Should guest change clothes when wedding and receptiion are hours apart?

I am attending a wedding that is at 10:30 am; the reception isn’t until 8 pm. They are in different locations. After the wedding, my BF and I plan to take off our wedding attire and change into casual clothes so that we can walk around the city.

BF says he plan to put on what he had on for the wedding, minus the tie, for the reception. He’s not concerned about it (big surprise).

Should I put back on the dress I wore to the wedding or would it be better to change into something else, maybe a less formal dress? I don’t want to have to decide on a second dress, but I’m not sure it’s appropriate to wear the same dress again. I’m not sure what to do. Any advice is appreciated!

Deborah McCoy, President, American Academy of Wedding Professionals™

Hello. You need to find out what the bride is envisioning. Naturally, you’re dressing appropriately for the wedding but what about the reception? Is it formal, semi-formal or informal? Until you know the wedding type, you’ll not know how to dress for the reception. You need to call the bride. Once you find out, please get back to us!

Donna, Wedding Queen, President; Top Wedding Sites, Inc

This is a good reason to plan the wedding and reception within about an hour of each other. I just mention that for future visitors. I understand you didn’t make these plans.

Deb’s right, you’d need to know the formality of the reception. It’s not often that you’d wear the same sort of outfit for a morning wedding as you would for an evening reception. Time dictates attire, but so does location and style of the reception. If you could offer us more information we could give you some better advice.


From what I understand, both the wedding and reception are casual. The reception will be in the backyard of the B&B where some of the wedding party is staying. The wedding is a few blocks away, not sure where, but not a church. The groom is my BF’s friend, so I can’t contact the bride.

It sounds like I should change dresses then? *Sigh* It took me forever to decide on the one dress!

Why couldn’t they just have the reception right after the wedding?! 🙂

Donna, Wedding Queen, President; Top Wedding Sites, Inc

Can you post a pic of the dress you chose?



The dress is simple, short, and almost navy blue (a bit lighter). It has lace covering the skirt and most of the bodice. I plan to wear light brown wedge heels. I’m not sure if my jewelry will be simple or more bold, like an orange beaded necklace.

I *think* the dress would be appropriate for both the wedding and reception, but I wasn’t sure if I was expected to change for the reception. Is it weird or tacky to wear the same dress you wore in the morning that night also?

Donna, Wedding Queen, President; Top Wedding Sites, Inc

It would make the guests more comfortable to have the reception immediately following the ceremony, and that’s what most do.

I think this dress could work for both events if you dressed it up and down as needed. For example, for the ceremony you’ll probably want a jacket or shrug to cover the arms and maybe a flat shoe. Then, for the reception, dress the outfit up a bit with a wedge heel (great for outdoor events since stiletto heels tend to get ground into the grass) and some nice jewelry ans/or a coordinating scarf. Maybe change your hairstyle for more of an evening look too.

Hope this helps.

Irina Feygin

Excellent advice from all experts! Since we cannot change the “time gap” between the ceremony and the reception, you make the best of what you’ve got: wear the same dress, but with a different jewelry, and perhaps a scarf. You can also “dress up” your hair by adding a side flower, coordinating in color either with the dress, or the jewelry or – the scarf. If not a flower, a sparkly hair clip will do. Excellent advice from Wedding Queen about the wedge heel shoes: this is a comfortably and glamorous solution for an outdoor reception. Enjoy the wedding!

Ann Guise, Wedding Veil Designer at Silk Wedding Veils

That’s quite a gap between ceremomy and reception. It’s expensive enough dressing for a wedding without having to buy two outfits. I suggest wearing the same dress maybe with a wrap and maybe different shoes and bag making the outfit more eveningy. I see no reason why you should have 2 outfits. I think your BF has the right idea. He takes off his tie, maybe you then aquire a wrap. Have a great day.

Brandi Hamerstone

I typically guide my clients towards the concept of NOT having a gap like this between events BUT when they do I always see the guests wearing the same outfit they wore to the ceremony. I wouldn’t think many will be planning on an outfit change but I like the idea of wearing different jewelry or even pulling your hair up (if it was down) to make it more evening appropriate. Even just a little extra makeup will make you feel totally different. Good luck with the free time before the reception, have fun!