Today, more couples than ever are forgoing the stuffy wedding venues of yesteryear in favor of the destination wedding of their dreams. In fact, 1 in 4 weddings last year was a destination wedding.

For guests, destination weddings do present some unique challenges. For one, what are you supposed to wear? Today, we’re going to take the guesswork out of preparing for a beautiful beach wedding and provide you with all the info you’ll need to look great on this special day.

Women: What to Wear to a Beach Wedding

We’ll start with the ladies. First, check the dress code on your invitation. Most beach weddings will fall into one of these three categories of dress:

  • Beach formal
  • Semi-formal
  • Casual

If the invitation suggests beach formal, then you’re safe with a long and flowy gown with a silhouette similar to what you’d wear at a more traditional wedding.

With a semi-formal wedding, you have a bit more leeway as far as what to wear. A slightly less formal gown would be appropriate, as would a shorter or tea length dress. A shorter dress is especially appropriate for beach weddings, as you won’t have to worry about getting sand all over your gown.

If the invitation suggests casual attire, then the world is your oyster, and you’re free to wear whatever you like. Of course, you’ll want to look a bit more dressy than you would running errands on a Saturday morning. For example, a maxi dress is usually very appropriate.

Regardless of the dress code, ladies have free range when it comes to colors and even patterns. For a more formal affair, a black dress is always a chic look. But, you’ll want to pay close attention to the temperature before committing to one.


When it comes to fabric, the expected weather at the time of the wedding will clue you in on what’s most appropriate to wear. Typically, light, breathable fabrics that don’t cling to the body are preferred. If the weather is expected to be on the cooler side, consider a shawl or cover-up as part of your outfit.


Considering we’re on a beach here, you can opt for more casual footwear, even if the wedding is formal. Flats are a great choice, but heels are also appropriate provided the reception isn’t also on the beach. Wearing something you can slip on and off easily is also a smart choice.

Men: What to Wear to a Beach Wedding

For the gents, the first step in deciding what to wear is checking the invitation to see what the dress code is. As we mentioned above, your wedding will fall into one of these three categories:

  • Beach formal
  • Semi-formal
  • Casual

For a formal beach wedding, a suit and tie are expected. There’s no need to break out a tux for this affair since a formal beach wedding is still going to be less formal than a formal wedding at a traditional location.

With a semi-formal affair, you can forgo the tie, and even the jacket if you wish. Slacks and a button down are appropriate. Adding a suit jacket or vest adds a refined touch without sending you into formal territory.

If the wedding is casual, slacks and a short sleeve, or three-quarter sleeve is most appropriate.

Regardless of the dress code, take inspiration from the sun, sand, and water around you. Consider clothing in light colors like beige, tan, or pastel shades. Avoid a dark suit, unless the wedding is especially formal.


Linen and cotton are the most appropriate fabrics for the gentlemen, regardless of dress code. Especially if the wedding is more formal, a suit made from wool or cotton is a serious lifesaver on warmer days.


When it comes to footwear, the dress code will help dictate what’s appropriate. For a formal beach wedding, dress shoes are expected. For a semi-formal or casual wedding, you may want to consider a dressy sandal or a dress shoe style like a brogue or wingtip in a more casual fabric. It’s always a good idea to wear something that slips on and off easily.

Beach Wedding Do’s and Don’t For Ladies and Gentlemen

Whether your a man or a woman, these can’t miss tips will help you avoid any beach wedding faux pas. That way, you can focus less on what you’re wearing and more on enjoying the couple’s big day!

  • Avoid wearing black at a day wedding. Gents, avoid wearing black at all.
  • Ladies, no white dresses.
  • Ladies, always be mindful of the wind! Nothing is more embarrassing than flashing the groom’s family because you’re wearing a short dress and the wind blew it up over your head.
  • Gents, if you’re wearing open-toed shoes, a pedicure is necessary.
  • Gents, stick to pants. Shorts are never appropriate, even if the wedding is casual.