While brides and grooms planning beachside weddings frequently have stylists and tailors on hand to ensure that every stitch and seam is flawless, nailing the dress code as a wedding guest is mainly up to you. The key to choosing the right outfit is whether you’ll be semi-formal barefoot on the beach, or is it a black-tie shindig?
Whether you have decided to have a beach wedding with the ceremony next to the glorious waves or have been invited to attend as a guest, figuring out beach wedding attire can be tricky. Not only will your favorite formal little black dress not be appropriate fancy hairdos and sassy high heels won’t work either.
Beach wedding attire is the most casual or beach chic style of clothing, shoes, and accessories suitable for attending a wedding or getting married on the beach. Generally, the concept calls for more comfortable, soft, and airy fabrics and open shoes. It can also depend on how formal the ceremony is meant to be.
One is correct to assume that navigating the arena of classy yet comfortable beach formal wedding attire is just as challenging for men as it is for women. However, a popular misconception is that men have limited options for a wedding on the water and what to wear. Nothing could be further from the truth because there are plenty of ways that men can express their sense of style regardless of whether they are the groom himself or a guest at a beach wedding.
A wedding on the water allows you to experiment with a tropical and classy pattern for your suit. You can further elevate the outfit with attractive cufflinks and a tie or even go the more neutral route by sticking to shades of blue for your tuxedo or suit. With a bright, floral-patterned suit, you can pair a plain cotton white shirt to play down the look, and don’t forget the French tuck (made globally famous and in vogue by the designer Tan France in his hit show Queer Eye). Comfortable shoes like Chinos or even plain white sneakers can really pull this look together and brace you for walking on the beach.
Beige, off-white, light grey or greige (a combo of beige and grey) suits are perfect, neutral, and fashionable as beach wedding attire for men. They reflect the natural tones found on the beach, such as those of stone and sand, and using an airy, light fabric like cotton can make sure you are super comfortable in the sun. Use a flattering slim fit design and tailor the suit exceptionally well, making up for the minimal bling factor. Neutrals look lovely too!
As far as beach wedding attire for men goes, black and white is a classic combination that does not disappoint. Just make sure to choose comfortable, light fabric and a slightly looser fit, so you are not sweating in the sun too much. What makes a monochromatic outfit pop just a little is colorful cufflinks or a tie or shoes. Choose one element in your attire to draw attention, and brightly colored pocket squares are beach-appropriate!
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Seersucker suits are perfect beach wedding attire for men because they are a classically coastal style and are generally very comfortable. Choose stripes that are light blue or white for a traditional look, but you can also wear this suit with a pale pink shirt. This style looks stunning during the daytime in the summer sun!
Completely blue suits are an ideal beach wedding outfit; they go well with the crystal blue of the water and can stand out in any season of the year. Paired with a plain or patterned white shirt, you have a winning outfit for a groom or a guest at a beach wedding. Don’t forget a white rose or any seasonal flower in your breast pocket to tie the look together!
As the bride, you may want the fluffy, ethereal fairytale dress. Still, practicality is at the heart of beach wedding attire. It is not a factor you want to overlook as, depending on the climate, only certain fabrics and styles will allow you to breathe and feel relaxed and enjoy the ceremony.
A designer top trick is to mimic the colors of your surroundings such as azure blue, light blue, tan, beige, white, grey, aquamarine, sunflower yellow, lime green, and so forth. But, of course, you can also make your own interpretation of a coastal color palette by experimenting with different patterns and tones.
Maxis, especially in lighter colors like pale or duck egg blue, rosebud pink, light yellow, and creamy off-white, are a beautiful idea for a beach wedding outfit because they make anyone glow in the daylight, and the style is natural flowy and gorgeous and works with most body types. You can have a high slit, a low V-neck, or even a backless pleated number for added effect.
Consider the casual yet fitted version of a romper with an overskirt if you want to be at ease for a long wedding ceremony. It can accentuate your curves, look gorgeous in the breeze and keep you cool. It goes well with pumps or sandals, and chunky jewellery can add a glamorous touch.
Midi dresses seem like they’re right out of a stunning Audrey Hepburn movie, but they have been coming back into fashion forever. A midi dress has that feminine flow and cut, but it also goes just a little under the knees to enjoy the sand around your feet and legs without worrying about tripping over a long dress. Consider it an ideal and captivating option for a beach wedding guest dress.
A scallop dress is the epitome of venue-appropriate beach wedding attire for women. Scallops are very thematic, and that kind of texture in a dress is coastal and gorgeous and clings to the right curves! What’s more, you can use vibrant, bright colors like coral, orange, yellow or bright blue to really stand out. Wearing a scalloped dress with a button-down style is a modern take on the traditional version and can really be the ideal combination of casual and chic.
Beach formal wedding attire (for the bride and groom and close family) can still be an uber-comfortable style to pull off. Use the same styles (maxi, mid-length, midi, etc.) but opt for ‘dressier’ fabrics such as metallic finishes, lace, and silk. The materials should be soft and breathable, and classic colors like teal grey, green, cream, and white keep you on the neutral spectrum, although you can use brighter patterns if that is more to your liking.
Many brides pack their wedding reception jewel-studded heels to change into their reception venue! If you struggle with formal beach wedding attire, know that a simpler dress for your wedding on the water is an excellent idea. Of course, you always have the option of a second, more elaborate wedding dress for the reception.
For grooms, groomsmen, and male guests that need to master the art of a beach wedding outfit, summer suits with long-sleeved shirts never disappoint especially if they are made from fabrics like the softest linen and khaki. Never go as far as wearing shorts to a beach wedding! While ties make less sense for a beach wedding, they add that extra finesse and, in some cases, a pop of color that no groom or chic wedding guest should be without.
If you are hosting a beach wedding, you will probably need to provide your guests with some direction regarding beach wedding attire etiquette well before the ceremony. This is especially important if you have a destination beach wedding in a foreign country or a location your guests are unfamiliar with. If you are a wedding guest and have not been given any instruction regarding appropriate beach wedding attire etiquette, always remember it is better to be a bit overdressed than to tone down your outfit too much for the event.
The seasonal climate of the area or the weather forecast is an essential clue as to what to wear especially when considering beach wedding attire for women because they typically have to wear makeup, jewellery, and other accessories with their look.
Not all beach wedding ceremonies are very formal, so look for cues from the couple or double-check any correspondence related to the wedding to ascertain how formal the event is. Semi-formal beach wedding attire for women can differ from a more formal requirement, so it is good to know how much wriggle room you have with what you wear as a guest. If you’re the bride or groom, you have free will on beach wedding attire etiquette and deciding on how formal you want your ceremony to be!
Depending on the site and wedding style, attendees' beach wedding attire varies. While your initial reaction may be to put on a sundress or shorts, it's good to keep in mind that beach wedding attire is formal. Even if the beach wedding is casual, it's still essential to avoid T-shirts and flip-flops.