Do you have a wedding invitation with the words “semi formal wedding attire” on it and you’re wondering what that means?
Or perhaps the invite does not necessarily state semi formal and you’re unsure what to wear? We’re here to help!
Let’s figure out exactly what to wear to a semi formal wedding so your attire is on-point.
Plus, we’ll give you tips on what to do if you’re still stuck. Let’s get started!
Semi Formal Wedding Attire
What is semi formal attire?
Semi formal is the type of dress that is considered more relaxed and is less traditional than, let’s say, a black tuxedo or a formal ball gown.
When couples put the words semi formal dress on their wedding invitation, it is a clue that they’d like you to dress up — but not to the nines! This means dress up for the party, but no need for a ballgown and definitely no tuxedo.
Why should you follow a semi-formal wedding dress code? Why not wear whatever you’d like?
You should follow the proper dress code because it’s a polite thing to do and etiquette-wise, it is the right thing to do. :) The couple is throwing the party, and they are the hosts (or the wedding is being thrown in their honor); it is polite to wear proper dress, especially when it is indicated on the invitation.
Another reason why it is a good idea to wear semi formal wedding attire is that you won’t be more dressed up than the couple. If the bride and groom are planning a wedding in a less formal style, the bride will likely wear a nice dress and the groom will likely wear a suit.
If you show up in a ball gown or a tuxedo, you’ll upstage the couple or you’ll feel awkward being the fanciest dressed person in the room.
I think everyone remembers that episode where Jim wears a tuxedo to The Office to impress his new boss; remember how that went over? Not so well. ;)
On the other hand, if everyone is wearing nice attire and you are underdressed, that doesn’t feel so great, either! And it’s hard to summon up a suit at the last minute once you arrive. ;)
Anyway, here’s how to dress for a semi formal wedding.
Semi Formal Wedding Attire: Women
Women should wear a cocktail dress or midi dress and fun jewelry and/or a stylish clutch purse.
You can wear any dress shoes you like best: heels or flats.
You don’t need to get a fancy hairstyle; just style it as you would for a fun event!
No ballgown or formal gown is worn.
Semi Formal Wedding Attire: Men
To nail the perfect semi-formal wedding attire for men, wear dress pants with a nice button-down shirt and a suit jacket or a blazer. Wear a necktie or bowtie. Dress shoes are appropriate, but they don’t necessarily need to be fancy shiny shoes; a pair of leather dress shoes work.
For this dress code, no tuxedo is worn.
Need Tips for Wedding Dress Attire?
Here’s my secret: when I’m not sure exactly what to wear to a wedding, I go to my favorite dress stores online and take a peek at their suggested styles.
This does two things: it gives you fresh inspiration on what to wear to a semi-formal wedding and it gives you tips on what is currently in-style — or what is season-appropriate.
It also gives me tips on what a complete outfit would look like, as most dresses are styled by a company to give you a complete look: shoes, purse, hairstyle, accessories, the whole thing!
Where to Shop for Guest Dresses
Three places I swear by? Lulu’s, BHLDN, and Stitch Fix!
These are all perfect places to check out, even if you’re just checking them out for inspiration.
Then, you can head to your own closet and see what you have that is similar, or go ahead and treat yourself to a new outfit for the occasion.
At Lulu’s, they have a special section here for wedding guest dresses.
Head to BHLDN for their styles here.
And get styled by StitchFix for your upcoming event: they can even help you with shoes and accessories to pair with it. (See my review here.) If you want to try it, you’ll get $25 credit here (and I get credit, too!)
Last Minute Tips
When in doubt, consider the venue to assist with your semi-formal wedding attire ideas. If it’s a barn wedding or outdoor reception, it tends to be less casual than, say, a ballroom or a large historic venue.
And always wear a tie, even if you’re unsure.
After all, you can remove a tie if not needed later, but you can’t acquire a tie in a pinch if you’re under-dressed.
Hope it helps!