What Should I Wear When Attending a Beach Wedding?

Is it a destination event? Have you taken a peek at the invitations to know if it will be a morning ceremony in the sand or a sundown celebration? There are several places to take some cues from before resorting to asking the bride and groom.

Our Opinion

More than likely, your friends’ or family’s seaside wedding will be a bit less formal than a traditional event. But even so, you may be stressed and worried about what to wear. Here are some tips on interpreting the dress code:

  • Check the invite. A lot of the time couples will indicate just how formal the wedding will be by the design of the invitation itself. Use context clues! Other times, it may say “beach casual” or “beach formal,” or something similar in an explicit manner.
  • For beach casual, think sundresses for the ladies and Hawaiin shirts for men. Pay homage to the location but remember, you’ll be photographed! Make sure what you’re wearing is appropriate in all and every angle, especially on the dance floor.
  • And when it comes to beach formal, it’s time to dress to the nines! But with beach vibes. Think about the sand, the surf, the sunshine, and make sure you come in your best colors and prints. For the gals, think about more formal, lengthy sundresses. The men can slip into a linen suit.

Wedding attendees in various beach dress attire

via Weddings by Funjet

Bride and groom beach wedding attire

Via Pinterest

Wedding attendees on the beach in various attire

Via Confetti Daydreams

Other Expert Opinions

You may know what to wear to an indoor, church wedding, but what to wear to a beach wedding can get a lot trickier. For example, smart suits and elegant gowns might look a tad overdone (and may be super-uncomfortable) in the sand or summer heat. 

But while your typical shore wardrobe probably includes jean shorts, tank tops and swimsuits, beach wedding attire is a whole different look—you’ll need to take into account how formal the wedding will be. You’ll also need to mind the elements: sun, sand, water and wind.  Lighter colors and fabrics will keep you cool (though darker shades and absorbant fabrics may better hide sweat), and it’s even okay to go sockless or wear sandals. 

But unless otherwise indicated by the couple, your best bet is to skip the T-shirts and flip-flops to be sure you’re tastefully dressed for the occasion.” – The Knot

Tropical or Destination Wedding Dress Code

“Tropical weddings are usually humid and hot affairs, and you have to dress accordingly. Remember, always err on the dressier side of caution. If you’re not sure if what you’re planning to wear is dressy enough, it’s probably not. 

Upgrade it a notch and you’re certain to be just fine. As with a casual wedding, look for cotton sundresses and nice sandals or wedges. If the wedding is being held outside and the weather is blazing, consider topping the look off with a sunhat.” – Brides

What to Wear to a Beach Wedding: Women

  • If the invitation indicates that you should wear beach formal 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 color button-down shirt with short or three-quarter sleeves is appropriate casual beach wedding attire for male guests.” – Destination Wedding Details

Other Resources