You've been invited to a destination wedding somewhere warm and exotic - which means you need appropriate beach wedding clothes. Nuptials on the shore have become so popular, there are now whole shops dedicated to purveying clothes that fit the occasion.
Standard Beach Wedding Clothes for Guests
Beach weddings run the gamut from very casual to semi-formal. It's all up to the bride and groom. Sometimes the entire party is in scuba gear, ready to go snorkeling after the ceremony. More commonly, the bride wears a long dress and the groom wears a casual summer suit. The invitation should give you a sense of what's expected.
For a daytime beach wedding, if the bride and groom are in a dress and suit, most women attending the ceremony wear sundresses. Hats or parasols are a must, even if you slather on the sunscreen. Shoes are usually optional. Most women wear dressy flip-flops or sandals which they can carry while on the beach but put on later for dancing.
Men should not wear shorts unless the invitation specifies that shorts are acceptable. Again, take your cue from the wedding party. Generally, you may wear anything that is light, cool, and washable - khakis are great with a lightweight collared shirt, for example. A summer suit is also very snazzy and linen is one of the most comfortable fabrics you can wear in the sun. If it is very hot, you should definitely bring a nice straw hat - it will put a damper on the wedding if you get heatstroke - but avoid baseball caps and other casual, everyday options.
For shoes, again, take the cue from the groom. On the beach itself, it's usually fine and even encouraged to go barefoot. Later, flip-flops or casual sandals or shoes are generally acceptable.
If the wedding is at sunset, when it might be getting cooler, the same clothes can still be appropriate, but everyone will want to think about layering. Women can bring a bolero, crocheted cardigan, or light shawl and men can opt for unstructured sports jackets in cotton, linen, or even silk.
Bridal Party Clothes
Brides have no end of choices now when it comes to selecting a wedding and bridesmaid dresses appropriate for beach wedding clothes. Most brides opt for a long white dress, but in a cooler and less formal style than might be worn for a traditional wedding. They usually ditch the veil for a simpler headdress or hairdo and, if they're not barefoot, choose casual sandals or bridal flip-flops.
Although it may seem antithetical to the casual, non-traditional aspect of a beach wedding, a bride might still consider a vintage wedding dress. A medieval-style peasant dress in a light cotton with some colorful ribbons is a lovely choice for a beach wedding, as is a crochet dress over a silk slip. Going vintage is also a more green option, which fits the theme of embracing and enjoying nature's beauty.
A short dress may feel less romantic and wedding-like, but when it comes to beach wedding clothes, anything goes. As the bride, it is your wedding and you want to wear what makes you feel the most comfortable and attractive. If that's a shorter dress that lets you go wading, then that's your dress.
Bridesmaids' dresses can be more casual still, depending on what the bride likes. Many brides ask their attendants to just wear a pretty sundress of their choosing on a color theme.
Abandoning a lot of formality and fuss of beach wedding attire allows everyone to just enjoy the moment - which ultimately is what a wedding should be all about.