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

  • Wedding Guest Attire


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

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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.

Our Top Picks

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Best Budget

Lulu’s Tiered Midi Dress

Not Casual, Not Black Tie: 21 Gorgeous Semi-Formal Wedding Guest Dresses (3)

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

Best One-Shoulder

Baobab x REVOLVE Marea Beach Maxi Dress

Not Casual, Not Black Tie: 21 Gorgeous Semi-Formal Wedding Guest Dresses (4)

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

For the Sophisticated Guest

Michael Costello x Revolve Marisol Mini Dress

Not Casual, Not Black Tie: 21 Gorgeous Semi-Formal Wedding Guest Dresses (6)

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

For a Spring Wedding

Lulu's Tiered Bustier Midi Dress

Not Casual, Not Black Tie: 21 Gorgeous Semi-Formal Wedding Guest Dresses (7)

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

The 20 Best Spring Wedding Guest Dresses of 2023

Most Dynamic

Shona Joy Noemi Ruched Mini Dress

Not Casual, Not Black Tie: 21 Gorgeous Semi-Formal Wedding Guest Dresses (8)

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

Best Floral Print

Reformation Twilight Dress

Not Casual, Not Black Tie: 21 Gorgeous Semi-Formal Wedding Guest Dresses (9)

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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Best Color

Ulla Johnson Carine Dress

Not Casual, Not Black Tie: 21 Gorgeous Semi-Formal Wedding Guest Dresses (10)

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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For a Daytime Wedding

Yumi Kim Petra Dress

Not Casual, Not Black Tie: 21 Gorgeous Semi-Formal Wedding Guest Dresses (11)

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

Best Mini

Hello Molly Strut All Night Dress

Not Casual, Not Black Tie: 21 Gorgeous Semi-Formal Wedding Guest Dresses (12)

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

For a Fall Wedding

ASTR The Label Gracie Satin Midi Dress

Not Casual, Not Black Tie: 21 Gorgeous Semi-Formal Wedding Guest Dresses (13)

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

The 15 Best Long-Sleeve Wedding Guest Dresses

Best Ruffles

1.State Shelia Ruffle Tiered Maxi Dress

Not Casual, Not Black Tie: 21 Gorgeous Semi-Formal Wedding Guest Dresses (14)

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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Most Classic

Sachin & Babi Harper Dress

Not Casual, Not Black Tie: 21 Gorgeous Semi-Formal Wedding Guest Dresses (15)

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

Most Relaxed

River Island Green Floral Frill Midi Swing Dress

Not Casual, Not Black Tie: 21 Gorgeous Semi-Formal Wedding Guest Dresses (16)

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

Best Cutout

Significant Other Jacy Dress

Not Casual, Not Black Tie: 21 Gorgeous Semi-Formal Wedding Guest Dresses (17)

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

Best Slip Dress

BHLDN Cali Satin Cowl-Neck Midi Slip Dress

Not Casual, Not Black Tie: 21 Gorgeous Semi-Formal Wedding Guest Dresses (18)

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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For a Beach Wedding

Staud Landry Dress

Not Casual, Not Black Tie: 21 Gorgeous Semi-Formal Wedding Guest Dresses (20)

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

The 41 Best Places to Buy Wedding Guest Dresses for Every Style, Season, and Budget

Best One-Shoulder

Dress The Population Tiffany One-Shoulder Midi Dress

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

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

The 24 Best Flattering One-Shoulder Wedding Guest Dresses Everyone Will Adore

Best Little Black Dress

Reformation Kaede Dress

Not Casual, Not Black Tie: 21 Gorgeous Semi-Formal Wedding Guest Dresses (22)

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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Best Plus Size

Azazie Lindie Dress

Not Casual, Not Black Tie: 21 Gorgeous Semi-Formal Wedding Guest Dresses (23)

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 a woman wear to a semi-formal wedding? ›

When you're shopping for semi-formal attire for women, you can skip the evening gown and wear a co*cktail dress instead. Dressy jumpsuits, rompers, and separates are also appropriate semi-formal wedding attire options.

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

Stay clear of jeans and khakis! "I can't tell you how many men think that semi-formal means nice jeans and a button-down. It does not," advises Holland. "Our best advice for men is to wear dress pants and a fun dinner jacket with a button-down shirt."

What is formal attire not black tie? ›

Formal wedding attire (synonymous with black-tie optional attire) offers more flexibility than black tie, so dressy separates and dresses that hit above the ankle are acceptable, as well as fitted, darker-hued suits paired with a crisp white button-down and tie, adds Rivera.

What to wear to a formal wedding if you don t like dresses? ›

Choose a 2-Piece Set/Suit To Wear To A Wedding Other Than A Dress. A one-and-done option is always the easiest choice. For those who don't want to wear a dress or a jumpsuit, a “set” or a “suit” would be the next best thing.

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 does semi-formal look like for a woman? ›

What is semi-formal attire for women? Semi-formal attire is more dressy than what you may wear to the office but not a gown. The biggest difference between black tie (in which a gown is an option) and semi-formal attire for women is dress length, said Kaki Gaines, wardrobe stylist and founder of EDIT/MODE and BY/KAKI.

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 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 are examples of semi-formal attire? ›

Semi-formal dress is a popular choice for events where the hosts want to achieve a certain level of class without asking everyone to wear tuxedos. Examples of semi-formal attire can include the likes of a dark suit and tie for men or a co*cktail dress for women.

What dresses not to wear to a wedding? ›

Anything too revealing.

Save the skimpy co*cktail dress for a party and opt for a more conservative outfit. Dresses and skirts should be around knee length and cleavage should be covered. Wedding guest dress etiquette is all about not upstaging the bride, something you risk if you turn up with a plunging neckline.

What is the elegant dress code for ladies? ›

A midi or mini party dress styled with heeled sandals, a clutch bag can create an elegant look. If the occasion is slightly more formal, a long party dress would be appropriate too paired with silver or gold jewellery.

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

Smart casual is more relaxed. It's often the dress code for casual social events but with a small mix of formality like a shirt or chinos thrown in. A denim shirt with light chinos works well as smart casual. On the other hand, semi-formal is a step up in formality.

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

A semi-formal dress code comes in at medium to high on the formality Richter scale. You're likely going to want to wear a suit, but you don't need to wear a tie. You don't really need to wear a shirt. You want the suit to fit your frame, but you needn't run to a tailor to get it expertly measured to your frame.

Can ladies wear pants for semi-formal? ›

When we talk about what is semi-formal for women, it doesn't mean you have to be confined to just semi-formal dresses. Skirts, jumpsuits, and even tailored pants can make a stunning statement. Think vibrant, think chic, think elegant, but above all, think comfort.

What color is semi-formal dress code? ›

How to Dress for a Semi-Formal Event
  • Well-tailored suits in dark hues: Navy, charcoal, and dark grey are versatile choices that project a sharp, polished look.
  • Light-colored dress shirts: Opt for crisp, white or light pastel shirts to contrast nicely with your darker suit.
Mar 22, 2024

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