What to Wear to a Beach Wedding (From Casual to Formal!) | Bella Bridesmaids

What to Wear to a Beach Wedding (From Super Casual to Formal)

Bride and bridesmaids on beachPhoto: Bella Bridesmaids Orange County / Betsnewman

So you just received an invitation to a destination wedding on the beach, and you’re instantly thinking: :

Yay! But what should I wear?

Many instantly assume that beach weddings are casual affairs, but that’s not always true. While some couples opt for a laidback, barefoot-in-the-sand soiree, others plan semi-formal or formal events on the coast.

If you’re heading to a summer wedding on the beach this year, here’s what to wear for every dress code, from super casual to super formal!

Choose Your Outfit Based on the Dress Code

Bride and bridesmaidsPhoto: Bella Bridesmaids Los Angeles / BE Studios

When it comes to choosing wedding guest attire, there’s only one rule:

Wear an outfit that meets the dress code on the wedding invitation.

While many wedding dress codes exist, your invite will likely specify one of three main categories:

• Formal (aka white tie)
• Semi-formal (aka black tie)
• Casual

    A formal beach wedding might be held in an indoor/outdoor venue that has a beachy vibe yet still feels elegant and chic.

    A semi-formal event might include a ceremony outdoors with an air-conditioned reception indoors.

    A casual beach wedding might take place entirely on the sand. That could include a tiki bar serving cocktails and Adirondack chairs for laidback lounging.

    When choosing what to wear, dress to meet the level of formality of the venue. Just follow the wedding dress code on the invite, and you can’t go wrong!

    Still stuck on what to wear? Read our complete guide to wedding attire: The Ultimate Guide to Wedding Dress Codes!

    Formal Beach Wedding Attire

    If the invite calls for a formal dress code, you’ll want to wear one of two things:

    An elegant, long dress with dressy shoes
    A suit with a jacket, tie, button-down shirt, and dress shoes

    Remember that “formal” is different from “black tie.”

    Formal doesn’t require beaded evening gowns or tuxedos. It simply means the couple wants you to look (and feel) like you’re going somewhere special — because you are!

    Formal looks should be sophisticated, polished, and well-put together. This is a fun opportunity for guys wearing suits to wear lighter colors. Think of colors like sand, light blue, or light grey rather than traditional suit colors like black, navy, and dark grey.

    Check out our post The Levels of Formal Wedding Attire to learn more!

    Semi-Formal Beach Wedding Attire

    At a semi-formal event, there’s no need for a full-length gown or even a suit and tie.

    A knee-length, tea-length, or midi dress is semi-formal perfection! A button-down shirt with dress pants, with or without a tie, also meets the formality of the semi-formal dress code.

    Though a suit jacket isn’t required, you can top off your pants and shirt with a sport coat or blazer for a more polished look. However, if it’s a sweltering hot day in a tropical climate, we recommend leaving the jacket at home or in the hotel.

    Semi-formal allows for a lot of flexibility. So you can enhance your look by adding fun, playful touches with tropical accents and beach-inspired accessories!

    Casual Beach Wedding Attire

    Unless the couple specifically asks you to wear your most casual clothes, don’t show up in a swimsuit, shorts, a casual short-sleeved shirt or T-shirt, sneakers, or flip-flops!

    Casual does not mean sloppy, so opt for a printed sundress, a breezy chiffon maxi dress, or a comfortable romper or jumpsuit instead!

    Even for casual events, guys should choose a collared shirt. A button-down shirt without a tie or a short sleeve polo shirt are perfect options. Pair it with a nice, casual pair of chinos, and you’re good to go!

    When planning outfits for a casual beach wedding, think along the lines of something you would wear to a nice dinner on a beach vacation. You should look like you’re going somewhere special, not heading to the coast to lounge on a beach blanket or play in the water.

    More Tips for Choosing the Perfect Beach Wedding Outfit

    Bride and bridesmaidsPhoto: Bella Bridesmaids Sacramento / Bohemia Photography

    Ready for some more tips on how to pick out the perfect beach wedding look?

    Here are a few things to remember that’ll make shopping easier and make you one of the best-dressed guests in attendance:

    Pay Attention to Colors and Fabrics

    Select colors and fabrics that work for the weather, the season, and the location.

    Lightweight fabrics like seersucker, linen, and chiffon are best for warm weather.

    Chiffon dresses offer lots of movement and will help keep you comfortable and cool. Meanwhile, a linen suit or a linen shirt paired with lightweight pants will be more comfortable in the heat than traditional cotton or wool suiting fabrics.

    In addition to breathable fabrics, consider embracing fun warm-weather colors and patterns. Pastel colors, bright colors, and tropical floral prints are all beach-worthy options!

    Choose the Right Footwear

    Wear stilettos on the beach, and it’s a guarantee that your heels will sink into the sand. Instead of skinny heels, consider wearing flat, dressy sandals, wedges, or chunky heels to give you more stability on the sand.

    Guys should wear dress shoes if the event or venue is formal. But for semi-formal or casual events, loafers or boat shoes are stylish alternatives!

    Research the Venue in Advance

    We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again:

    Dress to meet the formality of the venue.

    So before you start shopping for a beach wedding guest dress or suit, do a little research on the venue.

    Check out photos of the venue online to see how fancy or informal it is. Also, check the couple’s wedding website to see if they’ve provided any further details about their ceremony or reception space.

    The more you know about where you’re going, the easier it will be to find the perfect outfit for the occasion!

    You might also enjoy: The Ultimate Beach Wedding Makeup Guide for 2023


    Beach weddings range from super casual to ultra-formal, so always follow the dress code on the invitation. Whether the celebration is on the sand or indoors with a view of the beach and ocean, you can be sure you’re in store for a lovely day with a gorgeous backdrop to enjoy!   

    Follow us on social media for even more wedding day outfit inspo!

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