BEACH WEDDING ATTIRE GUIDE FOR GUESTS
With all that sunshine, salty warm air and soft sand underneath your feet, it doesn't get more beautiful than a beach wedding. The conundrum is figuring out how to dress for the occasion, because beach wedding attire can differ from your regular summer wedding attire or what you'd need with a more traditional wedding dress code. If you've been invited to a scenic ceremony on the beach but need a little help in the attire department, you've come to the right place.
Formal Beach Wedding Attire
The words "formal" and "beach" may not seem like they go hand in hand, but you might be surprised at just how many options you have when it comes to both women's and men's formal beach wedding attire.
For women, opt for a tea- or ankle-length dress with straps or short sleeves. You could also choose to wear a formal jumpsuit if you prefer. For more of a glam aesthetic, lean into elegant, lightweight fabrics such as lace, organza, charmeuse or silk. You can also elevate your beach wedding outfit with jewelry—think statement necklaces, chandelier earrings and an opulent bangle or two.
As for shoes, avoid pumps, stilettos or any other style that will make you sink into the sand. Instead, opt for dressy sandals, wedges or shoes with a flat sole or chunky heel. Jeweled straps, ornate detailing or a more glamorous design will ensure your shoes match the formality of the event.
Men's formal beach wedding attire does still call for traditional wedding apparel: a jacket, slacks and a crisp button-down shirt. To keep cool, choose lightweight, breathable fabrics such as linen or cotton, or consider a seersucker suit. You'll also want to wear formal dress shoes and thin socks. Avoid shorts, hats, flip-flops or open-toe shoes.
Semiformal/Cocktail Beach Wedding Attire
Semiformal or cocktail beach wedding attire still feels dressy but isn't as strict in terms of formality. For women, opt for jumpsuits or dresses that are slightly shorter in length and/or show a bit more arm. Think off-the-shoulder sleeves, asymmetric designs with one bare shoulder or even chic dresses that are sleeveless or have spaghetti straps. You can also lean into splashier prints in moderation.
Shoes should still feature flat or mostly flat soles so you don't risk sinking into the sand. You can go slightly less formal with cleaner designs or use an elaborate shoe style to elevate a simpler dress.
Men can also wear slightly more relaxed attire for a semiformal/cocktail beach wedding. A jacket isn't required, but if you're keen on adding some flair to your outfit, you could pair a three-quarter- or long-sleeve button-down shirt with a breezy sport coat or a fun blazer with a unique print.
For shoes, opt for closed-toe loafers, leather boat shoes or clean-cut canvas lace-up sneakers. It's still a good idea to wear socks to maximize comfort, but stick to no-show socks for a beachier aesthetic.
Casual Beach Wedding Attire
A casual wedding has a much more relaxed dress code compared to a semiformal or formal event, but it's still not "bathing suits and board shorts" territory.
Women should opt for casual dresses such as free-flowing maxis in a tropical print, halter styles that show off their shoulders and seaside-appropriate boho dresses that aren't overly formal. It's still a good idea to avoid super-short dresses for beach weddings since wind can be a factor.
Skip the street shoes and flip-flops—sandals, wedges and chunky heels that aren't too dressy will be perfect. Also, one or two pieces of bright, playful jewelry can complement your casual beach wedding attire.
Men can wear a short-sleeve shirt with no jacket, but make sure it's on the dressier side. Think lightweight collared shirts with a fun print or a simple polo.
There's no need to wear formal slacks; instead, opt for nice shorts, such as chinos or loose-fitting linen shorts. It's best to avoid denim, cargo shorts and swim trunks as well as standard beach flip-flops or sneakers. If you're not feeling deck shoes, boat shoes or loafers, you can go for an open-toe option like elevated sandals or chic leather flip-flops; consider treating yourself to a pedicure beforehand.
Beach Wedding Tips for Guests
In addition to following the above advice, refer to some of these helpful tips:
Check the Invitation
If you're not sure what the dress code is, refer to the invitation or check out the couple's wedding website. When in doubt, it's always better to overdress than underdress.
Don't Wear Black
Wearing black at the beach is a recipe for overheating. Black absorbs heat from the sun and makes it difficult to keep cool.
Avoid Very Pale Colors
Cream, champagne, pale pink, light beige and anything even remotely close to white should be avoided. Those colors are reserved for the bride, so you should stick to brighter hues.
Prevent painful sunburns by wearing sunscreen on your face and anywhere else your skin is exposed, including your neck, arms, legs and feet. A nice pair of sunglasses can help protect your eyes, and you may want to apply a UV protector to your hair and consider other beach-friendly beauty products.
Pack Some Layers
Beaches are known for being sweltering during the day and cool at night. Bring a layer or two to keep you comfortable as you move from the ceremony to the reception.
Whether you're traveling to a destination beach wedding or staying closer to home, adhering to the above advice will ensure you look and feel great. For more wedding inspo, check out our guide on wedding gift ideas every couple will love.