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? We’re going to take the guesswork out of preparing for a beautiful beach wedding and provide you with everything you need to know when it comes to beach wedding attire.

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, or casual.

Beach Formal

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. Flats are a great choice, but heels are also appropriate provided the reception isn’t also on the beach.

Semi-Formal

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.

Casual

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 when running errands on a Saturday morning. For example, a maxi dress is usually very appropriate.

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, or casual.

Beach Formal

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. For a formal beach wedding, dress shoes are expected.

Semi-Formal

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. Consider a dress shoe style like a brogue or wingtip.

Casual

If the wedding is casual, slacks and a short sleeve, or three-quarter sleeve is most appropriate. Complete the look with a dressy sandal or opt for a more casual dress shoe style.  

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

Whether you’re 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!

Do

  • Wear linen or cotton, especially if the wedding is more formal, a suit made from wool or cotton is a serious lifesaver on warmer days.
  • Bring a shawl or cover-up. It can get pretty chilly with the sea breeze so definitely be prepared for a drop in temperature.
  • Wear shoes that can be slipped on and off easily.
  • Take inspiration from the sun, sand, and water around you. Consider clothing in light colors like beige, tan, or pastel shades.

Don’t

  • Wear a dark colored suit… or white if you’re a woman.
  • Wear sandals without getting a pedicure, yes that includes the gentlemen.
  • Pick fabrics that cling to the body, nothing ruins an outfit more than sweat stains.
  • Wear a short flowy dress. It can get pretty breezy near the water and nothing is more embarrassing than accidentally flashing someone.
  • Wear shorts. Shorts are never appropriate, even if the wedding is casual. Don’t confuse beach wedding attire with beachwear.