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 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 do guests wear to a semi-formal wedding? ›

For men, that would be something like a light suit with a button-down shirt and dress shoes, or a blazer, dress shirt, and dress pants. For ladies, a classy co*cktail dress or dressy jumpsuit will always fit the bill.

What are the levels of dress code? ›

If you ask someone what the dress code at their office is, they'll generally give you one of four dress codes: business professional, business casual, smart casual or casual. There are some other in-between dress codes, but these four generally cover the spectrum of what your average American wears to work every day.

What is the semi-formal dress code for females? ›

A semi-formal dress is the epitome of femininity and sophistication. Opt for knee-length or tea-length dresses for a classic look, or embrace the allure of a chic co*cktail dress. Neutral tones like black, navy, or jewel tones are timeless choices, exuding sophistication.

What are examples of semi-formal attire? ›

At a semi-formal event, the rules are more relaxed than formal. However, suits are still the standard. Semi-formal co*cktail attire, for instance, usually includes crisp dress shirts, dinner jackets, blazers, and a dressy pair of pants.

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

"If I was heading to a summer semi-formal wedding, I would probably opt for a fun floral dress that's shorter in length or a comfortable jumpsuit, and in the winter I would likely wear something more dark and formal feeling," Forrest suggests.

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

Semi-Formal Attire

They are common for weddings, upscale dinner parties, or evening events. 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.

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

Semi-Formal, Dressy Casual, or co*cktail

Leather dress shoes or dressy loafers are fine. For the women, formal pantsuits or co*cktail dresses are great, but keep in mind the dress length should be just above the knee or longer.

Can you wear flats to a semi-formal wedding? ›

Make sure to pick shoes that are comfortable and fit the semi-formal dress code. Consider wearing a lower heel, block heel, or a flat. You'll want something that provides you the right amount of support for all the walking and standing you'll be doing. Explore different materials like satin, velvet, suede and leather.

What is the 3 color dress code? ›

The premise of the 3-color rule is not combine more than three colors in your outfit at any one time. The exceptions are black and white — they don't count, as they aren't technically colors, so they can be intermixed without actually adding a color to your outfit.

What is the most common dress code? ›

One of the most common dress codes out there is business casual. Think of it as a blend of business professional and casual wear. Instead of reaching for those high-end suits, ties, slacks, and blazers, you can wear sports coats, polos, khakis, trousers, vests, and more!

How to dress professionally as a female? ›

Fitted silhouettes and three-quarter sleeves are your best bet for a conservative business look. Avoid dresses and skirts that are too tight or too short. Look for ones that hit right at or just above the knee. When wearing a sleeveless dress, add a jacket or blazer to ensure you look pulled together and professional.

What color is semi-formal dress code? ›

Go with minimalism and traditional tailoring, darker colors, and matching accessories—a black belt with black shoes. Avoid brightly colored socks, sneakers, and t-shirts. Aim for an ensemble that makes you comfortable. If you're not used to semi-formal clothing, practice wearing your outfit ahead of the event.

Can I wear sandals in semi-formal? ›

What footwear should you choose for a semi-formal wedding? Women should wear pumps or high heels; however, stylish wedges and booties with heels can look good. If you're not a fan of heels, elegant sandals with embellishments or simple flats are fine.

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.

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

A floor length dress is fine for a semi formal as long as its a relatively simple dress design. If it looks like it belongs at a gala or on a runway it may be too much but a simple dress, either in a solid color or simple print with minimal decor (beading/sequins etc) is fine. Some decor is ok, just keep it simple.

What is an inappropriate dress for a wedding guest? ›

It doesn't matter if the dress code requests "casual" attire, jeans, T-shirts, shorts, flip-flops, and sneakers are never appropriate to wear as a wedding guest.

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

"The most important things to consider when choosing wedding guest attire are the venue, the time of day, and if the invitation indicates a dress code." If you see descriptions, such as formal or semi-formal, you have the green light to wear black.

What color not to wear to a wedding? ›

Steer clear of off-white, eggshell, beige, champagne, cream, or any other super light color that could be mistaken for white. There are so many dress options available in a variety of hues, so steering clear of these shades should not be a major issue.

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