Semi Formal Wedding Attire – What It Is + Full Dress Code Guide

wedding guests in colorful and patterned semi formal wedding attire for a spring ceremony
photog: Jordan Voth | bride: Fashion Jackson

We love any excuse to rock a new look, and a wedding is one of the best opportunities to try out the latest trends (neon pink, anyone?) or go a little glam. But when the dress code calls for semi formal wedding attire, it can be difficult to know where the (hem)line is. How formal is too formal? Are jeans allowed? Is there such a thing as too many sparkles?

With more and more couples opting for semi formal weddings, now’s the time to get up-to-date on this ambiguous dress code. That’s why we’re digging into what semi formal wedding attire really means — so you can focus on finding the ‘fit that makes you stand out for all the right reasons, and not the wrong ones.

Plus, we’ve rounded up some stunning semi formal wedding attire for both men and women that have us counting down the days for our next wedding invite. Let’s get into it!

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Semi Formal Wedding Dress Code FAQs

group of guests walking through an outdoors landscape in chic blue and green patterned attire showing what to wear for a female semi formal wedding dress code
photo: Mary Hannah Harte

Despite being one of the most popular guest dress codes for modern-day weddings, semi formal wedding attire can still seem like a big question mark. But don’t stress — to help you dress to impress this wedding season, we’re breaking down all the must-know FAQs about what semi formal really means. From the best colors for a semi formal wedding to what not to wear for this dress code, keep scrolling for our complete attire guide!

What is Semi Formal Wedding Attire?

pink and floral semi formal wedding attire with layered fabric
dresses: Lulus

Semi formal wedding attire sits at the sweet spot between cocktail attire and a black tie dress code. It’s also commonly referred to as “dressy casual” — kind of like a weekend version of business casual. Think: flowy dresses, simple suit jackets, and timeless silhouettes.

For colors, prints, and hemlines, semi formal wedding attire doesn’t have strict rules like other dress codes, making it tricky to know what’s appropriate. We suggest factoring in the season and wedding venue to gauge what type of outfit is best. After all, a yellow mini dress may be perfect attire for a summer backyard wedding, but feels too flashy for a winter soiree in an elegant ballroom. It’s hard to go wrong when you dress specifically for the event!

To complete the semi formal dress code, we recommend a natural, polished beauty look. That means you can skip the time-consuming updo and let your hair down (literally) with loose waves. And while we love a smoky eye, give your sparkly evening palette a rest and try a neutral color instead.

GWS Semi Formal Wedding Attire Tip: When in doubt, go for the dressier option. While every couple may have different interpretations of what semi formal wedding attire means, most will appreciate the extra effort you took to dress up for their big day. So, if you’re deciding between khakis or slacks, we say nice dress pants never killed anyone.

Formal vs Semi Formal Wedding Attire

guests wearing semi formal wedding attire for a summer pool wedding
photo: Jesse Chaberlin Marble and Caitlin B Photography, as seen in this jazzy New Orleans wedding

While you don’t want to ruffle feathers by dressing in super casual attire for a semi formal wedding, you also don’t want to go too far in the other direction. But where is the line between formal vs semi formal wedding attire?

With formal wedding attire, also known as black tie optional, guests will be dressing to the nines. For this dress code, you can expect elevated evening looks and luxe accessories that would be out of place in a casual setting. A semi formal wedding attire dress code, on the other hand, is one or two steps below that — less glitz and glam, more relaxed and refined.

For example, tuxedos fall in the black tie optional category, while suit jackets and dress pants are more dressy casual. Similarly, floor-length gowns are gorgeous for a formal wedding, while sophisticated midi dresses are perfect for a semi formal dress code.

bride and groom wearing formal outfits

Going black tie optional instead? Check out our A to Z men’s formalwear guide!

What Should You Not Wear to a Semi Formal Event?

a man wearing a grey suit with a white button down shirt and a woman wearing a white and blue floral dress showing what male and female semi formal wedding attire is
semi formal wedding attire: Show Me Your Mumu

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. In other words, if your outfit would look at home at a black tie event, it probably doesn’t qualify as semi formal wedding attire.

At the other end of the dressy spectrum, jeans are typically a no-go for a semi formal dress code. The same goes for t-shirts and most tennis shoes (although a trendy pair of sneakers could be elevated with a sophisticated suit). Think of it this way: anything that would make it on your Saturday afternoon coffee run probably isn’t a good fit for a semi formal wedding attire dress code

What Attire Colors Are Appropriate For a Semi Formal Wedding?

group of women wearing bright, colorful floor length semi formal wedding attire dresses in a mix and match style
photo: Jac Dodge Photography

When it comes to the best colors for your semi formal wedding attire, you can’t go wrong with muted hues and pastel shades. This is also a bit of a balancing act — dark hues like black and charcoal generally feel too formal for a semi formal dress code, while bright and flashy colors are typically reserved for cocktail attire. We suggest playing it safe with soft colors that fall somewhere in the middle (like blush pink or navy blue).

When in doubt, you can also use the season as your color inspiration. Brighter colors are more appropriate for a spring or summer wedding, while darker hues are a go-to for the fall and winter. And if you do want to mix things up with your color choice, create some balance with a subtle print (such as bright florals on a navy dress or a patterned button-down with a black blazer) and strategic accessories. Which brings us to our next FAQ….

What Type of Accessories Should You Wear With Semi Formal Wedding Attire?

female wearing an ankle-length pink and red botanical dress matching a semi formal wedding attire dress code for an outdoor ceremony
dress: Abercrombie & Fitch

Now for the fun part! Just because a semi formal dress code doesn’t call for the bling of black tie or the endless options of a casual wedding, that doesn’t mean you can’t be playful with your accessories.

If your outfit is more on the casual side, dress it up with some statement jewelry (we love tassel earrings for moments like this) or a chic yet comfy pair of heels. For ‘fits that are leaning formal, tone it down with a simple birthstone necklace or some dance-friendly flats.

When accessorizing suits, ties are not mandatory — but if the mood strikes, don’t be afraid to choose something with a bit of color. For shoes, dapper is always better, so we recommend a classy pair of dress shoes, oxfords, or loafers. And while pocket squares and cufflinks are out for a semi formal dress code, a sleek watch and classy belt will always be in.

The Best Semi Formal Wedding Attire for Both Men and Women

group of ladies wearing pink and red feminine semi formal wedding attire
photo: Lilly Red

Still not sure what to wear for a semi formal dress code? We’ve got you covered. Whether you’re packing for a tropical destination wedding or attending a small ceremony at a mountain lodge, we’ve narrowed down the best semi formal wedding attire for every style. Get ready to say yes to the dress — or the suit!

Semi Formal Dresses + Other Wedding Attire for Women

group of ladies wearing bright neon semi formal wedding attire gowns
dresses: Show Me Your Mumu

While dress pants and jumpsuits are totally acceptable (and chic) options for a semi formal dress code, we’ll take any opportunity to rock a breezy, on-trend dress. And since these dresses aren’t too — dare we say — dressy, you can easily wear them over and over again. Keep scrolling for our top picks, including eye-catching options for every style, season, and budget!

1: Retro Floral Semi Formal Dress For Weddings

colorful retro floral semi formal dresses for wedding with high slit

Since floor-length gowns are more black tie territory, we love a feminine and flowy midi dress for a semi formal dress code look. This square-neck dress kicks things up a notch, with a retro floral print that has us dreaming of a warm-weather cocktail hour.

Pair this dress with these pleated blush heels, and you’re pretty much golden.

Shop This Retro Floral Midi Dress

plus size green wedding guest dresses for spring

Check out our full roundup of stunning spring wedding guest dresses for more fashion inspo!

2: Chic Copper Semi Formal Dress For Weddings

elegant twisted front halter style copper color semi formal wedding attire dresses for women

Turn up the heat with this chic copper midi dress! Gorgeous warm hues and soft silky fabric make this the perfect semi formal attire for an autumn wedding or sunset ceremony. Pair it with statement gold jewelry for a look that’s sophisticated and always stylish.

Shop This Copper Hued Midi Dress

3: Dreamy Navy Botanical Semi Formal Wedding Attire

flowy navy blue maxi length semi formal wedding attire dresses for women with an orange botanical pattern

When it comes to stylish semi formal wedding attire, Reformation is the holy grail for guests….and this dress is proof! Every detail on this flowy wrap dress is absolute perfection, from the whimsical botanical print to the ultra-high leg slit. Plus, it also comes in multiple other dreamy patterns. We have no notes!

Shop This Flowy Navy Wrap Dress

4: Cute Chiffon Semi Formal Dress

cute mini tiered lavender chiffon semi formal wedding attire dresses for women with a pink flower pattern

A semi formal dress code doesn’t mean you have to hide your legs! Show off your summer glow with this dreamy chiffon mini dress. Details like the flowy ruffles and romantic flower print elevate the look, making it appropriate (and stylish) semi formal attire for a warm-weather wedding.

P.S. Not sold on the florals? This cute mini also comes in hot pink for something a little bolder!

Shop This Flowy Chiffon Mini Dress

5: Elegant Satin Semi Formal Wedding Attire

elegant dusty blue semi formal wedding attire dresses

Timeless and universally flattering, this satin dress from Anthropologie adds a touch of elegance to your semi formal wedding attire. With a number of muted hues to choose from, this gown would shine for an intimate winter wedding. It’s a classic and elegant look that can’t be beat.

shop this elegant satin semi formal dress

6: Flirty High-Low Semi Formal Dress For Weddings

female in a chic pink and red flower pattern semi formal wedding attire dress with a high low skirt

Trend alert: high-low dresses are back! This colorful dress is business in the back and party in the front — perfect for warm weather weddings and fashion lovers who want to show off their statement heels. You’ll definitely be the talk of cocktail hour with this beauty!

Shop This Flirty RUffled Midi Semi-Formal Wedding Guest Dress

7: Simple Semi Formal Slip Dress

bright pink elegant ankle-length female semi formal wedding attire dresses

A minimalist slip dress is always a good idea for semi formal wedding attire (or any dress code, for that matter). Dress it up with statement earrings for a glamorous evening wedding or tone it down with chic flats for a beach bash.

And the best part? With such a simple style, you can wear this dress long after the wedding weekend!

Shop This Chic Pink Slip Dress

8: Mini Pastel Green Semi Formal Dress

mini length pastel green jacquard female semi formal wedding attire dress

A shimmery whimsical print balances the shorter hemline of this oh-so-sweet mini dress — perfect for a springtime celebration with a semi formal dress code. It’s a little bit cottagecore, a little bit regencycore, and A LOT dreamy. Proof that puff sleeves will never go out of style!

Shop This Pastel Green Mini Dress

9: Tiered Botanical Semi Formal Wedding Attire

long sleeve ruffle tiered female semi formal wedding attire dresses with a dark purple botanical print

If you’re attending a semi formal wedding in the colder months, this dress is your perfect plus one. It gives you extra coverage for chilly afternoons, with a maxi skirt and long billowy sleeves. But it’s made with lightweight fabric (and features cute cut-outs in the back), so it also won’t cause you to overheat on the dance floor. Talk about the best of both worlds!

Shop This Tiered botanical Maxi Dress

Mens Semi Formal Wedding Attire

colorful western inspired mens semi formal wedding attire
photo: Lilly Red

Good news — mens semi formal wedding attire can be as simple or as stylish as you make it. For men who prefer a classic, sophisticated look, the recipe is easy: a suit jacket, button-down, dress pants, and a tie.

For those who are looking to break the mold and have some fun, you can make a statement (while still following the semi formal dress code) by adding bold colors and unexpected accessories. Our picks tick all the boxes, so all you have to do is add your personal touch.

10: Mens Classic Grey Suit Jacket

charcoal grey wool blazer male semi formal wedding attire

For mens semi formal wedding attire, a sleek suit jacket is a no-brainer. This gray Italian wool option is unconstructed for a modern and casual tailored look, perfect for a semi formal dress code. And with such a versatile color, you can wear it well beyond the wedding weekend.

Shop This Grey Wool Mens Suit Jacket

11: Olive Green Mens Semi Formal Wedding Attire

mens semi formal wedding attire with an olive green chino suit and black leather loafers

Turn heads with this fitted chino suit. Made with a cotton chino fabric, this two-piece suit is equal parts sophisticated and comfortable. Plus, the olive green color adds a cool factor that elevates your look without going over the top.

Pair it with a dark turtleneck or button-down for a spring or fall wedding with a semi formal dress code.

Shop This Olive Green Mens Blazer + Pants

12: Mens Checkered Gray Suit Pants

mens semi formal wedding attire gray checkered suit pants

Inject your mens semi formal wedding attire with some personality! These gray checkered pants are effortlessly cool, and the slim fit is modern and flattering. Plus, they look great with a nice pair of sneakers — so nothing can hold you back on the dance floor.

Shop These Mens Checkered Suit Pants

13: Mens Tailored Brown Blazer

man wearing brown blazer and black pants male semi formal wedding attire

A mens single-breasted blazer is the definition of timeless semi formal attire, perfect for any season or wedding venue. We’re especially digging this tailored caramel brown one — it stands out from a sea of blues and grays, while still looking super classy. Meet your new favorite closet staple!

Shop This Classic Mens Brown Blazer

men wearing classic black suits

Need more suit inspo?! We’ve got you covered with our fave wedding suits for a truly gentlemanly look.

14: Mens Semi Formal Mauve Wedding Attire

male semi formal wedding attire with a mauve suit jacket and matching pants

We love a statement color for a semi formal dress code, and this mauve suit jacket and matching pants are next-level dapper. Keep it classy with a white or black button-down, or give the look a playful twist with a botanical print. Either way, you’ll be the life of the party with this look.

Shop This Mens Mauve Mens Suit Jacket

15: Mens Semi Formal Slim-Fit Blue Wedding Attire

mens dressy casual slim fit blue semi formal suit jacket for wedding

Crafted with Italian stretch wool, this J.Crew suit jacket is designed for top-tier comfort and style. And with a crisp blue color, this mens semi formal wedding attire can easily be dressed up or down for a day-time versus evening dress code look.

Shop This Mens Slim-Fit Blue Suit Jacket

16: Mens Linen Semi Formal Wedding Attire

mens semi formal wedding attire with a beige linen suit jacket

Let’s be honest: nothing sounds worse than wearing a heavy wool suit jacket during an outdoor wedding in July. That’s where linen suits come in. With breathable fabric, this mens linen blazer will help you stay cool (and look cooler) without straying from the semi formal wedding attire dress code.

Shop This Mens Linen Suit Jacket

17: Mens Semi Formal Plaid Wedding Attire

brown plaid blazer and matching pants mens semi formal wedding attire with a white and light brown vertical striped button down shirt

Chic, stylish, and unique, this brown plaid suit is made to be shown off. For a semi formal dress code, we would style the plaid pants and matching blazer with a lightweight button-down (this striped one adds a unique touch!) and some suede dress shoes to tie the whole look together.

Shop This Brown Plaid Mens Semi Formal Wedding Attire

Mastering Semi Formal Wedding Attire For All Seasons

a woman sitting at a dinner table, holding a glass of wine, and wearing a striped orange and lavender strapless semi formal maxi dress wedding attire
dress: Anthropologie

Looking for more wedding attire inspo that adheres to a semi formal dress code? We’re here to help you nail the look!

Whether your next event is in winter, spring, summer, or fall, we’ve rounded up the wedding guest gowns that will light up the night (and your Instagram feed). We’ve also rounded up some dapper men’s wedding suits perfect for a semi formal dress code — and beyond!

Have more questions about semi formal wedding attire….or any other tricky dress codes? Let us know in the comments below!