wasn't you – there's a British Kelly M as well! Thank you for your lovely comments hun xo

  10. 4 June 2013 / 12:14 am

    Lovely, absolutely appropriate look and beautifully, beautifully styled. Gorgeous as always … but I 'gotta know. How can anyone carry anything useful in those pretty little bags! I see them everywhere on blogs, but NEVER in real life. How does one do it?
    Never mind … looks so pretty it doesn't matter!

    • 10 June 2013 / 9:34 am

      Thank you lovely Jan!! I only use a small clutch like this for a proper evening out… I couldn't possibly cope with it for a whole day out somewhere! As long as it fits a lipstick, compact, condensed keys (my bunch is usually huge), money/credit card and phone, that's all I need. And a husband with large pockets, haha πŸ˜‰


  11. 3 June 2013 / 9:18 pm

    oooohhh… my favourite dress! You can totally rock that hem line!

  12. 3 June 2013 / 1:55 pm

    Love how you have accessorised the dress so that it has your own unique spin.

  13. 3 June 2013 / 7:32 am

    That is such a nice dress…Love its cut…


  14. 3 June 2013 / 5:06 am

    Perfect dress for a wedding! Love its classic look.
    Heather from Friendship, Life and Style

  15. 3 June 2013 / 2:59 am

    Love the Reiss dress–the colors in the tweed, but especially the cut of the sleeves.

    • 3 June 2013 / 12:43 pm

      The sleeves are proving to be pretty popular, Terri (and with good reason – they make the dress)! Thank you x

  16. 3 June 2013 / 1:01 am

    Ooh, I like your hose! Sex-ay.

  17. 2 June 2013 / 5:41 pm

    Lovely outfit!
    nice pictures!
    Have a fab night!

  18. 2 June 2013 / 2:15 pm

    Gorgeous and classy dress that fits you perfectly.
    I love your hair up and this style is so appropriate for an evening reception.

    Lady of Style

    • 3 June 2013 / 12:43 pm

      Thank you Annette – such a lovely compliment!

  19. 2 June 2013 / 2:12 pm

    I love the outfit, just couldn't wear the stockings at my age.

    • 3 June 2013 / 12:42 pm

      Thank you Marla! Though I hope you don't think you couldn't wear them JUST because of your age…? I truly think that we should dress in things that suit us and flatter us, regardless of age! Although I'm not saying I have great legs (far from it), I feel they are more flattering for me when wearing a dress that short than having bare legs, and opaques would have spoiled the look of the dress. So please don't dismiss anything that looks great on you just because of your age (it's only a number)! Hope you don't think I'm spouting advice, don't mean it to be at all :))

  20. 2 June 2013 / 12:33 pm

    Love the shoulders on this dress..totally makes it!
    sheree xxx

    • 3 June 2013 / 11:56 am

      Thanks Sheree – and I have to agree about the shoulders! x

  21. 2 June 2013 / 12:16 pm

    aww what a classy sweet outfit πŸ™‚ I love the shoulders of the dress and the shoes that give that hint of extravaganza…
    Ila x

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