Tips on your beach wedding look.
While getting married with the sand under your toes is the dream of many, it can cause some confusion amongst guests concerning what to wear. As opposed to traditional dress codes such as cocktail, semi-formal, or formal, the “beach” element means you can think a little more comfy, cool, and casual when dressing for the event. Naturally, the time of the year, the weather, and the venue will all be deciding factors when choosing your look.
Attending a beach wedding can feel like taking a miniature vacation. But if you get an invite to a tropical ceremony, you might be unsure of what to wear. Beach wedding attire for guests varies depending on the venue and wedding style. While your first instinct might be to grab a sundress or shorts, it’s a good rule of thumb to know beach wedding attire has a sense of formality. While you likely won’t need to wear a full suit or evening gown, your outfit should still be appropriate for a wedding. Regardless of how casual the beach wedding may be, it’s still best to skip the T-shirts and flip-flops to be sure you’re tastefully dressed for the occasion.
If you’re wondering what to wear to a beach wedding, your search ends here. To help you plan an appropriate outfit, we break down everything to know about beach wedding attire for guests. We’ll share how to determine the formality of the event, as well as beach wedding attire ideas for men and women. And, to make your shopping experience as simple as possible, we’ve rounded up the best beach wedding outfits for guests that you can buy on the spot.
What is a Beach Wedding Attire?
Beach wedding attire is commonly assumed to be dressy casual—and while this may be true for some weddings, others may be an upscale affair. In general, though, beach wedding attire for men and women includes bright colours, lightweight fabrics, and semi-formal accessories. The most common beach wedding outfits for men include slacks or chinos, a button-down shirt, and a suit jacket or blazer for a formal ceremony. Midi and mini dresses, as well as jumpsuits or formal rompers, are appropriate choices for women.
If you are attending a beach wedding, research the weather for your destination. Regardless of the time of year, there’s a chance the climate will be tropical—or, at the very least, somewhat warm. Fabric is a key element of your beach wedding attire. Breathable materials like linen and cotton are ideal for being outdoors. Even a wool suit jacket can work, especially if it’s unlined or blended with lighter fabrics.
When it comes to accessories, brighter is better. A beach wedding is a great opportunity to wear a patterned tie or colourful statement earrings. It’s also perfectly acceptable to wear dressy sandals or loafers sans socks.
Things to Consider When Dressing for a Beach Wedding
Ah, mother nature. She usually keeps the beach warm and breezy, but you never know when a storm will creep up, or a heatwave will leave you sweating in your sundress. Our advice is simple:
- Check the weather and come prepared.
- Wear light fabrics that will help you stay cool in the sun and won’t stick to your skin.
- Think chiffon, linen, organza, and cotton blends that will help keep you cool under the sun.
It might go without saying, but light and bright colours are the gold standards when it comes to picking your dress for a beach wedding. On a happy day by crystal blue water with your feet in the sand, your outfit should be just as sunny. If the bride has a colour scheme, she wants guests to adhere to, consider her colour palette and look for shades that flatter your skin tone.
Beach weddings are usually casual but don’t get caught in a casual outfit if the beach wedding you plan to attend is a formal affair.
Casual: This is the most common type of beach wedding. A simple sundress for women fits the occasion, and khaki or linen shorts and shirt for men are appropriate. Casual beach weddings are usually held during the day, and wearing flip-flops or even going barefoot is acceptable.
Semi-Formal: A semi-formal beach wedding usually means an evening ceremony and reception to follow. Though beach clothing is still light and breezy, semi-formal men’s beach wedding attire should involve khaki, linen, or seersucker pants, a button-down, and a sport coat. Women should look for a cocktail or tea-length dresses made of a dressy material. Lace, chiffon, and organza are all beautiful and comfortable choices.
Formal: While rare, formal beach weddings do exist! These are almost always held in the evening, followed by a reception that often involves a cocktail hour, dinner, and dancing. Floor-length gowns are the standard for ladies, while a suit is a general rule for men.
Although beach wedding looks are a little more toned down, they’re fun to accessorize! Have fun with bangles or bejewelled earrings and carry a clutch or small cross-body purse. If you’re pulling your hair back, add to your style with a headscarf or hair clip. Don’t forget a light jacket or wrap for sensible accessorizing when things cool down in the evening.
The idea of wearing shoes in the sand might seem a little pointless, but beach wedding shoes might be more important than you realize. What sort of beach shoes do you wear? Are wedding-flip flops a real thing? If the wedding is on a pier or near a boardwalk, or the reception is at a different indoor location, you’ll likely be glad to have something on your feet.
For men, leather flip-flops or other sandals are appropriate at casual beach weddings, but you can’t go wrong with a light-coloured loafer or boat shoe.
Even formal beach weddings don’t typically call for sky-high heels or wedges, since these can be difficult to walk in. Try dressy gladiator sandals or ballet flats, which are sure to be both comfortable and stylish. If you really want to rock a favourite pair of stilettos at a formal beach wedding, bring a pair to change into before the reception gets started.
Of course, you want your hair and makeup to look perfect for all the pictures you’ll be snapping with loved ones. However, there’s some practical advice to be followed where your hair is concerned.
There’s nothing worse than flyaway hairs getting in your face, sticking to your lipstick, and making you look dishevelled on a breezy beach. If you have long hair, consider pinning it back with a pretty clip or bobby pins. For maximum and cool comfort, go for an updo to keep your hair off your neck and in place.
A beach wedding is not the time to wear your dark, vampy lipstick or a smoky eye. Heavy make up will be hard to maintain in heat, because increased sweat means your eye makeup and foundation might run or smudge.
If you think it will be a long night, or if you’re a member of a wedding party trying to keep picture-perfect makeup for hours, consider a makeup setting spray or powder. Don’t forget the waterproof mascara!
Natural makeup can still make a statement and flatter anyone without being overwhelming or taking over the bride’s look. Modest amounts of foundation and eye makeup give a soft, dewy look that is perfect for the beach setting. If you want your makeup to have a subtle pop, opt for a pale pink or coral lip colour or pastel eyeliner.
What to Wear to a Beach Wedding
When putting together your outfit, consider a semi-formal dress code. While beach wedding attire for guests likely doesn’t include full suits and floor-length gowns, it’s better to go with an outfit that’s slightly more elevated as opposed to a laid-back sundress or shorts (unless that’s explicitly requested on the invitation). If you’re unsure of the formality of the wedding, use the couple’s invitation and wedding website for guidance. The time of day can sometimes help guide your outfit choices, as evening weddings tend to be more formal. The venue can also serve as a resource. A beach wedding at an upscale resort will likely require a more formal outfit than an intimate gathering right at the water. For even more help, use the couple’s wedding website for guidance. This is where the to-be-weds will expand on specific attire requests, so it can help you decide on an appropriate outfit.
A dress, suit, or jumpsuit all work for a formal beach wedding. Opt for solid, lighter colours (avoiding black, cream, and white) and breathable fabrics. Tea-length dresses and jumpsuits are acceptable for formal beach attire. To up the elegance, wear a fabric such as metallic or lace. Since stilettos are a hazard on the sand, wear a chunky heel or formal sandals. Consider bringing a formal pair of heels for the reception if it’s not on the beach.
Wear either a suit or a long-sleeved shirt and tie with a jacket and slacks. Opt for solid colours, avoiding black, cream, and white—a summer suit is a perfect solution. Consider a breathable fabric such as linen, khaki, or seersucker. Dress shoes or a nice pair of shoes that compliment the slacks are required. Shorts and sandals are not permitted.
A dress, suit, formal romper, or jumpsuit all work for semi-formal. Feel free to include prints, avoiding anything too loud. If you choose to wear a beachy dress, consider it in either tea-length or maxi to avoid looking too casual. Dressy sandals, chunky heels, and wedges are acceptable footwear options.
While a jacket isn’t required, a breathable sport coat or unique blazer is a fun addition. Feel free to include prints, avoiding anything too loud. Shoes can be a little more casual, but still need to be closed-toe, such as a loafer or deck shoe. Shorts and sandals are not permitted.
Opt for a simple sundress, breezy maxi dress, or high-quality romper. While dressy sandals are acceptable, avoid standard, beachwear flip flops. Nice, short-sleeved shirts such as polos are permitted as well as nice shorts (think Chinos) with a belt. Lighter colours and/or bold prints will elevate your casual look. Avoid denim, cargo, and swim shorts. Cotton t-shirts are not permitted. This is the only instance when sandals may be acceptable, but ensure your feet as well-manicured before option for an open-toe look. If not, wear a deck shoe or loafer, never sneakers.
What to Wear to a Beach Wedding: Women
- If the invitation indicates that you should wear formal beach attire, then a long, elegant gown is perfectly appropriate.
- Semi-formal beach attire calls for short, or tea-length dresses, which are great because they won’t drag in the sand, plus they transition beautifully to a reception venue held at a restaurant or oceanfront hotel.
- Are you wondering what to wear to a casual beach wedding? Our advice is a nice Maxi dress. A maxi dress is loose-fitting, especially around the bottom of the dress so you can easily sweep it across the sand and brush it clean on land for a seaside reception.
What to Wear to a Beach Wedding: Men
- If the dress code is beach formal, you should wear a traditional suit and tie, especially if the reception is being held near the beach in a restaurant, resort ballroom, or on a yacht.
- If semi-formal beach wedding attire is required, then you should wear slacks and a button-down shirt. You can also wear a suit jacket or vest, but you can forego the tie! It is not needed since the venue is non-traditional and can make you feel restricted and overheated in warm/tropical weather.
- Long pants and a light colour button-down shirt with short or three-quarter sleeves is appropriate casual beach wedding attire for male guests.
Best Dress Colors
As a guest, you’re free to wear anything you want (provided you follow the dress code), but if you wish to complement the beautiful tones of the ocean, these hues are your best picks.
Go for a teal number. A pastel blue lace midi is an edgy complement to the shades of the sea. This seafoam green halter gown is reminiscent of the lapping of the waves at the shore.
Bring two dresses for the wedding day and an additional dress if you plan to attend any dressy pre-wedding events. If you are there for a long period of time, bring just one dress per day. For example, bring seven dresses for one week – that’s only seven pieces of clothing for a one-week trip – easy breezy!
Best Dress Styles
As you plan what to wear to a beach wedding, you’ll want to pick a dress that’s both formal and fun. Our best picks? A floral strappy gown that mimics the lush tropical flowers around the venue. Off-shoulder maxis are comfortable and classy, and midi dresses fit the occasion, too.
Take a look at the latest trends with these cute summer maxi dresses for women!
Choose wide, flowy skirts so you can comfortably move around and enjoy the sandy shoreline. Go for sleeveless dresses or butterfly sleeves. Don’t forget to bring versatile undergarments such as convertible bras you can wear with more than one dress.
Best Beach Wedding Jewelry
To accentuate your beach-inspired dress, pick statement jewellery with the same motif. Drop earrings are chic (we like filigree drops ).
Don’t bring your entire jewellery collection just choose two gorgeous sets you can mix and match and layer on or off as needed from day to night.
Just a reminder: exposure to saltwater and sand can damage your jewellery, so choose materials that won’t easily corrode. Avoid items plated with gold, rhodium, and vermeil.
Ditch those sky-high pumps as you decide what to wear to a beach wedding! Your heels may look fashionable, but they’re likely to sink in the sand. Besides, beach weddings are supposed to be fun!
Finish off the entire look with proper accessories. Carry a chic clutch during the day. Make sure to pack a pair of classy sunglasses to block the distracting rays of the sun. A beach-themed hair accessory, like a hairpin or even bright flowers, can add a whimsical touch to your attire.
Beach weddings call for beach curls. Let your hair down and go for wavy tresses topped with a flower crown. Or try a fishtail braid, which will keep your hair in place all the time.
If you have a friend with you, ask her to help you create a style! Girls with shoulder-length hair can make a messy, low bun with an elegant clip on the side.
You’ve got your hair and wardrobe ready; here comes the hard part. Beach wedding makeup is a bit tricky because the heat and humidity can melt (or cake up) your look.
- Tip #1: Protect your skin. Use a potent sunscreen with a higher SPF so you can hang out in the sun with no worries of getting wrinkles and dark spots. Be sure to blend it well before applying the rest of your makeup.
- Tip #2: Lighten up. Ditch the thick foundation and go for a lightweight primer or a BB cream. Avoid too much shimmer.
- Tip #3: Use waterproof eyeliner and mascara to keep black lines from smudging.
Beach Wedding Attire Etiquette
While the formality of the dress code is sometimes stated on the invitation, other times, the couple will just request “beach wedding attire.” If that’s the case, “It’s always better to be overdressed than under-dressed. “If the invitation doesn’t indicate formality, dress for a semi-formal event.”
Think normal semi-formal attire but with summer suits, breathable fabric, and touches of tropical elements. If attending a casual beach wedding, remember: This isn’t a family outing at the beach —it’s still a wedding. Leave the bathing suits and swim shorts at home and if opting for sandals, make sure they’re dressier than your normal beachy flip flops. Sun hats are permitted, but remove them during the procession to not block the view of other guests.
Whether it’s a breezy maxi dress, a seersucker suit, or formal romper, or a palm print jumpsuit, beach attire is a fun way to showcase your personality and rock some warm-weather favourites — be sure to lather on the sunscreen!