What to Wear to a Beach Wedding

Amy Hoover
Beach Wedding
Attend a beach wedding in proper attire.

As a guest it can be difficult to figure out what to wear to a beach wedding. Not all beach weddings are casual, and the weather isn't always sunny and in the seventies. Plan ahead to make sure your attire is appropriate.

Invitation Attire Guidelines

Although proper etiquette states that invitations should not mention a dress code, it is often becoming necessary for the modern couple. With wedding themes and styles ranging from costume to elegant to country, it can be hard for guests to discern proper attire without a little help. For beach weddings, looks can range from extremely casual to black tie.

Guests should first check the wedding invitation to find out if there is a notation about the formality or attire for the wedding.

Black Tie or Black Tie Optional

The line "black tie optional" suggests a formal beach wedding, usually in the evening. Women should wear a long formal dress. Dark grays, browns, navies, purples, burgundies or greens are appropriate color choices. Men should wear a dark suit and tie. A black tie wedding indicates tuxedos for men and long formal dresses for women.

Beach Formal

Though still a formal dress code, this lets in a little wiggle room for guests when it comes to color and style. Vibrant colors for both men and women will look wonderful. Bright blues, reds, purples or corals are appropriate in formal shirts, ties and special occasion dresses.

Dressy Casual

A dressy casual request often indicates a more informal look. Sundresses and social summer dresses are perfect for women, while men can wear a linen suit or dress shirt and slacks and look appropriate.

Vacation Attire

Vacation attire suggests a very informal dress code. This can mean a fun summer print shirt for men with khaki pants or a patterned short sundress for women. Although the dress code may be casual, guests should still avoid wearing jeans or shorts. This type of dress may also be indicated by the terms resort wear or casual attire.

Children's Attire

Invited children at weddings should dress in clothing that falls along the same lines as the adult attire. For very young children, like toddlers and infants still in diapers, bringing along a change of more comfortable clothing for the reception may be appropriate if the wedding attire is formal. Check with the couple or their immediate family to find out.

Suggestions for What to Wear to a Beach Wedding

Bridal party members may be able to steer you in the right direction for choosing your beach wedding attire. Follow some general tips for finding the right outfit and you are sure to show up looking perfectly styled.

Attire Cues from the Weather

When shopping for beach wedding attire, be sure to take into account the time of year and expected temperature.

  • Fall and winter: Even when the day is sunny and bright, many fall and winter evenings are cool. Look for a bolero jacket or shawl to keep your shoulders covered, while men can don heavier dress coats. Layer children's clothing, like leggings under a dress for girls and long-sleeved polos under sweaters for boys.
  • Spring and summer: Hot and sunny weather means that you should dress in breathable fabrics, like linen. Short dresses for women and dressy short-sleeves for women and men are perfect for staying cool. Children can wear formal shorts outfits and dresses to beat the heat.
  • Windy areas: Coastal winds can send ties whipping and skirts flying, so be sure to pick up a tie clip and avoid short flowy dresses to prevent clothing guffaws.

Where to Shop

Department stores and and boutiques often have staff members who help you shop more easily for the right beach wedding apparel. Personal shoppers, salespeople and style managers can help guide you in the right direction. You can also browse styles and options online at the following outlets:

  • Nordstrom's Dress Shop has a category featuring dresses appropriate for wedding guests. You can shop by silhouette, body type, or trend as well. The evening gowns, little black dress and cocktail dress categories may also offer appropriate styles. The men's section offers a wide range of suitable clothing in the work and formal category. Check out the various suits or sport coats and blazers for some great outfit options.
  • J.Crew has plenty of options for men and women who want to look their best at a beach wedding. Styles range from casual to semi-formal in seasonally appropriate styles. Women should check out the dress section and looks we love area, while men may find what they need in the suit shop or highlight reel.
  • Men's Wearhouse has plenty of help available for male guests who are unsure of what to wear to a beach wedding. The Ensemble area allows visitors to shop by occasion, which has suggested looks for semi-formal, party and wedding suit options.
  • Talbots offers high-quality clothing for women in a wide range of sizes. Check out the dresses section or shop for looks online or in-store.
  • Janie and Jack carries special occasion outfits for babies, boys and girls, along with dressier clothing in their everyday collections.

General Guest Attire Guidelines

Though dressing for a beach wedding can be more difficult than a church or backyard wedding, you can always use some general guidelines to help you dress appropriately.

  • Jeans should never be worn (unless requested at a western themed wedding).
  • Revealing or risqué clothing is not appropriate.
  • Choose fabrics and styles appropriate for the weather.
  • Women should not wear dresses in white or off-white.

Outstanding Guest Outfits

When you know the formality of the wedding, it's easy to find an outstanding outfit. Shop online or in person at a department store or boutique for your best options. Whatever you wear, remember a smile is your best accessory!

What to Wear to a Beach Wedding