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Top tips to transform your wedding dress into an evening gown – no second dress needed

Take inspiration from the Duchess of Edinburgh and Millie Mackintosh

Wedding dress with an overlay skirt
Nichola Murphy
Nichola MurphyWeddings Editor
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You may be torn between choosing one striking wedding dress for your ceremony and reception and swapping a modest daytime gown for a more daring evening look.

But why pick one or the other? After spending months or years searching for your dream gown, make the most of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to wear it – because realistically, very few brides recycle their gown for everyday use. Experts have revealed that there are plenty of ways to tweak your wedding dress into a second (or even third!) outfit with just a simple addition or swap. See everything you need to know…

Which celebs have had multiple bridal looks?

Take inspiration from the likes of the Duchess of Edinburgh and hide your evening gown underneath a coat dress, or copy Sarah Ferguson and swap your floral headpiece for a glittering hair accessory after your ceremony. 

WATCH: Queen Elizabeth's initial reaction to Sarah Ferguson's wedding dress caught on camera

Other celebrities who made subtle tweaks to their outfits throughout the day include Hailey Bieber, who removed her embroidered veil, and Millie Mackintosh, who sported detachable 'double bubble' sleeves.

When should you change your wedding outfit?

Sarah Jane, Head Designer at Britten Weddings, advised: "Make sure you choose the right time to change your look, you don’t want to miss important parts of your day and make sure the changes are big enough to be noticed. Also don’t forget your partner, they might want to make a small change too."

Meanwhile, Ellie Sanderson from the bridal boutique of the same name suggested the perfect time to change is just before the first dance when guests are seated and the official photos have been taken. 

GET SHOPPING: 14 stylish bridal jumpsuits for all modern brides in 2023

How can you transform your wedding dress into an evening gown?

Tops and sleeves

Remove an overlay top to reveal a sexy strapless underdress, or completely change a classic lace, long-sleeve top for a soft silk plunging neckline for the evening. 

"This will totally give the illusion that you have changed your dress," Ellie said. "Autumn or winter brides might opt for a dress that has detachable sleeves, these are held in place with hidden poppers and simply pop off for the party."


Women wearing beaded bridal cape over her shoulders© Britten
Try out a beaded cape in the evening

If you don't want to completely change your neckline, then an on-trend sparkly or organza cape can help you make an entrance to your evening reception.

Sarah explained capes are particularly practical for winter weddings: "A delicate tulle cape, a beaded capelet, or a glamorous faux fur stole can not only keep you warm during cooler evenings but also adds glamour to your outfit."


It's not just the top half of your outfit that can be transformed. If you have a clean, unpatterned day dress, Ellie suggested investing in fun overlays with fabrics embellished with petals or pearls to add a dimension of detail.


Bride with a long veil walking down the aisle in a church© iStock
Layering a veil over your dress can help it feel modest for the ceremony

Don't overcomplicate things, simply remove a classic veil or swap it for a shorter version. "A veil can be worn to make a daring and slightly sexy dress feel more demure and appropriate for a daytime ceremony by offering some coverage. Cathedral-length veils are great for this and suit practically every dress style, they are also incredibly romantic. 

"A short veil adds a feeling of modernity with a touch of drama when worn over a simple wedding dress. Removing the veil for the evening allows your dress to centre stage," said Ellie. 

"For the wedding party, consider swapping your veil for a shorter single-tier style with a touch of sparkle such as our Athena barely-there crystal scatter veil, the shorter length means you won’t constantly be stepping on it and crystals work perfectly in the evening as they twinkle in the light," Sarah similarly added.

Keep scrolling to see how you can change the mood and atmosphere of your outfit with more accessories…


Woman wearing a back necklace in a bridal gown© Britten
Go bold with your accessories for the evening reception

Ellie said sashes or bows around the waist can add a pop of colour. Another great way to add drama is by "changing classic pearl earrings for oversized hoops or chandelier earrings" or accessorising with a dramatic cuff or statement necklace.

LOOK: Best places to buy wedding shoes 2023

Unlike the understated pieces you may have chosen to compliment your main wedding dress, Sarah said the evening is the time to make a style statement. For example, a back necklace is beautiful with a backless gown. Her top tip? "Try to keep to one or two statement pieces to keep the look sophisticated," she advised.


After searching high and low for comfortable shoes that can last you all day and night, many brides may not want to invest in more than one pair of footwear. However, Sarah said that doesn't mean you can't give your heels a glam glow-up for the evening.

Close up photo of glittery heels in the bride's hands in the sunny day.© iStock
Instead of swapping your heels, you could add shoe clips in the evening

Speaking of an easy solution, she said: "Opt for a simple elegant pair for the daytime reception and then add a pair of sparkling shoe clips to transform them for the evening reception." Genius!


Say goodbye to a natural beauty glow and hello to evening makeup! "Your wedding party is no place for soft daytime makeup, darken those eyes, add a red lip and a little extra sparkle bronzer and you are ready to go," said Ellie.

Some brides may have professionals on hand to help them refresh their look later on in the day, twisting their locks into chic chignons and adding bold red to their lips. But if you haven't booked your stylists for that long, there is one simple way you can transform your beauty look from day to night.

"If you started the day with an elegant updo, let your hair down for a more relaxed, flowing look that's perfect for a night of dancing and fun," said Sarah.

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