Not Casual, Not Black Tie: 21 Gorgeous Semi-Formal Wedding Guest Dresses (2024)

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Melony Forcier

Not Casual, Not Black Tie: 21 Gorgeous Semi-Formal Wedding Guest Dresses (1)

Melony Forcier

Melony Forcier is a freelance writer for Brides covering fashion and beauty. Her writing has also appeared on Byrdie.

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Updated on 08/05/23 02:52PM

Not Casual, Not Black Tie: 21 Gorgeous Semi-Formal Wedding Guest Dresses (2)

Perhaps one of the most popular dress codes for weddings is semi-formal attire, but searching for a dress that fits this ambiguous label can be hard to pin down. Is a sundress too casual? Is a satin midi too dressy? What hemline is appropriate? With all these questions running through your mind, it can be a bit overwhelming trying to find the right look. The good news is that, while there are many interpretations of this dress code, popular online retailers have pages upon pages of semi-formal dresses to peruse.

When shopping for a semi-formal wedding guest dress, keep the season and venue in mind. A spring or summer wedding is a great opportunity to play with brighter colors, lightweight fabrics, and fun patterns. For winter or fall nuptials, break out the jewel-toned dresses in lush fabrics like velvet. Dressing for a semi-formal wedding also allows for diverse dress lengths, as mini, knee-length, midi, and floor-length frocks are all acceptable depending on the design.

To help narrow down your search, we researched and selected the best options available for every style, budget, and season. A few of our top finds include the Reformation Twilight Dress, the Yumi Kim Petra Dress, and the Lulu's Celebration Time Tiered Midi Dress.

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Shopping for multiple dresses to wear to different weddings can get expensive, but luckily there are tons of budget-friendly options out there. Consider this stylish and under-$100 tiered midi dress from Lulu’s, available in six gorgeous colors. We especially love this sweet lavender option for spring.

Size: XXS-XL | Materials: Polyester | Length: Midi

This satin number is the perfect balance of sexy and chic, making it appropriate for any semi-formal wedding you may be attending.The striking emerald green hue is sure to make a statement, while the one-shoulder neckline, draped skirt, and high-slit create dynamic and sexy details.

Size: XS-XL | Materials: Sheen satin | Length: Midi

A classic wrap dress is always a go-to for semi-formal occasions, and we love this pink blush option from Zimmermann—though it's also available in black, sage, and biscuit. Style this feminine frock with gold jewelry and a pair of nude pumps.

Size: XS-L | Materials: Silk charmeuse | Length: Mini

While this dress seems formal at a glance, the short hemline adds a bit of whimsy to a sophisticated piece. We can picture this looking extra chic when paired with delicate pearl accessories and strappy heels.

Size: XXS-XL | Materials: Viscose, rayon | Length: Mini

Heading to a semi-formal wedding this spring? You won’t want to miss this stylish pleated midi from Lulus. These pretty pink florals would look gorgeous for a garden ceremony, but it's also available in a variety of other colors and prints that work well for the season.

Size: XS-XL | Materials: Polyester | Length: Midi

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Get ready to swoon over this charming mini dress that features an intricate mix of subtle patterns and cuts in a romantic ocean blue color that's perfect for beach weddings.The high-neck collar, draping sleeves, and tiered hemline make this a no-fail option.

Size: 2-10 | Materials: Viscose, polyester | Length: Mini

Reformation is known for its semi-formal dresses, so it’s hard to pick a favorite. However, this pastel purple floral print number is definitely a winner.It also comes in several other beautiful colors and prints worth considering depending on the season and venue.

Size: 0-12 | Materials: Viscose | Length: Midi

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This midi dress comes in a striking deep purple color that is undeniably stunning. The eye-catching tiered detailing on the puff sleeves, the deep V-neckline, and the flattering tie waistband make it worth the splurge. We also love the tuberose option for a daytime summer wedding.

Size: 00-16 | Materials: Polyester | Length: Midi

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This floral-printed mini is a sweet and romantic option for daytime wedding festivities. The puff sleeves add a bit of drama to the look, while the high neckline and tiered skirt add a flattering and unique touch.

Size: XXS-XL | Materials: Viscose | Length: Mini

This classic blue mini dress is elegant enough to wear to a semi-formal wedding while still having a bit of an edge. We love the delicate sweetheart neckline and the subtle side slit for a sexy flair.

Size: XS-L | Materials: Satin | Length: Mini

Deep wine colors are always a favorite when it comes to fall weddings, and they can easily transition from day to night. This chic gown has a cowl neckline, an open back cut-out, and a side slit for a fresh and dynamic design.

Size: XS-XL | Materials: Polyester, elastane | Length: Midi

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For a playful, summer semi-formal wedding ensemble, don’t miss this ruffled strapless dress. The blush pink adds a romantic element to this already sweet silhouette. Pair it will neutral accessories for a simple yet pretty look.

Size: XXS-XXL | Materials: Polyester | Length: Midi

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This elegant and conservative dress will stun at any semi-formal spring or summer celebration. The unique flutter sleeve adds a bit of surprise to an otherwise classic cut. We especially love this light blue hue for a beachside ceremony.

Size: 0-14 | Materials: Stretch crepe | Length: Mini

Comfort is key when it comes to searching for dresses for wedding season, which is why we are such fans of this relaxed number from River Island.Not only is it flowy and comfortable, but the intricate hemline and delicate yet colorful print also make fun and bold.

Size: 2-14 | Materials: Polyester | Length: Midi

While cutouts may be a daring choice for a wedding, we love the simplicity of this dress. The brown color is a chic and fashion-forward option at any time of the year, but you can also choose an all-black or terracotta color.

Size: 2-12 | Materials: Viscose rayon | Length: Midi

When in doubt, a slip dress is always a safe bet for a semi-formal affair. This midi comes in 14 different colors, so there is an option for any and every style. No matter the season, this is a style you can wear again and again.

Size: 0-22W | Materials: Satin charmeuse | Length: Midi

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Moms-to-be no longer have to sacrifice style for functionality. This satiny maternity dress shows off your belly while staying effortlessly chic for any semi-formal affair. Pair it with flats for a simple and comfortable fit.

Size: XS-XL | Materials: Polyester | Length: Ankle-length

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Heading to a semi-formal garden wedding? Opt for this pretty pink dress that has a relaxed and romantic vibe without being too casual. Pair it with simple kitten heals and loose waves for an ultra-feminine finish.

Size: XS-L | Materials: Cotton | Length: Midi

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When the occasion is semi-formal, this one-shoulder figure-flattering dress is a stylish option. This midi dress from Dress the Population is sleeveless and has two panels that flow from the single-tie shoulder. Available in 14 colors, including burgundy, blue, orange, pink, and black, this classic midi dress is an elegant choice.

Size: XXS-XXL | Materials: Polyester, spandex | Length: Midi

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You’ll be wearing this little black dress from Reformation to rehearsal dinners and semi-formal weddings all year. It has a fitted bodice and a full skirt with pockets on each side. The strappy back is adjustable with a tie at the back of the dress. It’s made with a stretch poplin fabric that’s comfortable and easy to care for. Looking for another color? This adorable dress is also available in a lovely shade of emerald green.

Size: 0-12 | Materials: Organic cotton, spandex | Length: Midi

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This elegant floor-length dress from Azazie can effortlessly take you from semi-formal to formal events. Made of chiffon, the dress has a fitted sleeveless bodice and a flowy pleated skirt with pockets on both sides. It has an A-line silhouette, a scoop neckline, and a slit that starts just above the left knee. The dress is available in an extended size range and can also be custom-made to order. There are over 60 colors available, from classic black to fuchsia, lavender, and jade, so you’re sure to find one to suit your taste and event.

Size: 0-30 | Materials: Chiffon | Length: Floor

What to Look for in Semi-Formal Guest Attire

Time and Setting

When it comes to semi-formal affairs, it's important to consider the setting and time of day. Semi-formal can have many different interpretations, so considering these specifics can help you determine which dress is appropriate for the wedding you’re attending. For example, you can opt for brighter colors, shorter hemlines, and fun patterns during the day, such as those found on the River Island Green Floral Frill Midi Swing Dress and the Michael Costello x Revolve Marisol Mini Dress. For evening nuptials, co*cktail dresses, floor-length dresses, and polished jumpsuits are all appropriate options. Essentially, you want to look elevated yet understated.


If you’re invited to a wedding in fall or winter, look for dresses with three-quarter or longer sleeves and heavier fabrics. You might want to consider a longer hemline and darker fabrics for fall and winter as well. If the semi-formal wedding is planned for spring or summer, you can wear shorter dresses and lighter fabrics and choose florals and pastel colors if you wish.

Material and Fit

Material is also something to look for in semi-formal attire. Satin fabrics, lightweight chiffon, or viscose are good choices for a semi-formal dress. However, more cottony materials may be too casual for the occasion, while overly embellished fabrics will likely be too dressy.It's all about finding a balance. We love the Lulu’s Celebration Time Tiered Midi Dress or the Sachin & Babi Harper Dress for a casual yet sophisticated ensemble.


  • Where can I shop for a semi-formal dress?

    You can find a wide selection of semi-formal dresses at department stores such as Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, or Macy’s. In addition, brands like Reformation, Lulus, and Revolve are also great options for this dress code.

  • How should I style my semi-formal look?

    Accessories play an important role in semi-formal attire because they can completely transform a look. If you’re worried that your ensemble may be too casual, add a statement clutch and heels. On the other hand, if you're hoping to dress down your look, you may want to opt for flats or chic sandals, depending on the time of day and the location of the wedding.

  • Is there a difference between co*cktail and semi-formal attire?

    Semi-formal and co*cktail attire have been known to be interchangeable, but in some cases, co*cktail attire is a small step above semi-formal. While semi-formal can include elevated sundresses, this may not be appropriate for a co*cktail dress code. If you are genuinely stuck on whether your dress is suitable, consult with the hosts to see what they recommend.

  • What colors should you wear to a semi-formal wedding?

    Unlike black-tie events, semi-formal weddings don’t adhere to a strict color palette. If you’re attending a fall or winter wedding, you might want to choose darker colors and solid patterns, like ASTR The Label’s Gracie Satin Midi Dress. For spring and summer nuptials, prints and florals, like the Reformation Twilight Dress, are completely appropriate. Steer clear of traditional bridal colors like white and off-white, and if you’re in doubt about what colors are appropriate to wear, ask the bride and groom.

Why Trust Brides

Contributing writerMelony Forcieris a recent graduate starting her career path in beauty and fashion journalism. Before graduating, she interned with both Boston Magazine and Foundation PR. Additionally, she served as a fashion editor for Boston University's lifestyle magazine, The Buzz.

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Not Casual, Not Black Tie: 21 Gorgeous Semi-Formal Wedding Guest Dresses (2024)


What a woman should wear to a semi-formal wedding? ›

Semi-Formal Wedding Attire for Women

"No heavy beading or floor-length gowns. Instead, women can don anything from a mid- to knee-length skirt with fabrics featuring minimalistic patterns and/or muted colors." Holland also notes that women can lean into more tailored looks, like two-piece ensembles and suits.

How do you answer is there a dress code wedding? ›

3. What should I wear?
  1. “The wedding is casual, so please feel free to wear whatever you'd feel best in!”
  2. “The wedding is semi-formal, so we encourage you to wear co*cktail attire [for evening events] / Sunday best [for daytime events].”
  3. “The wedding is formal, so we encourage you to wear black tie attire.
Oct 2, 2019

What should you not wear to a semi-formal wedding? ›

Sometimes, the easiest way to determine what you should wear for a semi formal dress code is by first figuring out what you shouldn't wear. As we mentioned above, tuxedos and evening gowns are too dressy for semi formal wedding attire, as are pocket squares and glittery jewelry.

What is the most suitable dress code for semi-formal event? ›

Semi-Formal Attire

For men, a dark suit with a dress shirt and tie is appropriate. Consider adding a pocket square for an extra touch of elegance. Women can choose from knee-length dresses, dressy separates, or a stylish co*cktail dress. Complete your ensemble with heels and tasteful accessories.

What are examples of semi-formal attire? ›

Examples of semi-formal attire can include the likes of a dark suit and tie for men or a co*cktail dress for women. Tuxedos and floor-length gowns are a little too much, but the likes of khakis, jeans, and polo shirts are far too little. Those items would fall instead into men's casual wedding attire.

Can I wear a floral dress to a semi-formal wedding? ›

Think vibrant, think chic, think elegant, but above all, think comfort. Here are 15 outfit inspirations to get you on the right track to semi-formal fabulousness. Floral Fun: A knee-length floral dress paired with strappy heels is perfect for a daytime, outdoor wedding.

How do you tell guests about dress code? ›

Put It on the Invitation

The simplest way to tell your guests what they're expected to wear is to put a dress code in the invitation. There is a time-honored glossary of dress-code wording short enough to include on invitations, or on a card inserted with the invitation.

How do you describe black tie optional on a wedding website? ›

Black tie optional. A black tie optional dress code still encourages formal attire, but gives guests a bit more wiggle room. It's more acceptable for guests to choose a suit and tie over a tuxedo, or a floor length dress that isn't a full evening gown.

What is black tie optional? ›

Emily Post Institute offers a similar definition: “A black-tie optional dress code gives guests a couple of formal options to choose from. Men are requested to wear a tuxedo, but can opt for a dark suit. Women can choose either a formal evening gown, a shorter co*cktail dress, or dressy separates.”

What colors to wear to a semi-formal wedding? ›

co*cktail Dress: A knee-length or slightly above knee-length dress that isn't overly elaborate but still sophisticated. Opt for classic colors like black, navy, or jewel tones. Dressy Separates: Pairing a blouse or top with a skirt or dressy pants can also be appropriate for semi-formal events.

What color not to wear to a wedding? ›

Leave all white, ivory, and champagne-hued shades alone, unless the invitation specifically designates an all-white dress code. "White and ivory are such a stark, prominent color that when you are the only one, as the bride, wearing it, all eyes are on you," says Avrumson.

Can a guest wear black to a semi-formal wedding? ›

As long as the event calls for a particular level of formality and you won't upstage the couple or the wedding party, it's safe to wear black to the wedding.

What does it mean when an invitation says semi-formal attire? ›

What does a semi-formal dress code mean? Just like the name suggests, a semi-formal dress code simply means you should show up wearing a somewhat dressy look. "It falls at the intersection of casual and formal," Emily Forrest, Zola's director of communications, says.

Can I wear a maxi dress to a semi-formal event? ›

A floor-length dress is not necessarily more dressy than a shorter dress. It depends on the fabric and styling. There are lots of maxi-dresses that are not big ballgowns or with a lot of embellishment that are perfectly appropriate for a semi-formal event.

What is the dress code between casual and semi-formal? ›

Semi-Formal or Dressy Casual

Women can wear below-the-knee dresses, slip dresses, a dressy skirt and top, or an elegant pantsuit (styled with heels, nice wedges, or formal flats). As for men, opt for a dress shirt and slacks, with the option to wear a tie.

What should a 60 year old woman wear to a semi-formal wedding? ›

Midi length is the preferred length for many women who want dresses to attend formal or semi-formal events. Maxi Length – Maxi dresses can be flattering if you are over 60 because it makes sure that everything is safely covered. It is elegant and suitable for fancier occasions.

Is it OK to wear black to a semi-formal wedding? ›

As long as it's not considered culturally inappropriate or against the dress code, you can wear black to a wedding. Depending on where the couple is exchanging vows, which season their special day is taking place in, and what time of day everything begins, black may or may not be your best color option.

What is the difference between dressy casual and semi-formal? ›

Semi-formal is basically a scaled-up version of dressy casual attire. Mini and midi dresses and skirts are great options for both dress codes—but for a dressy casual wedding, you could also pair a statement blouse with a pair of chiffon pants or slim-fit cropped slacks.

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