What do you wear to a destination beach wedding?
We asked experts to give us their insights:
Entertaining Expert | Exclusive Designer for Weddings by Palladium
Just because a wedding is at the beach doesn’t mean that the couple won’t dictate their own wedding style.
Whereas in the past, destination beach weddings were naturally thought of as more casual, laid-back events (and many still are), there is a growing trend toward personalizing and some couples are choosing fashion-forward, even glamorous looks for their beach nuptials.
Look at the invitation
The style of the invite–and its wording–should give you clues as to what to wear. Sometimes a dress code such as “We invite our guests to wear white” will solve any mystery. Other times, you may have to infer from the language and tone of the invite what is best.
If you’re really unclear, it is thoughtful to ask the hosts whether they have a preference.
Pack for multiple events
Generally, a destination wedding will have some kind of more casual “welcome” gathering or rehearsal dinner before the wedding itself.
Related: What to Wear to a Rehearsal Dinner
This could be a beach barbecue or a seated dinner in a resort restaurant or on a terrace overlooking the water. These welcome events are often in the evening, so temperatures can drop and the breeze can kick up during the party, so it’s good to bring a layer or two–a light scarf or jacket or a cute shrug to put on top of your outfit may be just the thing.
There may also be an after-party, whether on the beach or in a club. If you’ll want to change (or even just change shoes!), bring those items along.
If there’s no dress code specified, focus on light or bright colors
In general, stay away from white. You don’t want the bridal party to think you’re trying to outshine them! You can, however, take cues from the invitation colors (or ask what the wedding color palette will be) if you’d like to coordinate your look. This way you’ll look great if you take Instagram photos from the party!
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If any events take place near sunset, bring sunglasses
Of course, it depends on which direction the events will face, but at sunset or just before, you can find yourself face-to-face with blinding sunlight. So bring the shades!
A nice, flat sandal would be more appropriate
When deciding what to wear to a beach wedding, keep in mind you’ll be on the beach and walking on sand possibly with shoes in hand, so leave your 4-inch pumps at home! Also, chose a pastel tone that will align with the beach style.
Soft pastel colors like light blues, pinks, greens or even cream tones. Avoid black for men and women, as well as white for women. You don’t want to upstage the bride and show up in a long flowing white sheath dress.
Dresses could be cocktail length or long
Don’t wear a suit or anything too structured. Maxi dresses are the rage right now and easy to find everywhere from H&M and Zara for good prices to higher-end stores. Check the weather and bring a cashmere wrap in case! This is a staple item that everyone should have in their wardrobe!
While the weather should be naturally cooler given that you’ll be near an ocean for the day, it’s still important to monitor the forecast for unexpected showers or wind.
Dress in layers
A great plan of action is to dress in layers on a day where the weather can be difficult to read – think a flowy dress paired with a light cover-up or relaxed khakis and a loose button-up or polo shirt, depending on the overall tone of the wedding.
This is especially advised if you’re sensitive to being in the sun for long periods of time, just as a backup to have on hand in case you feel yourself becoming sunburned.
Try to avoid wearing heels or heavy shoes if at all possible, since you’ll likely be spending a lot of time walking in the sand. Stilettos tend to easily sink, and you don’t want to put yourself at risk for a twisted ankle! Many beach weddings these days are quite relaxed, and may even advise not to wear any shoes at all.
Diane Lloyde Roth
Stylist | Owner, L’Armoire
Beach weddings are the hardest to dress for as the most important part of the outfit is the shoes or lack thereof. My advice is to start at the bottom and work your way up, the opposite of most wedding outfits.
Focus on your footwear first
If you are on the sand, you can be barefoot
Sand, weather, and tide permitting. This means a shorter dress is in order. Think tea length, not too short. If there is an ocean breeze, you could expose more than you want.
The fabric should have a little weight to it, again, due to the breeze. Think a printed silk and cotton blend or an embroidered silk or cotton, which is cool but likely to not turn into a parachute.
Sleeveless is best as you can add a shrug or cropped sweater – not a wrap. They can be too difficult to deal with when you are also coping with breezes and the waves.
If you are on pebbles instead of sand, go for an Espradille
It will balance you and you can walk in this type of shoe. Do not opt for a sandal. You will end up with sand in your toes and wet feet, which is not a good look. You can also do a flowy-typed cropped pant with an off the shoulder top.
The important thing is to find out the weather for that beach area and also check the tides. One does not wish to get soaked as there is nothing worse than bedraggled guests.
For the clothes, think pretty and practical
Do wear clothes that wrinkle easily or are hot, which means most synthetics. Choose something cool and remember prints do not show wrinkles. Also, wear a hat. The best option is one that fits so it does not blow away.
Men have it easy; a pair of khakis rolled up with a nice shirt even a tuxedo shirt works well.
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Director of Marketing, Complete Weddings + Events
Don’t underestimate the accessories needed at a beach wedding. A change of shoes is highly suggested to walk in the sand in. Some events provide flip flop stations already, but if you plan to wear any type of shoe with a heel, a pair of flat sandal might be best to bring as a backup for walking across the sand.
Same goes for the men, since sand can get inside dress shoes, and you may never be able to clean them fully to clear it all!
Sun hat and sunglasses are a must
You can typically expect a sunny day for a beach wedding, so bringing the proper accessories is also a must. A sun hat to not only keep the sun out of your eyes but to keep your hair from looking completely windblown after the ceremony is key! At a minimum, don’t forget your sunglasses!
President, ALTR Created Diamonds
Mix those metals
The days of matching one’s wedding jewelry or buying sets are long gone. This is another opportunity to get creative – pair a white gold band with a rose gold engagement ring or layer three gold bracelets that are each a different color. This brings us to the next trend…
Just like in the fashion world, layering makes a world of difference. Chokers or collar necklaces pair beautifully with lariat necklaces, as do ear studs with danglers and ear cuffs…and everyone loves a well-curated stack of rings.
Lots of brides are playing around with the concept of multiple wedding bands that fit perfectly with their engagement ring. And if you’re going the created diamond route, you can give each one of those layered pieces their own sparkle without breaking the bank!
Founder & CEO, Ragdoll PR
Breezy cocktail or tea-length cocktail dresses
If you’re headed to a beach wedding, make sure to dress accordingly. I highly recommend a more casual and breezy cocktail or tea-length cocktail dress, so you don’t have to worry about the sand getting all over your dress.
A beach wedding is a perfect time to play around with fun colors and bold prints. You can also add some cute shell accessories to finish the look. Make sure to wear flats or a small wedge if you know you’ll be walking in the sand!
Craft Artist | Jewelry Designer, The Craft Lab Creations
Vibrant colors and lightweight jewelry
A beach wedding should be anything but boring. Think vibrant pops of color, lightweight jewelry which are easy to manage with the sun and surf. The latest pastel colors with a pop of gold set a cool vibe.
The sun-kissed look with a little shimmer in the jewelry sets the perfect tone too. For the whole boho-chic vibe, think of beaded jewelry that sparkles.