What do you wear to a destination beach wedding?
We asked experts to give us their insights:
Table of Contents
- Look at the invitation
- Pack for multiple events
- If there’s no dress code specified, focus on light or bright colors
- If any events take place near sunset, bring sunglasses
- A nice, flat sandal would be more appropriate
- Dresses could be cocktail length or long
- Dress in layers
- Relaxed footwear
- Focus on your footwear first
- For the clothes, think pretty and practical
- Flat sandals
- Sun hat and sunglasses are a must
- Mix those metals
- Stack up
- Breezy cocktail or tea-length cocktail dresses
- Vibrant colors and lightweight jewelry
- Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the dress code for a beach wedding?
- What should you not wear as a beach wedding guest?
- What color should you not wear to a beach wedding?
- Can you wear silk to a beach wedding?
- Are hats and sandals appropriate for a beach wedding?
- Can I wear jewelry to a beach wedding?
- What should I bring with me to a beach wedding?
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!
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, Diane Fashion
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.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the dress code for a beach wedding?
If you’re attending a beach wedding, the dress code is usually a bit more relaxed and casual compared to a traditional wedding. The key is to strike a balance between comfort and dressing appropriately for the occasion.
For ladies, a summer dress or a skirt and blouse would work great. Opt for light, breathable fabrics like cotton or linen, and consider wearing sandals or espadrilles instead of heels. You can also accessorize with a sun hat, sunglasses, and a beach-themed necklace or earrings.
Gentlemen can wear khaki or linen pants paired with a short-sleeved shirt or a casual button-down. Go for loafers or boat shoes instead of dress shoes, and don’t forget to bring a pair of sunglasses!
It’s always a good idea to check with the wedding couple or the wedding planner for any specific dress code requests, but these guidelines should give you a good starting point for dressing for a beach wedding.
What should you not wear as a beach wedding guest?
As a beach wedding guest, you want to make sure that you look your best while also respecting the dress code and setting. Here are a few things you should avoid wearing at a beach wedding:
• White or off-white outfits: It’s best to avoid white or off-white clothing, as this is typically reserved for the bride.
• Formal wear: A beach wedding is typically a more casual affair, so it’s best to avoid formal wear like tuxedos and ball gowns.
• Flip-flops: While flip-flops may seem like a no-brainer for a beach wedding, they’re generally considered too casual for the occasion. Opt for sandals or espadrilles instead.
• Short shorts or miniskirts: Beach weddings are usually held during the day, and you want to make sure that you’re dressed appropriately for the occasion. Avoid shorts that are too short or skirts that are too short.
• Clothing that’s too revealing: A beach wedding is still a wedding, so it’s best to avoid clothing that’s too revealing. Aim for something breezy and comfortable but still provides coverage.
• High heels: Heels can sink into the sand, making it difficult to walk and potentially ruining your shoes. Opt for sandals or flats that are comfortable and easy to walk in.
What color should you not wear to a beach wedding?
It is advisable not to wear white to any wedding, in general. While white is a classic wedding color, it is traditionally reserved for the bride and can take away from the bride’s special moment.
Similarly, it’s best to avoid wearing anything too bright or bold, as this can detract from the overall ambiance of the wedding.
If you’re unsure what to wear, consider reaching out to the bride or groom for advice or take inspiration from the colors and styles they’ve chosen for their special day.
Can you wear silk to a beach wedding?
Sure, you can absolutely wear silk to a beach wedding! In fact, silk is a great option for a beach wedding as it’s lightweight and breathable, making it a perfect choice for a warm outdoor event.
However, it’s important to keep the dress code in mind and choose a style that is appropriate for the occasion. If the wedding is more casual, you can opt for a silk sundress or a loose-fitting silk blouse paired with shorts or a skirt. If it’s a more formal event, a silk maxi dress or a silk jumpsuit would be a great choice.
Are hats and sandals appropriate for a beach wedding?
In general, hats and sandals can be appropriate for a beach wedding as long as they align with the level of formality that the couple has chosen for the event. If the wedding is more relaxed and casual, then a hat and sandals might be perfectly fine. On the other hand, if the wedding is more formal, then a hat and sandals might not be the best choice.
Can I wear jewelry to a beach wedding?
Of course! Wearing jewelry at a beach wedding can add an extra touch of elegance and sparkle to your outfit. Just keep in mind that you’ll be in a more casual and relaxed environment, so opt for pieces that complement the laid-back vibe of the setting. You might consider wearing lightweight, dainty necklaces, bracelets, and earrings that won’t weigh you down in the heat.
What should I bring with me to a beach wedding?
Attending a beach wedding is a great opportunity to relax, have fun and celebrate the love of the couple. Here are some essentials you should pack to make the most of the day:
• Light and comfortable clothing
• A wrap or cover-up
• Comfortable footwear
• A small bag
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