In this article, I will discuss what has become the most popular style of wedding today, the semi-formal wedding. Formal weddings tend to have very stringent characteristics (not to mention high cost), while most couples like a level of formality to their wedding. Hence, the semi-formal style was born. However, like most semi-formal events, it’s important not to become either too formal or too informal. I will discuss the (widely ranging) level of formality in semi-formal weddings, and what distinguishes them from formal and informal weddings.
The wedding itself may be held in a house of worship, in which case there really isn’t much difference between levels of formality (churches don’t perform the service any differently). However, in a semi-formal wedding, there is usually some extra attention paid to the decorations of the house of worship. If the wedding is not in a house of worship, there are many different options. Usually the ceremony takes place in the same place as or very near the location of the reception. This can either be outside, or it can take place in a reception hall located at a country club, hotel or social club. Some people hold weddings inside a home, though most people who can fit an entire wedding in their home opt for a formal wedding.
Usually a wedding party for a semi-formal wedding is relatively small, averaging four or five per side. This is still enough to help with all the details of preparing for a wedding, but not as overwhelming as a larger party might be. They are usually assigned various tasks to help the bride and groom prepare for the event.
The bride has a great deal of freedom at a semi-formal wedding, and may wear any traditional wedding dress. The bridesmaids will usually wear formal dresses from ankle-length to tea-length (just below the knee). Bridesmaid dresses can actually be the trickiest part of a semi-formal wedding, as it is easy to either over or under dress. Basically, they should avoid either formal gowns, but still wear something formal and traditional looking.
For an evening wedding, grooms should wear a tuxedo, but without a tailcoat, which is too formal. In theory, for daytime weddings, grooms should not wear tuxedos, though this tradition is so widely broken that no one will really notice if you chose to wear one. Instead, a formal, dark suit should be worn. Traditionally, groom’s attendants dressed identically to the groom, and they still do so in formal weddings. For modern semi-formal weddings, the attendants dress very similarly to the groom, but with a slight (coordinating) variation. For instance, they may have a differently colored vest than the groom.
The reception is usually held outdoors or in a reception hall, usually in the same place as the wedding if it wasn’t in a house of worship. There are many different options for dinner. It may either be seated or a buffet style, though the wedding party (or at least the bride) should probably be served as it can be difficult to get food in their more formal attire. There are a lot of options for music, too. It can either be a D.J. or live music, and the dance music is often more contemporary than at formal weddings, though of course, you may choose to have softer music if you prefer.
Overall, a semi-formal wedding provides a lot of options to a bride and groom. Between the formal and the informal is a lot of space to shape your wedding as you please.