Semi-Formal Wedding Attire: Knowing What To Wear

Being invited to a wedding is always amazing news, and it’s all joy and excitement…until you realize you have to figure out what to wear. It’s one of the most challenging parts of being a guest, what clothing is appropriate for the event?

Semi-Formal Wedding Attire: Knowing What To Wear

Luckily, most wedding invitations will usually specify the wedding attire that is expected or requested of guests, whether it’s formal, semi-formal, or other.

If the wedding invitation states that it is a semi-formal event, then you know that you need to wear clothing that fits within that category. But what if you don’t know what semi-formal means? What kind of clothes does that include?

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Let’s get right into it, shall we?

What is Semi-Formal Attire?

Semi-formal attire is different from formal attire, in that it isn’t as formal, so it leans a little more into being more casual and relaxed (but still fancy). It basically means that you need to wear formal clothes, but that it isn’t a black-tie event, so you can differ from the super traditional suit and dress.

Basically, it’s fancy clothes that feel slightly more comfortable and casual. But not completely casual, so jeans, t-shirts, shorts, sneakers, and the likes are absolutely a big no.

Usually, semi-formal attire means that it’s fancy clothes that can be worn more than once, so you will be able to wear the outfit not only to the wedding, but also to things such as graduations, fancy restaurants, and others.

The thing with semi-formal attire is that the time of year also plays a part. So during the warmer season, lighter shades of colors are suggested for the clothing attire. During the winter or autumn season, or during weddings set in the evening, darker colors are considered to be more stylish and appropriate.

And of course, you should always avoid cream, white, and ivory colors at all costs, because that is reserved for the bride on her big day.

Choosing the right Semi-Formal Attire for a Wedding

Okay, so we’ve now established what semi-formal attire is, and you should have an idea of what it looks like. But what exactly should you wear?
We’ve divided it up into genders and age groups, to make it slightly easier. Let’s go ahead.

Semi-formal attire for men

Semi-formal attire for men means they can switch out the formal black tuxedo for a more casual suit, with colors such as navy blue, light grey, or even beige. Something sophisticated and fancy, but not too formal so as to overshadow the groom’s suit.

Men can opt for a more fun suit, such as plaid, stripe, or even pin dot patterns, instead of a solid black. They can also switch out black leather shoes for a brown alternative, and they can wear something more comfortable.

As semi-formal isn’t as strict as full-on formal, men could wear suspenders instead of a belt and can choose to ditch a matching vest if wanted. Besides, they can always make it slightly more formal by accessorizing with the right watch or cuff links!

Semi-formal attire for women

Women usually struggle the most when it comes to choosing their clothing, because there is an overwhelming amount of different options, and it can be tricky to pin down which option fits into the semi-formal category.

Let’s cover some basics to help you out:


As it’s not a formal event, a floor-length dress isn’t quite necessary. However, the most appropriate option for semi-formal is to keep the dress at a below-the-knee length.

Color schemes

Solid colors are always great, but if you want to give it a more casual look to better fit the semi-formal, you can opt for a fun pattern such as floral, or for asymmetrical hemlines to make the dress a bit more fun and relaxed.

Lighter colors for the summer, darker for the winter. And as always, the golden rule is to avoid the color white or any shade of ivory or cream.

Alternative clothing options

Although wearing a dress is the most common option for women, it isn’t the only option. For semi-formal events, a tailored jumpsuit or a romper is an excellent alternative, and if paired with the right accessories it can look absolutely perfect.


In semi-formal events there is no need to wear heels, so women can go for a more comfortable option such as flats or sandals. These are especially suitable if the wedding is set outdoors.

Semi-formal attire for young men

For teenage boys, it’s pretty much the same as men but adapted to their age. Instead of a full-on suit, some formal trousers and a shirt suffices. And instead of a tie, they can opt for a bowtie, which is slightly less formal, and a little more fun.

As for shoes, they can choose between formal black shoes or brown leather ones.

Semi-formal attire for young women

Teenage girls will either want to dress up in a mature way, similar to women, or they will want to enjoy the more age-appropriate options like dresses with sequels or bling, and more casual ruffles and hemlines.

If they do wear a more fun outfit, they should tone it down with some subtle jewelry and shoes, in order to stick to the semi-formal category.

A good option, to compensate for more daring dress options, is to incorporate a shawl or cardigan, to be worn during the ceremony, and that can then be taken off during the party celebrations.

In conclusion

To sum it all up, semi-formal attire is a more casual and comfortable version of formal clothing, and it gives you a few more alternatives so that you can better suit the season of year and theme of the wedding.

And if you really struggle with what to wear, you can always contact the hosts and ask for approval, just in case!

Just make sure the clothing is comfortable, and that it’s fun and casual while sticking to formal conventions, so nothing too daring!