11 Cocktail Dresses That Are Ideal for a Semi-Formal Summer Wedding

The kind you'll want to wear long after the reception's over.

Cocktail Dresses for Summer Weddings
(Image credit: Tibi ¦ Bardot ¦ Design by Bridget Burns)

Wedding dress codes can be a headache to adhere to—unless it's beach casual—but at least "cocktail attaire" falls into that golden realm of style and price, in which you're not draining your bank account and also not teetering around in a silky maxi dress. Because we're smack dab in the middle of wedding season, we gathered a range of semi-formal summer dresses for every budget and style that'll actually have staying power beyond the nuptials. After you pick out the dress, shop these comfortable wedding heels so you can stay on the dance floor all night long.

1. An Off-the-Shoulder Dress

An Off-the-Shoulder Dress

(Image credit: Bardot)

Bardot, $66


This off-the-shoulder midi dress has dramatic bell sleeves and comes in three colors—blush, navy, and black—so pick the one that fits your mood. (Navy is always a solid choice, in our humble opinions.) Wear with red ankle-strap heels for a pop of color or beige pumps if you'd rather keep things neutral.

2. A Yellow Wrap Dress

A Yellow Wrap Dress

(Image credit: Diane von Furstenberg)

Diane von Furstenberg, $500


The amazing thing about DVF floral wrap dresses is that they suit all types of occasions. This particular midi number is cut from silk, making it an elegant choice for weddings but, you can easily re-wear it for graduations, bridal showers, and date nights. The options are endless.

3. A Tiered Floral Dress

A Tiered Floral Dress

(Image credit: Wayf)

Wayf, $99


This multi-tiered dress is made for dancing, whether you're getting down to Beyoncé at a wedding or Calvin Harris at your friend's birthday celebration at a fancy rooftop bar. To keep your feet from becoming blistered and sore, opt for flat sandals.

4. A Geometric Printed Dress

A Geometric Printed Dress

(Image credit: Alice & Olivia)

Alice & Olivia, $395


Tired of floral dresses? I present to you this Alice & Olivia number featuring stripes and geometric prints. The light peach color on this fluttery creation suits a sunny, outdoor event, whether that be a wedding or bridal shower. You'll stand out at the party in a good way.

5. A Lace Dress

A Lace Dress

(Image credit: H&M)

H&M, $80


Usually the "something blue" applies to the bride, but go ahead and sneak the color into your wedding guest outfit, too. I love tulle dresses with lace inserts like this one because they make the dress feel a bit fancier, but you can wear this with a comfy wedge espadrille for a more casual look.

6. A Sequin Dress

A Sequin Dress

(Image credit: Tibi)

Tibi, $1,350


Sequins do work for daytime if done right. And this Tibi dress is a perfect example. The pre-fall 2018 look is adorned with black sequins on the bodice, while the pleated skirt contains multicolored sequined stripes. This marriage of colors gives it a playful, daytime appropriate look—especially if you style the dress with simple metallic sandals.

7. A Racerback Dress

A Racerback Dress

(Image credit: Misa Los Angeles)

Misa Los Angeles, $180


The pretty knotted front of this dress is as attention-grabbing as it's shoulder-showing-off back. It also comes in black, dusty rose, red, and gray. So, what are you waiting for? Scoop it up and wear it to your BFF's beach-side wedding.

8. A One-Shoulder Dress

A One-Shoulder Dress

(Image credit: Charles Henry)

Charles Henry, $98


If you're going to wear a black dress, make it stand out with eye-catching details. This one-shoulder contemporary dress has a ruffle overlay, a built-in sash to cinch in your waist, and an asymmetrical hemline—all of which helps make it different from just any ol' LBD.

9. A Bright Red Dress

A Bright Red Dress

(Image credit: Vince Camuto)

Vince Camuto, $138


You can definitely get away with a minidress for semi-formal cocktail affairs. To keep your outfit modest, however, go for a more covered neckline like this Vince Camuto halter dress. It's slightly sexy, but instantly sweeter with the bow.

10. A Pleated Dress


(Image credit: A Pleated Dress)

Mango, $80


Twirl around on the dance floor and watch this dress's pleated skirt fan out as you spin in glee. The fabric is made to move even from the gentlest breeze. Find a dance partner to keep you steady on your feet (maybe your friend's cousin's best friend?), just in case you loose your balance after the champagne toasts.

11. A Gray Eyelet Dress

A Gray Eyelet Dress

(Image credit: Maggie London)

Maggie London, $168


What this dress lacks in color, it makes up for in details. Notice the cool eyelet designs, white leaf prints, and intricate stripes. Even the straps can be fastened into romantic bows, ensuring this dress is anything but dull.

Lori Keong